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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Johns Hopkins: Researchers Participating in GEMMA Multi-Omics Research into Autism Spectrum Disorder

Researchers from the Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health are part of a new European-based initiative to identify treatment and prevention targets for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The five-year project, called GEMMA (Genome, Environment, Microbiome and Metabolome in Autism), began January 1.

The goal of GEMMA is to identify biomarkers – measurable changes in the gut microbiota – that could predict development of ASD in genetically predisposed infants. Researchers plan to enroll 1,600 infants at risk of developing ASD at centers in Italy, Ireland and the United States. Infants will be followed very closely from birth to monitor their progress toward the possible onset of ASD.

Wendy Klag Center Director Dr. M. Daniele Fallin and affiliated faculty member Dr. Chris Ladd-Acosta are involved with GEMMA. They will conduct epigenetics measurements on the samples and help integrate these data with other “-omics” data, such as genomics, metabolomics and proteomics.

The consortium, co-led by Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the Ebris Foundation (Italy) and the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center and chief of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition at Massachusetts General Hospital for children, will employ experts in genomics, the microbiome, metabolomics, epidemiology, animal research models, clinical study design, biostatistics and artificial intelligence to build mathematical models to predict who will develop ASD.

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