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College of Arts and Sciences

Biology students and professor Sofia Lizarraga at neuroscience symposium

Symposium showcases autism, neuroscience research

Scientists across South Carolina collaborate to improve knowledge, impact

The latest research on autism spectrum disorder and strategies for improving care throughout the Palmetto State were the focus of the first South Carolina Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Consortium Symposium.

The daylong event held this month at the My Carolina Alumni Center featured scientists from the University of South Carolina College of Arts and Sciences and School of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, the Greenwood Genetics Center, Clemson University, and Greenville Health System.

The symposium grew out of a statewide collaboration among autism and neuroscience researchers brought together by psychology professor Jane Roberts and Jeff Twiss, SmartState Chair in Childhood Neurotherapeutics in the biological sciences department.

“The collaboration is focused on research with an overall goal of looking at ways to consolidate efforts across the state, and explore ways of how we can bring in more research funding,” Twiss says. “By combining our efforts, we are building a foundation for an even stronger neurodevelopmental research community and culture in South Carolina.”

More than 100 scientists and stakeholders attended representing universities, government agencies, health care organizations and non-profit groups.

The symposium also included poster sessions showcasing work from more than 40 students and professors in the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Medicine, School of Medicine-Greenville, and College of Pharmacy.

Other institutions represented were USC-Aiken, Claflin University, Clemson University, and the Medical University of South Carolina.

 Two of those presenters were Duncan Nowling and Mary-Kate Lawlor, undergraduate researchers who work with biology professor Sofia Lizarraga. 

The students enthusiastically answered questions from interested visitors throughout the morning session. They shared details about their work studying how certain genetic mutations can lead to deficits in neuronal connectivity and intellectual disability.