Evan Eichler and his colleagues have found that specific regions of the genome are more prone to genetic alterations — both spontaneous and inherited — than other areas, and that these changes are associated with a wide range of diseases, including autism. Eichler and his team are targeting approximately 1,000 regions of the human genome, termed "genomic hotspots" — fragile stretches of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that they suspect are predisposed to deletions or duplications because they are susceptible to breakage. Data for the initial analyses will be drawn from the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) Simplex Collection. Hotspots with promising links to autism will then be tested in a larger group of children with and without the disorder to confirm that these events are truly disease causing, and to determine whether they also contribute to inherited forms of autism. Researchers will also collect and analyze samples from an additional 1,000 families with more broadly-defined autism spectrum disorders and developmental delay. The researchers hope to ascertain whether specific features of the disorders — such as developmental defects and behavioral problems — are associated with particular mutation events.