Antibodies, behavior and cognition

  • Autism Research
Speaker Betty Diamond, M.D.
The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
Date & Time


Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium
160 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10010 United States

Autism Research

Autism Research lectures bring together scientists and scholars to discuss diverse and important topics related to autism.

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On 30 May, Betty Diamond discussed how the immune system can mediate alterations in brain development and play a role in autism, as part of the Simons Foundation Autism Research lecture series.

Alan Brown provided a post-lecture commentary and context for Diamond’s work on epidemiological studies of autism and related disorders.

You can watch a complete video recording of the event above. Use the comments section below to discuss the lecture and pose follow-up questions.

About the Lecture

As neutralizers of microbial agents, antibodies are major contributors to immune competence. Occasionally, however, they act as autoantibodies, which bind to a person’s own tissue, triggering autoimmune disease. In adults, the blood-brain barrier protects the brain against autoantibodies, but that barrier is not fully competent in fetuses, allowing maternal antibodies to penetrate the fetal brain and potentially alter its development. This mechanism may contribute to some cases of autism.

About the Commentator

Alan S. Brown is professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia University and director of the Unit in Birth Cohort Studies at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. His research has focused on prenatal exposure to infectious, immunologic, nutritional and toxic factors, and its association with risk of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism. He demonstrated earlier this year that elevated maternal C-reactive protein, an inflammatory biomarker, is related to a significantly increased risk of autism in the child. He is leading large, multi-site national birth cohort studies of prenatal biomarkers, developmental pathways and familial vulnerability based on an archived biobank and nationwide registries in Finland.

About the Speaker

Betty Diamond is head of the Center for Autoimmune and Musculoskeletal Diseases at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in New York. Her research has focused on the induction and pathogenicity of anti-DNA antibodies in systemic lupus erythematosus. She received the American College of Rheumatology’s Distinguished Investigator Award in 2001, the Lee C. Howley Sr. Prize from the Arthritis Foundation in 2002, and the Recognition Award from the National Association of M.D.-Ph.D. Programs in 2004. Diamond was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2006.

Past Lectures

Rare variants and the genetics of autism

Evan E. Eichler, Ph.D.Professor, Department of Genome Sciences and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Washington, Seattle

Evan Eichler discussed his research on the genetics of autism and related neurodevelopmental conditions.

Phenotyping sleep

Emmanuel Mignot, M.D., Ph.D.Craig Reynolds Professor of Sleep Medicine, Stanford University

Emmanuel Mignot discussed sleep biology as well as sleep disorders and their impact. He presented a link to what is known on the genetics of sleep and sleep disorders. He emphasized the need for large scale objective sleep recording studies with genomic and proteomic analysis to better understand the molecular pathways regulating sleep and circadian biology.

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