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For Immediate Release: July 24, 2009
Contact: Gina Hebert, 508-289-7725; ghebert@mbl.edu

Martin Raff

World-Renowned Researcher to Discuss ‘Good News About Autism’ at MBL Friday Evening Lecture, July 31

MBL, WOODS HOLE, MA—Dr. Martin Raff, a world-renowned researcher of immunology, cell biology, and developmental neurobiology, will discuss recent developments in the neurobiology of Autism spectrum disorders at the next Friday Evening Lecture on July 31 at 8:00 PM in the MBL’s Lillie Auditorium 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole. The lecture, titled "Good News About Autism" is free and open to the public.

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 of the mouse models, correcting the problem in the adult brain with drugs or genetic manipulations reverses many of the behavioral and neurological abnormalities, providing hope for the development of therapies for ASDs. Dr. Raff will review some of these recent developments and discuss possible ways forward in his lecture.

Martin Raff is an Emeritus Professor in the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology at University College London. He received his B.Sc. and M.D. from McGill University and 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, after which he moved to University College London, where he became Professor of Biology and later Emeritus Professor.

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). He served as an adviser to the NAS in formulating its Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research in 2005.

Dr. Raff is a member of many Scientific Advisory Committees, including that of Autism Speaks and the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, two of the nation's largest organizations dedicated to funding and facilitating autism research.

The Friday Evening Lecture Series will continue throughout the summer at the MBL. The remaining lectures in the series are below. For more information, visit www.mbl.edu/FEL.

August 7: Eric Davidson, California Institute of Technology
“Gene Regulatory Networks: the Genomic Code for Embryonic Development”

August 14: Martin Chalfie, Columbia University, 2008 Nobel Laureate
“Touching Green Worms”

August 21: Josh Sanes, Harvard University
“The Circuits That Let Us See”


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 Americas.