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Dr. Marco Hefti Receives a Five-Year K23 Award from the National Institutes of Health

October 2, 2019

Marco Hefti

Marco Hefti received a five-year NIH K23 award entitled “Novel tau-based diagnostics for neonatal hypoxic-ischemic injury” from the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke (NINDS). This study will investigate the role of the tau protein, better known as a component of neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer disease, in normal development and in response to neonatal hypoxic-ischemic injury, especially in patients with congenital heart malformations such as Tetralogy of Fallot. Tau undergoes dramatic shifts in splicing and phosphorylation during development and in response to hypoxic-ischemic injury and is thought to play a direct role in mediating neuronal injury and death in response to low oxygen conditions. We are trying to better understand the role of these changes in mediating neuronal injury, and how they can be used to create new blood tests that can identify infants at high-risk for neuronal injury. This work has the potential to provide novel biomarkers for brain injury in vulnerable fetuses and infants and also to help better understand the mechanisms that trigger abnormal tau phosphorylation and aggregation in adult neurodegenerative diseases.