Original keynote presentation and abstract by professor Louise Gallagher (Trinity College Dublin, HSE Beechpark Autism Services/National Childrens Hospital, AMNCH, Dublin, Ireland) on neurodevelopment, held at the ESCAP 2013 Congress in Dublin, Tuesday 9th July 2013.
The route through childhood is shaped by many different forces’. ‘Forces’ or factors that may positively or negatively affect developmental trajectories and ultimately influence life course. One of the greatest challenges to understanding mental health will be to understand the unique interplay and timing of risk factors ranging from biological to environmental and how they operate in tandem to confer either positive or negative outcomes for children, adolescents and into adulthood. Studying aetiology in mental health disorders is obviously complex, due to heterogeneity in the clinical presentation, complex genetic risk factors and limited availability of model systems to study mental disorders. Historically efforts have focused on understanding genetic underpinnings of highly heritable disorders such as autism or the study of brain structure or function using imaging technologies. Some progress has been achieved within these fields and now the post-genome era is focused on gaining better understanding of the neurobiology of common neurodevelopmental disorders to inform therapeutics. Major international collaborative efforts will be required to move closer to the goal of improved therapies and this will require major investment and commitment. However ultimate understanding of normal and deviant neurodevelopment is likely to more broadly inform our understanding of the causes and evolution of mental health disorders and the translation of this understanding into better treatments and outcomes.
Keywords: forces, neurodevelopmental, challenges, aspirations.
View the full presentation here
(pdf file, 44 slides).
Louise Gallagher MB MRC Psych PhD, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), graduated from Medicine in University College Dublin in 1994 and completed psychiatry training in the Dublin University (TCD) Training Scheme in psychiatry in 2000. As part of a Wellcome Trust Mental Health Training Fellowship, she completed her PhD in psychiatric genetics in TCD in 2004. She has a special interest in autism spectrum disorders and other complex neurodevelopmental disorders. Professor Gallagher has an active research group in TCD engaged in understanding the autism phenotype and comorbid mental health disorders, underlying genetic susceptibility and the neurobiology of ASD. Her group is engaged in a range of molecular genetic approaches and functional and structural neuroimaging. She is involved in a number of collaborative international initiatives including the Autism Genome Project, Early Signs and Symptoms of Autism EU COST Network and consulted to the EU ROAMER project, a Roadmap for mental health disorders in Europe. Professor Gallagher has a clinical commitment as a psychiatrist in Beechpark Autism Services in Dublin.