Research Fellow Feature: Betty Bekele

Published on Tue, 04/30/2024

Ms. Bekele's scientific journey began in Ethiopia, and her pursuit of a STEM career flourished when she received a full scholarship to Wesleyan University. Focused on neuroscience and biology at Wesleyan University, she explored genetic mutations' impact on skeletal muscle development in zebrafish, a process relevant to various muscular dystrophies. Once she graduated, she joined Dr. Gary Rudnick's lab at Yale, investigating serotonin transporter conformational changes. Their work, published in Cell, has implications for opioid addiction.

Inspired by this translational research, she decided to pursue a neuroscience graduate degree at Emory University. Rotations in labs studying movement disorders and anxiety-like behavior led her to Dr. Gary Bassell's Lab, where she immersed herself in DM1 research. Initially studying sleep behavior in Muscleblind-like 2 knock-out (MBNL2 KO) mice, she homed in on the Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) receptor and microtubule-associated protein Tau (MAPT). Her goal is to understand how altered protein regulation in MBNL2 KO mice correlates with DM1's trinucleotide expansion. Ms. Bekele's progress includes investigating flumazenil's potential to alleviate central nervous system symptoms.

Actively engaged, she attended the MDF conference, reinforcing her dedication to DM1 research and awareness. Her vision extends beyond research, aiming to build her global network supporting professionals, caregivers, and patients affected by DM.

Click here to learn more about previous MDF Grant Recipients.