Autism Research lectures bring together scientists and scholars to discuss diverse and important topics related to autism.
On October 30, 2019, Gloria Choi discussed her work using mouse models of maternal immune activation to study the role of maternal infection in neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder.
Her talk is part of the Simons Foundation Autism Research lecture series.
Viral infection during pregnancy correlates with increased frequency of neurodevelopmental disorders in offspring. This phenomenon has been modeled in mice prenatally subjected to maternal immune activation (MIA).
In this lecture, Gloria Choi discussed her work using MIA mouse models to study the role of maternal infection in neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder. She and her colleagues have shown that the T helper 17 (Th17) cell/interleukin-17a (IL-17a) pathway is crucial in pregnant mice for the induction of both cortical and behavioral abnormalities observed in MIA-affected offspring. They further showed that MIA phenotypes in offspring also require defined maternal gut commensal bacteria with a propensity to induce Th17 cells. More recent data suggest that cortical abnormalities in MIA offspring serve as causative factors for the emergence of aberrant behavioral phenotypes.
Gloria Choi is the Samuel A. Goldblith Career Development Assistant Professor of Applied Biology at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and completed her Ph.D. at the California Institute of Technology, where she worked in the laboratory of David Anderson. She then went on to Columbia University, where she was a post-doctoral scientist in the laboratory of Richard Axel.
Choi’s laboratory investigates the interaction between the immune system and the brain. In recent publications, she has shown how the maternal microbiome and immune activation can influence the neurodevelopment of offspring. She has received numerous awards and recognitions for her contributions to the field, including the Peter Gruss Young Investigator award in 2018 and being named one of Cell magazine’s 40 under 40.