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Using Big Data to Address Challenges in Autism Research

Tuesday, April 26, 2016, 11:00am EDT

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Alycia Halladay, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Officer
Autism Science Foundation


Elise Robinson, Ph.D.
Instructor in Medicine
Massachusetts General Hospital


The latest prevalence numbers suggest that 1:68 children are affected by autism spectrum disorder.  While autism spectrum disorder is characterized by core symptoms in social communication impairments and presence of repetitive or stereotyped behaviors, there is still an enormous amount of variability in these features.  This variability has made research into the causes, diagnosis, and effective treatment strategies for ASD challenging.  

In this webinar, experts will outline the variability in the features and behaviors associated with ASD and highlight how studies of large groups of people with detailed symptom information have informed researchers and clinicians to advance the knowledge and understanding of people with ASD.

Dr. Robinson is interested in using genetic data to understand the biology of neurodevelopmental variation, and to study differences within and between psychiatric disorders. She uses data and results from large genomics consortia to examine disease patterns in population samples. 

Robinson’s work to date has linked the genetic risk factors for severe neuropsychiatric disorders to variation in behavior in the general population, and has evaluated continuous trait and quantitative models of disease risk. She has also studied sex differences in psychiatric disease, as well as types of genetic risk more likely to associate with both cognition and behavior.

Dr. Halladay is the CSO of the Autism Science Foundation. Prior to joining ASF in 2014, she spent 9 years working in the autism advocacy community, first with the National Alliance for Autism Research, then with Autism Speaks.  

She holds a PhD in psychology from Rutgers and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Rutgers in the department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.  Alycia has twin daughters, one of whom has been diagnosed with ASD.