MIT Harvard, USA
Dissecting neurobiological mechanisms of autism spectrum disorders: from genes to circuits
Recent genetic studies have identified a large number of candidate genes for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), many of which encode synaptic proteins, suggesting that synaptic dysfunction might be a key pathology in ASD. Using a variety of animal models, we have identified distinct synaptic and circuitry mechanisms related to repetitive behaviors, social interaction deficits, sensory abnormalities, attention deficit and sleep disruption. Combining single cell transcriptomic analysis and cell type-specific functional manipulation, we have begun to reveal circuit-specific targets for developing potential treatment for some of the debilitating symptoms. In additions, new genome editing technologies allow us to explore gene therapy as an effective treatment for monogenic ASD.
Dr. Feng is the Poitras Chair Professor of Neuroscience and Associate Director of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also the Director of Model Systems and Neurobiology at the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at Broad Institute. Dr. Feng’s research is devoted to understanding the mechanisms regulating the development and function of synapses in the brain and how synaptic dysfunction may contribute to brain disorders. Using genetically engineered animal models, Dr. Feng’s laboratory combines cutting-edge technologies and multidisciplinary approaches to unravel the neurobiological mechanisms of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders.