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Autism Speaks Funded Science in Illinois

Autism Speaks has funded over $1,442,950 in research grants in the state of Illinois. Funded studies include work done at:

  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 
  • University of Illinois
  • University of Illinois at Chicago 
  • University of Illinois at Chicago, Institute for Juvenile Research 
  • University of Chicago
  • Northwestern University 

Spotlight on Basic and Clinical Awards:

Christopher Monk, Ph.D.
University of Michigan
$450,000 for 3 years

Neural correlates of serotonin transporter gene polymorphisms and social impairment in ASD

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a method of visualizing neural activity in specific brain regions, they will examine the amygdala and pVFC in subjects while they perform a social task, such as recognizing emotions in facial expressions. The subjects will be chosen from four groups: autistics with two copies of the S allele or no copies of the S allele, and typical, non-autistic individuals with two copies of the S allele or no copies of the S allele. This experiment will allow the researchers to determine whether this genetic variant is associated with overactivity in the amygdala and pVFC, and how this relates to the severity of social impairment in both autistics and non-autistics.

Linking genotype to the abnormal activity of neural pathways responsible for social impairments will be important in understanding the causes of this debilitating symptom of autism.

Click here to for a full listing of Basic and Clinical Awards.


The Social Developmental Studies team at Washington University is currently working in collaboration with the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange and five other research teams across the United States on a an Autism Center of Excellence (ACE) Network project: A Comprehensive Approach to the Identification of Autism Susceptibility Genes.  Our goal is to use a systematic, multifaceted approach to identify genetic factors leading to autism while at the same time expanding the AGRE registry with a special emphasis on the inclusion of minority families affected by autism.  We are actively recruiting African-American families with at least one child diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (between the ages of 3-21) and one biological parent willing to participate.  This research study will require approximately 7 hours of your family’s time, and your family will be compensated for your efforts.  If you are interested in participating in our research study, please contact the study coordinators Kelley Jackson (314) 286-0086 or Anna Abbacchi (314) 286-1594.

 Clinical Trials Network:  University of Illinois, Chicago (Chicago, IL) - Participating site.

To learn more about the network or ongoing trials: and

Did you Know....Autism Speaks sponsored the first of its kind Immunology Workshop which evaluated the current of knowledge about the potential role of immunological factors in the pathogenesis of autism, and to outlined critical areas of future research to clarify the relationship of such factors to autism and investigate their potential relevance for therapeutic interventions.

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