Carson Family Telomere Biology Disorder Research Award

The primary goal of the Carson Family Telomere Biology Disorder Research Award from Team Telomere, Inc. is to support research initiatives that address critical gaps in our understanding of Telomere Biology Disorders. This grant seeks to fund interdisciplinary, translational, and/or clinical research efforts that will lead to the development of therapies and strategies that better diagnose, manage, treat, or cure Telomere Biology Disorders. 

The Carson Family Telomere Biology Disorder Research Award from Team Telomere is a single award of up to $100,000 total costs for a one-year project.

Carson Family Telomere Biology Disorder Research Award Recipient

Principal Investigator: Alison Bertuch, MD, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine

Project Title: Applying DNA-encoded Chemistry Technology to Identify Small Molecule Compounds that Elongate Telomeres

Lay Summary: Our goal is to identify small molecule compounds that increase telomere length and serve as the basis for the development of effective treatments and cures for individuals with dyskeratosis congenita (DC) and related telomere biology disorders (TBDs). The TIN2 protein is recruited to telomeres by its interaction with TRF1, where it prevents telomeres from getting too long. In this research project, we aim to identify compounds that prevent TIN2 from binding to TRF1 and consequently lead to telomere lengthening. We are employing a cutting-edge approach called DNA-encoded chemistry technology or DEC-Tec screening, which allows us to test millions to billions of small molecules in a single tube for their ability to bind TRF1. We have already performed a set of initial screens and have several “hits”. Here, we will optimize our screening approach to identify small molecules that will specifically block TIN2-TRF1 interaction. Our research represents the first application of DEC-Tec screening to the discovery of drugs to treat DC/TBDs.

What this Award Means to the Carson Family

From the words of Heidi Carson

After my amazing husband, Chad, died in 2019 from complications resulting from his Telomere Biology Disorder (TBD), I was struck by the notion that I never wanted another family to endure the medical odyssey and trauma of loss that ours did. I started volunteering with Team Telomere with the goal of doing whatever I could to advance science toward better treatments for this horrific disease. As I became more involved with Team Telomere and witnessed the power of this small but mighty organization, my vision shifted: I didn’t just want improved treatment options, I wanted science to find our community a cure.

My goal in funding the Carson Family Telomere Biology Disorder Research Award is to empower us to dream big and bold: what is possible when we combine the most promising initiatives in TBD research with an award of this size? I also want this award to set a precedent: Team Telomere is an organization that is more than capable of granting transformational awards with a robust review process premised on fairness and objectivity.