Imaging early brain development in autism

  • Autism Research
Speaker David Amaral, Ph.D.
University of California, Davis
Date & Time


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.

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On 26 February, David Amaral presented evidence supporting the concept that there are different types of altered brain development among children with autism.

His talk is part of SFARI’s Autism: Emerging Concepts lecture series. You can watch a complete video recording of the event above.
 

About the Lecture

Autism clearly involves altered function of the central nervous system, but the neuropathology of the disorder remains controversial. This is due in part to the enormous complexity of the disorder, with many possible causes and biological trajectories. What’s more, few neuroimaging studies involve young children or severely affected individuals. This lack of information is compounded by the fact that findings from magnetic resonance imaging cannot be confirmed and extended to the cellular level because of a lack of postmortem brains.

About the Speaker

David Amaral joined the University of California, Davis, in 1995 as a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and the Center for Neuroscience. He is a staff scientist in the Brain, Mind and Behavior Unit at the California National Primate Research Center. Amaral was named the Beneto Foundation Chair and research director of the MIND Institute in 1998. He received a joint Ph.D. in psychology and neurobiology from the University of Rochester.

Amaral’s research focuses on the neurobiology of social behavior and the development and neuroanatomical organization and plasticity of the primate and human amygdala and hippocampus. Increasingly, his research has been dedicated to understanding the biological basis of autism. As research director of the MIND Institute, Amaral coordinates a comprehensive and multidisciplinary analysis of children with autism, called the Autism Phenome Project, which aims to define biomedical characteristics of different types of autism.

Most recently, Amaral became director of Autism BrainNet, a collaborative effort sponsored by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative and Autism Speaks. The new project aims to solicit postmortem brain tissue to facilitate autism research.

Past Lectures

What do we mean by ‘autism risk genes’?

David Ledbetter, Ph.D.
Chief Clinical Officer, Dascena

Joseph Buxbaum, Ph.D.
Director, Seaver Autism Center
Professor, Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Genetics and Genomic Sciences
Vice Chair for Research and Vice Chair for Mentoring, Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Heather Mefford, M.D., Ph.D.
Full Member, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

David Ledbetter and Joseph Buxbaum discussed whether there are genes for which mutations confer risk specific to autism or whether these genes are really conferring general risk of disrupted brain development. The discussion was moderated by Heather Mefford.

Small molecules, genes and antisense oligonucleotides: Industry perspectives on treatment development for ASD

Federico Bolognani, M.D., Ph.D.
Vice President, Head of Clinical Science, Axial Therapeutics

Stuart Cobb, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Officer, Neurogene; Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh

Yael Weiss, M.D., Ph.D.
Vice President, Business Development, Ultragenyx

Randy Carpenter, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer, Rett Syndrome Research Trust; Co-Founder, Allos Pharma

Federico Bolognani, Stuart Cobb, and Yael Weiss joined a panel to discuss new industry developments on the use of small molecules, gene therapy and antisense oligonucleotides as treatment approaches for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The panel discussion was moderated by Randall Carpenter.

New research results from the Australian Autism Biobank study

Jake Gratten, Ph.D.Group Leader, Mater Research Institute, The University of Queensland
Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Molecular Bioscience
Naomi Wray, Ph.D.National Health and Medical Research Council Leadership Fellow – Group Leader, Institute for Molecular Bioscience
Affiliate Professor, Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland

Jake Gratten and Naomi Wray presented findings from the Australian Autism Biobank study, an initiative to establish an Australian resource of biospecimens, phenotypes and genomic data for autism research.

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