MCRI early career researcher, Ms Simran Kaur, has been awarded a Franklin Women travel scholarship allowing her to attend the annual American Society of Human Genetics meeting in Houston, USA.

Ms Kaur will present data establishing a new genetic link between brain cell dysfunction and Rett syndrome, which causes autism-like symptoms in affected children. These mutations are extremely rare, so the work promises to improve the diagnostic rate of Rett syndrome, as well as inform future research directions into potential treatments. 

The Franklin Women Carer's Travel scholarship assists researchers who have primary carer responsibilities by funding the costs of additional care while they present their research at an academic conference. The funding will allow Ms Kaur's husband to take time off work to look after their young son.

Ms Kaur will also visit collaborators at the University of Michigan and the University of Washington, to bring vital skills and techniques back her laboratory, supervised by Professor John Christodoulou.

Franklin Women is a social enterprise focussed on retaining women in health sciences. The travel scholarship was launched to address the financial and logistical barriers which often prevent women attending academic conferences.

To assist researchers in their return to work following a period of carer's leave, MCRI also offers two career-disruption fellowships to its staff to fund an 'extra set of hands' in the laboratory, or for carers to travel to conferences in order to maintain their professional networks.