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Large National Autism Study Coming to Notre Dame for Recruitment

By Jennifer Weingart, IPB News | Published on in Health, Science, Statewide News
(Photo provided.)

A large study of genetics and autism coming to the University of Notre Dame this Saturday is looking for participants.

The SPARK study is a Rush University program looking for the DNA–via a spit sample–of 50,000 participants. They want people with a diagnosis for Autism Spectrum Disorders, or ASD, and their biological parents.

The goal is to look at a large sample size to better understand the genetics behind ASD. Then use those data for earlier diagnosis and better treatments.

Dr. Elizabeth Berry-Kravis is a pediatric neurologist. She’s one of the researchers on the study. She said they needs lots of samples because the causes of Autism vary.

“As many as 300 or 500 different genes that are involved in Autism and and sometimes multiple genes are working together. It’s a very complex situation so you have to have a very large study with lots of people to really start to understand the genetic underpinnings of Autism.”

Berry-Kravis said they’re doing in-person recruitment around the country, including at Notre Dame. Participants can also sign up and provide samples through its website.

The event at Notre Dame is Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Jordan Hall Reading Room. Participants can sign up and fill out paperwork before the event online at the SPARK website.