Pathology faculty and staff contributed to the renewal of funding for the Iowa Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Specialized Research Center

September 8, 2020

Iowa Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Specialized Research Center is renewed for additional 5 years

Drs. Campbell, Mathews and MooreThe Iowa Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Specialized Research Center (MDSRC; was first funded in 2005.  Its 3rd successful competitive renewal on August 15, 2020 is for an additional 5 years of funding.  Leadership of the MDSRC include Kevin Campbell, PhD, Director, Kathy Mathews, MD, and Steve Moore, MD, PhD, Co-Director.  The focus of the Center is the dystroglycanopathies, a genetically and clinically heterogeneous group of rare muscular dystrophies caused by the hypoglycosylation of alpha-dystroglycan.  Dr. Campbell leads an alpha-dystroglycan basic science project, while Dr. Mathews studies the natural history of patients with a wide range of genotypes and phenotypes.  Dr. Moore operates a shared resource, Core B, that maintains biorepositories of muscle biopsies and cultured cells and performs specialty diagnostic testing not readily available in CLIA-certified clinical laboratories.

Mary Cox
Mary Cox is a research assistant who manages the Core B laboratory, maintains cultured cells, ships biosamples to research laboratories across North America and Europe, and performs a number of different western blot assays.

Teresa Nelson
Terese Nelson is an experienced histotechnologist with special skills related to muscle biopsy processing, histochemistry, and immunofluorescence.  She assists with the development of new immunofluorescence assays and prepares most muscle biopsy samples requested by research laboratories at Iowa or elsewhere.

Dr. Karra Jones
Karra Jones, MD, PhD
• Clinical Associate Proessor of Pathology

With this MDSRC renewal, Karra Jones, MD, PhD is joining Core B to assist with its overall mission.  She plans to especially focus on resolving the pathogenicity of variants of unknown significance by utilizing muscle biopsies or cultured cells.  In addition to the MDSRC, Dr. Jones provides neuropathology support to clinical trials involving congenital myopathy and congenital muscular dystrophy patients.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy clinical trial support

Melissa Jans
Melissa Jans
• Lead Histotechnologist
Barbara Lentz
Barbara Lentz
• Histotechnologist

Over the past 10 years, Core B of the Iowa MDSRC has provided histotechnologist expertise and frozen muscle biopsy tissue from the Repository to support assay development needed to carry out clinical trials for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.  Over the past 6 years, the Histology Laboratory has processed clinical trial subject biopsies performed at UIHC and served as the central laboratory for the receipt and storage of biopsies performed across North America and Europe.  These clinical trials are studying DMD exon skipping and AAV-minidystrophin gene therapy.  Histotechnologists Melissa Jans and Barbara Lentz are active in this work along with Terese Nelson.