NEWS | June 7, 2012

UC Davis MIND Institute lecture explores trends in classifying autism types by genetics


Autism genetics researcher Judith H. Miles will discuss "Delineation of Etiological Subgroups within the Autism Diagnosis" during the next UC Davis MIND Institute Distinguished Lecturer Series presentation.

The talk, which concludes this year's nine-lecture series, will take place Wednesday, June 13, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the MIND Institute auditorium at 2825 50th St. in Sacramento.

Judith Miles ©
Judith Miles

Miles is confident that it is possible to identify the genetic basis of different types of autism, which is currently defined as a behavioral disorder. A professor emerita of the Department of Child Health-Genetics at the University of Missouri, she directed the medical genetics program at the University of Missouri until 2006. In 1995, she co-founded the first autism clinic/center in Missouri devoted to discovering effective treatments for autism spectrum disorders.

According to Miles, there is a long history of classifying autism types by phenotypes or observable traits. Beginning in the 1960s, autism researchers identified "phenotypic features" present in some but not all individuals with autism. In her talk, she will detail how researchers have progressed beyond phenotypes to identifying subgroups that emphasize physiology, family history and physical dysmorphology -- a branch of clinical genetics focused on anatomic defects.

In addition to autism genetics, Miles' research interests include providing genetic services to rural areas, prenatal diagnosis, and the structure and function of chromosomes involved in cancer. She holds a Ph.D. in genetics from Indiana University and completed her M.D. and pediatric residency at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

All Distinguished Lecturer Series presentations are free and open to the public, with no reservations required. Parking is available in the lot adjacent to the MIND Institute for $3 after 5 p.m., and on-street parking is free.

The MIND Institute Resource Center, specializing in information and resources on neurodevelopmental disorders and related conditions, is open one hour before and 30 minutes after each presentation.

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 work together toward a common goal: researching causes, treatments, preventions and cures for 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 about the institute and the opportunity view previous distinguished lectures are available at