Welcome to the Lab of Lauren A. Weiss, PhD

UCSF Department of Psychiatry and Institute for Human Genetics

Genetics of Autism Research Program

Our long term goals are to use genetic tools to improve understanding, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of autism and related traits. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in language and communication, social disability, restricted interests and repetitive behaviors that manifest within the first three years of life.  Although autism is one of the most highly heritable complex common disorders known, a genetic cause or risk factor can be identified in only a minority of autism cases.  However, genome-wide studies have begun to identify genetic variants associated with autism.

The immediate goals of our research are two-fold.  First, we are working to identify autism susceptibility genes by conducting studies designed to investigate quantitative trait loci, parental genetic risk factors, and genetic interaction effects such as: gene x gene, gene x environment and gene x sex.  Second, now that we are beginning to identify robust associations between DNA variants and autism, we are creating models to understand how they influence neurodevelopment. The Weiss lab is generating stem cells from the genetic material of research subjects and studying neuronal growth, morphology, and function in cell culture.