From Genes to Environment: Using Integrative Genomics to Build a “Systems-Level” Understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders


  • The author is grateful to Dr. Isabelle Rapin (Departments of Neurology and Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NY) for thoughtful feedback and suggestions on an earlier version of this manuscript, and to Dr. Anthony-Samuel LaMantia (Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, and Institute of Neuroscience, The George Washington University, DC) for helpful discussions. The work that is described from the author’s laboratory was supported by Grants from NIMH (R21 MH073393) and Autism Speaks (2381). The printing cost of this article was in part defrayed by a generous gift from The LIFE Foundation (Aspen, CO). The author, Dr. Valerie Hu, is a professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC 20037.

concerning this article should be addressed to Valerie W. Hu, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The George Washington University, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, 2300 Eye St., N.W., Washington, DC 20037. Electronic mail may be sent to


Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are pervasive neurodevelopmental disorders that affect an estimated 1 in 110 individuals. Although there is a strong genetic component associated with these disorders, this review focuses on the multifactorial nature of ASD and how different genome-wide (genomic) approaches contribute to our understanding of autism. Emphasis is placed on the need to study defined ASD phenotypes as well as to integrate large-scale “omics” data in order to develop a “systems-level” perspective of ASD, which in turn is necessary to allow predictions regarding responses to specific perturbations and interventions.