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NAAR Commits Over $6 million to Research

2004 Awards Include 40 Pilot Studies & Fellowships and Two Collaborative Projects Focusing on Genetics & Neuropathology
April 23, 2007

The National Alliance for Autism Research has recently committed $6.2 million to fund 40 research grants and fellowships in the U.S., Canada and Europe focusing on a wide range of disciplines, including the neurosciences, language and communication, behavioral sciences and genetics. NAAR's 2004 funding commitment also contains financial support for two collaborative projects with the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The NAAR Board of Trustees approved this year's funding commitment following the eighth annual meeting of the organization's Scientific Advisory Board. NAAR's 2004 research commitment totals include $4 million to fund 25 pilot studies, 14 pre- and post-doctoral fellowships and ongoing funding for training programs in Canada co-sponsored by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. In addition, NAAR has committed $2 million towards the NAAR Autism Genome Project, a NIH partnership that is the largest research collaboration ever to focus on the genetics of the disorder; and $200,000 towards expansion of the Autism Tissue Program, a parent-led brain tissue donation program dedicated to autism research and jointly supported by the NIH.

NAAR's 2004 research commitment represents an increase of approximately $1.3 million over last year's commitment. NAAR funds autism research projects based on the recommendations of its prestigious Scientific Advisory Board and its Lay Review Committee.

NAAR-funded pilot studies and fellowships have proven to be a sound investment. To date, research initially funded by NAAR has made a dramatic impact on the autism research landscape in North America and Europe and has been leveraged to attract more than $48 million in autism research awards by the National Institutes of Health and other governmental sources.

NAAR has been able to again increase its funding commitment to autism research due to the remarkable support of its donors and the amazing success of its Walk F.A.R. for NAAR autism research walkathons and the dedicated volunteers who bring these events to life.

Including the 2004 research awards, NAAR has now committed $21.1 million to directly fund more than 200 research projects and fellowships worldwide - more than any other non-governmental organization in the U.S.

Pilot Studies:

Arthur Beaudet, Ph.D.,

Baylor College of Medicine

(Houston, TX)

Search for an Autism Gene on the Y Chromosome

Two-Year Award- $120,000

Benjamin Cheyette, Ph.D.

University of California- San Francisco

(San Francisco, CA)

Neural Development and Function of DPR genes

Two-Year Award- $118,494

Davide Comoletti, Ph.D.

University of California, San Diego

(San Diego, CA)

Neuroligin and Autism Spectrum Disorder: Role of R451C Mutation in Neuroligin-3

Two-Year Award- $120,000

Lisa Croen, Ph.D.

Kaiser Permanente - Division of Research

(Oakland, CA)

Biologic Markers of Maternal Infection and Immune Function in Autism

Two-Year Award- $119,680

Karen Dobkins, Ph.D.

University Of California, San Diego

(San Diego, CA)

Neural and Behavioral Precursors to Autism in Infancy

Two-Year Award- $120,000

Jonathan Freedman, Ph.D.

Duke University

(Durham, NC)

Double Hit Hypothesis of Autism: Susceptibility and Environmental Exposure to Metals

Two-Year Award - $120,000

J. Jay Gargus, Ph.D.

University of California, Irvine

(Irvine, CA)

Energy-deficient Metabolic Phenotype in Subgroups of Autism

Two-Year Award- $120,000

Samie Jaffrey, Ph.D.

Weill Medical College of Cornell University

(Ithaca, NY)

Analysis of Synaptogenesis Signal Transduction Pathways that are Defective in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Two-Year Award- $99,000

Boutheina Jemel, Ph.D.

Riviere des Prairies Hospital, Fernand Seguin Research Center

(Montreal, Canada)

Top-Down Mechanisms on Visual Perception in Autism: An Event-Related Brain Potential Investigation

Two-Year Award- $104,820

Robert Joseph, Ph.D.

Boston University School of Medicine

(Boston, MA)

Neurobiological Markers of Language Acquisition and Functioning in Autism

Two-Year Award- $117,075

Ami Klin, Ph.D.

Yale Child Study Center

(New Haven, CT)

Listening Preferences in Toddlers with Autism: The Playtest as an Early Screening Device

Two-Year Award- $120,000

Kenneth Kosik, Ph.D.

Brigham and Women's Hospital

(Boston, MA)

A Molecular Pathway Leading to Autism

Two-Year Award- $100,000

Dominic Massaro, Ph.D.

University of California, Santa Cruz

(Santa Cruz, CA)

Multisensory Integration by Children with Autism

Two-Year Award- $113,712

Daniel Messinger, Ph.D.

University of Miami

(Miami, FL)

Developing Deficits in Infant Siblings of Children with ASD: Emotional Communication and Psychophysiological Functioning

Two-Year Award- $105,891

Stewart Mostofsky, Ph.D.

Kennedy Krieger Institute, John Hopkins School of Medicine

(Baltimore, MD)

Dependent Motor Learning in Autism Examination of Visual Somatosensory

Two-Year Award- $117,019

Ruth Nass, Ph.D

NYU Medical Center

(New York City, NY)

Frequency and Pathophysiology of Autistic Spectrum Disorders in Children with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex

Two-Year Award- $53,359

Julia Noland, Ph.D.

Vanderbilt University

(Nashville, TN)

Cognitive Control in the First Year of Life in Siblings of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Two-Year Award- $111,670

Peter Penzes, Ph.D

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

(Chicago, IL)

Regulation of Structural Plasticity of Excitatory Synapses

Two-Year Award- $120,000

Elizabeth Powell, Ph.D.

University of Maryland, Baltimore

(Baltimore, MD)

Regulation of Interneuron Proliferation

Two-Year Award- $119,152

Opal Ousley, Ph.D.

Emory University School of Medicine

(Atlanta, Georgia)

Assessing Functional and Anatomical Connectivity in Autism

Two-Year Award- $120,000

Howard Ring, Ph.D.

University of Cambridge

(Cambridge, England)

Testing the N400 as a Marker for Optimizing Information Presentation to People with Autism

Two-Year Award- $103,865

Sally Rogers, Ph.D.

University of California, Davis

(Davis, CA)

Neonatal Social Responses of Infant Siblings

Two-Year Award - $76,956

Trilochan Sahoo, Ph.D.

Baylor College of Medicine

(Houston, TX)

Development of a Genomic Microarray for Detecting Chromosomal Abnormalities in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Two-Year Award- $117,590

Anne Sereno, Ph.D

University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center

(Houston, TX)

The Neurobiology of Social Visual Pursuit: Implications for Autism

Two-Year Award- $120,000

Linda Watson, Ph.D.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

(Chapel Hill, NC)

Auditory Orienting and Language Outcomes in Children with Autism

Two-Year Award $115,338

Pre-Doctoral Fellows

IWK Health Centre/ Dalhousie University

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Mentor: Susan Bryson, Ph.D.

Discriminative Validity and Physiological Correlates of Impaired Disengagement in Autism

University of Massachusetts

Boston, MA

Mentor: Alice Carter, Ph.D.

Social-cognitive Processing in Infant Siblings of Children with Autism

University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey/ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Pistcataway, NJ

Mentor: James Millonig, Ph.D.

Genetic Analysis of the Homeobox Transcription Factor ENGRAILED2 in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ

Mentor: James Haxby, Ph.D.

Investigations of the Mirror Neuron System in Autism

University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA

Mentor: Mark Strauss, Ph.D

Concept Abstraction and Face Recognition in Individuals with Autism

Carnegie Mellon University and Center for Excellence in Autism Research

Pittsburgh, PA

Mentor: Marlene Behrmann, Ph.D

Integration of Information and Functional Brain Connectivity in Autism

Birkbeck College, University of London

London, England

Mentor: Gergely Csibra. Ph.D.

Development of Early Prefrontal Functioning in AutismPost-Doctoral Candidates

Newcomen Centre

London, England

Mentor: Gillian Baird, Ph.D

Investigating the Biomedical and Psychological Characteristics of Children with ASD, Focusing on Language and Communication

Carnegie Mellon University and Center for Excellence in Autism Research

Pittsburgh, PA

Mentor: Marlene Behrmann, Ph.D

Face Processing in Autism: An Investigation on Multiple Levels

Albert Einstein College of Medicine

New York, NY

Mentor: Isabelle Rapin, Ph.D.

Stereotypies in Autism and Other Developmental Disorders as a Function of Age, IQ, and Severity of the Disorder

University of California, San Francisco

San Francisco, CA

Mentor: John Rubenstein, Ph.D.

Regulation of Cortical GABAergic Neuronal Development and Function by the DLX Family of Transcription Factors

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Pittsburgh, PA

Mentor: Beatriz Luna, Ph.D.

The Emergence of Object-processing Deficits in Autism: A Brain-based Investigation

John Hopkins School of Medicine

Baltimore, MD

Mentor: Alex Kolodkin, Ph.D.

Regulation of Dendritic Morphology

Yale Child Study Center

New Haven, CT

Mentor: Robert Schultz, Ph.D.

MRI Studies of the Neurophysiological Bases of Autism Spectrum Disorders