The largest autism science conference, IMFAR, starts this week

12 May

IMFAR, the International Meeting For Autism Research, is being held this week in Atlanta, Georgia. The schedule for the meeting is up, as is the list of talks (program). Abstracts are embargoed until Wednesday at 10am EST.

Here is a list of general topics for the conference:

Adult Outcome: Medical, Cognitive, Behavioral
Animal Models
Brain Function (fMRI, fcMRI, MRS, EEG, ERP, MEG)
Brain Structure (MRI, neuropathology)
Cognition: Attention, Learning, Memory
Communication and Language
Early Development (< 48 months)
Intellectual and Behavioral Assessment and Measurement
Invited, Keynote Speakers, Awards
Medical and Psychiatric Co-morbidity
Molecular and Cellular Biology
Repetitive Behaviors and Interests
Social Cognition and Social Behavior
Special Interest Groups (SIGs)
Specific Interventions – Non-pharmacologic
Specific Interventions – Pharmacologic
Technology Demonstration

I, for one, am very glad to see a focus on adults (<a href=”“>three sessions) and on services (three sessions).

There is a session on Autism in Africa. There is very little information on this area.

There is a dearth of autism research on the African continent; this scientific panel session aims to highlight recent research progress addressing this gap. The panel includes scientific presentations from two sub-Saharan African countries, using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methodologies and reporting on both urban and rural African populations. Altogether, the findings from these studies highlight the major barriers to appropriate support for families of children with autism in Africa (including the severe shortage of diagnostic and educational services, lack of awareness about autism and its causes, and high levels of stigma), and report on a promising scalable model that can help tackle these problems by training frontline community-based health extension workers. The challenges and opportunities discussed in these presentations apply not just to the countries under study, but have relevance for the entire African continent and low/middle income countries elsewhere. During the panel discussion these common themes will be reviewed and priority areas for future research and opportunities for intervention will be highlighted, in order to facilitate future autism research, advocacy and capacity building efforts.

I was able to attend IMFAR in San Diego a few years ago with the aid of an Autism Science Foundation grant. It was a great experience and I wish I could attend this year. There is nothing like it for concentrated autism science.

By Matt Carey

2 Responses to “The largest autism science conference, IMFAR, starts this week”

  1. brian May 13, 2015 at 23:37 #

    Yet another nail–and what should be the final nail–in the coffin of the “vaccines caused an epidemic of autism” meme was hammered home when the 2015 IMFAR opened today. Neuron cultures derived from stem cells from individuals with autism differ in morphology and in gene expression from stem cells derived from neurotypical controls. This can only be explained by genetic and very early prenatal influences–and simply cannot be attributed to vaccination.

    “Comparative analysis of ASD-specific and control iPSC-derived forebrain neurons has revealed disease-specific alterations in neurite outgrowth. In addition, high content transcriptome analyses has revealed abnormalities in the expression of key genes involved in neuronal development and axonal growth. Conclusions: ASD-specific iPSC-derived neurons have altered phenotypes compared to those from control individuals. Consistent with its developmental nature, these alterations are observable even at early time points during neural development. ” [D. M. Dykxhoorn et al. Characterization of Neuronal Development in Autism Using iPSCs Reveals Disease-Specific Changes in Axon Formation and Expression of Synaptic Function Genes. Abstract. 2015 IMFAR]


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