Finding treatments for chromatin disorders of intellectual disability

Finding treatments for chromatin disorders of intellectual disability

Project details

DNA and its associated packaging proteins, together called chromatin, are neatly organised within the nucleus of each cell. Chromatin modifiers are proteins which pack or unpack chromatin to switch genes on or off as the cell requires. Brain development requires exquisite gene control, carried out by chromatin modifiers. Patients with mutations in chromatin modifiers often have neurological conditions including intellectual disability.  

By studying the consequences of these mutations on brain development, this project will identify and test possible interventions that may reduce the severity of these neurological conditions. Using several models of human disease, this project will combine cell- and molecular-based approaches, including genome editing, fluorescence-based microscopy and next generation sequencing. 

About our research group

The Blewitt Lab is a team of 12 made up of PhD students, postdoctoral fellows and research assistants. We collaborate with several researchers across the Parkville precinct as part of the Chromatin Disorders with Intellectual Disabilities research program. Together, we are challenging the traditional view that intellectual disability is untreatable, by exploring treatment options for patients with mutations in chromatin modifiers. 

We consist of lab-based researchers with expertise in chromatin biology and brain development (WEHI) and neuroscience (The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute), as well as clinicians who care for patients with chromatin disorders (The Royal Children’s Hospital). We meet bimonthly to share our research progress and ideas in a friendly and supportive setting which is enriched by the multidisciplinary nature of the group. 


Email supervisors




Dr Hannah Vanyai
Epigenetics and Development division

Professor Marnie Blewitt

Marnie Blewitt
Joint Division Head

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