Meet Ryan Yuen, Ph.D.
Ryan Yuen, Ph.D.
Scientist in the Genetics and Genome Biology program at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and an assistant professor in Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto
I think understanding autism better will help us understand what is unique about being a human, which in turn may help me understand more about myself
For Dr. Ryan Yuen, the answers to many complex questions lie in the puzzle of the human genome. A geneticist by training, the complex interaction of different genetic variants in autism is a particular thread he wants to unravel.
“I think understanding autism better will help us understand what is unique about being a human, which in turn may help me understand more about myself,” Yuen said.
After joining the research team at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) at the University of Toronto to work on the MSSNG autism genetics project after graduate school, he realized there were parts of the genome that were going unexplored.
In Toronto, he partners with a research network called the Province of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Network (POND), which works to improve diagnosis, care and long-term outcomes for children with neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism.
In a new study that uses MSSNG data, funded by an Autism Speaks Dataset Analysis Grant in 2019, Yuen is using genome sequencing data to find strategies for locating new genetic variants linked to autism. This information, when tied to specific outcomes in a child’s development, could help find new solutions for people with autism in the future, including earlier interventions and new types of treatments and supports.
“I hope this work will enable early detection of factors leading to autism, which could lead to starting therapeutic interventions early in a child’s life,” Yuen said. “Finding such genetic information may also unveil an alternative target or mechanism, which could open new opportunities for treatments.”