The incidence of autistic spectrum disorders has recently been estimated to be as high as 1 out of every 166 births.  It has become generally accepted that autism, in its various forms, represents a genetic and developmental, rather than a psychological, disorder.  While some recent progress has been made in the identification of autism susceptibility genes, very little is known about the functions of these genes during embryonic and neonatal development of the nervous system.  Dr. Robert Ho, Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, plans to investigate the role of a functional variant of the oncogene MET that was found to be associated within families in which two or more siblings have been diagnosed with autism. Dr. Ho hypothesizes that MET plays a role in the correct migratory behavior of neuronal precursor cells.  By understanding the immediate cellular functions of the MET pathway and correlating these functions to large-scale changes in brain architecture, Dr. Ho hopes to determine if changes in MET pathway can lead to changes in the development of specific brain structures which might contribute to the autistic phenotype.  The goal is to contribute to an understanding of how autism can be better diagnosed and prevented.

Other Grants

Sarah C. Goetz, Ph.D., Duke University
Uncovering a Novel Role for Primary Cilia in Eph/Ephrin Signaling in Neurons
2022 Seed GrantSarah C. Goetz, Ph.D. Duke University Women’s Council Seed Grant Primary cilia are tiny projections from cells that function like an antenna- they receive and may also send…
Erin M. Gibson, Ph.D., Stanford University
Circadian Regulation of Oligodendroglial Senescence and Metabolomics in Aging
2022 Seed GrantErin M. Gibson, Ph.D.Stanford University The brain consists of two main classes of cells, neurons and glia. Glia make-up more than half of the cells in the brain…
Yvette Fisher, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Dynamic Modulation of Synaptic Plasticity During Spatial Exploration
2022 Seed GrantYvette Fisher, Ph.D.University of California, Berkeley The Virginia (Ginny) & Roger Carlson Seed Grant Cognitive flexibility is critical for appropriately adjusting thoughts and behaviors to meet changing demands…
Byoung Il Bae, Ph.D., University of Connecticut
Unique Vulnerability of Developing Human Cerebral Cortex to Loss of Centrosomal Protein
2022 Seed GrantByoung Il Bae, Ph.D.University of Connecticut Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation Seed Grant The cerebral cortex is the largest and outermost part of the human brain. It is…