On August 14, Autism Speaks announced that world-renowned geneticist Dr. Stephen Scherer is set to take the helm of the world’s biggest database of autism genomes.
Launched in 2011 by Autism Speaks in partnership with BGI (formerly Beijing Genomics Institute), the Ten Thousand Genomes Project (AUT10K) aims to build a comprehensive “resource library” of sequenced genomes from families with at least two children on the autism spectrum. When complete, the collection will prove an invaluable resource for scientists worldwide, and could enable genomic discoveries that lead to significant improvements in diagnosis and treatment for individuals on the autism spectrum.
To his new role as the director of AUT10K, Dr. Scherer brings a wealth of experience, accomplishments, and accolades. A genetics and genomics pioneer, Dr. Scherer is best known for establishing the Database of Genomic Variants, the world’s first collection of copy number variants, which has been used by medical geneticists and physicians for hundreds of thousands of medical diagnoses. Dr. Scherer’s most recent study focused on the role of copy number variant testing in individualized ASD diagnoses and expanded the list of genes known to play a part in the development of ASD. Over the course of his career, and together with his team, Dr. Scherer has authored more than 375 scientific papers on genetic variation in ASD and many other conditions. Recently, Thomson-Reuters named him one of the Most Highly Cited Scientists.
In addition to his leadership of AUT10K, Dr. Scherer will continue in his current role as director of the Centre for Applied Genomics at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. He also serves as director of the McLaughlin Centre, a research center for genomic medicine at the University of Toronto.