UCLA faculty experts advisory: genes and autism

Media Contact

Elaine Schmidt
(310) 794-2272
Research teams from Boston, UCLA, Yale and Johns Hopkins each have independently published studies identifying new genes linked to autism, a complex brain disorder that strikes one in 150 American children, often disrupting their behavior and ability to communicate and form social relationships. UCLA faculty experts are available to comment on the significance of the new findings and what they mean for families with autistic children.
 
Stanley Nelson, professor of human genetics at the Geffen School of Medicine, has studied the DNA of hundreds of families with at least two siblings affected by autism in an effort to discover genes that predispose children to the disease. He can address why the disorder strikes four times as many boys as girls and possible reasons why diagnosis rates have expanded tenfold in the past decade.
Nelson's lab
 
Maricela Alarcón, assistant professor of neurology, is first author of the UCLA study published Jan. 10 in the online American Journal of Human Genetics. She and her colleagues used language onset — the age when a child speaks his or her first word — as a tool for identifying a new gene linked to autism. Delayed speech is a common symptom in autistic children. She can discuss her findings and explore why strongest evidence for the genetic link came from the DNA of families with autistic boys.
More on Alarcon
Center for Autism Research and Treatment
 
Pegeen Cronin, director of the UCLA Autism Evaluation Clinic, is a clinical psychologist who can address the latest clinical research and guidelines for diagnosis and assessment of autism spectrum disorders.
More on Cronin
UCLA Autism Evaluation Clinic
 
For video footage about UCLA's autism research and clinical interventions for toddlers, go to http://web3.streamhoster.com/rpvideo/VitalSignsAutism.rm.
 
Media contact: Elaine Schmidt, (310) 794-2272 [email protected]
Media Contact:
Elaine Schmidt
(310) 794-2272
[email protected]