Siavash Fazel Darbandi, PhD
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. The diagnostic criteria require that symptoms become apparent before a child is three years old. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize; how this occurs is not well understood. Autism has a strong genetic basis, although the genetics of autism are complex and it is unclear whether Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is explained more by rare mutations, or by rare combinations of common genetic variants. It has long been presumed that there is a common cause at the genetic, cognitive, and neural levels for autism's characteristic triad of symptoms. However, there is increasing suspicion that autism is instead a complex disorder whose core aspects have distinct causes that often co-occur. Therefore, as a part of my postdoctoral project in Dr. State and Dr. Rubenstein's Labs, I am interested in understanding and investigating the transcriptional network downstream of Tbr1, a gene that has been shown to be associated with ASD, in order to understand the potential mechanisms underlying ASD.