An Attempt at Redefining Autism for the Biological Sciences: Implications and Translational Opportunities

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Simons Foundation Lectures are free public colloquia related to basic science and mathematics. These high-level talks are intended for professors, students, postdocs and business professionals, but interested people from the metropolitan area are welcome as well.
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In this presentation, Ami Klin will present infant and toddler data on two behavioral assays measuring highly conserved and developmentally early emerging social adaptive behaviors. His findings suggest that these measures are more proximal to gene expression, better capture unfolding social adaptive developmental mechanisms and are more presymptomatic and more highly quantitative than prior work. The findings have the potential to bridge genetic determinants and symptomatic outcomes, create a common framework for gene-brain-behavior research and constrain future models of pathogenesis.

These concepts also have translational value in addressing autism as a public health challenge via efforts to develop community-viable systems to reduce age of diagnosis and improve access to early care in the general population. Klin’s programmatic goal at the Marcus Autism Center research enterprise is to capitalize on new science in order to address still-intractable health care challenges.

About the Speaker

Ami Klin, Ph.D., is Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar Professor and director of the division of autism and developmental disabilities at Emory University School of Medicine, and chief of the Marcus Autism Center, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of London and completed clinical and research work at Yale University’s Child Study Center. Until 2010, he directed the autism program at the Yale Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine, and was Harris Professor of Child Psychology and Psychiatry there.

Klin’s primary research focuses on the social mind and brain, and on the developmental aspects of autism from infancy through adulthood. He is the author of over 180 publications in the field of autism and related conditions and the co-editor of Asperger Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders in Infants and Toddlers, the third edition of the Handbook of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders and several special issues of professional journals focused on autism spectrum disorders.

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