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and treatment of mental illnesses.

The NIMH Director’s Innovation Speaker Series: Genetic Clues to Autism Heterogeneity

Date and Time

Sponsored by:

NIMH Division of Extramural Affairs

On May 13, 2021, Elise Robinson, Sc.D., will discuss genetics clues to autism heterogeneity during the NIMH Director’s InnovationSpeaker Series.

On May 13, 2021, Elise Robinson, Sc.D., was the guest speaker for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Director’s Innovation Speaker Series. Dr. Robinson is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and an institute member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Dr. Robinson is also an affiliated faculty member with the Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Robinson’s research focuses on the genetic epidemiology of behavior and cognition. She is interested in using genetic data to understand the biology of neurodevelopmental variation and to study differences within and between neuropsychiatric disorders. She co-chairs the Autism Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium and the Program in Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the Broad Institute.

Recent studies have produced a wealth of genetic associations to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related neuropsychiatric disorders. Dr. Robinson’s lab focuses on the interpretation of these results using detailed human behavioral, cognitive, and medical data. Dr. Robinson discussed rare and common genetic risk factors for ASD, and the association between those risk factors and ASD heterogeneity.


NIMH established the Director’s Innovation Speaker Series to encourage broad, interdisciplinary thinking in the development of scientific initiatives and programs, and to press for theoretical leaps in science over the continuation of incremental thought. Innovation speakers are encouraged to describe their work from the perspective of breaking through existing boundaries and developing successful new ideas, as well as working outside their primary area of expertise in ways that have pushed their fields forward. We encourage discussions of the meaning of innovation, creativity, breakthroughs, and paradigm-shifting.


Watch the recording.

Read transcript.