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Neurobiology of autism: the role of steroids and mercury


The objective of this research and education proposal is to reintegrate a Polish-American neuroscientist into a career in her native country, Poland, and to increase the international competitiveness of European science. The purpose of this leading edge research project is to investigate, in a combination of clinical and pre-clinical studies, the biological mechanisms of neuro-developmental toxicity induced in children by mercury from vaccines and the environment, suspected of being responsible for a drastic worldwide increase in autism in the past two decades.

The studies will examine the role of adrenal and gonadal steroid hormones and their interactions with mercury (and other heavy metals) in inducing autistic neuro-developmental pathologies. The naturalistic study in children, and an animal study using a rodent model of autism, will focus on identification of potential hormonal biomarkers contributing to the increased vulnerability of some children, especially males, to developing autism. The broad impact of this research is that it may suggest effective methods of prevention and early treatment of autism.

A multidisciplinary team of biomedical scientists and clinicians will be created to conduct these studies. The project will provide research topics for PhD theses for at least two graduate students and for several postdoctoral fellows, who will be supervised or co-supervised by the Chair. Educational activities of the Chair will include lectures for PhD students on steroids and brain functions in norm and pathology, made available to other European centres on the Applicant's website.

The Applicant will also organize a series of public lectures on the neurobiology of behaviours and psychoneurological disorders in order to promote young generations' interests in scientific careers and facilitate the dialogue between the science community and society. These lectures will be made available online and will provide the material for a popular book.

Call for proposal

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