Newsstand Menu

The status of autism research—in verse

photo of Michael Wigler in his office
Michael Wigler discussing his research in his office at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in January 2020.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Spectrum News logo Wigler summed up his view of how the autism research field is doing in this poem, ‘Genetics for poets,’ originally published in Spectrum News on June 27, 2017.

Where do we stand in our understanding of autism genetics—and what major questions remain? A molecular biologist, supplies answers in stanzas.

where have we gotten to from genetic analysis?
a. an understanding of the genetic architecture
i. role of de novo mutation
ii. role of transmission
b. a bevy of target genes
c. estimates of target size
d. the concept of gene vulnerability
e. awareness of genetic-phenotypic correlations
f. understanding of noncoding variants
g. beginnings of understanding of gender roles

what can we do with it?
a. inform our understanding of the genetic basis of autism
b. diagnosis and counseling
c. develop individualized therapies
d. inspire therapies tested by stratification

is this the end of the road?
a. hardly, not complete at gene target level
b. hardly, crack the noncoding and missense mutations
c. hardly, architecture not completely specified, especially the nature of multiplex autism
d. hardly, no modifiers known
e. hardly, no sensible functional stratification

what is to be done?
a. continue to gather information
b. aggregate by functional overlap
c. stratify treatment by functional overlap
d. develop understanding of gender modifiers

Written by: Michael Wigler, CSHL Professor

Stay informed

Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest discoveries, upcoming events, videos, podcasts, and a news roundup delivered straight to your inbox every month.

  Newsletter Signup


Michael Wigler

Michael Wigler

Russell and Janet Doubleday Professor of Cancer Research
Cancer Center Member
Ph.D., Columbia University, 1978