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Scripps Research Appoints Noted Autism Researcher to Neuroscience Faculty

JUPITER, FL, October 27, 2011 – The Scripps Research Institute has appointed Damon Page as assistant professor in the Department of Neuroscience.

Page, 36, will work on the Scripps Florida campus in Jupiter. Prior to his appointment, he was a senior analyst at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, Washington.

“Damon’s research on autism makes a valuable addition to our department,” said Ron L. Davis, chair of the Department of Neuroscience. “His discovery of genes that can cause autism-like symptoms is a breakthrough in the complex origins of the disease and offers new potential therapeutic targets to investigate. We’re delighted he is joining us.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity to be part of a dynamic, highly collaborative organization, with a breadth of basic and translational research that meshes perfectly with my research,” Page said. “Scripps Florida is a unique place to explore the basic science of how the brain develops and then to use that knowledge to develop potential new treatments for autism.”

Page, who lives in Jupiter, received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Eastern Oregon University in 1999 and his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2002. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology from 2002 to 2004 and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 2004 to 2009; he worked as a research scientist at MIT from 2009 to 2010.

It was during his stint at MIT that Page led a groundbreaking study that resulted in the discovery of a novel mechanism whereby two autism risk factors interact to shape autism-like symptoms in an animal model. That discovery showed for the first time that genes acting in two distinct molecular pathways implicated in autism can interact to significantly influence the severity of symptoms. The study pointed to the intersection of these pathways as a potential new target for therapeutic development.

Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs the normal development of social and communication skills, among other facilities. Autism is the most severe form of autism spectrum disorders; milder forms include Asperger syndrome. According to the National Institutes of Health, six children out of every 1,000 have autism spectrum disorder, with males four times more likely to be afflicted than females.

“There are a number of risk factors for autism,” Page said, “but at present we don’t understand how these interact in the developing brain to cause the disorder. My aim is to shed light on this problem, but, more importantly, to apply what we learn in the laboratory to help individuals and families affected by the disorder.”

For more information, see Page’s faculty web page at http://www.scripps.edu/research/faculty/page .

About The Scripps Research Institute

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is one of the world's largest independent, not-for-profit organizations focusing on research in the biomedical sciences. TSRI is internationally recognized for its contributions to science and health, including its role in laying the foundation for new treatments for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, and other diseases. An institution that evolved from the Scripps Metabolic Clinic founded by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps in 1924, the institute now employs more than 2,500 people on its campuses in La Jolla, CA, and Jupiter, FL, where its renowned scientists—including two Nobel laureates and 20 members of the National Academies of Science, Engineering or Medicine—work toward their next discoveries. The institute's graduate program, which awards PhD degrees in biology and chemistry, ranks among the top ten of its kind in the nation. In October 2016, TSRI announced a strategic affiliation with the California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr), representing a renewed commitment to the discovery and development of new medicines to address unmet medical needs. For more information, see www.scripps.edu.

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Damon Page, Ph.D.
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images/page_damon/page_damon.jpg