INSAR 2020 - Keynote Webinar

INSAR 2020 Virtual - Keynote Webinar

Wednesday, June 3, 2020 

8:45 am ET – 2:30 pm ET

Each session is scheduled for 35 minutes, with an additional 10 minutes allotted for Q&A. Participants will be able to submit questions through the chat function on Zoom, and the Moderator for each Keynote talk will present the questions to the speakers. View all speaker bios.

Registration is free and available worldwide to those interested in autism research.

Reminder: You do not need to be an INSAR member to attend!  See these instructions to create your "non member" profile, if you haven't yet joined the INSAR Online Community! Create your INSAR Profile here.

Thank you to our 2020 Sponsors!

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8:45 AM ET - Welcome from INSAR President Peter Mundy

9:00 AM ET - 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.

10:00 AM ET - 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.

11:00 AM ET - 12:00 PM ET : Break

The webinar will remain open over the break, including Chat. 

12:00 PM ET - 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.

1:00 PM ET - Joshua A. Gordon, MD, PhD

Research Towards the Early Screening and Treatment of Autism

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.

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