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Uncovering the genetic roots of ASD and ADHD

Project description

Genetic insight into the onset of childhood neurodevelopmental disorders

The EU-funded GRASAD project is investigating the genetic and evolutionary aspects of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which have an onset in childhood. The aim is to understand the common ground between and high prevalence of these neurodevelopmental disorders. Researchers will identify adverse genetic risk factors and common symptoms and elucidate the aetiology of ASD and ADHD. Apart from fundamental knowledge on the roots of these two disorders, the project has the potential to generate new hypotheses and guide future research towards a personalised medicine approach.


Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are common neurodevelopmental and childhood-onset chronic disorders. Although ASD and ADHD do have distinct diagnostic definitions, evidence has accumulated to suggest substantial overlap between their symptoms. Despite of being notably impairing and presenting deleterious effects on reproductive success they both are highly prevalent. The goal of GRASAD is the study of two important remaining unsolved issues regarding the genetic underpinnings of ASD and ADHD taking advantage of the most innovative approaches in the neurogenetics field. On one side, GRASAD-I will apply state-of-the-art methodologies to address the question of which and how a diverse set of genetic risk factors are involved in both ASD and ADHD and subsequently to specific symptoms shared between both disorders. On the other side, GRASAD-II will study evolutionary aspects of the genetic roots of ASD from a genomics perspective to shed light on the so-called paradox of psychiatric disorders: given that these disorders are considered maladaptive and have heritable risk, why do they still exist? This study is relevant due to it will not only pave the way for a more precise scientific understanding of ASD and its overlap with ADHD but also can have an impact on psychiatric practice within a precision medicine framework. The evolutionary perspective of the project can generate new hypotheses and guide research, inform treatment strategies, provide a more natural view of disease and elucidate the aetiology of mental illness and suffering. The multidisciplinary nature of the project is strong, involving a combination of well-developed novel approaches in the field of psychiatric genetics. This proposal includes both the transfer of knowledge to the host institution and the training of the candidate in new methodologies. This project is line with the EU strategy on Mental Health and Well Being.


Net EU contribution
€ 160 932,48
Gran via de les corts catalanes 585
08007 Barcelona

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Este Cataluña Barcelona
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00