Wed 12 Aug 2009
By Julia Darcey
The MBL is known for bringing scientists from separate institutions together for unique and productive collaborations. That was a big draw for husband and wife, Joseph D. Buxbaum, a molecular geneticist at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Dorothy E. Grice, a child psychiatrist at Columbia University, who rarely get the chance to work side-by-side. Their joint work at the MBL bore fruit this month when a paper they wrote with lead author Yuji Kajiwara, also of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, was published online in Biological Psychiatry. The team found that SLITRK1, a neural protein linked to Tourette syndrome and OCD, has an important binding protein called 14-3-3 and must be phosphorylated to function. Knowing how SLITRK1 functions is the first step to understanding its role in brain development and in disorders like Tourette syndrome.
“Because we work at separate institutions, we rarely get to share time in the lab. Working together at the bench, where we each contribute from our own areas of expertise, is an important part of our collaboration. So the opportunity to really work closely together is here, at the MBL,” Buxbaum says. Grice knew first-hand that the MBL was the perfect place to collaborate on this project—she grew up in Woods Hole, where her mother was an MBL librarian and her father a scientist at WHOI. “I knew from growing up here,” she says, “that the MBL would provide a great scientific environment. And we knew that it would be a great setting for the molecular biology and functional studies we wanted to do.”