Mount Sinai Researchers Receive Major NIH Award for Autism Genetics Research
$7million grant extends Autism Sequencing Consortium through 2022 to collect genetic data of more than 50,000 individuals
Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, University of California-San Francisco, and Carnegie Mellon University have been awarded $7million from the National Institute of Mental Health to extend the work of the Autism Sequencing Consortium (ASC), an international research consortium established by these institutions in 2010 to collect and share samples and genetic data from individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
The ASC was founded by Joseph D. Buxbaum, PhD, the G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Research Professor of Psychiatry, Neuroscience, and Genetics and Genomic Science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Director of The Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai. Launched with the initial support of the Beatrice and Samuel A. Seaver Foundation, the ASC aims to bring together investigators to share samples, data, and ideas without first publishing them in medical journals. No single lab has enough data to identify obscure genetic patterns that are scattered across thousands of genes, so this data-sharing collaboration is intended to make such research possible, thereby accelerating discovery.
In 2013, the National Institutes of Mental Health awarded $2.25 million to the ASC to expand the project to include data from more than 20,000 individuals over three years. The Consortium now includes more than 40 international groups and over 150 researchers, who have generated gene sequencing data from 29,000 individuals, making it the largest sequencing study to date in autism, and even in psychiatry. All shared data and analysis is hosted at Mount Sinai on a supercomputer called Minerva designed by Mount Sinai faculty, which enables joint analysis of large-scale data from many groups.
The new grant will extend the project through 2022 and expand the sample to include more than 50,000 individuals.
“Historically, the number of risk genes found has steadily increased with the number of patients studied, so it’s important that we continue to add patients to the data set,” says Dr. Buxbaum. “We are thrilled to receive this grant, which will enable our unique, collaborative research consortium to continue the work that is accelerating such important discovery.”
About the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai
The Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai conducts progressive research studies aimed at understanding the multiple causes of ASD. The multidisciplinary team is composed of experts in the fields of genetics, molecular biology, model systems, neuroimaging, biomarkers, diagnosis, and experimental therapeutics who are dedicated to discovering the biological causes of ASD. The Center strives to develop innovative diagnostics and treatments for integration into the provision of personalized, comprehensive assessment and care for people with ASD. The Seaver Autism Center was founded through the generous support of the Beatrice and Samuel A. Seaver Foundation. For more information, visit www.seaverautismcenter.org.