Brian J. O'Roak, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Molecular and Medical Genetics
O’Roak was among the first in the world to identify new genes involved in autism risk. His lab’s long-term goal is to develop early interventions and therapies that can dramatically improve the lives of those affected with such disorders. He is pictured here in his lab in Richard Jones Hall.
“Here’s what makes me optimistic. Ten years ago, we really had no clue what genetic risk factors caused disorders like autism. We can now directly sequence genomes at a scale that was not conceivable when I started my Ph.D. In just the last three to four years, we have gone from a few genes we were confident were associated with autism, to 50 to 100 genes that we’re highly confident in! These new genetically defined subtypes are providing important clues into the complex neurobiology of autism and bringing families together who have shared experiences.
“One of the reasons I came to OHSU was to work with Eric Fombonne, M.D., a world leader in autism research who has worked with autistic children and their families for decades. We are breaking down barriers between clinical care, basic research and families. Doernbecher is only a five-minute walk from my lab. When I talk with individuals and families about their hopes for new discoveries and interventions, I’m inspired to work harder, smarter and faster.”
Read more about Dr. O'Roak and his research