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Autism Speaks' first Philip and Faith Geier Autism Environmental Sciences Research grant
Date:1/25/2012

NEW YORK, N.Y. Autism Speaks is pleased to announce its first Philip and Faith Geier Autism Research Grants in Environmental Sciences, named in honor of Phil Geier and his late wife, Faith in recognition of his service to Autism Speaks and to the many individuals and families affected by autism. Acknowledging Mr. Geier's longstanding interest in the field, this grant will be awarded annually to the outstanding researcher, among the many funded by Autism Speaks, seeking to uncover the environmental factors whose interactions with genetic factors might be a cause of autism. This inaugural Geier Grant is awarded to epidemiologist M. Daniele Fallin, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, for her outstanding project on gene-environment interactions entitled "Genome-wide Examination of DNA Methylation in Autism." For this three-year project, Dr. Fallin will receive $449,998.

Fallin and her team will be studying gene-environment interactions across the entire genome of children affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD), with a focus on environmental influences during pregnancy, birth and early childhood. At present autism cannot be reliably detected before one year of age. But research suggests that it arises from disordered development during early brain growth and involves both genetic and environmental influences.

"This annual grant represents just the beginning of our commitment to fully investigate the environmental impacts that affect autism risk," Geier commented. "In the years ahead, you will see us supporting much more research in this neglected area."

Fallin will be investigating epigenetic changes in the DNA of 300 children with ASD and comparing them to changes in 300 unaffected children. Epigenetics is a rapidly growing field of research examining the factors that influence gene expression. Research has shown, for example, that environmental influences such as infections, nutrition, toxins and hor
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Contact: Jane E. Rubinstein
jrubinstein@rubenstein.com
212-843-8287
Autism Speaks
Source:Eurekalert  

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Autism Speaks' first Philip and Faith Geier Autism Environmental Sciences Research grant
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