Neuroimmune interactions shaping social behavior in mouse models for neurodevelopmental disorders

  • Autism Research
Speaker Gloria B. Choi, Ph.D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Date & Time


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

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

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 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.

About the Lecture

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.

About the Speaker

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.

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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