April 29, 2016
Colloquium Speaker: Gene J. Blatt
Dr. Gene J. Blatt, Ph.D. is the Director of Neuroscience and Senior Investigator at the Hussman Institute for Autism, and also holds Adjunct Professor positions at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Boston University School of Medicine. He edited and contributed to the book, “The Neurochemical Basis for Autism,” published by Springer in 2010.
Dr. Blatt received his B.A. in Biology from Temple University in 1974, his M.S.in Biology from the Bloomsburg University, Marine Science Consortium on Wallop’s Island, Virginia, and his Ph.D. in Neuroanatomy from the Thomas Jefferson University School of Medicine in 1986.
The vision of the Hussman Institute for Autism is to improve the lives of individuals with autism and their families by advancing the understanding of the causes and neurological basis of autism; identifying potential long-term interventions; and creating a continuum of supports and resources to address immediate needs for research-based teaching methods, communication, inclusion, and independence.
The major research focus of the Program in Neuroscience at the Hussman Institute for Autism in Baltimore is to understand how genes and molecular pathways that have been implicated in research affect neural connectivity, cell adhesion, cytoskeletal remodeling, GABAergic innervation, synapse function and cellular integrity. My research has focused mainly on disturbances in the neuropathology and neurochemistry in specific brain areas from postmortem tissue from individuals with autism compared to age-matched control subjects. Reduced GABA receptor types occur in a number of brain regions in autism including the cingulate gyrus, fusiform gyrus, hippocampus, cerebellum, Wernicke’s and Broca’s areas. These brain regions participate in functional networks that include social interaction, repetitive behavior, learning and memory, face perception, visuospatial perception, and speech and language; many of which are altered in individuals with autism. The current presentation will give an overview of the neuropathology in the brains of individuals with autism and discuss alterations in the inhibitory/excitatory balance that can affect neural circuitry contributing to autism phenotypes.