The genetic influences on autism spectrum disorder risk

  • Autism Research
Speaker Elise Robinson, Sc.D.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Date & Time


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

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

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

About the lecture

For decades, scientists have known that genetic factors contribute to autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Ongoing research is identifying the genes responsible, and recent studies have produced an unprecedented volume of genetic associations to ASDs.

In this lecture, Elise Robinson will provide an overview of these findings. She will discuss both rare and common genetic risk factors. She will also outline challenges to the interpretation of these findings as well as the next steps in understanding the role genetics plays in autism.

About the Speaker

Elise Robinson is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and an associate member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. She is also an affiliated faculty member with the Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Robinson’s research focuses on the genetic epidemiology of behavior and cognition. She is interested in using genetic data to understand the biology of neurodevelopmental variation and to study differences within and between neuropsychiatric disorders. She received a Sc.D. in psychiatric epidemiology from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and completed postdoctoral training at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute.

Past Lectures

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.

Thinking differently about neurodevelopmental disorders and autism: Lumping vs. splitting

Evdokia Anagnostou, M.D.Assistant Director, Bloorview Research Institute
Child Neurologist and Senior Clinician Scientist, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Toronto

On September 26, 2018, Evdokia Anagnostou discussed the challenge of rethinking classification systems and diagnostic labels for autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders in light of recent findings from research and clinical studies.

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