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A.J. Drexel Autism Institute Events

 Environmental Epigenomics: Applications for Autism Research and Exposure Biomarkers

Christine Ladd-Acosta, PhD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Wednesday, April 4 2018 1-2 pm
A.J. Drexel Autism Institute
Suite 501, Idea Lab
3020 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

There is growing recognition that environmental factors contribute to risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Identifying the biologic targets of these risk factors can inform intervention and treatment strategies. Epigenetics, the study of reversible and mitotically-heritable cellular information outside of the DNA sequence, gives a cell its identity and function. It regulates gene expression, cell and tissue differentiation, genomic stability, organismal development, and imprinting. It has been linked to autism and has also been shown to be associated with environmental exposures, including during the prenatal period. Thus, it may provide a biologic mechanism to explain exposure effects on ASD risk. In this talk, Dr. Ladd-Acosta will present her findings on epigenetic changes observed in individuals with ASD. In addition, she will show specific regions of the genome she identified as being related to ASD-relevant prenatal exposures, including air pollution. Finally, she will discuss her work to explore the potential for epigenetic signatures to serve as biomarkers of exposure in studies that lack reliable exposure data, more broadly.

Dr. Ladd-Acosta is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her research primarily focuses on integrating genetic, environmental, and epigenetic information to understand autism spectrum and developmental disorders. In addition, she is exploring the potential of epigenetics to serve as a molecular fingerprint, i.e. biomarker, of environmental exposures. She received her PhD in 2009 from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where her thesis research focused on developing epigenomic tools and applying them to define the epigenomic landscape of cancer. Dr. Ladd-Acosta received the Mette Strand Young Investigator Award for her graduate work in which she and her colleagues identified CpG ‘shores’ as the predominant site of altered DNA methylation in cancer. Prior to that she was a research technician at the Broad Institute where she worked to identify gene expression signatures to aid diagnosis, classification, and treatment of human cancers. She earned her BS in Microbiology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

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Eagles Autism Challenge

Saturday, May 19, 2018
Lincoln Financial Field

EAC logo

For the Philadelphia Eagles’ inaugural Eagles Autism Challenge — a fundraising 5k and series of bike rides — Drexel University’s A.J. Drexel Autism Institute was named as one of the main beneficiary partners.

The A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, along with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Autism Research and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, will receive donations toward their autism research generated by a challenge that will be capped by the rides and run/walk taking place Saturday, May 19, 2018.

The Eagles Autism Challenge will combine a 5k run/walk with three different bike rides: 15-mile, 30-mile and 50-mile routes. All of the routes will begin and end at Lincoln Financial Field, and Eagles players, coaches, cheerleaders and leadership will be on-hand to celebrate.

Take a look at the official Eagles Autism Challenge website for more information.