CTF Young Investigator Award

The Young Investigator Award, CTF’s longest running award program, provides funding for two years to early career NF researchers, helping them to get established as independent investigators. Initiated over 30 years ago, the main function of the YIA program is to serve as a ‘seeding mechanism’ for researchers to secure larger grants, such as from NIH and CDMRP NFRP. Several former YIAs are now leaders in the NF research and clinical communities. In fact, CTF’s ‘seeding’ of the NF field with new talent has been hailed as a key reason for rapid advancements in NF research in the past 30+ years.

Application for the 2017 Young Investigator Award will be opened in December, 2016.



Jean-Philippe Brosseau, Ph.D., University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Fibroblasts:The missing gap in Neurofibromatosis
The role of the tumor microenvironment in neurofibroma development is an active topic of investigation. Dr. Jean-Philippe Brosseau, a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Lu Le’s laboratory at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, will study the cellular interactions between neoplastic Schwann cells and fibroblasts in the tumor microenvironment, and elucidate the contributions of fibroblasts to neurofibroma pathogenesis. Targeting neurofibroma-associated fibroblasts could be a novel therapy for NF1.

Ionica Masgras, Ph.D., University of Padua, Italy
TRAPping the metabolic adaptations of NF1-associated tumors
Dr. Ionica Masgras, a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Andrea Rasola’s group at University of Padua, aims to understand how metabolic adaptations in NF1 tumor cells promote neurofibroma development. Using NF1 animal models and human neurofibroma cells, Dr. Masgras will investigate the role of TRAP1, a mitochondrial protein that promotes uncontrolled growth of NF1 cells, in tumorigenesis.

John Elliott Robinson, M.D., Ph.D., California Institute of Technology
Utilizing CLARITY, optogenetics, and novel viral vectors to deconstruct and reverse ADHD-like phenotypes associated with neurofibromatosis type 1
NF1 patients often suffer from neurocognitive deficits including learning disabilities, motor impairment, speech delays, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Using advanced methods for brain mapping, Dr. John Elliott Robinson, a postdoctoral researcher working with Dr. Viviana Gradinaru at California Institute of Technology, will study how abnormal development of neural circuits produces the varied cognitive symptoms in NF1.


Stephanie Joy Bouley, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College
Targeting tumors with NF1 loss via modulation of autophagy
NF1-associated tumors are very refractory to traditional anti-tumor therapies. Ms. Stephanie Joy Bouley, a graduate student in Dr. Yolanda Sanchez’s group at Dartmouth College, will investigate the mechanism of action of a lead compound that selectively targets NF1-deficient cells by inducing mitophagy and will further explore modulation of autophagy/mitophagy as a novel therapeutic strategy for NF1 tumors.



Dr. Dipak N. Patil, Scripps Research Institute, Florida
"Understanding the GPCR driven interaction of NF1 with G proteins"

Dr. Aubin Moutal, University of Arizona

Dr. Lei Xing, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
"MAPK/ERK hyperactivation on neural circuit development in NF-1"


Miss Vanessa Merker, Massachusetts General Hospital (The General Hospital Corp)
"Understanding Diagnostic Delay in Schwannomatosis: A Patient-Centered Approach"

Mrs. Marisa Ann Fuse, University of Central Florida Research Foundation, Inc.
"Novel Human Xenograft Mouse Model for Evaluation of PI3K Inhibitors in Neurofibromatosis Type 2-Associated Schwannomas"

Mr. Seyed Mohammad Ebrahim Tahaei, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
"The inhibitory role of EGFR signaling in NF1 Pseudoarthrosis"

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