Dr. Jimmy Holder, assistant professor of neurology at Baylor College of Medicine, has been awarded the 2017 Clinical Scientist Development Award by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. This highly competitive award of $495,000 will be used to support his work in neurodevelopmental disorders.

Out of nearly 200 applicants, Holder is one of 17 physician-scientists across the United States who was selected for the award. Recipients are chosen based on the rigor of their research endeavors and commitment to future excellence as independent clinical researchers in the biomedical field.

Physician-scientists who receive this award dedicate at least 75 percent of their professional time to research. Holder will focus his research on his project titled, “A systematic search for targeted therapeutic entry points for SYNGAP1 hapolinsufficiency: implications for neurodevelopmental disorder therapies.”

Holder explains that mutations in SYNGAP1 cause a severe neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by intellectual disability, autism and epilepsy. This work aims to identify therapeutic targets through a cell-based screen for genetic modifiers of SYNGAP protein stability.

“I am honored to be selected as one of this year’s Doris Duke Clinical Scientist Development awardees. This award will allow my lab to move into a new area of research to identify therapeutic entry points for a severe neurodevelopmental disorder due to mutations in the SYNGAP1 gene. I envision that the information we learn from this work will serve as the basis for new therapies for children affected by this disorder,” said Holder, who also is a physician at Texas Children’s Hospital where he cares for children with SYNGAP1 mutations as well as other neurodevelopmental disorders.

The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people's lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. The foundation’s Medical Research Program supports clinical research that advances the translation of biomedical discoveries into new preventions, diagnoses and treatments for human diseases. Learn more about the program.