Center for Gene Therapy, The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Dr. Afrooz Rashnonejad is a postdoctoral scientist in Dr. Scott Harper’s lab since May 2017, she has focused on developing new RNA inhibition therapies to silence DUX4 as a putative treatment for FSHD. Dr. Rashnonejad’s performed her doctoral studies in Turkey, at The Ege University Institute of Science, Department of Biotechnology, under direct supervision of Dr. Ferda Ozkinay (2011-2017). Her doctoral project was aimed at investigating prenatal gene therapy of SMA disease using AAV vectors. Dr. Rashnonejad’s work was largely dedicated to correcting SMA symptoms through fetal gene delivery. This was the first AAV gene therapy study at Ege University and even in Turkey. As a result, she had to seek expertise in AAV production and delivery internationally. To do this, Dr. Rashnonejad traveled to Dr. Guangping Gao’s lab at the University of Massachusetts Gene Therapy Center, and Dr. Gao became her PhD co-thesis advisor. In May 2017, Dr. Rashnonejad started her work in the FSH muscular dystrophy field immediately after her PhD, as a post-doctoral scientist under the mentorship of Dr. Scott Harper in the Center for Gene Therapy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. One objective of Dr. Rashnonejad joining Dr. Harper’s lab was to help develop new gene therapy approaches for FSHD, specifically focused on RNA inhibition of DUX4 expression. Her postdoctoral research is now focused on developing DUX4 silencing therapies through different strategies such as U7-snRNA and CRISPR technology.