Grants in Aid of Research Recipient Profile: Atbin Doroodchi

April 14, 2021

atbin_headshotGrant: $500 (Fall 2010)

Education level at time of the grant: Undergraduate student

Project Description: In 2010, Atbin’s undergraduate research focused on understanding the pathophysiology of restless legs syndrome (RLS), a common neurological disorder. Multiple genetic studies have associated polymorphisms in the genes BTBD9 and MEIS-1 to a higher risk of RLS. Furthermore, an altered dopaminergic system is associated with pathogenesis of RLS. However, the functions of BTBD9 and MEIS-1 in the dopaminergic system and RLS are not clear. Atbin utilized the simplicity of the Caenorhabditis elegans nervous system to better elucidate the role of BTBD9 in the dopaminergic system. His work further demonstrated similar results that were evolutionary conserved in mammals. He also examined the interaction between BTBD9 and MEIS1 homologs in C. elegans (hpo-9 and unc-62, respectively), which demonstrated that the hyperactive egg-laying phenotype that was observed in hpo-9 mutants was counteracted by inhibiting unc-62 mRNA through RNAi. This work will help better explain the pathophysiology of RLS, and the Grants in Aid of Research award tremendously supported the project’s advancement.

How has the project influenced him as a scientist? The project introduced Atbin to the basics of scientific research. Particularly, the support provided by Sigma Xi’s Grants in Aid of Research award has helped open multiple career opportunities for him. He is extremely grateful to Sigma Xi, as well as to his mentors throughout his career: Dr. Diane Tucker of University of Alabama at Birmingham, Dr. Samir Khleif of Georgetown University, Dr. Jack Yu of Medical College of Georgia, and Dr. Yuqing Li of University of Florida.

Where is he now? Atbin is currently a fourth-year surgery resident at the Medical College of Georgia. He is planning a career in plastic and reconstructive surgery as a surgeon–scientist.

Students may apply for Sigma Xi research grants by March 15 and October 1 annually at


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