Genetic Discoveries in Autism Research May Help Kids With Autism, Expert Says

Genetic Discoveries May Help Kids With Autism, Expert Says

Recent discoveries in autism research and epigenetics could soon make a clinical difference for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and other conditions, according to an expert.

The implications go beyond targeting treatment for an individual child in your practice based on a specific genetic mutation, Dr. Hakon Hakonarson, director of the center for applied genomics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said at a pediatric update sponsored by Miami Children’s Hospital. Recent advances point to gene alterations that modify shared pathways, so the potential for wider application beyond ADHD and ASD — such as unexpected discoveries related to pediatric neuroblastoma — is a real possibility.

Dr. Hakonarson is a member of ICare4Autism’s Advisory Council and will be speaking about the gene networks underlying autism targeted for therapeutic intervention at the upcoming ICare4Autism International Autism Conference being held in Israel.

Hakon Hakonarson, M.D., Ph.D., is an associate professor of Pediatrics at The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.  He is a physician-scientist and director of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Applied Genomics (CAG), a high-throughput highly automated genotyping facility founded to identify the genetic causes of complex medical disorders in children, such as autism and cancer, with the objective of developing new therapies.

Dr. Hakonarson has an extensive track record in human genetics and has developed an international reputation amongst his peers. He has served previously in several senior posts in the biopharmaceutical industry, including as the director of Inflammatory and Pharmacogenomics Research and the vice president of Clinical Sciences and Development and CSO.

Dr. Hakonarson has also been the principal and co-principal investigator on several NIH-sponsored grants, and he has published numerous high-impact papers on genomic discoveries and their translations in some of the most prestigious scientific medical journals, including Nature, Nature Genetics and The New England Journal of Medicine.

Time Magazine listed Dr. Hakonarson’s autism gene discovery reported in Nature, 2009, among the top 10 medical breakthroughs of that year. With over ten years of experience in pioneering genomics research and genome-wide mapping and association studies, Dr. Hakonarson has intimate knowledge of the complexities of large-scale genomics projects and has put together the necessary infrastructure and workflow processes to unravel these complexities.

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