Three independent research teams recently reported that for the first time, specific gene mutations known as 'De novo mutations' are risk factors for autism. One of these teams consisted of NARSAD Young Investigators Daniel Geschwind, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and director of the Neurogenetics Program and Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART) and Nenad Sestan, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of neurobiology at Yale School of Medicine and a member of Yale’s Kavli Institute for Neuroscience. While still unclear the exact causes of these rare genetic mutations, this discovery offers hope for future research breakthroughs leading to a greater understanding of the human genome and its affect on mental illnesses. 2010 NARSAD Independent Investigator, Jonathan Sebat of UC San Diego was not a part of these studies, but commented in the New York Times, “These studies aren’t so much a breakthrough, because we knew this was coming, but I’d say it’s a turning point. We now have a reliable way forward, and I think it’s fair to expect that we will find 20, 30, maybe more such mutations in the next year or two."
Read the article from the New York Times
Read the scientific summary of the research in Nature
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