February 10, 2012

Autism expert to speak on campus Feb. 24

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about one in 110 children in America have an autism spectrum disorder, so many people will find two Feb. 24 presentations by Sophia Colamarino at Southern Illinois University Carbondale quite relevant. 

Colamarino will present the interactive session “How to Understand Basic Biology Research in Autism” on Feb. 24 from 9 to 10:30 a.m.  The presentation and reception that follows will be in Morris Library’s John C. Guyon Auditorium and rotunda.  Colamarino will also speak at 2 p.m. that day in the auditorium on the topic “The Importance of Public Access to Non-Profit Advocacy Organizations.”

Both sessions are free and open to the public. Organizers ask that those planning to attend the morning session RSVP by Monday, Feb. 20, by contacting Sherell Sparks at 618/453-7130 or 618/453-7123.  No RSVP is necessary for the afternoon presentation.

Colamarino holds degrees in biological sciences and psychology from Stanford University and a doctorate in neurosciences from the University of California at San Francisco.  While completing her doctorate, she studied brain development with Marc Tessier-Lavigne, a well-known neuroscientist.  She then amassed about 16 years or research experience in the U.S. and abroad. 

She studied the genetic disorder Kallmann Syndrome at the Telethon Institute for Genetics and Medicine in Milan, Italy, working with Dr. Andrea Ballabio, human geneticist.  And, she worked on adult neural stem cell research in the laboratory of stem cell pioneer Fred H. Gage at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif.   Her work is published in such noted journals as “Cell, Nature and Nature Medicine.”

Colamarino joined Cure Autism Now (CAN) as science director in November 2004.  There, she oversaw extensive growth in the science program and spearheaded a variety of initiatives including the Neuropathology Workgroup, an effort to explore the cellular and molecular aspects of brain enlargement in autism.

Colamarino is currently a consulting associate professor for Stanford Medical.  Her previous experience also includes serving as vice president of research for Autism Speaks, the world’s largest private fundraising organization for autism biomedical research.  There, she managed the investment biology portfolio and Autism Speaks’ new high High Risk/High Impact program.

Sponsors for Colamarino’s lectures are SIU Carbondale, Morris Library, the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders, the College of Education and Human Services and the School of Medicine.

Those attending her presentations may find metered parking at the Student Center with Saluki Express buses running on the hour and at 20 and 40 minutes past to provide the 13-minute ride to the library.  The cost of the bus ride is $1.