NEWS | June 8, 2018

Francesca Happé will speak at the MIND Institute as the next Distinguished Lecturer on June 13


“Why study the mind if genes cause autism?” is the question Francesca Happé will address during her talk at the UC Davis MIND Institute on Wednesday, June 13, as part of the ongoing Distinguished Lecturer Series. She will present at 4:30 p.m. at the MIND Institute Auditorium, 2825 50th St. in Sacramento. The event is free to the public and no reservations are required; however, seating is limited. A 30-minute question-and-answer session will follow the hour-long lecture.

Francesca Happé Francesca Happé

Happé is a professor of cognitive research and director of the MRC Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London. Her research focuses on abilities and assets in autism and their relationship to detail-focused cognitive style. Most recently, her work has focused on mental health of individuals on the autism spectrum and under-researched subgroups including women and the elderly. Happé’s research spans cognitive experiments, functional neuroimaging, exploration of acquired brain lesions and behavior genetic methods.

In 2016, Happé was ranked among the top 10 most productive and highly cited authors in autism research worldwide. She is a fellow of the British Academy, past president of the International Society for Autism Research and received the British Psychological Society Spearman Medal, the Experimental Psychology Society Prize and the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award.

Happé’s lecture will explore why it is important to understand how people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) process and perceive the world in addition to understanding the biology of the disorder. She argues that the differences that individuals with ASD have may be a starting point for accepting and respecting those with the disorder as well as for finding possible interventions. She believes that cognitive theories may also be essential in advancing the search for genetic and neural bases of ASD.

These presentations are intended for both professionals and community members. For more information, contact Gayna Guidici at 916-703-0237 or For media inquiries, contact Dorsey Griffith at 916-734-9118 or


The UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento, Calif., was founded in 1998 as a unique interdisciplinary research center where families, community leaders, researchers, clinicians and volunteers work together toward a common goal: researching causes, treatments and eventual preventions and cures for neurodevelopmental disorders. The institute has major research efforts in autism, fragile X syndrome, chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Down syndrome. More information about the institute and its Distinguished Lecturer Series, including previous presentations in this series, is available on the Web at