On the road to precision health: Brain-based biomarkers in autism spectrum disorder

  • Autism Research
Speaker Shafali Spurling Jeste, M.D.
University of California, Los Angeles
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. 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 7 February 2018, Shafali Spurling Jeste provided a topical overview of the current state of research in autism biomarkers. She shared data from studies of autism biomarkers in three key areas: early risk prediction (studies of high-risk infants), heterogeneity within the autism spectrum and genetically defined subgroups within autism. Finally, she discussed the challenges around clinical trial design and development and considered how more objective measures of brain function can improve clinical trials.

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

About the Lecture

Autism has well-established roots in disruptions during the development of neural networks. Functional neuroimaging methods, such as electroencephalography (EEG), can measure these brain changes, with such measurements serving as robust “biomarkers” of the condition. Studies of autism biomarkers can enhance our ability to predict atypical development early in infancy and can improve both the selection of trial participants and quantification of brain changes with treatment in clinical trials. However, autism biomarker studies face many challenges, from methods in data collection to the generalizability of findings to the broader autism spectrum.

In this lecture, Shafali Spurling Jeste provided a topical overview of the current state of research in autism biomarkers. She shared data from studies of autism biomarkers in three key areas: early risk prediction (studies of high-risk infants), heterogeneity within the autism spectrum and genetically defined subgroups within autism. Finally, she discussed the challenges around clinical trial design and development and considered how more objective measures of brain function can improve clinical trials.

About the Speaker

Shafali Spurling Jeste is a behavioral child neurologist specializing in autism and neurodevelopmental disorders. After earning her B.A. in philosophy from Yale University and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School, she completed both child neurology and developmental neuroscience fellowships at Boston Children’s Hospital. Since 2010, she has directed the biomarkers core of the University of California, Los Angeles, Center for Autism Research and Treatment. Her extensive research program integrates genetics with functional electroencephalography to inform early risk prediction, treatment targets and clinical trials in autism, motivated by the ultimate goal of improving treatments and outcomes in infants and children with autism.

Past Lectures

The genetic influences on autism spectrum disorder risk

Elise Robinson, Sc.D.Assistant Professor, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Associate Member, Broad Institute

On January 30, 2019, Elise Robinson provided an overview of the role that genetic factors play in autism spectrum disorders and discussed the next steps to further understand autism genetics.

The predictive impairment hypothesis in autism: An empirical assessment

Pawan Sinha, Ph.D.Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dagmar Sternad, Ph.D.Professor, Northeastern University

On December 12, 2018, Pawan Sinha and Dagmar Sternad reviewed a recently proposed hypothesis about the nature of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) that posits that the common traits of the disorder are manifestations of an individual’s difficulty in making predictions about cause and effect.

Rethinking autism and animal models: A systems perspective

André Fenton, Ph.D.Professor, Center for Neural Science, New York University

On November 28, 2018, André Fenton discussed work with mouse genetic models of fragile X syndrome (FXS) – the most common single-gene cause of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) symptoms – and focused on the utility of such models to evaluate hypotheses for understanding ASD. He evaluated distinct hypotheses by assessing synapse function and the action potential discharge of knowledge-expressing hippocampus “place cells” during behaviors that require varying cognitive effort.

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