Cracking the Autism Code by Correcting Hampered Synapses

Project: Research project


Using new analytical tools, I aim to “crack the code” of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by characterizing protein networks in brain synapses implicated in ASD and to explore how to correct them. This research promises to inform the development of drugs to target malfunctioning synapses, a crucial first step towards an effective treatment of ASD. ASD comprises a group of disorders in brain development diagnosed based on restricted repetitive behaviors and difficulties in communicating effectively. In minor cases, early intervention can improve children’s prognosis, but in severe cases, individuals require nursing throughout their lives. Children with ASD have an increased risk of intellectual disabilities, epilepsy, and attention deficit disorder. Current estimates suggest that an astonishing 1 in 68 children at 8 years of age in the US and 3.5 million Americans of all ages suffer from ASD. In 2011 alone, the estimated cost for the care of these children exceeded 9 billion dollars.
Currently, no treatments for ASD are available. Due to the complex nature of the CNS, many large pharmaceutical companies have reduced their investment in treating neurological disorders like ASD. Governmental sources provide some sustained funding for established research laboratories, but rarely fund unproven early stage research like that proposed here.
Effective start/end date4/1/163/31/19


  • Hartwell Foundation (Letter 4/1/16)


Autistic Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Brain Diseases
Financial Management
Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity
Child Care
Nervous System Diseases
Intellectual Disability
Pharmaceutical Preparations
Costs and Cost Analysis