Jessica Wright

Senior News Writer, Spectrum

Jessica Wright writes for Spectrum and reports on breaking autism research from conferences around the world. She joined Spectrum in 2010.

Jessica covers all aspects of autism research, but her primary beat is genetics. She has firsthand experience with whole-genome sequencing from her postdoc at Rockefeller University. Her writing has also appeared in Nature and Scientific American.

Jessica has a Ph.D. in biological sciences from Stanford University.

August 2016
Photography by Cristina Pye

High-profile exits take Yale’s autism center in new direction

by  /  15 August 2016

Following the departure of several of its stars, the Yale Child Study Center is shifting focus to nurture young researchers.


Autism risk region arose during human evolution

by  /  11 August 2016

Humans may be uniquely prone to rearrangements of chromosome 16 that lead to autism, according to preliminary results presented Saturday at the American Society of Human Genetics Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Parallel profile: Children with tuberous sclerosis and autism look similar to children with autism alone across a range of skills, such as pointing. Allen Donikowski / Getty Images

Rare genetic condition may offer early glimpse of autism

by  /  10 August 2016

Children who have both tuberous sclerosis and autism have features nearly identical to those of children with autism alone.

Illustration by Michela Buttignol

Never mind statistics: Adults with autism may be happy

by  /  4 August 2016

Men with autism who have above-average intelligence may not achieve typical financial and personal milestones — but many are content.

Tracking trios: Three protein players in autism (left to right, ANK2, SCN2A and GRIN2B) are less abundant in the brains of mice lacking TBR1 (bottom) than in controls (top).

New study bolsters theory that autism genes work in networks

by  /  3 August 2016

A gene that has strong ties to autism controls the expression of many other autism candidates.

July 2016
Illustration by cornelia Li
Opinion / Q&A

Questions for Nordahl, Mello: Scans for children with autism

by  /  19 July 2016

Techniques used in behavioral interventions could help scientists scan the brains of children who have both autism and intellectual disability.

Group defense: T cells, and a molecule they release, may be important players in social behavior.

Key molecule may tie immune response to social behavior

by  /  13 July 2016

Molecules that protect the body from infection may be needed for mice to socialize with their peers, a finding that bolsters the link between the immune system and autism.

1 Comment
Howdy, neighbor:  Genes separated by a large distance come together when DNA forms a three-dimensional structure.

Mutated DNA loops make strange neighbors

by  /  11 July 2016

Too many or too few copies of a segment of chromosome 16 alters the three-dimensional organization of DNA, and affects hundreds of related genes.

Like clockwork: Cells that express the paternal copy of the Angelman syndrome gene (top left) also tend to make the circadian clock protein BMAL (bottom left).

Tricks to treat Angelman syndrome may lie in ‘clock cells’

by  /  4 July 2016

A newly discovered phenomenon in cells that regulate the sleep-wake cycle may provide clues for how to treat two autism-related conditions.

June 2016
Illustration by Maggie Chiang

Working with mice? Question their background

by  /  30 June 2016

A standard mouse strain used by researchers worldwide harbors an unintended mutation that impairs immune cell development — and may confound results.

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