The Jenkins lab was awarded a two-year pilot grant from the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI)! Pilot Awards support novel, high-risk and exploratory projects that have the potential to yield transformative results in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research. This project was started by Jenkins lab M.S. student alumna, Amanda France, and we are currently looking for PhD students and postdocs to continue this exciting project!

Thanks to the Simons Simplex Collection, the scientific community possesses dozens of highly reliable risk genes through the identification of rare de novo variants in patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  What is currently missing is a mechanism linking these genes into a convergent pathway that gives insight into disease etiology. In this proposal, we will test the hypothesis that ANK2 and SCN2A, two of the top genes implicated in ASD, are linked at the molecular level to control dendritic excitability. These studies will have a positive impact by increasing our understanding of the mechanisms underlying synaptic alterations in ASD, which may provide novel targets for therapeutic intervention.