the brain foundation, a 501c3 non-profit presents

synchrony 2019

International Symposium on Translational Research in Autism

Nov.8-10 Pleasanton, California

attend live or streaming

Quality of Life Can Be Poor in ASD. There are several causes for this.  

Children and adults with ASD can have many medical conditions. These can be hard to diagnose since they can simply present as autism “behaviors”, especially in individuals with speech disabilities. The result – lower quality of life, increased mortality risk, impaired ability to participate in education, employment, and activities of daily living.  We lack FDA-approved interventions for these medical conditions, as well as an impactful medical standard of care.  These problems are not due to a lack of money – billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on ASD research. 

There are several causes for this. First, ASD is a whole-body disorder that affects many systems of the body. There is strong evidence of involvement of the metabolic, gastrointestinal, immunological, mitochondrial, and endocrine systems. Yet, it is primarily studied within individual medical specialties. This makes it difficult to integrate the findings across specialties to reach an evolving, big-picture understanding of ASD. Second, the autism spectrum represents a heterogenous population with a range of presentations and severities – this makes it hard to see if a particular study result would be applicable to an individual child or adult with ASD.  Last but not least, several sub-populations are under-represented in research. For example, the percentage of studies including children with severe autism has fallen over the past 30 years. 

Our Thesis 

As parents of children and adults with autism, the organizers of this symposium aim to accelerate research and innovation by addressing these structural issues.  We have several goals for this symposium –  

  • We want to enable a better understanding of the pathophysiology of ASD through basic research as well as translational research. 
  • We want to drive better clinical practice guidelines and quality of life for individuals with ASD. 
  • We believe efficacy of interventions cannot only be measured on behavioral outcomes.  We want to identify phenotypes and biomarkers within the ASD population to improve treatment efficacy and research outcomes.  
  • Most important of all, we believe that developing effective interventions for a multi-system syndrome will require interdisciplinary effort.  Extensive collaboration among researchers from different disciplines is required to synthesize findings and form an evolving, big-picture understanding of ASD. For this inaugural symposium, we seek researchers who can pursue research with a systems biology-oriented approach, collaborate with peers and develop translational research ideas that span multiple areas.