Faculty Profile

Dr. Brett S. Abrahams, Ph.D.

Brett S. Abrahams, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Genetics

Professional Interests

The Abrahams lab works to understand the "whys" and "hows" in the Autism Spectrum Disorders and to use these insights to achieve better patient outcomes. We have identified DNA variants that increase risk for disease and discovered how some of these impact brain structure and function. Ongoing work is poised to take these insights back to the clinic and improve quality of life for patients and families. Our work has made the Autism Speaks “Top Ten Research Advances" list in each of 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. Coverage from ABC News, BBC News, The National Post, Reuters, The Telegraph, Time Magazine, and US News and World Report has helped to disseminate findings to non-scientists. Please contact us if you would like to participate in research, have questions about the ASDs, or have an idea you think important for us to explore. 

Selected Publications


Peñagarikano, O., B. Abrahams, et al. (2011). "Absence of CNTNAP2 in mice leads to epileptic seizures, ASD-related behavior and atypical neuronal network functioning." In Press at Cell.

Peñagarikano O, Abrahams BS, Herman EI, Winden KC, Gdalyahu A, Dong H, Sonnenblick LI, Gruver R, 
Almajano J, Bragin A, Trachtenberg JT, Peles E, Geschwind DH. (2011). Absence of CNTNAP2 in mice leads to epileptic seizures, ASD-related behavior and atypical neuronal network functioning. Cell. 147(1):235-46. [PMID: 21962519]


The Autism Genome Project Consortium. (2011). A novel approach of homozygous haplotype sharing identifies candidate genes in autism spectrum disorder. Human GeneticsOct 14. [PMID: 21996756]


Abrahams BS.
 (2011). Syndromic vs. Idiopathic ASCs.  Autism Spectrum Conditions: International Experts answer your Questions on Autism, Asperger syndrome and PDD-NOS. Eds. Hallmayer and Boelte. Hogrefe Press. 

Abrahams BS. (2011). Many roads to the Autism Spectrum Disorders. Neuropsychology of Autism. Ed. D. Fein. Oxford Univ Press. ISBN13: 9780195378313

The Autism Genome Project Consortium. (2011). Gene-ontology enrichment analysis in two independent family-based samples highlights biologically plausible processes for autism spectrum disorders. Eur J Hum Genet19(10):1082-9. [PMID: 21522181]

Scott AA, Abrahams BS, Alvarez-Retuerto AI, Sonnenblick LI, Rudie J, Ghahremani D, Mumford J, Poldrack RA, Dapretto M, Geschwind DH, Bookheimer SY. (2010). Altered Functional Connectivity within the frontal lobe of brain associated with Variation in CNTNAP2. Science Translational Medicine. 3;2(56):56ra80. [PMID: 21048216]



The Autism Genome Project Consortium. (2010). A genomewide scan for common alleles affecting risk for autism. Hum Mol Genet. 19(20):4072-82. [PMID: 20663923] 


The Autism Genome Project Consortium. (2010). Functional impact of global rare copy number variation in autism spectrum disorders. Nature. 15;466(7304):368-72. [PMID: 20531469]


Panaitof SC, Abrahams BS, Dong H, Geschwind DH, White SA. (2010). Language-related Cntnap2 gene is differentially expressed in sexually dimorphic song nuclei essential for vocal learning in songbirds. Journal of Comparative Neurology. 518(11):1995-2018. [PMID: 20394055]


Abrahams BS, & Geschwind DH, (2010). Connecting genes to brain in the autisms. Arch. Neurol. 67(4): 395-399. [PMID: 20385903]


Abrahams BS, & Geschwind DH. (2010). Genetics of Autism. Human Genetics: Problems & Approaches. Eds. Speicher, Antonarakiso, and Motulsky. 4th Ed. Springer-Verlag. [ISBN: 9783540376538]


Bucan M*, Abrahams BS*, Wang K*,, thirty-one additional authors, Geschwind DH, and Hakonarson H. (2009). Genome-wide analyses of exonic copy number variants in a family-based study point to novel autism susceptibility genes. *Contributed Equally. PLoS Genetics. 5(6): e1000536. [PMID: 19557195]


Wang K*, Zhang H*, Ma DQ*, Bucan M, Glessner JT, Abrahams BS, thirty-nine  additional authors, Geschwind DH, Pericak-Vance MA, Schellenberg GD, and Hakonarson H. (2009). Common genetic variation is associated with susceptibility to autism spectrum disorders. *Contributed Equally. Nature. 459(7246):528-33 [PMID: 19404256]

Abrahams BS, and Geschwind DH. (2008). Advances in autism genetics: on the threshold of a new neurobiology. Nature Reviews Genetics. 9:341-355 [PMID: 18414403]


Vernes SC, Newbury DF, Abrahams BS, Winchester L, Nicod J, Groszer M, Alarcón M, Oliver PL, Davies KE, Geschwind DH, Monaco AP, Fisher, SE. (2008).  A functional genetic link between distinct developmental language disorders. New England Journal of Medicine. 359(22):2337-2345 [PMID: 18987363].


Alarcón, M,*, Abrahams BS*, Stone SL, Duvall JA, Perederiy JV, Bomar JM, Sebat J, Wigler M, Martin CL, Ledbetter DH, Nelson SF, Cantor RM, Geschwind DH. (2008). Linkage, association and gene expression analyses identify CNTNAP2 as an autism susceptibility gene. *Contributed Equally. American Journal of Human Genetics. 82:150-159. [PMID: 18179893].

Bakkaloglu B*, O’Roak BJ*, Louvi A, Gupta AR, Abelson JF, Morgan TM, Chawarska K, Klin A, Ercan-Sencicek G, Stillman AA, Tanriover G, Abrahams BS, Duvall JA, Robbins EM, Geschwind DH, Biederer T, Gunel M, Lifton RP, State MW (2008). Molecular cytogenetic analysis and re-sequencing of Contactin Associated Protein-Like 2 in Autism Spectrum Disorder. *Contributed Equally. American Journal of Human Genetics. 82:165-173. [PMID: 18179895].

Kumar R.A, McGhee KA, Leach S, Bonaguro R, Maclean A, Aguirre-Hennandez R, Abrahams BS, Coccarro EF, Hodgins S, Turecki G, Condon, A, Muir W, Brooks-Wilson AR, Blackwood D, Simpson EM. (2008). Initial association of NR2E1 with bipolar disorder and identification of candidate mutations in bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and aggression through resequencing. American Journal of Medical Genetics. 5;147B(6):880-9. [PMID: 18205168].

Abrahams BS, Tentler D*, Perederiy JV*, Oldham MC, Coppola G, Geschwind DH. (2007). Genomewide analyses of human peri-sylvian cerebral cortical patterning. *Contributed Equally. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 104:17849-54. [PMID: 17978184].

More Information About Dr. Brett Abrahams

The Abrahams Lab

Brett Abrahams, Wikipedia

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Research Information

In the News

TheScientist.com interviews Dr. Brett Abrahams about research that identifies a potential new genetic risk factor for autism that may act to shape the brain during development or early childhood.

The New York Times interviews Dr. Brett Abrahams about the genetic causes of autism and how different gene mutations may affect brain development in light of a recent CDC report that found 1 in 88 children is diagnosed with the disorder.

More media coverage