Research interests


Early brain and behavioural development in autism

Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in around 1% of the population. Familial liability confers risk for a broad spectrum of difficulties including the broader autism phenotype. There are currently no reliable predictors of autism in infancy, but characteristic behaviours emerge during the second year, enabling diagnosis after this age. Our research focuses on early brain and behavioural development in infants at risk for autism. We do this through the British Autism Study of Infant Siblings (BASIS). Through understanding how risk and protective factors interact over the early developmental period, the long term goal is to facilitate the development of valid and ethically sound biomarkers for autism. Recently, we have begun to use these laboratory measures in the context of designing early intervention in infants at-risk (iBASIS) aimed at reducing the impact of emerging symptoms and improving quality of life.

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Selected media on our recent article, Elsabbagh et al:

BBC4 BBC Telegraph Daily Mail LA Times


Knowledge translation in neurodevelopmental disorders

Rapid advances in genomics, neuroscience, and clinical science hold great promise for improving quality of life for those affected. Limited understanding of the needs and requirements of diverse communities has hampered translation of recent findings in genomics and neuroscience, particularly those resulting from recent advances in technology. This has given rise to some controversy in recent attempts to translate such findings to clinical and societal benefits. Our work, through NeuroDevNet, a Canadian Network of Centres of Excellence, supports knowledge translation across network funded projects. Our focus is developing and evaluating a knowledge translation framework for biomarker development in autism and improving evidence-based practice among community practitioners.

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Knowledge translation in under-served communities

Most neurodevelopmental disorders do not discriminate in terms of geography, ethnicity, or social status. Nevertheless, diverse communities vary greatly in their capacity to access information and services, particularly where research is limited or absent. Our work focuses on understanding diverse needs and barriers to knowledge access among underrepresented and under-served communities. Examples or our current projects include enhancing evidence based practice, promoting public engagement in research, and the validating low-cost intervention packages, all in the area of neurodevelopmental disorders.

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Our Key collaborators

Mark Johnson, Teodora Gliga, Rachael Bedford (Birkbeck, University of London)

Andrew Pickles (Institute of Psychiatry)

Tony Charman (Institute of Education)

Jonathan Green (University of Manchester)

Jumana Odeh (Palestinian Happy Child Centre)

Nazeem Muhajarine (University of Saskatchewan)

Atif Rahman (Pakistan Institute of Psychiatry)

Vikram Patel (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

Eric Fombonne (Montreal Children’s Hospital)

Our Funders

We are grateful for support from the following:

BASIS NDN Wellcome Trust AutismSpeaks