The Cain Foundation Labs for Pediatric Neurology Research welcomes two faculty members
The Gordon and Mary Cain Pediatric Neurology Research Foundation Laboratories at Texas Children’s Hospital is pleased to announce the addition of two faculty members - Dr. Hsiao Tuan Chao and Dr. Xiaolong Jiang - both of whom are assistant professors at Baylor College of Medicine and investigators at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (Duncan NRI) at Texas Children’s Hospital.
The Cain Foundation, which has a longstanding philanthropic partnership with Texas Children’s, founded this namesake lab over 30 years ago in recognition of the terrible suffering that childhood epilepsies inflict on patients and their families. Approximately 50 million people worldwide are affected by epilepsy, and the annual cost burden of epilepsy is estimated to range from $9.6 to $12.5 billion, a significant percentage of which is associated with pediatric catastrophic epilepsies since they arise early in life and often result in life-long disabilities.
The mission of the Cain Foundation Labs, which are housed at the Duncan NRI, is to identify underlying molecular causes and potential therapies for catastrophic childhood epilepsies and to pioneer innovative neuromodulatory treatments for the cognitive and psychiatric disabilities that accompany epileptic disorders.
“As we grow the Cain Labs, we are excited to welcome two stellar researchers – Dr. Chao and Dr. Jiang –to the team,” said Dr. Sameer Sheth, the new director of the Cain Labs, also a Cullen Foundation Endowed Chair and McNair Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine. “Their extensive experience with the genetic and physiological underpinnings of epileptic cells and circuits perfectly complements the mission of Cain Labs. I am very excited and look forward to the new discoveries their addition to the Cain Labs will drive.
A practicing child neurologist, Dr. Chao’s research is focused on identifying the underlying genetic and molecular causes of many neurodevelopmental disorders, which often include epilepsy as a key clinical symptom. The Chao lab employs cross-species approaches to identify the underlying molecular mechanisms of many known and novel single-gene neurodevelopmental disorders with cross-species approaches. Dr. Chao and her team lead the Undiagnosed Epilepsy Genetics Initiative at the Duncan NRI and Cain Labs. Recent studies from her lab led to the discovery of several new neurodevelopmental and epileptic syndromes such as Hypotonia, Ataxia, and Delayed Development Syndrome (HADDS) caused by changes in the EBF3 gene; EIF4A2-related epileptic encephalopathies; EIF2AK2-related Leukoencephalopathy, Developmental Delay, and Episodic Neurologic Regression (LEUDEN) syndrome; EIF2AK1-related Leukoencephalopathy, Motor Delay, Spasticity, and Dysarthria (LEMPSAD) syndrome; and advanced our understanding of rare epilepsy syndromes such as PAK1-related Intellectual Developmental Disorder with Macrocephaly Seizures and Speech Delay (IDDMSSD) and others.
A leading neuroscientist, Dr. Jiang is interested in identifying constituent cellular networks and mapping the brain circuits or networks in healthy and diseased brains. The Jiang lab employs multidisciplinary approaches ranging from unique high-throughput electrophysiological measurements, single-cell transcriptomics, optogenetics, and machine learning to decipher cellular composition and wiring principles of brain circuits in different species under various conditions. Recent studies from his lab have led to the discovery of the cellular components and circuit organization of a new group of norepinephrine-expressing neurons that are linked to various neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. He and his team are also a part of the global initiative led by the Allen Institute to map the entire human brain. In what is being called the brain equivalent of the Human Genome Project, the goal of this initiative is to map 200 billion cells in the human brain by their type and comprehensive gene expression as a fundamental step needed to understand the causes of neuropsychiatric diseases including childhood epilepsy.
About Cain Foundation Labs at Texas Children’s Hospital
The Cain Labs was established in 1988 by senior executives of the Houston-based companies founded by the late Mr. Gordon Cain, a pioneer in the chemical industry. During his distinguished career spanning half a century, Gordon Cain created a series of successful companies, characterized by a unique model of profit-sharing with his employees. Creating and supporting this Foundation to fund pediatric epilepsy research, is the trustees’ way of honoring and carrying forward the generous spirit of Gordon and Mary Cain.