Autism/SLI Genetic Biomarkers :: The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio

Autism/SLI Genetic Biomarkers

Genetics of Autism and Specific Langauge Impairment

The overall goal of this project is to advance the development of behavioral and genetic biomarkers for autism and related disorders. The population of persons with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) show large variability in the presentation of the disorder. Individual differences in communication ability are particularly profound, ranging from non-verbal, to minimally verbal, to verbal but impaired in structural language (e.g., grammar vocabulary), up to language normal. Within this range, a striking 73% will fall into one of the impaired categories. Thus while language impairment is not a diagnostic feature of ASD, it occurs with great frequency. We have previously shown that langauge genetics in autism is not identical to the general population using behaviroal genetics analysis and further we have defined chromosomal regions where genes that have a great impact on langauge may reside.  Our currnet hypothesis is that gene variants that cause specific language impairment (SLI) have a disproportionately large impact in ASD, causing persons with ASD to have much lower language ability than would be observed if the variant were present in a typically developing person.  Through a combination of additonal molecluar work on our current autism families and ascertainmetn of addtiional families, we are currently working to identify specific DNA changes that affect language ability in autism.


  • NJACE: (Linda Brzustowicz, PI; Chris Bartlett, Subcontract PI)
    Total funding: $3,700,000
  • NIH RC1 MH088288: (Linda Brzustowicz, PI; Chris Bartlett, Subcontract PI)
    Total funding: $1,097,268
  • NIH R01 MH070366: (Linda Brzustowicz, PI; Chris Bartlett, Subcontract PI)
    Total funding: $3,618,199

Project Members:

- Christopher Bartlett, PhD
- Mike Goode
- Ning Li, PhD

Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000