Problematic Professionals: Varun Warrier

Varun Warrier is a post doctoral researcher who is the director of genetics research of the Autism Research Centre in the UK. He also is part of the psychiatry department at the University of Cambridge. He studies the genetics of autism, human behavior and human neurobiology. 

Education

Warrier completed his PhD at the Autism Research Center where he worked on the genetics of empathy, theory of mind (has been disproven numerous times) and systemizing. He earned a Masters in Neuroscience at University College London (UCL). He then completed a Masters of Philopsohy and a PhD in psychiatry at the University of Cambridge. His PhD was fined by scholarships from St. John's College, Cambridge and the Cabridge Trust. His Masters degree was funded by St. John's Bursary and the Nehru Trust. 

Research

He is co-PI of the IMAGE (Investigating Autism Using Genetics and Epigenetics) Study. This study is funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation. In this study, he is working on identifying subtypes within autism by integrating genetic information from multiple international data bases. He is working to identify genetic variants in "multiplex autism families" and in talented mathematicians, and exploring if there is a mathematical ability and autism. This sounds almost identical to Simon Barron-Cohen

Warrier is also a co-PI (principle investigator) on Spectrum 10k

"Within autism, my research focuses on dissecting the heterogeneity of autism and autistic traits, and using genetics to inform health and wellbeing in autism."

Gendering Autism

He is guilty of gendering autism with the paper "The sex divide: female empathy vs male logic."

He also said "These sex differences in the typical population are very clear." He could not be further from the truth. with working with Simon Baron Cohen, he has views that have been disproven and are extremely outdated. 

Transgender Study

He helped to conduct a study confirming transgender and gender diverse people are more likely to be autistic or neurodivergent. This confirmed a larger study that was conducted by Men-Chaun Lai and Elizabeth Weir. 

According to Warrier, this study wasn't aiming to address this question. It was a convenient sampling frame. Since the data was available they did study it but they were not originally interested in this theory. 

This study didn't to ask important questions like challenges autistic trans people are likely to face when seeking a diagnosis. 

"Because the study was quantitative in nature there wasn't an opportunity to ask about additionally information such as areas of struggle, interpersonal relationships. It comes to no surprise to anyone who's worked alongside transgender and autistic people. " If he really cared he would have studied that and changed his study to a mixed method study using quantitative (numbers) and qualitative (opened ended questions) data. 

Transition also was not discussed as part of this study. He did not say why. This should have been discussed. Not everyone is safe to be able to transition. 

He does not plan to do any further studies into this. This could really change the quality of life for transgender autistic people. He could have made a positive impact for people who need it the most. 

They are more concerned with the genetic cause. They say they are not by why else would they be collecting autistic  DNA?


Sources:

https://www.neuroscience.cam.ac.uk/directory/profile.php?vw260

https://www.autismresearchcentre.com/staff/varun-warrier/

https://theconversation.com/profiles/varun-warrier-593706

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/18/not-all-pink-and-blue-when-its-comes-to-our-brains

https://asiam.ie/transgender-and-gender-diverse-autistic-experiences-dr-varun-warrier/

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