Rebekah Charney, a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Medicine, has been awarded the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research of the National Institutes of Health.
The fellowship provides $177,000 to support Charney for three years to study the earliest events underlying the formation of neural crest cells.
Charney, who joined UCR in 2016 after receiving her doctoral degree at UC Irvine, explained that neural crest cells are a stem cell population unique to vertebrates. They migrate extensively throughout the developing embryo and form numerous derivatives, including neurons, pigment cells, and most of the bone and connective tissue in the face. Their improper development leads to multiple pathologies, including very common birth defects such as cleft lip and cleft palate and aggressive cancers such as neuroblastoma. However, major questions regarding the formation of neural crest cells remain unanswered.
"The molecular mechanisms underlying the earliest stages of neural crest cell formation remain uncharacterized, and this fellowship precisely aims to address this issue," Charney said.
More information here.