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Contact: Gina Hebert, 508-289-7725, ghebert@mbl.edu

Martin Raff

Neurobiology of Autism Topic of June 30th Lecture at the MBL

MBL, WOODS HOLE, MA—Martin Raff, a world-renowned researcher of immunology, cell biology, and developmental neurobiology, and Emeritus Professor in the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology at University College London will present the Marine Biological Laboratory's (MBL's) annual Irvin Isenberg Memorial Lecture on Monday, June 30 at 4:00 pm in the Lillie Auditorium, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole. Dr. Raff, a grandfather of a child with autism spectrum disorder, will present "The Neurobiology of Autism—At Last.

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are common. From being the least understood of the neuropsychiatric disorders, they are now arguably the best understood, largely through recent advances in identifying genes that predispose to these disorders and through studies of mouse models of ASDs. There is increasing evidence that, in many cases at least, the underlying problem is at synapses, where nerve cells make functional connections with one another. Remarkably, in several mouse models, correcting the problem in the adult brain with drugs or genetic manipulations reverses most of the behavioral and neurological abnormalities, providing hope for the development of therapies for ASDs. In his lecture, Dr. Raff will review some of these recent developments in autism research and discuss possible ways forward.

Dr. Raff received his B.Sc. and M.D. from McGill University. He then pursued residencies in medicine at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal and in neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Dr. Raff completed his postdoctoral training in immunology at the National Institute for Medical Research in London in 1969, after which he moved to University College London, where he became a professor of biology in 1979. He became Emeritus Professor in 2002.

Dr. Raff is a Fellow of the Royal Society and of Academia Europaea, a foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, past president of the British Society of Cell Biology, and a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and served as an adviser to the NAS in formulating its Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research in 2005. Earlier this month, Dr. Raff was named to Scientific Advisory Committee of Autism Speaks, the nation's largest organization dedicated to funding and facilitating autism research.

The Irvin Isenberg Memorial Lecture was established in memory of Dr. Isenberg, whose distinguished career as a biophysicist began at the MBL.


The MBL® is a leading international, independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to discovery and to improving the human condition through creative research and education in the biological, biomedical and environmental sciences. Founded in 1888 as the Marine Biological Laboratory, the MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the Western Hemisphere. For more information, visit www.MBL.edu.