Common Variant Genetics of Autism and Autistic Traits (GWAS) Consortium    


  • Prof Simon Baron-Cohen

    University of Cambridge

  • Dr Matthew Hurles

    Wellcome Sanger Institute

  • Prof Daniel Geschwind

    University of California, Los Angeles

  • Prof David Rowitch

    University of Cambridge

Project summary

Autism is a lifelong developmental condition and about 1% of the population is thought to have the condition. It is largely genetic and between 400 and 1,000 genes are thought to contribute to autism. However, fewer than 100 genes with a link to autism have been identified. 

We will accelerate gene discovery by collecting DNA samples from 10,000 people with autism in the UK and their immediate families. We will combine this information with genetic information from 90,000 other people with autism already gathered from around the world. This large-scale resource will enable us to identify several genetic variants that contribute to the development of autism. This information will allow us to better understand the biology of autism, improve on existing methods for diagnosing autism and investigate if there are genetically-defined subgroups of people with autism.