Highlighted speakers at first IMFAR conference challenge researchers to raise the bar on autism research

(SAN DIEGO, CALIF.) As a part of the inaugural International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) conference, four prominent autism scientists will identify the current level of understanding in the areas of genetics, neuroscience, the incidences (or epidemiological trends) and diagnosis of autism and present a look at where the fields are headed.

IMFAR will hold its first conference on Nov. 9 and 10 to promote communication and facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration among scientists researching the disorder.

We have brought together some of the pre-eminent researchers who understand the challenge that autism presents, said David G. Amaral, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at UC Davis School of Medicine and research director at the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute, one of the sponsors of the IMFAR conference. These speakers will challenge their peers to go beyond that foundation and to further expand our current level of understanding of this disorder.

Is autism inherited?

Anthony Bailey, M.D., is an MRC Clinical Scientist in The Centre for Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry at The Institute of Psychiatry and an Honorary Consultant in Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at The Maudsley Hospital in London, England. Bailey will summarize research into the genetics of autism that has pinpointed some areas for further exploration.

While a number of chromosomal regions have been identified as possible locations for disease vulnerability genes, several recent studies have pointed to one region 7q as particularly likely to be involved. In this region, some researchers have claimed that variants of genes expressed in the human thalamus or cortex may be associated with autism susceptibility.

Currently other genes in this region involved in brain development are also being actively studied. Bailey added that while some people have a genetic susceptibility to develop autism, either chance or environmental factors seem to de

Contact: Susan Bennett
University of California, Davis - Health System

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