Katherine A. Waugh, Ph.D.
Department of Pharmacology, University of Colorado – Anschutz Medical Campus, USA
Dr. Waugh is an Instructor at the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome and the Department of Pharmacology on the University of Colorado – Anschutz Medical Campus, USA. She studies aberrant interferon signaling in Down syndrome. Trisomy 21 causes Down syndrome, a condition characterized by cognitive impairments, immune dysregulation, atypical morphogenesis, and a different disease spectrum relative to the general population. For example, people born with trisomy 21 experience developmental delays, cognitive impairment, craniofacial abnormalities and high rates of congenital heart defects. These individuals also display a distinct clinical profile, exhibiting a lower risk of most solid malignancies, atherosclerosis, and hypertension, along with an increased risk of severe respiratory viral infections (e.g., COVID-19), Alzheimer’s disease, leukemia, autoimmunity, and autism spectrum disorders. The Crnic Institute combines basic and clinical research to decipher the unique biology and disease spectrum modulated by trisomy 21 with the goal of enabling a precision medicine approach to improve health outcomes for people with Down syndrome. Towards this end, the diverse projects led by Dr. Waugh all seek to investigate hyper-interferon signaling as a potential driver of co-occurring conditions experienced by people with trisomy 21. The overarching hypothesis underlying these works is that triplication of the four interferon receptors encoded on chromosome 21 shapes the diverse hallmarks of Down syndrome. Lastly, as an Early Career Investigator Dr. Waugh currently enjoys the co-mentorship of Drs. Joaquin Espinosa and Kelly Sullivan in her pursuit of hyper-active interferon signaling as a therapeutic node in trisomy 21.