Project Detail
Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) logo
Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) logo

Autism and the insula: Genomic and neural circuits  

Drs. Allman and Wold are using new genomics methods to look for abnormalities in specific brain areas and cells that have been linked to behavioral traits associated with people with autism spectrum disorder, including a lack of self-awareness. The researchers are using a technique called RNA-Seq to study gene expression in autistic brains. RNA-Seq provides information on which genes are being expressed and how vigorous their expression is. In the researchers' pilot study, one group shows greater expression of genes involved in inflammation, whereas the other over-expresses genes involved in synapse function. Allman and Wold plan to extend their RNA-Seq studies to other autism-linked brain regions, such as the medial frontal pole, which is connected to the anterior and fronto-insular cortexes and may also play a role in self-awareness. They also plan to use laser microdissection to isolate specific cell types for RNA-Seq analysis, which may allow them to detect gene expression that would otherwise be masked in a tissue sample with many cell types. Project Status


Funder Simons Foundation
Fiscal Year Funding $368,569.50
Project Number 137661
Principal Investigator Allman, John
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 3: What Caused This To Happen And Can This Be Prevented? (Risk Factors)
Strategic Plan Objective Green dot: Objective has greater than or equal to the recommended funding. 3LB. Identify genetic risk factors in at least 50% of people with ASD by 2014. IACC Recommended Budget: $33,900,000 over 6 years.
Federal or Private? Private
Institution California Institute of Technology
State/Country California
Web Link 1 Autism and the insula: Genomic and neural circuits (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
History/Related Projects Autism and the insula: Genomic and neural circuits | $620,304.50 | 2010 | 137661
Autism and the insula: Genomic and neural circuits | $506,340.50 | 2011 | 137661
Autism and the insula: Genomic and neural circuits | $254,695.50 | 2012 | 137661