PhD student receives Autism Speaks predoctoral fellowship
A third-year PhD student in the department of physiology and pathophysiology has received a prestigious predoctoral fellowship from Autism Speaks.
Shreya Dhume will receive US$70,000 over the course of two years to work on a project that could one day lead to developing a drug to treat autism. The funding comes from Autism Speaks, a United States-based organization that promotes solutions for the needs of people with autism and their families.
“Right now, the only therapy for autism is behavioural and language therapy,” Dhume said. “There is currently no effective medicinal therapy for autism.”
Dhume hopes to change that. The project will help identify potential drug targets in the network of neuronal synapses associated with autism. Dhume will develop ASD modelled neurons and test the therapeutic potential of the developed agents in these models.
Because it is an international fellowship, Dhume said she had her doubts about being awarded funding. However, she said she worked hard on the application with her supervisor, Dr. Tabrez Siddiqui, assistant professor in the department of physiology and pathophysiology, Max Rady College of Medicine.
Siddiqui said that Dhume being selected for the fellowship goes to show how strong both the candidate and the research plan are. “In the autism community, the Autism Speaks predoctoral fellowship is considered prestigious,” Siddiqui said. “It’s very competitive.”
Autism Speaks recently awarded more than $4.7 million in grant funding to 26 researchers studying autism. Dhume is one of two Canadians to receive the predoctoral fellowship this year out of 10 recipients.
“I’m very excited for the next two years,” Dhume said.