Lexington High School
Lexington, MA

Andrew Allen
Stanley Center for Psychiatric Disease

Exciting work at the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research has linked the gene encoding the low voltage-gated calcium channel CACNA1I to increased risk for schizophrenia. CACNA1I is a low voltage-gated calcium channel that has been implicated in schizophrenia through trio sequencing studies, exome sequencing studies, and genome wide association studies, and work is currently underway to define the contribution of this gene to disease etiology and establish drug discovery paradigms for novel therapeutics development.
Catherine developed visualization assays to identify the sub-cellular localization of CACNA1I by confocal microscopy. In addition, she helped to determine the effects of glycosylation on the electrophysiological properties of CACNA1I, which is a co- and post-translational modification essential for the function of many ion channels.  With this information, her group hopes to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms that regulate the normal function of CACNA1I in the hopes of developing novel pharmacological interventions for schizophrenia.


Catherine’s favorite part about the Broad was taking part in the excitement that the people around her had for their work. “The lively back-and-forth of technical language, both spoken aloud and scrawled on the walls, pushed my brain into overdrive. I came away from each day in the lab feeling exhausted and refreshed at the same time,” said Catherine. BSSP confirmed her love for biological research and deepened her interest in neuroscience.