We are delighted to announce the appointment of Sophia A. Colamarino, Ph.D. to the position of Science Director. Dr. Colamarino comes to Cure Autism Now with exceptional research credentials and an intense and abiding interest in both biology and psychology. She will be responsible for guiding Cure Autism Now's science program in association with Cure Autism Now's Scientific Advisory Board and Scientific Review Council as well as liaising with the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE) Steering Committee.
Dr. Colamarino's background in developmental biology, particularly extensive studies in brain development and regeneration, make her a welcome addition to the autism field. Her vision for Cure Autism Now is to see it take a leadership role in advancing what is known about the biology of autism and ultimately defining its cause on a cellular and molecular level.
"I've always been intrigued by what makes individuals different from each other, so I started as a psychology major then looked to biology for the explanations," says Dr. Colamarino. "Autism represents a complex intersection of biology and psychology, and I believe that Cure Autism Now is poised to articulate how behaviors associated with autism relate to biological factors."
Dr. Colamarino graduated with dual degrees in Biological Sciences and Psychology from Stanford University. Following her undergrad she received her Ph.D. in Neurosciences from University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). During her graduate studies at UCSF she had the opportunity to work closely with such distinguished neuroscientists as Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Ph.D. and CAN Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) member John Rubenstein, Ph.D. Her thesis work focused on neurodevelopment, specifically the development of brain connectivity.
After receiving her Ph.D., Dr. Colamarino conducted research at the Telethon Institute for Genetics and Medicine in Milan, Italy, led by the well-known human geneticist Andrea Ballabio. She then returned to the States to begin her post-doctoral fellowship at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA where she studied adult neural stem cells in the laboratory of Dr. Fred H. Gage.
Cure Autism Now's entrepreneurial approach appeals tremendously to Dr. Colamarino. Through Cure Autism Now's various research initiatives - AGRE, Genomics, Biomarker, Environmental Factors in Autism, Neural Retraining, and Innovative Technology - she wishes to recognize the contributions of individual researchers while sharing progress in order to facilitate more efficient research. Her goal is to create a virtual lab by working with the researchers affiliated with Cure Autism Now, and in autism and its related fields in general. She believes that since Cure Autism Now will be able to direct its own research agenda and create unprecedented collaborations, CAN will greatly increase the pace and precision of autism research.
In addition to fostering a network of scientists, Dr. Colamarino is looking forward to being a liaison between the lab and families affected by autism. Her favorite parts of the research process have been the creative aspect in the critical study of scientific literature and in the synthesis of data into coherent stories and explanations. Through her role in community outreach at the Salk Institute and as a volunteer educator in the San Francisco Unified School District, she has honed her "simultaneous translation" skills, and is quite proficient in interpreting "SciSpeak" for the average listener.
Please join us in welcoming Sophia to the Cure Autism Now family. You can look forward to more regular updates on CAN's science initiatives and progress under her stewardship. And she'll be sure to translate for the less science-minded among us.