On February 22, 2018, SFARI organized a workshop on the uses of digital tools for phenotyping cognition and behavior in brain disorders. Goals of the workshop included learning more about technologies that can reproducibly and accurately measure autism-relevant behaviors and discussing how the tens of thousands of participants recruited through SPARK can help to collect data on and phenotype autism behaviors at scale.
On April 17, 2018, molecular neuroscientists and geneticists gathered at the Simons Foundation for a workshop on the role of chromatin-associated proteins in autism spectrum disorder. The workshop discussed the biology and function of these proteins in brain development, while considering translational opportunities and evaluating ways that SFARI could potentially help move research in this area forward.
On May 15, 2018, SFARI convened a workshop to revisit the excitation/inhibition (E/I) hypothesis of autism, a synaptic-based account of the disorder that has been highly influential in the last fifteen years of autism research. The workshop critically evaluated the E/I hypothesis in light of the current knowledge of autism pathophysiology and called for a more precise definition of the hypothesis that can help enable translational opportunities from animal- to human-based research.
On January 26, 2018, SFARI held a workshop to discuss the use of zebrafish in autism research. Experts in both rodent and fish models discussed key issues in the field, including zebrafish mutant construct validity, the visualization of circuit development and function, and high-throughput phenotyping and pharmacological screens for translational opportunities.
SFARI held its thirteenth science meeting April 8–12, 2018. SFARI investigators, collaborators and foundation staff came together to discuss recent findings in autism genetics, molecular and system-level mechanisms, and clinical studies. In addition to keynote and session presentations, two panels convened investigators to discuss the current state of autism genetics research and the biology of SCN2A, a high-confidence autism risk gene.
On April 10, 2018, SFARI held a workshop to discuss online platforms for visualizing and analyzing SFARI genomics data. These platforms included the Genotypes and Phenotypes in Families web interface, created by SFARI Investigator Ivan Iossifov’s team, and Hub.iobio, which is currently being developed by Frameshift.
SFARI held its seventh science meeting from April 12-14, gathering together more than 100 SFARI-supported autism researchers.
SFARI hosted a Circuit Dynamics Workshop to explore the role of neural circuits in autism.