Rutgers geneticist to battle autism with $3.7 million NIH grant

today is about 10 times more prevalent than it was in the 1980s. In New Jersey, the Department of Education reported 1,042 autistic children in 1994, a statistic that jumped to 3,984 by 2001.

A group of 150 New Jersey families will be selected for study by Brzustowicz and her colleagues at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). They are specifically looking for families that have an autistic member and other nonautistic relatives who exhibit traits associated with the illness such as problems with language.

"Our strategy is to examine the hereditary patterns of the individual characteristics that make up the spectrum of behaviors that constitute this disorder," said Brzustowicz, who is also a board certified psychiatrist and associate professor of psychiatry at UMDNJ. "In doing so, we hope to be able to more easily find the genes that are linked to specific components, one at a time."

Brzustowicz and her colleagues will also obtain 850 sets of previously collected and stored "trio" samples, consisting of specimens of genetic material from autistic individuals and their parents. This genetic material will be analyzed and compared a child's to each of the two parents' to more precisely define genes linked to autism.

The trios will be drawn from the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE) and the NIMH Human Genetics Initiative samples, both of which are contained in the Rutgers University Cell and DNA Repository, a storehouse of cell lines cultured from blood samples donated by more than 40,000 people around the world. Trios will also be drawn from the Coriell Autism Resource.


Contact: Joseph Blumberg
732-932-7084 x652
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

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