Autism is a remarkably heterogeneous condition with multiple genetic and non-genetic causes leading to a wide variety of phenotypic outcomes. The main goal of the research conducted in our center is to characterize the biological mechanisms underlying different types of autism and identify the most effective therapies for each child with the disorder.
We believe that performing this research requires collaboration between scientists with expertise in different fields including medicine, epidemiology, molecular biology, genetics, neuroscience, psychology, and computer science. Separating children with autism into distinct groups with more homogenous features requires examination of multiple features including genetics, clinical comorbidities, behavioral profiles, and brain function.
“If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism”
We envision that characterizing specific homogeneous sub-groups of children with autism will lead to several extremely important advances:
Enable a faster and more reliable diagnosis process where parents will receive more definitive answers regarding the current state and future development of their children based on objective biological measures such as blood tests and EEG exams.
Enable early identification of children who are at risk for developing autism during the first year of life (before the development of behavioral deficits). This will enable development and application of early targeted therapies (both behavioral and biological) that will be applied to reduce or even prevent the emergence of symptoms.
Enable identification and development of new medical treatments that will focus on specific sub-groups of children with autism who have specific biological abnormalities.
To address these research goals we have established in January 2015 the National Hospital-University-Based (HUB) database of autism which contains comprehensive data from diverse scientific and clinical disciplines on ~150 children diagnosed with autism each year.
Our Latest Projects
In this study toddlers suspected of autism are asked to view several short movies in a 15-20 minute experiment.
Whole Genome Sequencing
This study involves collection of saliva samples from all family members (affected child, siblings, and parents) for whole genome sequencing.