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NAAR Commits an Additional $8.3 Million to Autism Research

NAAR Awards Include Nearly $6.5 Million in Funding to 41 Pilot studies and 21 Fellowship Applications in 2005
April 23, 2007

The National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) is proud to announce it has committed $8.3 million to fund a variety of projects in autism research. This funding commitment includes research grants and fellowships in the United States, Canada and Europe as well as expansion of the Autism Tissue Program, High Risk Baby Siblings project, and the Autism Genome Project. The fellowships and pilot studies, which represent a core element of NAAR's research program, will receive almost $6.5 million of the $8.3 million in funding awarded this year. These programs focus on a wide range of disciplines, including genetics, neuroscience, neuroimaging and neuropathology, animal models, environmental exposures, gene-environment interactions, diagnosis, early identification and intervention.

NAAR funds autism research projects based on the recommendations of its prestigious Scientific Advisory Board and its Lay Review Committee. NAAR's Board of Trustees approved the funding commitment following the 2005 annual meeting of those committees this June.

“NAAR is proud to continue being the leader in funding autism research worldwide”, says NAAR CEO Glenn Tringali. “Thanks to the tremendous generosity of our supporters, we have committed more money than ever to fund pilot studies, fellowships and collaborative programs in the United States, Canada and Europe. Our global commitment to help solve the many mysteries surrounding this complex disorder is the strongest it has ever been. We are extremely grateful for the outpouring of support from our donors, volunteers and staff.”

NAAR has been able to increase its funding commitments through our International Campaign for Autism Research, the success of its Walk F.A.R. for NAAR events, and its partnerships with businesses and organizations such as T.J. MAXX, Build-a-Bear, TGIFriday's, and the American Tae Kwon Do Association.

Including the 2005 research awards, NAAR has now committed nearly $30 million to fund over 270 research projects, fellowships, and programs—more than any other non-governmental organization worldwide. Following is the listing of NAAR's 2005 Research Awards recipients:



Pilot Studies

Matthew Anderson, M.D., Ph.D.
Beth Israel Medical Center / Harvard Medical School
Modeling Human Neuroligin-3 Autism in Mice
Two-Year Award: $120,000

Michal Assaf, M.D.
Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center / IOL / Yale School of Medicine
Neuronal Correlates of Implicit Social Interaction in Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Functional MRI Study
Two-Year Award: $118,968

David Beversdorf, M.D.
The Ohio State University Research Foundation
Pharmacological Modulation of Functional Connectivity in Autism Spectrum Disorder
Two-Year Award: $113,740

John Constantino, M.D.
Washington University School of Medicine
Replication of Quantitative Linkage Findings in a New Sample of Genotyped (but Not Yet Phenotyped) Autism Pedigrees
Two-Year Award: $60,000

Joshua Corbin, Ph.D.
Georgetown University
Genetic and cellular basis of amygdala development
Two-Year Award: $120,000

Richard Courtemanche, Ph.D.
Concordia University
Dynamic network activity in the cerebellum for expectancy: normal and abnormal networks based on neurochemistry
Two-Year Award: $100,342

Kim Dalton, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin
Multisensory integration of visual and vocal emotional cues in autism: A brain fMRI study
Two-Year Award: $120,000

Guido Gerig, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Quantitative white matter analysis of early brain development in Autism
Two-Year Award: $119,780

Roy Grinker, Ph.D.
The George Washington University
The Prevalence of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Korean School-Aged Children
Two-Year Award: $120,000

Jana Iverson, Ph.D.
University of Pittsburgh
Early identification of autism: Developmental trajectories in communicative and motor skills in siblings of children with autism
Two-Year Award: $119,940

Andrea Jackowski, Ph.D.
Yale University - Child Study Center
Brain morphometry in newborns at risk for autism: an MRI study
Two-Year Award: $118,360

Daniel Levitin, Ph.D.
McGill University, Canada
Quantifying the extent of emotional processing in autism: Converging evidence from music processing and central coherence theory
Two-Year Award: $120,000

Ludise Malkova, Ph.D.
Georgetown University
Socioemotional dysfunction and midbrain-amygdala circuitry
Two-Year Award: $119,900

Beth Malow, M.D., M.S.
Vanderbilt University
Defining the Physiological and Behavioral Components of Insomnia in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Two-Year Award: $116,440

Peter McCaffery, Ph.D.
UMMS/E. K. Shriver Center
Disruption of Organization of the Cerebral Cortex by Retinoic Acid
Two-Year Award: $119,207

James Millonig, Ph.D.
University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ
Genetic and functional analysis of ENGRAILED 2, a cerebellar patterning gene
Two-Year Award: $120,000

Sacha Nelson, M.D., Ph.D.
Brandeis University
Cortical circuit abnormalities in mouse models of Rett Syndrome
Two-Year Award: $120,000

Craig Newschaffer, Ph.D.
Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
Autism, Autoimmunity and the Environment
Two-Year Award: $113,822

Craig Newschaffer, Ph.D.
Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
Autism risk and exposures/biomarkers measured during the pre-, peri-, and neonatal periods: a baby sibs pilot investigation
Two-Year Award: $119,953

Antonio Persico, M.D.
Univ. Campus Bio-Medico, Lab of Mol Psychiatry & Neurogenetics
Addressing the Pathophysiology of Endophenotypes in Autism: Megalencephaly, Hyperserotoninemia, and Pepitiduria
One-Year Award: $60,000

Samuel Pleasure, M.D., Ph.D.
University of California San Francisco
Chemotactic Regulation of Cajal-Retzius Cell Migration
Two-Year Award: $119,592

Douglas Portman, Ph.D.
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
Genetic control of sexual dimorphism in the nervous system: a nematode model for genetic mechanisms in autism
Two-Year Award: $110,649

Vijaya Ramesh, Ph.D.
Massachusetts General Hospital
Pam as a Candidate Gene for Autism
Two-Year Award: $120,000

James Rand, Ph.D.
Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation
Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Neuroligin-Mediated Synaptogenesis
Two-Year Award: $120,000

Payam Rezaie, Ph.D.
Open University, United Kingdom
Examining alterations in cortical neuronal subpopulations and synaptic proteins in autism
Two-Year Award: $119,900.00

Timothy Roberts, Ph.D.
Children's Hospital/University of Toronto
Electrophysiological Signatures: An Intermediate Phenotype for Autism
Two-Year Award: $149, 473.00

Diana Robins, Ph.D.
Georgia State University
Perception of Emotional Cues from Facial Expression and Affective Prosody using fMRI
Two-Year Award: $119,779

Gary Rudnick, Ph.D.
Yale University School of Medicine
Mutation associated with Asperger's Syndrome – Effect on Amine Transporter Regulation
Two-Year Award: $120,000

Mirjana Savatic, M.D., Ph.D
Stony Brook University
Nitric oxide and synaptic plasticity: implications for autism
Two-Year Award: $118,800

Christopher Schmitz, M.D.
Maastricht University, Netherlands
Cytoarchitectural alterations in the cerebral cortex in autism
Two-Year Award: $120,000

Harvey Singer, M.D.
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Autoimmune Abnormalities in Autism: A Family Study
Two-Year Award: $120,000

Latha Soorya, Ph.D.
Mt. Sinai School of Medicine
Mediators of Motor Skills in Adolescents & Adults with ASD
Two-Year Award: $83,104

Flora Vaccarino, Ph.D.
Yale University
Molecular mechanisms of cerebral cortical overgrowth
Two-Year Award: $119,276

Linda Van Aelst, Ph.D.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Role of the X-Linked Mental Retardation Protein Oligophrenin-1 in Neuronal Development and Function
Two-Year Award: $120,000

Robert Vogt, Ph.D.
Newborn Screening Branch, Centers for Disease Control
Immune Biomarkers in Serum and Newborn Dried Blood Spots
Two-Year Award: $118,800

George Wagner, Ph.D.
Rutgers University
Animal Model of autism Using Engrailed2 Knockout Mice
Two-Year Award: $98,880

Sara Webb, Ph.D.
University of Washington
Linking Cerebellar Pathology to Functioning in Individuals with Autism: Implications for Translational Research
Two-Year Award: $119,637

John Welsh, Ph.D.
Oregon Health & Science University
Electrophysiological Signatures: An Intermediate Phenotype for Autism-
Two-Year Award: $150,000

Patricia Whitaker-Azmitia, Ph.D.
SUNY at Stony Brook
Serotonin, Oxytocin and Social Behaviors
Two-Year Award: $120,000

Donald Wilson, Ph.D.
University of Oklahoma
Functional Consequences of Sensory Gating Deficits
Two-Year Award: $117,135

Nurit Yirmiya, Ph.D.
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The development of siblings of children with autism at age 7 years
Two-Year Award: $107,800



Pre-Doctoral Fellowships

University of Rome "Tor Vergata" Fondazione Santa Lucia, IRCCS, Rome
Mentor: Claudia Bagni, Ph.D.
Moleculat Studies of the ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder)

University of Massachusetts, Boston
Mentor: Alice Carter, Ph.D.
Parental Autism-related Cognitions and Maternal Synchrony

University of Florida
Mentor: Darragh Devine, Ph.D.
Self-Injurious Behavior: Pharmacotherapy in an Animal Model

McMaster University
Mentor: Margaret Fahnestock, Ph.D.
Mechanism of Neurotransmitter Dysregulation in Autism

University of California, Davis School of Medicine
Mentor: Janine LaSalle, Ph.D.
Investigation of Novel MeCP2 Target Genes Regulating Neuronal Maturation in Autism-Spectrum Disorders

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Mentor: Joseph Piven, M.D.
Social Perception in Young Children with Autism

Columbia University
Mentor: Peter Scheiffele, Ph.D.
Consequences of neuroligin mutations on synapse formation and behavior

University of Pittsburgh
Mentor: Mark Strauss, Ph.D.
The Recognition of Emotinal Expression by Children and Adults with Autism

Boston University
Mentor: Helen Tager-Flusberg, Ph.D.
Behavioral and Brain Imaging Studies of Verbal/Non-Verbal Integration in Autism

Georgetown University
Mentor: Chandan Vaidya, Ph.D.
fMRI of implicit learning in childhood Autism

Rutgers University
Mentor: George Wagner, Ph.D.
Animal Model of Autism Using Engrailed2 Knockout Mice



Post-Doctoral Fellowships

University of Massachusetts, Boston
Mentor: Jane Adams, Ph.D.
Early Markers of Autism and Social-Cognitive Processing in Infants Exposed to Valproic Acid During Prenatal Development

Oxford University
Mentor: Dorothy Bishop, D. Phil.
Electrophysiological and Behavioral studies of Phonological Short-Term Memory: A Comparison with SLI

University of Washington
Mentor: Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D.
Role of mirror neurons in the imitation deficits in autism

University of British Columbia
Mentor: Pat Mirenda, Ph.D.
Relationships Between Prelinguistic Communicative Behaviors and Early Intervention Outcomes in Youn Children with Autism

University of California, San Francisco
Mentor: Samuel Pleasure, M.D., Ph.D.
The Role of Frizzled9 in Hippocampal and Cortical Development

University of California, San Francisco
Mentor: John Rubenstein, M.D., Ph.D.
Role of the Fgf and Wnt genes in the development of the cerebral cortex

Boston University
Mentor: Helen Tager-Flusberg, Ph.D.
Functional Connectivity of Language Areas in Autism and Specific Language Impairment

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Mentor: Rita Valentino, Ph.D.
Sensory Response Dysregulation

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, HHMI
Mentor: Christopher Walsh, M.D., Ph.D.
Identification of gene(s) involved in autosomal recessive autism

University of California, Los Angeles
Mentor: Stephanie White, Ph.D.
Molecular targets for socially-learned vocalization