University of Wisconsin–Madison

IDD Models

The Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Models Core in the Waisman Center provides a number of resources to investigators within our center as well as to other campus investigators. First, the core provides mouse models of human conditions, along with behavioral testing capabilities to characterize these models and test new therapies. Second, we provide state-of-the-art stem cell technologies to support creation of induced pluripotent stem cell lines for  IDD conditions as well as specialized genome editing services. Finally, we provide high quality, cost effective, microscopy technology and expertise for characterization of both stem cell and mouse models of IDD conditions.

IDD Models Leadership

John Svaren, PhD

John Svaren, PhD
Core Director

Svaren is Professor of Comparative Biosciences. He was appointed Co-Director of the previous Cellular and Molecular Neurosciences Core in 2008, and became its Director in 2010. His laboratory focuses on gene regulatory mechanisms that control myelination of peripheral nerves by Schwann cells, which bear directly on the pathogenesis of Charcot-Marie Tooth diseases. His lab has employed in vivo ChIP-seq analysis to characterize genetic/epigenetic mechanisms of myelination and how these mechanisms are altered in myelin disorders.

Qiang Chang, PhD

Qiang Chang, PhD
Core Co-director 

Chang is Associate Professor of Medical Genetics and Neurology and Associate Director of the Waisman Center IDDRC. His laboratory uses genetic engineering in mouse embryonic stem (mES) cells to manipulate establishment and sensing of DNA methylation in vivo, and integrates analyses at the molecular, cellular, electrophysiological, animal behavioral, and genomic levels. His lab has used mouse models to study Rett Syndrome and elucidate the function of stimulus-induced MeCP2 phosphorylation in vivo. To complement their in vivo mouse studies, his lab has also generated patient specific iPSC lines and engineered hESC lines that carry disease-causing mutations, and differentiated these lines into neurons and astrocytes to study disease phenotypes. He oversees the Transgenic/Knockout service and the rodent behavioral testing service.

Su-Chun Zhang, MD, PhD

Su-Chun Zhang, PhD
Core Co-director, iPSC Service Director

Zhang is Professor of Neuroscience and Neurology, and Steenbock Professor in Behavioral and Neural Sciences. Using hPSCs as a model system, Zhang studies transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of neural subtype specification. Building upon the hPSC neural differentiation system and the state-of-the-art gene editing technology CRISPR, Zhang is dissecting the cellular and molecular processes underlying neurological conditions, including IDDs such as Down syndrome and Alexander disease, and developing patient cell-based drug discovery platforms. In addition, he is examining the potential of cell based therapy for neurological conditions in rodent and non-human primate models, in order to translate the technology to patients.

Anita Bhattacharyya, PhD

Anita Bhattacharyya, PhD
iPSC Service Co-director

Bhattacharyya, a Senior Scientist at the Waisman Center, oversees and coordinates iPSC projects, from patient consenting through iPSC generation and characterization. She maintains the Waisman Center iPSC service human subjects IRB protocol. Her research is focused on identifying neural development defects in Down syndrome, funded by NICHD, and Fragile X syndrome using disorder-specific human iPSCs.

Xinyu Zhao

Xinyu Zhao, PhD
Core Co-director

Zhao is a Professor of Neuroscience. An expert in microscopy, Zhao’s NIH-funded research uses neural stem cells as a model system to explore complex genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that regulate neuronal development and their implication in neurodevelopmental disorders, such as Rett syndrome, autism, and fragile X syndrome. There are two main foci in her lab, one is epigenetic basis of gene-environment interactions and the other neuronal RNA binding proteins. She uses both mouse genetic models and human patient-derived stem cells.