INSAR 2020 - Keynote Webinar

INSAR 2020 Virtual - Keynote Webinar

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Agenda (Click Titles to View Recordings)

INSAR Welcome Messages & Statements on Social Justice

Peter Mundy (Pres.), Evdokia Anagnostou & Joseph Buxbaum (Sc. Prog. Co-Chairs)

Sven Bölte, PhD 

A Pluralistic View of Autism Using the ICF 

While there is strong agreement that autism is a heterogeneous condition and requires individualized understanding, traditionally, autism has been looked at predominantly a clinical symptomatology perspective. Still, for autistic individuals, their families and large parts of society, the dimensions of functioning and quality of life are both more significant and accessible. In addition, In recent years, the concept of neurodiversity has challenged the biomedical model of autism, demanding a more balanced view of autism and favoring social and environmental responsibility model of autism. In this keynote lecture, the WHO International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), and the recently developed ICF Core Sets for autism are introduced that allow to integrate different approaches to autism and a pluralistic view of the strengths and weaknesses of autistic individuals and how they emerge in facilitative and hindering environments.

Emily Simonoff, MD, FRCPsych 

Mental Health in Autistic People: Setting a Research Agenda for the Coming Decade

At the end of the last century, our awareness of the great heterogeneity in autism increased and there was a new interest in studying its multi-faceted dimensions. This was partly responsible for conceptualizing the presentation and challenges experienced by autistic people as mental health problems in the early 2000s. While it is now generally accepted that autistic people have higher rates of virtually all psychiatric conditions, we still have a limited understanding of why this is the case, how best to identify and measure mental health problems, what interventions are most promising and  what “success” in prevention and intervention would look like.  In this keynote, I will explore these issues and suggest some research priorities for the coming decade.

Lamya Shihabuddin, PhD  

Developing Gene therapy for Genetic Neurologic Diseases: Optimizing Targeting and Transgene Expression

Among the most promising new therapeutic innovations are gene-targeted therapies using Adeno-associated viral vectors (AAV). Gene-targeted therapies can be designed to replace the mutant gene in case of loss of function mutations such as spinal muscular atrophy and lysosomal storage diseases or inhibit the expression of a mutant gene in case of mutations leading to toxic gain of function such as Huntington disease, as well as gene modulation by gene editing. The transgene must be delivered to the physiologically relevant target tissue or tissues and cell types, must be stably expresses without interfering with the functional integrity of those cells. The safety and tolerability of chronic expression or regulated expression are also important considerations for all gene targeted therapies. AAV gene therapies are defined by multiple characteristics: (1) the capsid, which determines what cells to target; (2) the transgene, which can be altered and optimized for better translation; (3) the promoter, which regulates gene expression and transcription within the cells; (4) mode of production can impact vector qualities and thus transduction efficiency. In developing gene therapy strategies, matching the specific disease indication to the capsid and route of administration that achieves the biodistribution goal and transduction efficiency required for therapeutic benefit is critical for clinical success.

Joshua A. Gordon, MD, PhD
NIMH Director Dr. Joshua Gordon will provide an update on federal support for research towards identifying and treating autism as early in life as possible.  He will provide an overview of the Autism Biomarkers Consortium, a public-private partnership aimed at developing new clinical tools for the study of autism, and the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, a Federal advisory committee that helps to coordinate research efforts and provides a forum for diverse perspectives. He will also highlight NIMH-supported advances and ongoing research, including clinical tools for the early detection of autism, progress toward understanding the neurobiology of genetic and environmental risk for autism, and increased attention on autism among adults and youth in transition to adulthood.

INSAR 2020 Keynote Webinar -

Speaker Bios


Sven Bolte, Ph.D. - 9:00 AM ET

Sven Bölte, Ph.D., is professor of child and adolescent psychiatric science at the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet (KI), and senior clinical psychologist at the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Center for Psychiatry Research, Stockholm County Council, Sweden. He is director of the KI Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (“KIND”), editor of AUTISM, The Scandinavian Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychology and Psychiatry, and associate editor of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health. He is among other things founder of the Scientific Society Autism Spectrum ( and international ADOS and ADI-R trainer. For his work, he has received several recognitions, such as the ”Life Watch Nordiska Priset”, ”Årets Ljus” (Society Attention), Psynk award GNET” (Sweden’s Municipalities & Regions), Autism CRC (Australia) Achievement in Autism Research and was inducted as an INSAR Fellow in 2018. Professor Bölte has published more than 350 original articles, reviews, book chapters, assessment and intervention tools in the field of autism spectrum, ADHD, and other neurodevelopmental conditions, and has been cited more than 17,500
times (H-index 58).

Emily Simonoff, M.D., FRCPsych - 10:00 AM ET 

 Emily Simonoff is Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, where she is also head of the Department. She is also academic lead for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Clinical Academic Group at the South London and Maudsley Foundation Trust. She in a UK National Institute of Health Research Senior Investigator and Senior Clinical Advisor to the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).  She has been a member of two NICE Guidelines groups for autism and a member of the Strategy Board for the UK National Autism Project. She has been a member of the Westminster Commission for Autism and has given evidence to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Autism.  Emily receives research funding related to autism from the Medical Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, National Institute of Health and Research EU Innovative Medicines Initiative, amongst other organization. She is a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist in the Maudsley-based Service for Complex Autism and Associated Neurodevelopmental Disorders, funded by NHS England to see children and young people across the southern region with  complex presentations.

Lamya Shihabuddin, Ph.D. - 12:00 PM ET

Lamya Shihabuddin is Head of the Neurogenetic, Neuroinflammatory and Repair Research Cluster in the Rare and Neuroscience Research Therapeutic Area at Sanofi, based in Framingham, MA.

Lamya received an M.Sc. in Neurophysiology from the American University of Beirut and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Miami. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, CA, in Rusty Gage’s lab, where she explored the biology and use of adult derived neural stem cells for neurodegenerative diseases and spinal cord injury.

Lamya joined Genzyme in 2000, working on cell therapies for lysosomal storage diseases and other discovery projects in neurodegenerative diseases. Since 2006, she has led neurologic rare disease discovery projects.  As Cluster Head, she leads project teams and labs working on small molecule, gene and RNAi therapeutics for genetically linked, and rare neurological diseases including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, as well as Multiple sclerosis.

Lamya has authored more than 70 scientific articles and book chapters and is a co-author on more than 30 published patents. Lamya has given numerous scientific lectures and presentations at national and international meetings and leading academic institutions. Lamya is a member of Society for Neuroscience, Movement Disorder Society, and American Society for of Cell and Gene Therapy. She is also member of several Neuroscience foundations and societies, a member of FNIH biomarker consortium, a member of the Neurological Sciences and Disorders (NSD-B) Subcommittee of the NINDS, and a regular reviewer for several journals.

Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D. -  1:00 PM ET 

 Dr. Gordon received his MD/PhD degree at the University of California, San Francisco and completed his Psychiatry residency and research fellowship at Columbia University. He joined the Columbia faculty in 2004 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry where he conducted research, taught residents, and maintained a general psychiatry practice. In September of 2016, he became the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

Dr. Gordon’s research focuses on the analysis of neural activity in mice carrying mutations of relevance to psychiatric disease. His lab studies genetic models of these diseases from an integrative neuroscience perspective, focused on understanding how a given disease mutation leads to a behavioral phenotype across multiple levels of analysis. To this end, he employs a range of systems neuroscience techniques, including in vivo anesthetized and awake behaving recordings and optogenetics, which is the use of light to control neural activity. His work has direct relevance to schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and depression.

Dr. Gordon’s work has been recognized by several prestigious awards, including the The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation – NARSAD Young Investigator Award, the Rising Star Award from the International Mental Health Research Organization, the A.E. Bennett Research Award from the Society of Biological Psychiatry, and the Daniel H. Efron Research Award from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

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