Dr. Martha Herbert is an
Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, a
Pediatric Neurologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, a member of the MGH Center for Morphometric Analysis,
and an affiliate of the Harvard-MIT-MGH Martinos Center for Biomedical
Imaging. She is director of the TRANSCEND Research
Program (Treatment Research and Neuroscience Evaluation of
Dr. Herbert earned her medical degree at the Columbia University
College of Physicians and Surgeons. Prior to her medical
training she obtained a doctoral degree at the University of
California, Santa Cruz, studying evolution and development of learning
processes in biology and culture in the History of Consciousness
program, and then did postdoctoral work in the philosophy and history
of science. She trained in pediatrics at Cornell University
Medical Center and in neurology and child neurology at the
Massachusetts General Hospital, where she has remained. She
recently received the first Cure Autism Now Innovator Award and
directs the Cure Autism Now Foundation's Brain Development Initiative.
She is the Co-Chair of the Environmental Health Advisory Board of the
Autism Society of America. Her research program includes
studying what makes some autistic brains unusually large, how the
parts of the brain are connected and coordinated with each other, and
how we can develop measure sensitive to changes in brain function that
could result from treatment interventions. To this end she
utilizes multimodal imaging techniques including MRI, EEG and MEG, is
particularly interested in using imaging, in coordination with
clinical observation, metabolic biomarkers and animal studies, in
shedding light on the physiological level of changes in autism and
other neurodevelopmental disorders, and on potential domains of
plasticity and targets for intervention.
Brain changes in autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders are due to an interaction of "hardware" (structural changes) and "software" (functional
changes) that are influenced by body physiology. Behaviors defining autism and other conditions can come from various versions of these interactions.Treatment depends on a) identifying biologically distinct subgroups and b) identifying "software" that we can modify when it makes sense to increase constructive options. We are interested in alleviating the components of suffering of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders so the creativity can more fully express itself. Some children are significantly improving their quality of life; this mandates studying and optimizing treatments now.
TRANSCEND stands for Treatment Research and NeuroSCience Evaluation of
Neurodevelopmental Disorders. We aim to contribute to identifying and improving treatment approaches by optimizing measurements that can identify treatment targets and detect changes from treatment. Our program includes:
TRANSCEND Brain Research Program
TRANSCEND Body Biomarker Program
TRANSCEND Treatment Research Program
TRANSCEND Translational Research Program
TRANSCEND, based at the Center for Child and Adolescent Development at Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School, and utilizing the imaging facilities of the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging of Massachusetts General Hospital-Charlestown, is a collaborative network of similarly thinking researchers who are linking their efforts in a common framework to unite measures across multiple levels including brain structure (MRI), brain function (EEG, MEG, fMRI), metabolism (metabolomics, biochemistry, immunology, toxic body burden) along with genetic and behavioral measures.
Our program is based on the model that by coordinating and integrating
FUNCTIONAL as well as STRUCTURAL MEASURES across BIOLOGICAL and COGNITIVE levels while investigating processes of change, improvement and recovery, the full potential of TRANSLATIONAL research can be achieved for neurodevelopmental disorders.
For more information please see www.transcendresearch.org
For information about participating in studies you may email
TRANSCEND@partners.org or call our recruiting line at 617-966-9766.
1. Herbert MR. Autism: A Brain disorder or a disorder that
affects the brain? Clinical Neuropsychiatry 2005;
2. Herbert MR, Ziegler DA. Volumetric Neuroimaging and Low-Dose
Early-Life exposures: Loose Coupling of
Pathogenesis-Brain-Behavior Links. Neurotoxicology 2005;
3. Herbert MR. Large brains in autism: the challenge of pervasive
abnormality. Neuroscientist 2005; 11(5 ):417-40.
4. Herbert MR, Russo JP, Yang S et al. Autism and
environmental genomics. Neurotoxicology 2006; 27(5):671-84.
5. Herbert MR. Neuroimaging in disorders of social and emotional
functioning: what is the question? J Child Neurol 2004;
6. Herbert MR. Autism. chapter
in: Gilman S. Neurobiology of Disease (textbook). Elsevier, 2006.
7. Herbert MR, Caviness V.
Neuroanatomy and Imaging Studies. in: Tuchman R, Rapin I eds.
Autism: A neurobiological disorder of early brain development. Mac
Keith Press, 2006: Chapter 8 pp. 115-140.
8. Anderson MP, Hooker BS, Herbert MR. Bridging from Cells to Cognition in Autism Pathophysiology: Biological Pathways to Defective Brain Function and Plasticity. Am J Biochem Biotech 2008; 4(2):167-176
1. Herbert, M.R., D.A. Ziegler, C.K. Deutsch, L.M. O'brien, D.N. Kennedy, P.A. Filipek, A.I. Bakardjiev, J. Hodgson, M. Takeoka, N. Makris, and V.S. Caviness Jr. 2005. Brain asymmetries in autism and developmental language disorder a nested whole-brain analysis. Brain 128213-26
2. Herbert, M.R., D.A. Ziegler, N. Makris, P.A. Filipek, T.L. Kemper, J.J. Normandin, H.A. Sanders, D.N. Kennedy, and V.S. Caviness Jr. 2004. Localization of white matter volume increase in autism and developmental language disorder. Ann Neurol 55530-40
3. Herbert, M.R., D.A. Ziegler, N. Makris, A. Bakardjiev, J. Hodgson, K.T. Adrien, D.N. Kennedy, P.A. Filipek, and V.S. Caviness. 2003. Larger Brain and White Matter Volumes in Children With Developmental Language Disorder. Developmental Science 6F11-F22
4. Herbert, M.R., D.A. Ziegler, C.K. Deutsch, L.M. O'Brien, N. Lange, A. Bakardjiev, J. Hodgson, K.T. Adrien, S. Steele, N. Makris, D. Kennedy, G.J. Harris, and V.S. Caviness. 2003. Dissociations of cerebral cortex, subcortical and cerebral white matter volumes in autistic boys. Brain 1261182-1192.
5. Herbert MR, Harris GJ, Adrien KT et al. Abnormal asymmetry in
language association cortex in autism. Ann Neurol 2002; 52(5):588-96.
FOR THE PUBLIC
'Autism, Health, and the Environment,' San Francisco Medicine. Nov/Dec 2005
'Time To Get a Grip,' Autism Advocate. January 2007
'Autism-It's Not Just In the Head,' by Jill Neimark, Discover Magazine, April 2007
LINKS OF INTEREST
Autism Society of America Environmental Health Program
Autism Society of America's Autism
Collaborative on Health and the Environment
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
'The Age of Extinction and The Emerging Environmental Health Movement' by Michael Lerner - President, Commonweal
TRANSCEND Research Program