Psychiatry investigators awarded NIH grant to study autism

Three Stanford psychiatry researchers have been awarded $2.5 million to investigate patients with autism who also have enlarged brains, a condition known as megalencephaly.

Three School of Medicine psychiatry investigators have been awarded a five-year, $2.5 million grant to study autism.

They will work with University of California-Davis investigators as part of a new National Institute of Health Autism Center of Excellence.

Joachim Hallmayer, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences; Ruth O’Hara, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences; and Sundari Chetty, PhD, instructor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, will collaborate with autism expert David Amaral, MD, and his team at the UC-Davis MIND Institute.

The Stanford researchers will lead a project in which induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, are produced from children with autism who also have enlarged brains, or megalencephaly. The goal is to see whether brain cells derived from the iPS cells can provide any clues about how megalencephaly relates to the pathophysiology of autism. 

The work may also provide insights into potential treatment targets for kids with autism. 

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