Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Merut Shankar L&S Biological Sciences

Developing an organoid model to study neuronal circuitry in Autism

1 in 36 children are born with autism (ASD), characterized by challenges in social communication, mental cognition, and behavioral aspects. ASD is recognized to have a neurodevelopmental cause, making it crucial to study during early fetal brain development. Early ASD development remains misunderstood due to lack of a standard model. A critical transient region of early brain development is the medial ganglionic eminence (MGE), which produces most cortical interneurons (INs) that refine circuitry. My research aims to develop MGE organoids modeling in-vivo IN development of ASD, with the goal of obtaining a pure population of functional hiPSC-derived (human-induced pluripotent stem cells) MGE-INs.

My project will develop a protocol to derive MGE-organoids from healthy control lines and ASD-mutated lines to study the impact of abnormal interneuron development on ASD. My research question addresses the differences in the development of MGE-interneurons in control and ASD-mutated lines. My work offers insight on a novel model to study interneuron development in health and disease, which will be applicable to neuropsychiatric disorders where aberrant interneuron development may occur.

Message To Sponsor

I am deeply grateful for your incredible support. Your generous donation holds immense significance for me, as it will finance research that aligns with my passions. This fellowship will propel my interests and is made possible by your contribution. I never imagined I would have the opportunity to pursue something of this magnitude, which will not only greatly influence my experience at Berkeley but also shape my career after college.
Profile image of Merut Shankar
Major: Molecular and Cell Biology, Public Health
Mentor: Arnold Kriegstein
Sponsor: Leadership
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