A good night’s sleep leads to an active, productive day for most of us, but a rare condition called idiopathic hypersomnia (IH) can lead some people to struggle to stay awake even after a good night’s sleep.
CSB graduate student Anita Taksokhan has earned a grant supported by Jazz Pharmaceuticals to probe the neurological roots of this rare condition in Prof John Peever’s lab.
Taksokhan earned her award through a competitive pitch presentation at the annual Canadian Sleep Society meeting. Taksokhan’s presentation was judged by a panel of sleep researchers to be the most captivating proposal. She did so well that the audience awarded her presentation an additional people’s choice award!
Her CSS-Jazz proposal builds on studies in Japan that have identified a single genetic change that is linked to IH. This change alters the orexin protein. Lack of orexin has been linked to other sleep disorders, including narcolepsy.
Taksokhan will use CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing in mice to reproduce the small change in orexin seen in the Japanese study. She will then assess these mice for symptoms of idiopathic hypersomnia. Women are more often affected by IH, so an important feature of Taksokhan’s proposal is the use of female mice.
Taksokhan is grateful for this independent funding to support her PhD research. It is an impressive accomplishment for a graduate student to secure their own funding. Congratulations, Anita!