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Monday, November 18, 2013

Webinar 11/20: Beth Stevens Discusses Brain Immunity and Wiring

From SFARI.org - The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative

By Greg Boustead
November 11, 2013

We invite you to join us for the next SFARI webinar on Wednesday, November 20th, from 3:00 -4:00pm Eastern, featuring Beth Stevens, assistant professor of neurology at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School.

Register Now »

Stevens will present new work on the role of brain immune cells called microglia in the regulation of synapses — the junctions between neurons — and, ultimately, in autism.

Here’s how Stevens describes what she’ll discuss:

"Emerging evidence indicates that microglia, immune cells that reside in the brain, are altered in some individuals with autism, but it is not yet known whether they play a direct role. Are microglia simply responding to changes in the brain environment? Or could they play an active or even causal role in autism?

"Understanding their normal function in brain development is providing important insight. Work from our laboratory over the past couple of years has demonstrated a surprising new role for microglia and molecules traditionally associated with innate immune system function in elimination and refinement of central nervous system synapses.

"In my talk, I will present evidence that microglia actively participate in synaptic pruning by engulfing, or phagocytosing, developing synapses. Our recent studies support a model in which the immune system tags ‘weaker’ or less active synapses in the developing brain, and then microglia eliminate those synapses. Our findings have important implications for understanding mechanisms underlying synaptic dysfunction in autism, Rett syndrome and other neurodevelopmental disorders."


You can register for the session here. To add the event to your Outlook or iCal Calendar, click here. To add it to your Google Calendar, click here.

At the event time, log in to readytalk.com and enter the participant access code 2979382 to watch the talk.

There will also be a Q&A session directly following the talk. Or submit your questions now, either by posting them in the comments section below, or by emailing them to community@sfari.org.

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Press policy: The SFARI Webinar Series aims to facilitate the free exchange of ideas among autism researchers, including discussion of published and unpublished research, hypotheses and results. Members of the press may report information presented during a SFARI webinar only if that material has already been published elsewhere or they have first obtained express written consent from the presenter.

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