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Clarkson University Student Wins Travel Award for Research on Neurodevelopmental Disorders

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology has granted a travel award to a Clarkson University chemistry doctoral student researching neurodevelopmental disorders.

Kelly WormwoodKelly Wormwood of Lowville, N.Y., has been awarded up to $1,000 in travel expenses to attend the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting in March in Boston. Wormwood, who is an Academic Success Program to Improve Retention and Education for Underrepresented Students in STEM (ASPIRE) graduate fellow, works with Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science Costel C. Darie.

The main focus of Wormwood's research is to identify biomarkers for autism spectrum disorder and other neurodevelopmental disorders using proteins found in blood and saliva. She also has researched Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome (SLOS), which is caused by a deficient cholesterol production, and major depressive disorder (MDD). These projects are done in collaboration with Research Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science, Alisa Woods, a neurobiologist.

Wormwood said the research is important to her because it helps others. Identifying protein biomarkers for autism spectrum disorders would allow doctors to administer medicine or other treatments to people on the autism spectrum earlier, which would improve their quality of life.

"Right now for autism spectrum disorders there is not a biological diagnosis, so the diagnosis is done behaviorally and psychologically," she said. "The average age of diagnosis is 4 years old."

Wormwood said while she has previously been to many meetings about mass spectrometry, this will be her first conference about biology. She said she is looking forward to learning more about the biological aspects of her research.

"Going to this conference will help me see the biology side of things and what people in this field have to say about my research," she said. "This is going to be an amazing opportunity for me."

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

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