Angelman Updates with Dr. Terry Jo Bichell, featuring Dr. Barbara Bailus
In this episode of Angelman Updates with Dr. Terry Jo Bichell, Dr. Barbara Bailus, an assistant professor at the Keck Graduate Institute, discusses her work with FAST (Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics) and her role as the chair of the Scientific Advisory Board. She explains the process of reviewing grant applications and prioritizing funding for translational projects that have the potential to lead to therapies for Angelman Syndrome. Dr. Bailus also discusses her own research interests in gene editing and drug delivery mechanisms for neurological diseases. She emphasizes the importance of science communication and her passion for making science understandable to the general public. In her free time, she enjoys art, baking, gardening, and horseback riding.
In this interview, Dr. Terry Jo Bichell, a neuroscientist and mother of a child with Angelman Syndrome, speaks with Dr. Barbara Bailus about her work with the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics (FAST). Dr. Bailus is an assistant professor at the Keck Graduate Institute and currently serves as the chair of the Scientific Advisory Board for FAST. They discuss the process of reviewing and funding grants, the importance of translational science, and the collaborative nature of research in the field of Angelman Syndrome.
Dr. Bailus’s Background
Dr. Bailus introduces herself as a former graduate student who worked on Angelman Syndrome, specifically focusing on artificial transcription factors and turning off the antisense in mice. She then pursued postdoctoral work on Huntington’s disease, still in the field of gene editing. Currently, she is an assistant professor at the Keck Graduate Institute and actively involved with FAST, initially as a scientific advisor and now as the chair of the Scientific Advisory Board.
The Role of the Scientific Advisory Board
Dr. Bailus explains that as the chair of the Scientific Advisory Board, her role involves reviewing grant applications and finding the appropriate reviewers within the board. The board’s reviews are then considered by the Board of Directors, who make the final decision on funding. Dr. Bailus also occasionally serves as a reviewer herself, ensuring a fair and thorough evaluation process.
Translatability in Grant Funding
Dr. Bailus emphasizes that FAST’s main priority is finding a cure for Angelman Syndrome. Therefore, grant applications are evaluated based on their translatability, or the potential to progress towards a therapy or treatment. Reviewers assess the translational potential of each project, and the Board of Directors considers this factor when making funding decisions. Dr. Bailus clarifies that translatability refers to the ability to move research from the laboratory bench to clinical applications, ultimately benefiting patients.
Examples of Translational Projects
Dr. Bailus provides two examples of translational projects that have received funding from FAST. The first project, led by Scott Dindot, focuses on using antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) to block the transcription of the antisense for UBE3A, resulting in paternal activation. This project has progressed to Phase 1/2 clinical trials. The second project, led by Joe Anderson in collaboration with the Segal and Silverman labs, involves modifying hemopoietic stem cells to express UBE3A and cross the blood-brain barrier in mice. This project has shown promising results in behavioral gains.
Collaboration Among Funded Scientists
Dr. Bailus highlights the collaborative nature of research within the Angelman Syndrome community. She mentions ongoing projects at Yale and UC Davis that benefit from shared resources and expertise. For example, Dr. Jiang’s lab at Yale is creating a biorepository of stem cells from different Angelman patients, which can be used by other researchers. Dr. Keung at UC Davis is using these stem cells to create organoids for testing potential treatments. Additionally, Dr. Segal’s lab at UC Davis provides infrastructure for testing in Angelman syndrome mice and rats, benefiting researchers without access to such facilities.
Dr. Bailus’s Passion for Science Communication
Dr. Bailus expresses her passion for science communication and the importance of making science accessible to the general public. She believes that since scientific research is funded by tax dollars, the public should have the opportunity to understand and appreciate its impact. Dr. Bailus teaches a course in scientific communication at Keck, helping students understand different scientific audiences and communicate effectively. She also enjoys breaking down complex scientific concepts for non-scientific audiences, bridging the gap between scientists and the public.
Personal Interests and Hobbies
Dr. Bailus shares her personal interests and hobbies outside of her scientific work. She enjoys painting, baking, gardening, and horseback riding. She also loves spending time at the beach whenever she has a free weekend.
Dr. Bichell thanks Dr. Bailus for her time and commends her on her various roles and contributions to the field of Angelman Syndrome research. They express their excitement for ongoing advancements and collaborations within the community.
- Title: Angelman Updates with Dr. Terry Jo Bichell, featuring Dr. Barbara Bailus
- Author(s): Barbara Bailus
- Author(s)’ affiliation: FAST
- Publication date: 2022-03-31
- Collection: Angelman Updates with Dr. Terry Jo Bichell