NEWS | April 20, 2012

UC Davis MIND Institute hosts "22Q at the Zoo"


The UC Davis MIND Institute is partnering with the Sacramento Zoo to raise awareness about chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, a condition caused by the deletion of a small piece of chromosome 22.

"22Q at the Zoo" takes place Sunday, April 22, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Reptile House Lawn at the Sacramento Zoo. Sponsored by the Dempster Family Foundation and the UC Davis MIND Institute, the event is part of a worldwide awareness day initiated by the International 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome Foundation. The day kicks off at sunrise at the Sydney Zoo in Australia and concludes at sunset at the Hilo Zoo in Hawaii.

The Sacramento event includes activities for children such as face painting and a scavenger hunt as well as opportunities for parents to interact. Zoo entrance for those attending the event is $3. Participants can also enjoy lunch for $10 and purchase awareness T-shirts for $10.

"We will be recognizable because we will be wearing 'Ask Me About 22q' buttons," said Tony J. Simon, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and an internationally known expert on chromosome 22q deletion syndrome. "This worldwide event will help raise awareness for a quite common but almost unknown disorder that affects the lives of many thousands of children and their families each year."

Chromosome 22q.11.2 deletion syndrome is a congenital defect that affects at least one in 4,000 live births, one in 68 children with congenital heart disease and 5-to-8 percent of children born with cleft palate. Individuals with the disorder can also experience feeding, swallowing and breathing problems, learning disabilities, hearing loss, and cognitive and speech delays. No two people with the deletion are alike.

"At the MIND Institute, we work closely with families from around the world to understand and address the learning difficulties, behavioral problems and risk for psychiatric illnesses with which these children and their families struggle," Simon said. "We are making great progress, thanks to events like this one that help advance awareness of the importance of 22q research."

Carrie Heran, parent of a young adult with the disorder and coordinator of the Sacramento event, encourages all families to join them at the zoo.

"The more people who know about 22q, the better families and professionals will be able to detect, care for and discover a cure for those touched by it," Heran said.

To learn more about 22Q at the Zoo, call the UC Davis MIND Institute Cognitive Analysis and Brain Imaging Laboratory (CABIL) at 916-703-0408 or 916-703-0409 or send an e-mail to

To learn more about chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, visit the UC Davis MIND Institute Cognitive Analysis and Brain Imaging Laboratory (CABIL) website or send an e-mail to

The UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento, Calif., was founded in 1998 as a unique interdisciplinary research center where parents, community leaders, researchers, clinicians and volunteers collaborate to study and treat autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. The institute has major research efforts in autism, Tourette syndrome, fragile X syndrome, chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). More information is available at