Houston Matters

Houston Researchers Involved in Massive Effort to Study the DNA of Autism Patients

Two Houston researchers are involved in one of the largest autism studies ever undertaken in the U.S. Dr. Robin Kochel is an associate director for research at Texas Children’s Hospital’s Autism Center. And Dr. Ruth Ann Luna is the director of medical metagenomics at Texas Children’s Microbiome Center. They both participated in something called the […]

Two Houston researchers are involved in one of the largest autism studies ever undertaken in the U.S.

Dr. Robin Kochel is an associate director for research at Texas Children's Hospital’s Autism Center. And Dr. Ruth Ann Luna is the director of medical metagenomics at Texas Children's Microbiome Center.

They both participated in something called the SPARK autism study, which stands for Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge. It’s an online initiative reaching across the country. Partners like Texas Children's are working to collect samples of DNA from 50,000 patients with autism and their families. The goal is to speed up understanding of the condition and find specific treatments targeted to each subset of symptoms where autism presents.

Paige Phelps spoke with Kochel and Luna about the significance of a study this size, starting with Dr. Luna, herself a mother of a child with autism.

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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