Scientists identify gene associated with autism

By Jennifer O'Brien

UCSF’s Lauren Weiss, PhD, was the co-lead author on a paper in the October 8 issue of Nature reporting the discovery of a single-letter change in the genetic code that is associated with autism. The finding implicates a neuronal gene not previously tied to the disorder and, more broadly, underscores a role for common DNA variation. The new research also highlights two other regions of the genome which are likely to contain rare genetic differences that may also influence autism risk. Weiss, UCSF assistant professor of psychiatry and human genetics, did the research as a postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.