Awareness, Outreach, and Advocacy

  • Getting more people correctly diagnosed
  • Building a strong online presence and participating in conferences
  • Providing a voice to families and obtaining formal recognition
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Patient & Family Support

  • Information sharing
  • Parent and caregiver stories
  • Parent mentoring / buddying
  • Newsletters
  • Regional & International PACS1 Family Meetings
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  • Medical Advisory Board
  • Therapeutic Advisory Committee
  • Clinical History and Bio-specimen Repository
  • Ongoing Research and Tools
  • PACS1 Centers of Excellence
Learn More

About PACS1 Smiles

Welcome to the PACS1 Smiles site. This site was created by parents whose children has been diagnosed with PACS1. We are not medical professionals, but rather parents that wish to increase awareness of PACS1 syndrome and offer guideposts.

Our goals are to offer newly diagnosed families support; promote awareness of this very rare syndrome; and facilitate collaborative research efforts.

The Syndrome is caused by a mutation within the PACS1 gene, which is located in the 11th Chromosome. PACS1 children are unique because the mutation is exactly the same in every child (p.Arg203Trp), and is only discovered with Exome Sequencing. Please see the FAQs to learn more.

So you have a diagnosis… now what?

So you have a diagnosis… now what?

Congratulations! After a (very) long journey your child was just diagnosed with PACS1 Syndrome. We are happy to tell you that the PAC1 family is a lot bigger than you might think!

Many families are told that their child has a syndrome with only a handful of other children and that little information is known about the syndrome. This is thankfully not true. As of 2017 there are 70 children diagnosed. There are more research studies being undertaken with SimonsVIP, NORD, and a handful of other institutions

Here are the first things you should know about PACS1:

  • There is a family support group that is very active and supportive. They are willing answer your questions and to share their stories with you. Our families are from all over the World. Please contact Kerri at [email protected] to be added.
  • SimonsVIP has begun a repository for PACS1 and other rare syndromes. Please contact Farhad at [email protected] for more information on how to enroll your child.
  • Getting a diagnosis does not end your appointments with a genetics. We recommend continued genetic counseling.
  • Although we are not medical professionals, the parents of PACS1 children recommend that if you have not started please look into physical, speech and occupational therapy for your child.
  • When you meet with your doctor you can provide him/her with the latest research that may help answer their questions regarding PACS1.

“Survival Guide” and Community

See the Resources page for links to the support group as well as a document to help you through the first few weeks after diagnosis.

Our Story

The first person in the world with PACS1 was diagnosed in 2010. Three years later, the third person (also the first in the US) was diagnosed. Their parents connected over the internet and started a private Facebook group, expecting more families to be diagnosed over time.

Wow, were they right! As awareness grew, dozens of new families were correctly diagnosed and have found support through this online family, leading to real-world meet-ups and lifelong friendships.

As of early 2018, our community has now grown to a tiny but mighty 70+ families, and we felt it was time to formalize, organize, and establish a ‘Home’ for PACS1.

Our mission is to serve as a collaborative center of education, support and research for children and their families living with PACS1 Syndrome.

Meet the Team

PACS1 Smiles is still in the process of establishing as a 501(c)(3) organization. Currently, the Steering Committee consists of three parents of individuals with the syndrome.

Farhad Quassem

Parent Advocate, Steering Committee Member

Farhad’s daughter was diagnosed in 2014. Since then, he has made a second career out of awareness-raising among the medical community and general public; fostering a supportive caregiver community; and promoting collaborative research initiatives.

Farhad has 15 years of eclectic experience spanning multiple industries. He has a BSc. in Computer Science from University of Windsor, an MBA from Dalhousie University, and specializes in risk management.

Kerri Ames

Parent Advocate, Steering Committee Member

Kerri is mom to Bridget, who was diagnosed with PACS1 in 2014. Kerri brings over 20 years experience in small business management, 10 of those years in the non-profit sector.

Kerri is an active member of her community, serving her second term as a School Committee member. An award-winning blogger, Kerri writes to bring awareness of PACS1 and the challenges raising a child with special needs. Kerri and her family currently live on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Beth Poague

Parent Advocate, Steering Committee Member

Beth Poague is an independent documentary producer in Beacon, NY. She has numerous credits in film and television, and worked most recently with SR Productions, with director Susan Rockefeller, to produce socially relevant films on topics ranging from food and farming to Bach’s Coffee Cantata.

Before working in documentary film, she was a program and development consultant for foundations, nonprofit organizations and individuals in the arts and was Executive Director of No Name Exhibitions @ The Soap Factory, a nonprofit gallery for emerging artists in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has a degree in Nonprofit Management from the University of St. Thomas and a BA in Psychology from the University of Minnesota. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


PACS1 Syndrome is characterized by intellectual disability, developmental delay, and mildly distinctive facial features. People with this Syndrome may also have seizures, difficulty eating and gaining weight, and autism. As of 2017, about 70 people have been diagnosed with this Syndrome. However, since the first cases of the Syndrome were only published in the medical journals in 2012, the number of children and adults found to have the Syndrome may increase.

PACS1 Syndrome is caused by a specific change or mutation in the PACS1 gene. So far, this genetic change has not been found in the parents of a child with PACS1 Syndrome. This means the change in the PACS1 gene most likely happened during the making of the egg or the sperm. PACS1 disorder is suspected when a doctor sees signs of the Syndrome such as intellectual disability and the characteristic facial features. Genetic testing of the PACS1 gene is needed to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment for PACS1 Syndrome depends on the signs and symptoms each person has, but may include medications to prevent seizures, and speech, physical, and occupational therapies.


Signs of PACS1 Syndrome include intellectual disability, developmental delay, and mild distinctive facial features causing those who have the Syndrome to look a lot alike. The typical facial features include having a low hairline on the forehead, eyes that are spaced far apart (hypertelorism) and slanting downwards, thick eyebrows that may be connected to each other, long eyelashes, large ears that are set low on the head, and gaps between the teeth.

Children with PACS1 Syndrome may have speech delay and low muscle tone (hypotonia). Babies with the Syndrome may also have certain problems that are present from birth (congenital) including abnormalities of the heart, brain, eyes, or kidneys. Some boys with PACS1 Syndrome may have undescended testes (cryptorchidism). People with PACS1 Syndrome may have other features including near-sightedness (myopia), seizures, difficulty eating, and autism.


PACS1 Syndrome is caused by a specific change or mutation in the PACS1 gene. The PACS1 gene acts like a blueprint and tells cells how to make the PACS1 protein. The PACS1 protein is found in the membrane of the Golgi apparatus. The Golgi apparatus acts as the shipping and packing department of a cell. It modifies other proteins to prepare them to be shipped to other parts of the cell or outside of the cell. Scientists believe the job of the PACS1 protein is to help get proteins into and/or out of the Golgi apparatus. Scientists also know that cells make a lot more PACS1 protein during the development of the brain and make very little of the protein after birth. Scientists are working to understand how the ability of the PACS1 protein to do its job is changed in cells of people with PACS1Syndrome.


PACS1 Syndrome is an autosomal dominant Syndrome. This means that only one copy of the PACS1 gene must be changed in each cell of the body in order for a person to have signs and symptoms of the Syndrome. Remember, genes come in pairs (two copies) and one copy is inherited from each birth parent.

In every case of PACS1 Syndrome that has been found so far, the change in PACS1 gene is new and not found in either parent. This means that the genetic change was not passed down from either the mother or the father, but instead occurred for the first time (de novo) in the child who has the Syndrome. In other words, the change in the PACS1 gene happened by mistake during the making of the egg or the sperm.

If two parents have a child who has PACS1 Syndrome and neither parent has the change in their own copies of the PACS1 gene, the chances that the parents will have another child with PACS1 Syndrome is less than 1%. People with PACS1 Syndrome have not been known to have children so far. Theoretically, if someone with the Syndrome were to have children, there would be a 50% chance for each child to have PACS1 Syndrome as well.


PACS1 Syndrome may be suspected when a doctor notices signs and symptoms that are commonly found in children or adults who have the Syndrome, such as intellectual disability and mildly distinctive facial features. The diagnosis is confirmed by finding the specific change in the PACS1 gene through genetic testing. In many cases, the doctor may not initially suspect PACS1 Syndrome because the Syndrome is so rare and most of the signs and symptoms are not unique to this Syndrome. Therefore, PACS1 Syndrome is frequently diagnosed with a very broad genetic test called whole exome sequencing.


The treatment of PACS1 Syndrome depends on the signs and symptoms present in each person. When a child or adult is first diagnosed with PACS1 Syndrome, a number of tests and consultations may be recommended including:

  • Meeting with a dietician to discuss any feeding problems
  • EEG to assess if there are any seizures occurring
  • Brain MRI to look for any brain abnormalities
  • Consultation with an ophthalmologist to assess for any eye abnormalities
  • Ultrasound of heart and kidneys.

Although there is no cure for PACS1 Syndrome, there are treatment and therapy options that can help manage many of the signs and symptoms of the Syndrome. Anti-epileptic medications can be used to help control seizures. Sometimes, children with PACS1 Syndrome may need feeding tubes to help them get enough nutrients. Children with PACS1 Syndrome may be recommended to be followed by a developmental pediatrician, and they may benefit from speech, physical, and occupational therapy. Some children and adults with PACS1 Syndrome are better able to communicate if they learn sign language or have an electronic device to help them communicate.


Because PACS1 Syndrome is so rare, there is not a lot of information about the long-term outlook for children and adults with the Syndrome. PACS1 Syndrome is not known to shorten a person’s lifespan. People with PACS1 Syndrome will likely need extra help in school, such as special education classes. They will also need to be monitored throughout their lives to make sure they do not develop any additional health issues.



PACS1 “Survival Guide”

This document provides a good initial overview for newly diagnosed families about what to expect. The publication is from 2016, and some items may require updating (a newer one is in the works!)

(2016, Rarechromo.org) Unique – PACS1-related Syndrome

Find your village – connect with us!

A Facebook group was formed by parents of the earliest diagnosed individuals. It is a place where families can share their stories, form lasting friendships, learn from, and support each other.  Membership is lilmited to day-to-day caregivers, in order to maintain a comfortable space where everyone can share.

Parents and Primary Caregivers Support Group

Follow us on Facebook

The PACS1 Smiles page on Facebook provides regular updates on events, research, various relevant articles, and snapshots into “a day in the life”. Like our page to see the posts.

PACS1 Smiles on Facebook