Collaborating to support research into Down syndrome

Author: Gene Stowe

Michael Mannor with daughter Sophia

Dozens of people from across the campus are collaborating to support groundbreaking research on Down syndrome. Michael Mannor, an assistant professor of management in the Mendoza College of Business whose daughter Sophia has Down syndrome, is leading the initiative.

Mannor said a group of people on campus who have friends or family members with Down syndrome launched the project, which has grown to more than 75 faculty, staff, administrators, students and alumni. The group will hold a fundraiser on Friday, May 11, at O’Brien’s Pub in the Compton Ice Arena.

“Over the last few years I’ve become very involved in the community, and have been blown away to find out that in the last five years, massive breakthroughs have been happening in the science of Down syndrome,” Mannor said. “Essentially, up until 10 years ago, there was never any research on the cognitive effects of Down syndrome because scientists thought that it was an intractably complex problem—too many gene mutations to solve.”

Mapping of the human genome, new understanding of brain neuroplasticity and development of a mouse model for Down syndrome testing have led to research on new treatments at leading institutions since a wave of discovery in 2007. “The possibility of dramatically improving learning, memory and situational awareness for people with Down syndrome is now being viewed as a real and near-term possibility,” Mannor said.

Because research held little promise in the past, fundraising to support it has not been developed until recently, he said. More than 20 of Mannor’s MBA students who did a class project this semester on a related issue are helping with the event, and the MBA military vets club has adopted the project. Supporters have come from across the campus.

The May 11 Night of Art and Blues, to support Research Down Syndrome, will include a silent auction of original high-quality art, among other things, created by people with Down syndrome. For more information, visit researchds.wufoo.com/forms/s7x3a7.