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Spectrum: Autism Research News

Predictions for 2013

by  /  20 December 2012

This article is more than five years old. Autism research - and science in general - is constantly evolving, so older articles may contain information or theories that have been reevaluated since their original publication date.

Take a look through’s crystal ball. We asked autism researchers with a range of expertise to predict major developments in the field in 2013.


“The most important issues next year will be the question of rare copy number variant-type genetic mechanisms ‘versus‘ common variation. I put versus in quotes because it will not be a versus question, but of course will involve understanding how these two mechanisms come together to give us autism. Similarly, we will start to reckon with some really cool questions around gene-environment interactions and epigenetics. It will be an exciting year.”

Kevin Pelphrey, director of the Child Neuroscience Laboratory, Yale University


“There is a great need to determine the strength of phenotypic findings in mouse models with homologous mutations. Replications within labs, across labs and in different generations of mice need to be confirmed.”

Jacqueline Crawley, professor of psychiatry, University of California, Davis School of Medicine


 “As more children are identified at earlier ages, management, not identification, will likely be the next highlighted public health crisis for the population (although it is a clinical reality already).”

Zachary Warren, associate professor of pediatrics and psychiatry, Vanderbilt University


“I hope somebody somewhere will do a well-designed randomized clinical trial using mindfulness training in autism.”

Uta Frith, emeritus professor of cognitive development, King’s College London


“We need to understand who responds to what interventions — for example, understanding intervention response as a function of genetic subtype.”

Raphael Bernier, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, University of Washington in Seattle


“I think we’ll see the first real test of the hypothesis that somatic mutation in the brain has at least some role in the etiology of autism.”

Alan Packer, associate director of research, Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative


“I think that adopting a ‘systems’ (whole-body) perspective of autism spectrum disorders (which would support investigations of peripheral tissues from living individuals) rather than a purely neurocentric view will facilitate the identification of disrupted metabolic and signaling pathways in autism that may be amenable to targeted therapeutic interventions.”

Valerie Hu, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, George Washington University

TAGS:   autism