Autism: Rutgers-Columbus Collaboration (ARCC)
The ARCC project is a collaborative autism research effort between our laboratory and the laboratories of Dr. Veronica Vieland at the Battelle Center for Mathematical Medicine in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital & The Ohio State University and Drs. Jim Millonig and Manny DiCicco-Bloom at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. This collaborative group has identified EN2 as an autism susceptibility gene (Gharani et al, Molecular Psychiatry, 2004; Benayed et al, American Journal of Human Genetics, 2005) and has identified a functional polymorphism within the gene that affects expression (Beneyed et al, Biological Psychiatry, 2009). We have also identified several novel linkage peaks associated with autism and speech motor abnormalities (Flax et al, Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 2010). We are currently evaluating genes of interest from these new linkage regions for evidence that they may influence autism risk.
New Jersey Language and Autism Study (NJLAGS)
The purpose of the NJLAGS study is to identify genes that are important for modulating the language abnormalities in individuals with autism. We are recruiting families from New Jersey who have a family member with autism and at least one additional family member with language impairment, with or without an autism spectrum disorder. Families interested in participating can find out about the study here. We have conducted extensive language assessment on all members of participating families and have identified a set of clinical features that appear to be highly inherited within these families. We are currently conducting a genome-wide search for genes that influence these clinical features.