Nov
8
8:30am 8:30am

The Fraser Mustard Dialogue: Genes vs. the Environment

This session will be a moderated discussion led by Cheryl Cytrynbaum in honour of Fraser Mustard of the role of epigenetics in neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Kobor will broadly outline the role of epigenetics as a mechanism by which early-life experiences can “get under the skin” to affect health and behaviour across the lifespan. To illustrate this concept, select examples of pre- and postnatal environments that sculpt the human epigenome will be highlighted. As such, a major focus of the presentation will be on the association of DNA methylation, a key epigenetic mark, with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in two human cohorts. Dr Weksberg will focus on human neurodevelopmental syndromes caused by mutations in epigenetic regulators (or epigenes). This will include an explanation about how studying syndrome-specific changes in epigenetic marks can help us not only to understand how some of the clinical features arise but also for classification of genomic variants of unknown significance reported via molecular diagnostic testing. In the future, these DNA methylation marks and syndrome-specific altered epigenetic marks could be used to develop novel targeted therapies for individuals with neurodevelopmental syndromes and possibly as diagnostic predictors of FASD and other developmental disorders. 

Introduction: Daniel Goldowitz
Moderator: Cheryl Cytrynbaum
Speakers: Michael Kobor, Rosanna Weksberg

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Nov
8
10:15am10:15am

Does early identification lead to better outcomes for children and families impacted by neurodevelopmental disorders?

Early life experiences impact on the architecture of the brain, producing a foundation for all of the learning, health and behavior that follow. It is now estimated that, in the first few years of life, more than 1 million new neural connections are formed every second. At no other time in the life span is the brain more responsive to external environmental influences, which makes this period critically important for determining long-term cognitive, behavioural and socio-emotional development. Recognizing the importance of early serve and return exchanges between the caregiver and the infant, this session will explore the potential impact of early identification of children at risk of developmental delay from the perspectives of child and family health, as well as an assessment of how early identification screening tools may play a role in improving longer term socio-economic benefits. 

Moderator: James Reynolds
Speakers: Jennifer Zwicker, Chaya Kulkarni, Mary Rella

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Nov
8
1:00pm 1:00pm

A Trainee Session of Short Presentations: Data to Discovery to Impact

The potential impact or significance of basic science research is not always clear, which can impact the understanding or appreciation of its importance. Neurodevelopmental research is heavily motivated by the goal of improving the lives of individuals and families affected by these potentially life-altering disorders. In this session, trainees will present their research, focusing on the potential impact the research may have on the communities that inspired their work. The objective of this session is to establish a broader understanding of the motivation(s) underlying and importance of much of the cutting-edge research being conducted nationally in this field. 

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Nov
8
3:45pm 3:45pm

Research Success Stories: Partnerships between Families and Scientists

In this session research success stories will be presented from the vantage points of both families and researchers who have partnered to break new ground in solving medical science and healthcare issues for children with neurodevelopmental problems. The audience will then be engaged for discussion about the presentations and potential future visions for driving scientific discovery in neurodevelopmental disorders.”

Moderator: Rosanna Weksberg
Speakers: Laura Williams, Pranesh Chakraborty, Julie Drury

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