Progress, Pitfalls, and Potential of Postmortem Human Brain Research On Autism

Postmortem human brain tissue studies uniquely span multiple disciplines, including neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, molecular biology and genetics; a single brain donation is often used for several programs in each of these fields around the world. Although autism research on postmortem human brain tissue is still in its infancy, a heightened emphasis on understanding the neurobiology of autism has led to a dramatic increase in progress over the last decade. As investigators from widely varying backgrounds enter this field in an attempt to uncover the neurobiological underpinnings of brain development in autism, they are often surprised by how little is known and frustrated by the modest amount of quality tissue available. Successfully uncovering consistent types of neuropathology of autism spectrum disorders will require the availability of more abundant, high]quality postmortem tissue, the application of modern neuroanatomical and genetic methodologies, and multidisciplinary collaborations. This topic is ideal for an educational symposium because it brings together experts at the top of their field from very different backgrounds, from neuropathology to genetics, to share one rare resource. This topic will therefore be of interest to a broad audience. We propose to have each of these experts provide insight into how postmortem human brain tissue, using methods from their respective fields, can lead to understanding the causes of, developing treatments for, and finding cures for autism spectrum disorders.
Friday, May 18, 2012: 1:30 PM-3:30 PM
Grand Ballroom Centre (Sheraton Centre Toronto)
Session Chair:
C. M. Schumann