On the Road to Precision Health: Brain-Based Biomarkers in Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Speaker
  • Shafali Spurling Jeste, M.D. Director, Developmental Neurophysiology Lab, Center for Autism Research and Treatment , University of California, Los Angeles
Date & Time

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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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Autism has well-established roots in disruptions during the development of neural networks. Functional neuroimaging methods, such as electroencephalography (EEG), can measure these brain changes, with such measurements serving as robust “biomarkers” of the condition. Studies of autism biomarkers can enhance our ability to predict atypical development early in infancy and can improve both the selection of trial participants and quantification of brain changes with treatment in clinical trials. However, autism biomarker studies face many challenges, from methods in data collection to the generalizability of findings to the broader autism spectrum.

In this lecture, Shafali Spurling Jeste will provide a topical overview of the current state of research in autism biomarkers. She will share data from studies of autism biomarkers in three key areas: early risk prediction (studies of high-risk infants), heterogeneity within the autism spectrum and genetically defined subgroups within autism. Finally, she will discuss the challenges around clinical trial design and development and consider how more objective measures of brain function can improve clinical trials.

About the Speaker

Jeste is a behavioral child neurologist specializing in autism and neurodevelopmental disorders. After earning her B.A. in philosophy from Yale University and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School, she completed both child neurology and developmental neuroscience fellowships at Boston Children’s Hospital. Since 2010, she has directed the biomarkers core of the UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment. Her extensive research program integrates genetics with functional electroencephalography to inform early risk prediction, treatment targets and clinical trials in autism, motivated by the ultimate goal of improving treatments and outcomes in infants and children with autism.

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