Michelle Wegscheid, an MD/PhD trainee in the Neurosciences Program at Washington University, successfully defended her PhD thesis titled “Genetic risk factors for neurodevelopmental disorders: Insights from hiPSC-cerebral organoids.”
Michelle conducted her PhD training in the laboratory of Dr. David H. Gutmann at the Washington University Neurofibromatosis (NF) Center, where she worked to define how distinct NF1 gene mutations differentially contribute to the spectrum of neurodevelopmental abnormalities seen in children with NF1. Specifically, her studies employed a unique collection of human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) lines established at the Washington University NF Center, harboring specific patient germline NF1 gene mutations. Using these unique stem cell lines, she generated three-dimensional, self-organizing brain models (“mini-brains”) to explore the effects of NF1 gene mutations on human brain development. Michelle was awarded a Children’s Tumor Foundation Young Investigator Award to support this exciting work, which was recently published in Stem Cell Reports.