PISCATAWAY – In honor of Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month, the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) hosted the New Jersey state legislators from District 16 for a tour of the NJCTS Cell and DNA Sharing Repository at Rutgers University on May 22.
Guided by Dr. Jay A. Tischfield, the director of the repository and the Human Genetics Institute of New Jersey, State Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman and State Assembly members Jack M. Ciattarelli and Donna Simon toured the multiwing, federally backed facility on Rutgers’ Busch campus that NJCTS and Dr. Tischfield helped create in 2007.
Bateman, Ciattarelli and Simon got a first-hand glimpse of NJCTS’ research arm, which is aimed at understanding the genetic causes of Tourette Syndrome and other associated neurological disorders. The goal of the program, which is run by Tischfield’s RUCDR Infinite Biologics, is to enable gene discovery leading to diagnoses, treatments and eventually cures. The research and DNA sampling/sequencing at the repository enables researchers and scientists around the world the opportunity to study and request samples at any time.
“Rutgers University’s Cell and DNA Repository is at the forefront of groundbreaking research being done with Tourette Syndrome, a disorder too often mischaracterized and stigmatized,” said State Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman, who represents constituents from parts of Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex counties.
“I’m extremely proud to have the center and many dedicated researchers located at Rutgers, and look forward to helping raise awareness about the syndrome and the work being done here,” Senator Bateman added.
NJCTS, which became the nation’s first center of excellence for TS in 2004, has positioned New Jersey as the premier center for research into Tourette. And in 2011, Rutgers was designated as the nation’s Tourette cell and DNA repository by the National Institute of Mental Health.
“The cutting-edge DNA research conducted at Rutgers University has put New Jersey on the front line in the national effort to develop better treatments, and ultimately a cure, for Tourette Syndrome,” Assemblyman Jack M. Ciattarelli said. “The work we saw gives hope that we will one day overcome this neurological disorder.”
Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month, which began May 15 and ends June 15, highlights the daily struggles facing the 1 in 100 children affected by TS – a condition marked by involuntary body movements and vocal sounds called tics. At the end of the tour, Bateman, Ciattarelli and Simon presented NJCTS Executive Director Faith W. Rice with the 13th annual TS Awareness Month Proclamation from the New Jersey Governor’s office.
“We hope to raise awareness of this condition that is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed,” Assemblywoman Donna Simon said. “The numbers are stunning, and with top researchers like Dr. Jay Tischfield leading the way, we may one day be able to crack the code and cure Tourette.”
NJCTS offers a wide array of programs and services for families affected by TS, ADHD, OCD and other co-occurring mental health disorders NJCTS also facilitates outreach to the education, medical and professional communities to assure early diagnosis and improved treatment.
“It is exciting that Senator Bateman, Assemblyman Ciattarelli and Assemblywoman Simon got to see first-hand the extent of the support for TS research taking place at the NJCTS Cell and DNA Sharing Repository,” Rice said. “With continued support from the state, NJCTS can continue to lead the nation in providing services for the 1 in 100 children and families affected by Tourette Syndrome.”
More information about the repository is available by visiting www.rucdr.org. More information about NJCTS is available by calling 908-575-7350 or by visiting www.njcts.org