Neurodevelopment in Autism and Related Childhood Disorders: From Genes to Complex Phenotypes

Neuroscience Futures with Leanna Hernandez, Ph.D.

January 10, 2023
4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
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Neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism and schizophrenia, are etiologically complex and characterized by diverse clinical and neurobiological features. This intrinsic heterogeneity makes it very challenging to identify early biomarkers of disease risk and develop targeted treatments. In this talk, I will present my work using a genetics-first approach to 1) parse neurobiological heterogeneity in autism and related childhood disorders, 2) understand the shared genetic etiology between co-occurring conditions, and 3) identify early brain-based biomarkers of risk for future psychiatric symptoms.

Dr. Leanna Hernandez is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA. She completed her Ph.D. in neuroscience at UCLA in 2018 working in UCLA's Center for Autism Research and Treatment, where she used magnetic resonance imaging to characterize the impact of genetic variability on neurobiological heterogeneity in autism spectrum disorder. She completed her postdoctoral training in psychiatric genetics and developmental psychology at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Her current work uses human brain transcriptomic and genetic data to characterize the relationship between neural-immune gene expression and structural brain development during childhood and adolescence.