Session List

Why Genomics is Important in Autism Research

Presenter: Stephen Scherer, PhD, DSc, FRSC

Date/Time: Friday, December 2 2016 1:00pm - 2:30pm

Room: 105

Description:

Twenty years ago Autism Spectrum Disorder was an enigma, with very little known about it. Autism, previously thought to be strictly a behavioural disorder, can have a biological basis and that specific genes can be involved. In fact, dozens of genes have now been identified as susceptibility factors involved in autism. Some specific ASD-causing genes are now used in diagnostic testing. Combined, these genes account for approximately 20% of individuals with autism, and they make proteins that control how brain cells communicate with each other. With the astounding technical breakthroughs that are now starting to enable complete human genome sequencing, which decodes all 3 billion genetic letters in the DNA blueprint in a single experiment, we expect that we'll soon find even more ASD risk genes. Steve Scherer is the lead for the monumental international project:  MSSNG (finding the missing information in autism) It is the world's largest genomic database for autism research. MSSNG's goal is to provide the best resource for researchers around the world to enable the identification of many subtypes of autism, which will lead to better diagnostics and new medicines.

Learning Objectives:

  1. To provide the most recent update in advances in the understanding of the genetic factors involved in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD);
  2. To explain how this new genetic information may be useful to enable early identification of ASD;
  3. To discuss the importance of the massive Autism Speaks-Google-SickKids led MSSNG whole genome sequencing project;
  4. To discuss how the development of new diagnostics, medicines and clinical trials will be empowered through genome research.

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