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Allen Institute for Brain Science hosts Williams Syndrome Symposium

Williams Syndrome Association convenes leading scientists to identify promising avenues for advancing research on Williams-Beuren Syndrome

October 14, 2010 | Download PDF

The Allen Institute for Brain Science ( and the Williams Syndrome Association (WSA) will hold the WSA's bi-annual symposium, "Neurodevelopment & Cognition in Williams-Beuren Syndrome: Understanding Genetics & Pathophysiology to Inform Treatment," at the Allen Institute's headquarters in Seattle on October 14th & 15th, 2010.

The symposium will focus on research surrounding Williams-Beuren Syndrome, also known as Williams Syndrome, and brings together an illustrious group of expert scientists charged with looking to the future of the field. Discussions will center on the background and current studies of Williams Syndrome, themes from studies of other neuro-developmental disorders, and therapeutics.

"We're pleased to be hosting the Williams Syndrome Association symposium at the Allen Institute and facilitating these discussions," said Elaine Jones, chief operating officer at the Allen Institute. "On the heels of our first annual Allen Institute for Brain Science Symposium, we understand the value of convening great scientific minds to delve into important conversations about the state of current research and what can and should be done to help push it forward."

Williams Syndrome is a genetic condition that is characterized by medical problems including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays and learning disabilities, occurring side-by-side with striking verbal abilities, highly social personalities and an affinity for music. It occurs in approximately 1 in 10,000 births worldwide, and affects an estimated 30,000 people in the United States.

The symposium program is intended to spark creative discussions exploring promising avenues for research surrounding Williams Syndrome. The Williams Syndrome Association is the most comprehensive resource for people and families living with Williams Syndrome, as well as their doctors, researchers and educators.

"Our mission is to help people with Williams Syndrome reach their highest attainable goals," said Terry Monkaba, executive director at the WSA. "Our bi-annual symposium is critical in fostering cross-disciplinary dialogue among scientists in the field and in helping us to define the most important areas for our future grantmaking. We're extremely grateful that the Allen Institute is graciously hosting our conference."

The meeting will feature a series of presentations by and discussions among a diverse group of leading scientists, including:


Lucy Osborne, University of Toronto

Uta Franke, Stanford University

Carolyn Mervis, University of Louisville

Helen Tager-Flusberg, Boston University

Karen Berman, National Institutes of Health

Barbara Pober, Massachusetts General Hospital

Jacqueline N. Crawley, National Institutes of Health

John Rubenstein, University of California, San Francisco

Morgan Sheng, Genentech

Mriganka Sur, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

John D. Gabrieli, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, Central Institute of Mental Health

Mike Oldham, University of California, San Francisco

Stephen Warren, Emory University

Honjun Song, Johns Hopkins University

Fen-Biao Gao, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Mustafa Sahin, Children's Hospital Boston

Randi Hagerman, University of California, Davis

Expert Discussants

Ursula Bellugi, Salk Institute

Elisabeth Dykens, Vanderbilt University

Jeff Golden, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Annette Karmiloff-Smith, Birkbeck, University of London

Alice Kau, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human

Julie Korenberg, University of Utah

Barbara Landau, Johns Hopkins University

Ed Lein, Allen Institute for Brain Science

Marilee Martens, Ohio State University

Colleen Morris, University of Nevada

Allan Reiss, Stanford University

John Spiro, Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative

May Tassabehji, University of Manchester

Paul Wang, Seaside Therapeutics

Hongkui Zeng, Allen Institute for Brain Science

More information about Williams Syndrome can be found at

About the Williams Syndrome Association

The Williams Syndrome Association (WSA) is devoted exclusively to improving the lives of individuals with Williams syndrome. The association strives to locate individuals with the syndrome and their families and disseminate timely and accurate medical and educational information. It provides members with support through yearly regional conferences and social gatherings, quarterly newsletters and biennial conventions. The Williams Syndrome Association actively supports research into educational, behavioral, social and medical aspects of the syndrome.