CHOP Autism Research Among Time's Top 10 Medical Breakthroughs

Published on in CHOP News

Time magazine says autism research lead by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is among the top 10 medical breakthroughs for 2009. The study is the largest ever genetic study of autism spectrum disorders.

December 11, 2009 — Autism research led by scientists at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has been named one of the top 10 medical breakthroughs of 2009 by Time Magazine.

Gene variations linked to up to 15 percent of ASD cases

On the magazine’s website on Dec. 8, Time cited the largest-ever genetic study of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), published in April in the journal Nature, by a group led by Hakon Hakonarson, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Applied Genomics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. That study identified DNA variations that account for as many as 15 percent of all ASD cases. Because the gene region affects how brain cells connect with each other in early childhood, the research significantly advances the understanding of how autism originates.

"We are proud of this research discovery, and are glad to see it receive this recognition,” said Philip R. Johnson, MD, chief scientific officer at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It provides a starting point for translating biological knowledge into future autism treatments.”

Autism gene research reported in the journal Nature

The autism gene research from Children’s Hospital, which included two studies in the same issue of Nature, received extensive news coverage, including the CBS Evening News, ABC World News Tonight, BBC, Reuters, the Chicago Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and other news outlets in the U.K., India, Australia, Germany and China. Hakonarson’s main collaborator was neuroscientist Gerard D. Schellenberg, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, with other scientists participating from 14 additional centers.

Read the Time story.