In between setting world records, carrying out vision experiments on his infant son, and launching a campaign to build a large eye hospital in New Delhi, Pawan Sinha is illuminating new facets of autism.
Portraits of scientists who are making a mark on autism research.
With an openness to collaboration and a healthy dose of daring, Evan Eichler has turned his offbeat interest in repeat DNA sequences into a new understanding of how genomes evolve, expediting the search for genes disrupted in autism.
Guoping Feng’s perseverance has proven a boon to the hundreds of neuroscientists who rely on his most celebrated scientific achievement: two dozen mouse strains engineered to have brightly colored brain cells. By creating the first robust mouse model of obsessive-compulsive disorder, Feng has also found a way to study repetitive behaviors, one of the three core characteristics of autism.
Interested more in ideas than in dominating a crowded field, Michael Wigler decided to apply his expertise in cancer genetics to studying poorly understood features of autism.
In the spring of 2002, as a new graduate student at the University of Washington, Raphael Bernier was charged with introducing his advisor, Geraldine Dawson, before her lecture to a room of about 40 people from the psychology department. To Dawson’s astonishment, Bernier sang his introduction to the tune of On Top of Old Smokey. “[It was] a pretty gutsy thing for a first-year student to do,” Dawson says.
In the late 1990s, after Daniel Geschwind had established himself as an expert on the genetics of neurological diseases, a personal connection abruptly pulled him into autism research. Since then, he has participated in dozens of studies probing the genetic basis of autism and related neuro-developmental disorders.
In the fall of 1980, when he left his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, for undergraduate studies at Cornell University in upstate New York, John Constantino was determined to pursue one of two careers: a doctor or a school teacher.
In the late 1960s, as an undergraduate student in psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, Cathy Lord spent a couple of hours a day teaching two young boys with autism.
At first glance, the waiting room at the Ministry of Health Hospital in Muscat, Oman, may look different than that of your average American hospital. Men dressed all in white and women in black burqas wait in separate rooms, even if they are members of the same family. But talking to these families soon reveals just how similar they are to their American counterparts, says Christopher Walsh, a neurologist who has studied neurodevelopmental disorders in the Middle East for nearly 10 years.