Making up your mind: Interneurons in development and disease

  • Autism Research
Speaker Gordon Fishell, Ph.D.
Harvard University
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. 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.

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On 27 January 2016, Gordon Fishell described his investigations of the developmental and genetic origins of interneuron development.

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

About the Lecture

Interneurons within the brain, in the cortex and hippocampus in particular, are central for normal brain function, and conversely, dysfunction of these cell types is thought to result in developmental neurological disorders. The Fishell laboratory combines genetic and physiological approaches to examine the origins of these populations and their integration into brain circuitry.

In this lecture, Gordon Fishell described his investigations of the developmental and genetic origins of interneuron development. This process begins with their specification, during which genetic programs initiated within progenitors relegate interneurons into specific cardinal classes. Subsequent to this, neuronal activity is fundamental for both the laminar positioning as well as the dendritic and axonal arborization in at least some interneuron subtypes. Fishell’s findings suggest that sensory information complements earlier established genetic programs to shape the way interneuronal subtypes integrate into nascent cortical circuits. Importantly, many of the genes involved in the maturation of interneurons appear to also be implicated in neuropsychiatric diseases, including autism and schizophrenia.

About the Speaker

Gordon J. Fishell, Ph.D., is associate director of the NYU Neuroscience Institute, Julius Raines Professor of Neuroscience and Physiology, and director of the Graduate Program in Neuroscience and Physiology at New York University (NYU) School of Medicine. Fishell is a long-standing member of the NYU School of Medicine community, having joined the developmental genetics program in the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine in 1994. In 2006, he launched the Smilow Neuroscience Program, and in 2011 he became associate director of the then-newly-formed NYU Neuroscience Institute.

Past Lectures

Phenotyping sleep

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

On September 16, 2020, 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.

Progress in understanding the genetic basis of mental health

Benjamin Neale, Ph.D.Associate Professor, Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital
Associate Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Associated Researcher, Broad Institute

On May 6, 2020, Benjamin Neale discussed progress in mapping genetic risk factors for autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Autism, autisms, or neurodevelopmental disorders?

Jason Lerch, Ph.D.Director of Preclinical Imaging, Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, University of Oxford
Adjunct Scientist, Mouse Imaging Centre, The Hospital for Sick Children
Associate Professor in Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto

On January 29, 2020, Jason Lerch explored this question: What do modern ways of looking at brains and genes tell us about autism – or autisms – and its relation to attention deficit disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other related disorders of brain development?

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