In the late 1990s, after Daniel Geschwind had established himself as an expert on the genetics of neurological diseases, a personal connection abruptly pulled him into autism research. Since then, he has participated in dozens of studies probing the genetic basis of autism and related neuro-developmental disorders.
Portraits of scientists who are making a mark on autism research.
In the fall of 1980, when he left his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, for undergraduate studies at Cornell University in upstate New York, John Constantino was determined to pursue one of two careers: a doctor or a school teacher.
In the late 1960s, as an undergraduate student in psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, Cathy Lord spent a couple of hours a day teaching two young boys with autism.
At first glance, the waiting room at the Ministry of Health Hospital in Muscat, Oman, may look different than that of your average American hospital. Men dressed all in white and women in black burqas wait in separate rooms, even if they are members of the same family. But talking to these families soon reveals just how similar they are to their American counterparts, says Christopher Walsh, a neurologist who has studied neurodevelopmental disorders in the Middle East for nearly 10 years.
Sitting on a sofa in his office at the Yale Child Study Center, Ami Klin plays a movie clip on a tiny laptop. The clip stars a younger Klin, with larger glasses but the same easy smile, vying for the attention of a young girl with autism. His face inches from hers, he speaks in a warm, animated voice. But the girl never looks from the toy blocks in her hands. Suddenly, she spots an orange M&M in the far corner of the room and scoots after it.
In 1982, Josh Huang was an impressionable young biology undergraduate at Shanghaiʼs FuDan University. Like some of his fellow Chinese students, he knew he wanted to be a neuroscientist, but with limited access to scientific journals, had no idea which big questions were then at the forefront of research.
Stylianos Antonarakis still vividly remembers the thorny statistical problem that had vexed him for several months in 1982. Antonarakis, then a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University, had turned to his colleagues at Hopkins, but none of them had been able to solve the problem.
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