News Story

NF Center Researcher Receives Children’s Tumor Foundation Young Investigator Award

Michelle Wegscheid, an MD/PhD trainee in the laboratory of Dr. David H. Gutmann, was recently awarded a Children’s Tumor Foundation Young Investigator Award to continue her exciting work on how mutations in the NF1 gene affect human brain development.
Ms. Wegscheid graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2013 prior to spending a year in the laboratory of Dr. Maciej Lesniak at the University of Chicago optimizing nanoparticle-based platforms for the treatment of malignant brain cancer. Michelle was accepted into the MD-PhD program at Washington University, and chose to study NF1 brain development using human induced pluripotent stem cells.
For her thesis project, she is working to define how different NF1 patient NF1 gene mutations contribute to the heterogeneity of neurodevelopmental abnormalities observed in people with NF1. She is using a unique collection of human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) lines established at the Washington University NF Center that each harbor specific patient germline NF1 gene mutations. With these hiPSCs, she has generated three-dimensional, self-organizing brain tissues called cerebral organoids. These organoids replicate aspects of human brain architecture and function.
Congratulations to Michelle!