Dr. Deepti Anand, post-doctoral researcher in Dr. Salil Lachke's laboratory, has been awarded a 1-year Career Starter Grant for $70,000 in Pediatric Ophthalmology from Knights Templar Eye Foundation (KTEF). Dr. Anand was among just 22 scientists across the United States to receive this grant in 2020. Dr. Anand's research focus is on the application of molecular and bioinformatics-based approaches to investigate the molecular biology and pathology of lens development and cataract. Dr. Anand has made excellent progress in her post-doc at the Department of Biological Sciences, co-authoring 25 papers since 2015.
In her KTEF Career Starter Grant, Dr. Anand proposes to apply her expertise in both "dry" (bioinformatics) and "wet" (experimental) lab biology to characterize the function of an important gene, TDRD7, mutations in which are directly linked to pediatric cataract. Dr. Anand plans to uncover the molecular and cellular basis of the cataract pathology that results from TDRD7 deficiency. Thus, her proposed research on functional characterization of this grossly understudied Tudor protein family post-transcriptional regulator in the lens is expected to provide new target genes associated with congenital cataracts. In turn, Dr. Anand's efforts will help to define the post-transcriptional basis for controlling key genes in lens cells and will thus offer new pathway targets for ensuring lens transparency.
Prior to joining Dr. Lachke's laboratory, Dr. Anand had published 5 original research publications during her Ph.D. training that involved the development of molecular markers in plants before she switched gears and focused on eye disease gene discovery. In the Lachke laboratory, Dr. Anand has spearheaded several projects and contributed substantially in collaborative projects that has led to publications in leading journals such as Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Experimental Eye Research, Birth Defects Research, Human Genetics, Human Mutation, Human Molecular Genetics, American Journal of Human Genetics, Development, Developmental Biology and Nucleic Acids Research, among others. In the past, among her many publications, Dr. Anand's seminal mutation update report on four key genes linked to human eye defects (Anand et al. (2018 39(4):471-494) Human Mutation) was featured on the Cover of the prestigious journal Human Mutation and selected by its Editors among the "Editor's Choice Articles in 2018, "considered particularly noteworthy". In addition to working on the eye, Dr. Anand has also contributed to identification of genes linked to craniofacial defects. Her research on developing a bioinformatics tool SysFACE toward this cause was recognized through the 2016 "genesis best poster award" presented to her by the Society for Craniofacial Genetics and Developmental Biology during their annual meeting held at Harvard Medical School.
In the past, two Biological Sciences faculty, namely Drs. Melinda Duncan, FARVO, and Salil Lachke, were awarded the KTEF grant early in their career, which positively impact their research programs. Now, this new grant support from KTEF will allow Dr. Anand to continue making exceptional contributions toward advancing eye disease research, especially during these challenging times.