Exploiting genetics to identify environmental risks for autism

  • Autism Research
Speaker Mark Zylka, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Date & Time


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

Location

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. 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 22 February 2017, Mark Zylka described how candidate environmental risk factors for autism can be identified rationally, by pinpointing chemicals that interfere with the same molecular pathways that are affected in individuals with autism.

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

About the Lecture

Our inability to identify environmental threats to the brain early — before they cause disease — represents one of the major challenges of our time. This challenge is particularly relevant to autism, which affects 1 in 68 individuals. Heritability studies indicate that environmental factors contribute to autism risk.

In this lecture, Mark Zylka described how candidate environmental risk factors for autism can be identified rationally, by pinpointing chemicals that interfere with the same molecular pathways that are affected in individuals with autism. His research focuses on identifying environmental-use chemicals that target autism-linked molecular pathways, using environmental sampling data to assess the exposure threat to people, and validating risk potential in animal models.

About the Speaker

Mark Zylka is Director of the Neuroscience Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received his B.S. in biochemistry from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and his Ph.D. in neurobiology from Harvard University. While at Harvard, he identified several of the core circadian-clock genes and determined how these genes contribute to circadian rhythms in mammals. As a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology, he identified a large family of receptors that regulate pain and itch. Zylka’s lab focuses on pain research and studying genetic and environmental risks for autism.

Past Lectures

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.

Exploiting genetics to identify environmental risks for autism

Mark Zylka, Ph.D.Professor and Director, Neuroscience Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

On 22 February 2017, Mark Zylka described how candidate environmental risk factors for autism can be identified rationally, by pinpointing chemicals that interfere with the same molecular pathways that are affected in individuals with autism.

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