The Patrick Wild Centre for Research into Autism, Fragile X Syndrome and Intellectual Disabilities was established at the University of Edinburgh in 2010.
The mission of the Centre is to understand the neurological basis of, and to test new therapies for, autism, Fragile X Syndrome and intellectual disabilities by fostering collaborations between world-class basic science and clinical research at The University of Edinburgh.
Patrick Wild lived with severe autism during the early part of the 20th century; a time when there was no treatment and little understanding of a disorder that profoundly affected him and his family. With the permission of the Wild family, the University of Edinburgh has established a medical research centre for autism, Fragile X Syndrome and intellectual disabilities in memory of Patrick, and in tribute to his parents who sacrificed so much in caring for him for the 45 years of his life.
The founding of the Centre was made possible by donations to the University by Patrick Wild’s brother Alfred, a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, and by Gus Alusi and Reem Waines, a London-based family whose son Kenz has Fragile X Syndrome.
“Until now we have had to travel to the USA for specialist help with Kenz’s condition, but this new centre will be a hub for UK patients and their families, so that they too can access the pioneering research that will ultimately transform the treatment of these diseases.” Reem Waines
The goals of the Centre are:
- To identify the genes and protein pathways that cause these disorders.
- To understand the alterations in brain cells that prevent their effective communication in people with these conditions.
- To develop and test therapeutic strategies for these disorders.
- To engage the people affected by these conditions as well as their families and those who support them to better understand their difficulties.
Multidisciplinary research and collaboration
The Patrick Wild Centre is a “centre without walls” that draws together more than 50 Principal Investigators from across the University of Edinburgh, with expertise in a diverse range of research topics encompassing psychiatry, brain imaging, genetics, brain development and control, synaptic function, stem cells and clinical trials.
Providing a stimulus and forum for multidisciplinary collaboration, the PWC will build upon the University of Edinburgh’s world-class reputation in biomedical research, striving to make significant progress in the understanding and treatment of autism, Fragile X Syndrome and learning disabilities, and making a real difference to the lives of people affected by these conditions and their families.
Fragile X Syndrome
Fragile X Syndrome is the most common inherited form of intellectual disability, and the most common known genetic cause of autism spectrum disorders. It affects an estimated 12,000–15,000 people in the UK.
The condition is the result of a genetic mutation and takes its name from the ‘fragile’ appearance of the X chromosome on which this gene resides.
The disorder can cause severe learning difficulties, language impairment and sensory hypersensitivity. It can also cause behavioural symptoms such as anxiety, attentional difficulties and hyperactivity.
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