Autism genetics: Searching for coherence

  • Autism Research
Speaker Daniel Geschwind, M.D., Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles
Date & Time

4:15 pm - 5:00 pm
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm


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

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Autism Research

Autism Research lectures bring together scientists and scholars to discuss diverse and important topics related to autism. The lectures are open to the public and are held at the Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium at the Simons Foundation headquarters in New York City. Tea is served prior to each lecture.

On 28 November, Daniel Geschwind will discuss his group’s use of RNA sequencing, chromatin structure and gene networks to help develop an understanding of potential convergent mechanisms in autism spectrum disorders.

His talk is part of the Simons Foundation Autism Research lecture series.

About the Lecture

The understanding of autism spectrum disorder as a range of disorders, rather than a singularity, raises the question of whether conditions of the disorders converge on common molecular pathways.

In this lecture, Daniel Geschwind will discuss his group’s use of RNA sequencing, chromatin structure and gene networks to help develop an understanding of potential convergent mechanisms in autism spectrum disorders. He will illustrate how knowledge of chromatin structure informs the understanding of gene regulation during human brain development and disease-associated, non-coding variation.

Geschwind will describe his lab’s work leveraging multiple transcriptomic datasets and gene network analyses to predict how risk genes for autism spectrum disorders affect the development and function of brain circuits. His group now uses this framework to explore convergence and divergence with other neuropsychiatric disorders.

About the Speaker

Daniel Geschwind is the Gordon and Virginia MacDonald Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics, Neurology and Psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. He leads the university’s Institute for Precision Health as senior associate dean and associate vice chancellor of precision health. Geschwind has fostered large-scale collaborative patient resources for genetic research and data sharing in autism research and his laboratory helped pioneer the application of systems biology methods in neurologic and psychiatric diseases. He is an elected member of both the Association of American Physicians and the National Academy of Medicine.

Past Lectures

Understanding autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders: From the embryo to brain organoids

Paola Arlotta, Ph.D.Professor, Harvard University

On 1 November 2017, Paola Arlotta focused on the cerebral cortex and presented the challenges and opportunities of modeling human brain development using pluripotent stem cells within 3D human brain organoids. Building on developmental work in mice, such organoids promise a better understanding of complex neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism spectrum disorder.

Leveraging long-term health data and exome sequencing for autism-related gene discovery

David Ledbetter, Ph.D., FACMGExecutive Vice President & Chief Scientific Officer, Geisinger Health System

On 11 October 2017, David Ledbetter discussed the progress made by Geisinger Health System’s Precision Health Center – in partnership with Regeneron Genetics Center – towards advancing research and innovation by leveraging electronic health data and exome sequence data. Such an approach has already led to the successful identification of new drug targets and improved prevalence estimates of common Mendelian conditions, including familial hypercholesterolemia, BRCA-related cancers and Lynch syndrome, as well as autism spectrum and neuropsychiatric copy number variant disorders.

What can genetics tell us about autism spectrum disorder?

Stephan Sanders, B.M.B.S., Ph.D.Assistant Professor, University of California, San Francisco

On 22 March 2017, Stephan Sanders presented an update on the current state of genetics research in autism, highlighting some of the key findings that remain to be discovered, and discussing how these findings could ultimately benefit individuals with autism and their families.

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