Ben Cox and Rebecca McGillivary, postdoctoral researchers in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Postdoctoral Researchers Awarded Hartwell Fellowships to Probe Tissue Regeneration and Molecular Roots of Dystonia

Fellowships will fund innovative biomedical research on cellular migration and protein-related underpinnings of dystonia, a heritable neurological disease

Ben Cox and Rebecca McGillivary, postdoctoral researchers in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, are among 10 early career scientists selected to receive 2022 Hartwell Biomedical Research Fellowships, which were announced in August, 2023.

The Hartwell Foundation, which supports innovative and cutting-edge biomedical research that may benefit children, provides fellows with $100,000 in funding, split between two years.

Cox will use his fellowship funds to study the mechanisms underlying the regenerative abilities of Hydra vulgaris, a small freshwater animal that is related to jellyfish. Hydra can regenerate their entire bodies—head, mouth, and tentacles—from small tissue fragments within only days.

McGillivary will use her Hartwell fellowship funds to study proteins involved in the development of dystonia, a neurological disease associated with uncontrolled and painful muscle contractions.

The form of dystonia that McGillivary is focusing on, DYT1 dystonia, is heritable, and symptoms usually begin to develop during childhood or early adolescence. However, individuals carrying the associated genetic mutation don’t always develop the disease.

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