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Scientific Advisory Board
James McPartland, PhD, Scientific Advisory Board Chair
Dr. McPartland is an Associate Professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology at the Yale Child Study Center. He is a licensed child psychologist and Director of the Yale Developmental Disabilities Clinic. He is Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Yale Child Study Center and teaches an undergraduate seminar on autism spectrum disorder. Dr. McPartland’s program of research investigates the brain bases of neurodevelopmental disabilities to develop biologically-based tools for detection and treatment. He is the Principal Investigator of the Autism Biomarkers Consortium for Clinical Trials (ABC-CT), a nationwide effort to identify biomarkers to support intervention research in ASD. His research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, the Autism Science Foundation, the Waterloo Foundation, Autism Speaks, the Patterson Trust, and the Simons Foundation, and his contributions to the field have been recognized by the University of Washington’s Bolles and Gatzert Child Welfare Fellowships, a Clinical and Translational Sciences Scholar Award from the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation, a Behavioral Science Track Award for Rapid Transition and a Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Mental Health, the NARSAD Atherton Young Investigator Award, the International Society for Autism Research Young Investigator Award, the Patterson Trust Clinical Research Award, the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Klerman Prize, and the American Psychological Association Division of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Sara S. Sparrow Early Career Research Award. Dr. McPartland has published 5 books and 90 scholarly works on autism and related topics. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disability and is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. He has served on the Executive Committee of the American Psychological Association’s Division of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and currently serves on the board of the International Society for Autism Research.
Joseph Buxbaum, PhD is the G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Professor of Psychiatry, Neuroscience, and Genetic and Genomic Sciences, the Head of The Laboratory of Molecular Neuropsychiatry, and the Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai. Dr. Buxbaum is the Director of the Seaver Autism Center, and his research focuses on using techniques of molecular genetics and neurobiology to identify, and ultimately characterize, genes that contribute to autism susceptibility. His laboratory has identified common and rare genetic variants that underlie ASD and has developed model systems in which novel therapeutics can be tested. In addition, Dr. Buxbaum has taken a lead in several international consortia, most recently the Autism Sequencing Consortium aimed at sequencing 20,000 exomes, dedicated to advancing research in ASD. Dr. Buxbaum is the author of more than 200 publications, and he is co-editor-in-chief of the journal Molecular Autism.
Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom, MD has served the autism community for over a decade, providing scientific expertise and strategies to the National Alliance for Autism Research, and more recently as a member of the Board of Directors and Scientific Advisory Committee of Autism Speaks. He works at the interface of science and society through service on the NJ Governor’s Council on Autism Research, as Chair of the NJ Commission on Brain Injury Research, on the Board of the International Society for Autism Research, and the Public Education and Communication Committee of the Society for Neuroscience. Dr. DiCicco-Bloom is a Professor in the Departments of Neuroscience & Cell Biology and Pediatrics (Neurology) at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and is member of graduate programs in Cell & Developmental Biology, Neuroscience and Toxicology at Rutgers University and UMDNJ. He graduated summa cum laude in Biology from Princeton University and received his MD from Cornell University Medical College. Following Pediatric and Neurology training at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, he received a Clinical Investigator Award supporting pioneering research on growth factor regulation of cell division in neuronal precursors.
Guoping Feng, PhD holds the Poitras Professorship of Neuroscience in the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is also an Institute Member and Director of Model Systems and Neurobiology at Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Dr. Feng studies the development and function of synapses and their disruption in brain disorders using molecular genetics combined with behavioral and electrophysiological methods. He has developed many genetic tools for probing the function of synapses and circuits in the living brain. He also hopes to create new and more realistic animal models of human psychiatric disorders that can be used to discover new therapies for these conditions. Originally from Zhejiang Province in China, Dr. Feng received his PhD from SUNY Buffalo and was a faculty member at Duke University before moving to MIT. He has won numerous awards, including the Beckman Young Investigator Award (2002), the McKnight Neuroscience of Brain Disorders Award (2006), the Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Award (2006) and the Gill Young Investigator Award (2012).
Susan Hyman, MD is a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Neurodevelopmental & Behavioral Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center School of Medicine and Dentistry. Dr. Hyman’s research interests focus on comparing ASD to other developmental conditions, and investigating the role of diet and nutrition in autism. In collaboration with the Autism Treatment Network (ATN), Dr. Hyman’s research team is examining sleep, GI, and other medical comorbidities associated with autism.
Shafali Jeste, MD is the Director of Neurology at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angele. She is a behavioral child neurologist specializing in autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Jeste’s research is focused on the use of novel electrophysiological biomarkers to better define early predictors of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and to define more homogeneous, brain-based subgroups within the autism spectrum in order to inform treatment targets. She has designed innovative studies in early predictors of ASD to focus on the integration of biomarkers with behavior to define atypical development prior to the onset of clinical symptoms. Within this framework, she has been investigating and treating infants and children with neurogenetic syndromes associated with ASD. She is the principal investigator of several studies, including early development and intervention for infants with tuberous sclerosis complex and the UCLA Autism Center of Excellence study of high-risk infant siblings. Dr. Jeste previously served as the UCLA site director for a multisite National Institutes of Health Autism Biomarkers Consortium for Clinical Trials research study. Dr. Jeste has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and has been the recipient of the Child Neurology Foundation’s Researcher-in-Training Award and the American Academy of Neurology’s Clinical Researcher-in- Training Award. She serves on the board of directors for the Child Neurology Foundation and was elected to serve on the board of directors for the International Society for Autism Research.
Ami Klin, PhD is the Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar Professor and Chief of the Division of Autism and Developmental Disabilities at Emory University School of Medicine, and Director of the Marcus Autism Center, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of London, and completed clinical and research post-doctoral fellowships at the Yale Child Study Center. He directed the Autism Program at the Yale Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine until 2010, where he was the Harris Professor of Child Psychology & Psychiatry. Dr. Klin’s primary research activities focus on the social mind and the social brain, and on aspects of autism from infancy through adulthood. These studies include novel techniques such as the eye-tracking laboratory that allows researchers to see the world through the eyes of individuals with autism. These techniques are now being applied in the screening of babies at risk for autism. He is the author of over 150 publications in the field of autism and related conditions. He is also the co-editor of the textbook Asperger Syndrome published by Guilford Press, the third edition of the Handbook of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders published by Wiley, and several special issues of professional journals focused on autism and related disorders.
Harold S. Koplewicz, MD is the Founder and President of the Child Mind Institute, an organization founded in November 2009. Its mission is to improve child mental health by expanding scientific knowledge of child and adolescent psychiatric disorders, delivering evidence-based clinical care, and translating and disseminating new scientifically sound information to mental health professionals, pediatricians, educators, parents, and policy makers around the world. Previously, Dr. Koplewicz was Director of the NYU Child Study Center, director of the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, the Arnold and Debbie Simon Professor and Chair of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine, and director of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Bellevue Hospital Center. Dr. Koplewicz founded the New York University Child Study Center in 1997. He is a graduate of Albert Einstein College of Medicine He completed his psychiatric residency at New York Hospital Westchester Division, a fellowship in child psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Research Fellowship in Child Psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and the Executive Program in Health Policy and Management at Harvard University School of Public Health.
Eric London, MD is the Director of the Autism Treatment Laboratory at the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities. He is also Chief Science Advisor of the New York State Autism Consortium, part of New York State’s Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities’ (OMRDD) comprehensive autism platform, a slate of initiatives developed in response to the growing autism crisis. He and his wife, Karen, were co-founders of the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR). Dr. London has served on the Board of Directors and the Scientific Affairs Committee of Autism Speaks for the past three years. He received his MD from New York Medical College, where he also completed his residency in psychiatry. He has an adult son diagnosed with autism.
Catherine Lord, PhD is the George Tarjan Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She is a practicing clinical psychologist whose primary focus is autism and related disorders across the lifespan from toddlers through adulthood. Her research and clinical work are aimed at improving methods of identifying strengths and difficulties in individuals with possible ASD and working with families and individuals to maximize independence and well-being for all concerned. . She was involved in developing the standardized diagnostic instruments for ASD (the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), an observational scale, and the Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised (ADI-R), a parent interview), considered the gold standard for research diagnoses.
David S. Mandell, ScD is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine’s Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research and Associate Director of the Penn/Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Center for Autism Research. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, an Associate Scholar in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, a Research Affiliate of the University of Pennsylvania Population Studies Center, a member of the Pediatric Research Generalist Group, and a Senior Fellow in the Center for Public Health Initiatives. Dr. Mandell’s research focuses on the organization, financing and delivery of services to children with autism, and provides the basis for the development of interventions at the individual, provider and system levels to decrease the age at which children with autism are recognized and enter treatment, and to improve the services and supports available to them and their families. He is the recipient of a NIMH career development award, and principal investigator on an NIMH-funded study to examine the relationship between states’ policies and their delivery of health services to children with autism. Dr. Mandell co-chaired the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Autism Task Force and consults with the Department of Public Welfare to help them develop appropriate policies to meet the needs of families of children with autism. He also served as a member of the core team for the City of Philadelphia Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Children’s Behavioral Health in 2007. Dr. Mandell is the Chair of the Mental Health Section of the American Public Health Association. He holds a bachelor of arts in psychology from Columbia University and a doctorate of science from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, where he received the Paul V. Lemkau award for outstanding performance in doctoral studies.
Eric Morrow, MD, PhD is a physician-scientist with extensive experience in autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Morrow received his MD-PhD from the Harvard Medical School/MIT Health Sciences and Technology (HST) program. He completed his psychiatry training at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and McLean Hospital. Since moving to the Institute for Brain Science at Brown University in 2009, Dr. Morrow has taken an active role in building a multidisciplinary, translational research program in autism research. His laboratory research focus is on normal mechanisms that regulate brain development and on genetic and cellular mechanisms that lead to severe forms of autism. Research in the Morrow lab is based upon an integrated approach involving mouse models, patient-derived stem cells, and clinical investigation in patients. Also at the Emma Pendleton Bradley Hospital, Dr. Morrow leads the Rhode Island Collaborative for Autism Research and Treatment (RI-CART), a statewide, population-based research network. The long-range goals regarding Dr. Morrow’s research are to contribute to the development of innovative medical interventions that will enhance cognitive and adaptive gains in the most difficult-to-treat forms of autism.
Stephan Sanders, BMBS, PhD is an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Sander’s research focuses on using genomics and bioinformatics to understand the etiology of human disease, especially ASD. Using genomic methods, his work has helped characterize the role of de novo mutation in the etiology of ASD and identified multiple ASD risk loci including duplications of the 7q11.23 William’s Syndrome region and mutations in the sodium channel gene SCN2A. His work on the integration of CNV and exome data across multiple ASD cohorts recently identified 71 ASD risk loci. In addition, he worked as part of a group that integrated spatiotemporal gene expression data from the human brain with these ASD-associated genes. This approach has implicated deep layer glutamatergic neurons in the frontal cortex during mid-fetal development in the causation of ASD. Dr. Sanders trained as a pediatric physician in the UK before beginning a research career in genomics and bioinformatics with a PhD and postdoctoral research position at Yale.
Celine Saulnier, PhD is the founder of Neurodevelopmental Assessment & Consulting Services. NACS develops, teaches, practices, and advocates for state-of-the-art diagnostic assessments for individuals with autism spectrum & related neurodevelopmental disorders. Prior to NACS, Dr. Saulnier joined the Yale research faculty, where she was both the Clinical Director and the Training Director for the Autism Program, managing and supervising multidisciplinary diagnostic evaluations on individuals with autism spectrum and related disorders from infancy through young adulthood. At the Marcus Autism Center, Dr. Saulnier oversaw all activities related to the characterization of individuals participating in clinical research and she was Director of the Clinical Assessment Core for the Emory Autism Center of Excellence grant awarded by NIMH. Dr. Saulnier is co-author of the gold-standard Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Third Edition and two books: Essentials of Autism Spectrum Disorders Evaluation and Assessment and Essentials of Adaptive Behavior Assessment of Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She develops, teaches, practices, and advocates for state-of-the-art neurodevelopmental diagnostic assessments, with a particular expertise in detecting the earliest emerging risk factors in infants and toddlers.
Robert T. Schultz, PhD is the Director of the Center for Autism Research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the RAC Endowed Professor of Psychology, Department of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Schultz’s research addresses the basic mechanisms that support social communication, social cognition, and reward mechanisms that might underlie social learning. Much of his work has involved using MRI to understand brain mechanisms and to create biomarkers that predict who has ASD, who will develop the disorder, and who will respond well to different interventions. More recently he has developed a technology and innovation lab to exploit advances in perceptual computing in order to develop more granular, efficient and scalable measures of quantitative traits. Dr. Schultz is also a site PI for the Infant Brain Imaging Study, a multisite research collaboration with the goal to understand the timing and pattern of brain development in very young children with autism. Previously, Dr. Schultz was the Harris Endowed Associate Professor of Child Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine. He received his PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin, with an emphasis on neuropsychology and behavioral genetics.
Matthew State, MD, PhD is the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Director of Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute at the University of California, San Francisco. His research focuses on identifying and characterizing genes and genetic mechanisms involved in developmental and pediatric neuropsychiatric disorders. Currently his lab is focused on autism and related pervasive developmental disorders, Tourette syndrome, mental retardation, and structural abnormalities of the developing central nervous system. Dr. State serves on the editorial boards of Autism Research, Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Biological Psychiatry. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Stanford University and his PhD in Genetics from Yale University.
Michael Tranfaglia, MD serves as Medical Director and Chief Scientific Officer of FRAXA. He coordinates the Foundation’s research strategy, working with academic and pharma scientists to develop new treatments for Fragile X and related developmental disorders. Dr. Tranfaglia has a BA from Harvard University and studied medicine at the University of North Carolina. After obtaining his MD, he stayed at UNC for Psychiatry residency training, and then entered private practice in Newburyport, MA. Mike had specialized in the treatment of Anxiety Disorders before his son was diagnosed with Fragile X in 1992 and subsequent founding of FRAXA.