Five institutes at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and three private autism organizations have formed a consortium to pursue their common goal of understanding a devastating disorder.
This public-private partnership has funded five grants representing three projects to identify genes that may contribute to the development of autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders.
National Institute of Mental Health will administer the $10.8 million awards over the next five years.
The participating NIH institutes are The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
“This initiative seeks to expand our knowledge of the genetic factors involved in this disorder that affects so many families,” said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D.
“New technologies in gene research can allow scientists to better understand the role genes play in the development of autism, and eventually lead to better treatments.”
Five grants have been awarded to three teams of investigators:
- A three-site collaborative project, involving Rutgers University, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and University of Iowa, for a project entitled “Identification and Functional Assessment of Autism Susceptibility Genes” with investigators Linda Brzustowicz, M.D., James Millonig, Ph.D., and Veronica Vieland, Ph.D., respectively.
- Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for a project entitled, “Determining the Genetic Basis of Autism by High-Resolution Analysis of Copy Number,” directed by Jonathan Sebat, Ph.D.
- Emory University, for a project entitled, “Identifying Autism Susceptibility Genes by High-Throughput Chip Resequencing,” directed by Michael Zwick, Ph.D.
The three-site collaborative project uses statistical methods, fine mapping of candidate regions across the genome, and animal models in the search for autism susceptibility genes.