Genetic studies have identified many regions in the genome that contribute to risk for psychiatric diseases, including autism. Many such genome regions are located outside of areas occupied by genes which encode the myriad proteins that make up our cells and organs. A first step in understanding these “non-coding” genome regions is to create maps of their activity in the developing brain. Dr. Geschwind's work suggests that one component of the risk for childhood disorders, as well as some adult onset disorders, resides in processes that occur in very early stages of fetal brain development. Understanding these processes better can help direct therapeutic and prevention strategies.
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