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Autism and Epilepsy – a brain tissue perspective

On October 14th, the Autism BrainNet hosted its first webinar around how brain tissue findings affect people with autism. First, Shafali Jeste, MD, from UCLA explained what seizures were, how prevalent they were in people with autism, and what the risk factors for them were in ASD. Next, David Menassa from Oxford University described recent findings in brain tissue which showed how glia cells, or the cells of the brain that support neurons, are affected in ASD and how epilepsy affects these changes. The introduction of the webinar is missing but only for a few seconds.

David Menassa

M.Sc. (Oxon), M.Phil. (Cantab), D.Phil. (Oxon)


Postdoctoral Researcher in Neuroimmunology & Stipendiary Lecturer in Neurophysiology (Queen's College)

My research interests are centred around the materno-fetal interface. More specifically, I am interested in the role maternal factors play in fetal neurodevelopment. These factors could include maternal antibodies against fetal brain proteins or oxidative stress signals to the placenta, both of which can alter synaptic wiring in the offspring and increase the incidence of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorders, mental retardation and schizophrenia. More importantly, whether these maternal factors could be blocked would be pivotal for potentially rescuing the clinical phenotype. More recently, I have been focusing on the role of microglial cells in synapse formation and pruning during development and postnatally. From October 2016, I will be joining Dr. Diego Gomez-Nicola's team as a research fellow funded by the Leverhulme Trust at the University of Southampton to investigate microglial dynamics during development.

External Collaboration

  • Dr. David Holcman Applied Mathematics & Computational Biology Group at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris
  • Professor Zoltan Molnar Developmental Neurobiology Group at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics in Oxford

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