One brain, many genomes: Somatic mutation and genomic variability in human cerebral cortex

  • Autism Research
Speaker Christopher Walsh, M.D., Ph.D.
Boston Children's Hospital
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.

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On 27 April 2016, Christopher Walsh reviewed recent work on ‘somatic mutations’ — de novo mutations that are present in some brain cells but not in all cells of the body — in several neurological conditions associated with intellectual disability and seizures.

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

About the Lecture

Christopher Walsh and his team are interested in genetic mechanisms of cerebral cortical development and abnormalities of cortical development resulting in intellectual disability, autism and epilepsy. The lab pioneered the analysis of recessive causes of autism by studying children with autism whose parents share ancestry.

In this lecture, Walsh reviewed recent work on ‘somatic mutations’ — de novo mutations that are present in some brain cells but not in all cells of the body — in several neurological conditions associated with intellectual disability and seizures. His talk also covered the extent to which somatic mutations are an inevitable part of normal brain development, such that the neurons in the human brain are a tapestry of cells with distinct genomes. The relevance of somatic mutations to autism was also discussed.

About the Speaker

Christopher A. Walsh is Chief of the Division of Genetics and Genomics at Boston Children’s Hospital, Bullard Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology at Harvard Medical School, and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He completed the M.D. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Chicago, trained in neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and has been at Children’s Hospital since 2006.

Past Lectures

Altered somatosensory processing in autism spectrum disorders: Mechanisms and emerging therapeutic opportunities

David Ginty, Ph.D.Professor of Neurobiology, Harvard University

On April 24, 2019, David Ginty presented his work on the neurobiological basis of touch over-reactivity in mouse models of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). He also discussed new pharmacological approaches aimed at reducing sensory over-reactivity and potentially improving cognitive and behavioral abnormalities associated with ASD.

Mapping human cerebral cortex: Structure, function, connectivity, development and evolution

David Van Essen, Ph.D.Alumni Endowed Professor, Washington University in St. Louis

On April 3, 2019, David Van Essen provided an overview of basic principles of cortical organization and connectivity from studies of laboratory animals and analyses of individual variability in humans. He also highlighted a new map (‘parcellation’) of the human cerebral cortex based on data from the Human Connectome Project.

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.

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