The October issue of Brain Pathology includes a series of educational articles, or a "minisymposium" focused on the challenges of studying autism spectrum disorders. It highlights the resources available to researchers, including the Autism Tissue Program, in understanding and ameliorating autism. This minisymposium was made possible thanks to the efforts of the editor-in-chief, Dr. Arie Perry, who serves on the ATP Executive Committee.
The focus and intent of the publication is to recruit scientists with crucial areas of expertise and perspectives in the fields of pathology and neurobiology to the research effort. The volume is intended to provide a focused overview on the state of the science—both to stimulate and help enlist brain tissue researchers in this undertaking. Each of the articles included in the issue provided a unique perspective and offered background information necessary for new researchers entering the field.
Dr. Carlos Pardo and Dr. Charles Eberhardt have exhaustively outlined the many neurobiological findings that are in the autism literature. Dr. Manuel Casanova reviewed the neuropathology literature and presented some of the current hypotheses based on existing data. Dr. Jacqueline Crawley described the state of the art studies with respect to studying mice behaviors as a model for autism. Dr. Jane Pickett and Dr. Harry Haroutunian provided a practical outline of the Autism Tissue Program, how it is administered and the nature and availability of tissue samples. Finally, Dr. Eric London reviewed the clinical diagnosis of autism, with its very substantial problems, and suggested that tissue researchers may offer profound contributions in refining our understanding of the disease. He pointed out that brain tissue research provides is a critical link between basic and clinical sciences, which will lead to a better understanding of the causes of autism.
One can readily see that, along with the excitement of new discovery, autism researchers are faced with so many leads that formulating coherent hypotheses is an urgent priority. The editors hope that this symposium is helpful and that it stimulates tissue researchers and others to participate in the quest to solve and ameliorate symptoms of ASD.