Dr. Jonathan Santoro is a clinician-scientist focused on exploring the interface between vascular disease, cerebrovascular disease (CeVD) and inflammation in persons with Down syndrome (DS). This five-year mentored career development award will provide him with advanced training and skills in population-based data analysis, biostatistics, neuroimaging, and clinical trials development to ensure a successful transition to an independent research career. The outlined proposal builds on previously published work by Dr. Santoro and leverages a mentorship team of experts in DS, neurodevelopment, vascular disease, and cerebrovascular- inflammatory disorders in persons with DS at his home institution and other large academic DS centers. Research Context: Persons with DS have an increased risk of early CeVD, specifically moyamoya syndrome, and the initial presentation is often irreversible neurologic insult secondary to cerebrovascular accident. For persons with DS, there exists no validated means of assessing risk for CeVD. This K23 career development builds on previous work by Dr. Santoro who identified non-invasive ways to screen for CeVD in children with DS. This study will prospectively asses blood pressure (BP) in persons with DS and subsequently use this to predict pre-symptomatic CeVD (Aim 1). Next, this study will compare gold standard CeVD neuroimaging studies to various non-invasive, low-cost, biometric tools such as repeated BP measurements, transcranial Doppler ultrasound and neurocognitive testing to assess internal and predictive validity of these measures in the prediction of CeVD (Aim 2). As persons with DS are established to have immune dysregulation and systemic inflammatory profiles, we will also explore the role of systemic and vascular inflammatory biomarkers in the development of CeVD with the goal of identifying contributory inflammatory cascades that could be targeted with therapeutic interventions geared towards preventing CeVD in subsequent studies (Aim 3). Career Development Plan: Dr. Santoro will complete coursework in healthcare and science communication, data analysis, epidemiology, clinical trial design and biomedical informatics. This plan also will strengthen his competence in both bioinformatics and neuroimaging and be supplemented by institutional workshops and seminars. This experiential learning is designed to promote knowledge and skillset development needed to both execute his research and ensure that skills are developed for his transition to an independent researcher. Dr. Santoro?s career development goals will be supported through close mentorship by an experienced and committed interdisciplinary team and a combination of didactic, experiential, and team-based learning. This proposal and subsequent R01 proposals seek to improve the neurologic care of young persons with DS.
Down syndrome (DS) is one of the most common genetic disorders with a prevalence of 1 per 700 liveborn infants in the United States and is associated with an increased risk of developing cerebrovascular disorders (CeVD), which commonly present with stroke as the first evidence of disease. The proposed research will result in the creation of a validated, non-invasive, low-cost, biometric screening tool for young persons with DS in order to address the pressing need of reliable screening of CeVD in at-risk individuals. This proposal presents a five-year research career development program with training that will position me with a unique set of interdisciplinary skills to enable transition to independence as a physician-scientist to study the prediction and prevention of CeVD in persons with DS.