For its first edition, the international Sisley-Jérôme Lejeune award is being given to professor Mara DIERSSEN. Mara Dierssen is head of the neurobehavioral analysis group within the « genes and pathologies » programme of Barcelona’s genomics regulation centre (GRC). It works in tight collaboration with French, Spanish, European and North American teams.
Its international renown and its numerous publications in scientific reviews testify of the quality of its research in the identification of molecular and genetic bases in several pathologies accompanied by mental retardation: Rett Syndrome, Fragile-X Syndrome, William-Beuren Syndrome and Down Syndrome.
For the latter, it has brought quite a significant contribution to the definition of the physiological role and dose-dependent effects of the chromosome 21’s genes on neuronal development, apprenticeship, memorization and neurodegenerative processes. Among other things, it contributed in identifying cellular and molecular substrates which regulate the emergence and alteration of the various forms of apprenticeship and memorization.
All these researches used already known Down Syndrome mouse models but also a new one that was created partly thanks to the team’s work.
The objective and motivation of professor Dierssen is to open the door to therapeutic trials based on results it obtained with the mouse models of that disease. He particularly worked on setting up a clinical trial on humans: administering a protein inhibitor coded by the Dyrk1A gene.
The jury decided to give the first edition of the international Sisley-Jérôme Lejeune Award to Maria Dierssen for the quality of her scientific work and for her dynamism in favour of therapeutic research on Down Syndrome.