2004 Research and Fellowship Awards (NAAR)

Research Funded: 2004

In 2004, NAAR committed $6.2 million to fund 25 pilot studies, 14 pre- and post-doctoral fellowships as well as two large collaborative programs: the NAAR Autism Genome Project and expansion of the Autism Tissue Program. In addition, NAAR's 2004 research commitments include the ongoing support of two interdisciplinary autism training programs that are being co-sponsored by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. NAAR's 2004 research awards are the largest single-year commitment to biomedical autism research ever made by a non-governmental organization and are funding pilot studies and fellowships in the U.S., Canada and England.

Collaborative Projects & Programs

NAAR Autism Genome Project
In 2004, NAAR has committed $2 million towards the NAAR Autism Genome Project, an NIH partnership that is the largest research collaboration ever to focus on the genetics of the disorder. The NAAR Autism Genome Project will map the human genome in the search for autism susceptibility genes - the genes responsible for the inherited risk for autism. A public/private research partnership, this collaboration includes approximately 170 of the world's leading genetic researchers from 50 academic and research institutions that have pooled their DNA samples in a collaborative effort.

Autism Tissue Program
NAAR has committed $200,000 in 2004 towards the ongoing expansion of the Autism Tissue Program, a parent-led brain tissue donation program dedicated to autism research and jointly supported by the NIH. The program makes post-mortem brain tissue available to as many qualified scientists as possible who are focused on autism research. NAAR established and first funded the Autism Tissue Program in 1998.

2004 Research and Fellowship Awards

Arthur Beaudet, Ph.D.
Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
Search for an Autism Gene on the Y Chromosome
Two-Year Award- $120,000
Research Partner: Nancy Lurie Marks Foundation

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 Permante - 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- $69,942

Jonathan Freedman, Ph.D.
Duke University, Durham, NC
Double Hit Hypothesis of Autism: Susceptibility and Environmental Exposure to Metals
Two-Year Award - $120,000
Research Partner: The Forlenza Family in Loving Memory of Constance and Vincent Forlenza

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
Research Partner: Nancy Lurie Marks Foundation

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, M.D.
Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA
A Molecular Pathway Leading to Autism
Two-Year Award- $100,000
Research Partner: John LeClaire and Ruth Hodges, in honor of the golden wedding anniversary of Robert and Elizabeth LeClaire

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 and Somatosensory
Two-Year Award- $117,019
Research Partner: Nancy Lurie Marks Foundation

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 Fellowships

IWWK Health Centre/ Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Mentor: Susan Bryson, Ph.D.
Fellow: Irene Drmic
Discriminative Validity and Physiological Correlates of Impaired Disengagement in Autism

University of Massachusetts
Boston, MA
Mentor: Alice Carter, Ph.D.
Fellow: Elizabeth A. Mongillo
Social-cognitive Processing in Infant Siblings of Children with Autism
Research Partner: John LeClaire and Ruth Hodges, in honor of the golden wedding anniversary of Robert and Elizabeth LeClaire

University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey/
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Piscataway, NJ
Mentor: James Millonig, Ph.D.
Fellow: Rym Beynard
Genetic Analysis of the Homeobox Transcription factor ENGRAILED2 in autism spectrum disorder

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ
Mentor: James Haxby, Ph.D.
Fellow: Kimberly Montgomery
Investigations of the Mirror Neuron System in Autism

University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA
Mentor: Mark Strauss, Ph.D.
Fellow: Holly Zajec Gastgeb
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.
Fellow: Cibu Thomas
Integration of Information and Functional Brain Connectivity in Autism

Birkbeck College, University of London
London, England
Mentor: Gergely Csibra. Ph.D.
Fellow: Karla Holmboe
Development of Early Prefrontal Functioning in Autism

Post-Doctoral Fellowships

Newcomen Centre
London, England
Mentor: Gillian Baird, Ph.D.
Fellow: Nick Riches, Ph.D.
Investigating the Biomedical and Psychological Characteristics of Children with ASD, focusing on of Language and Communication

Carnegie Mellon University and Center for Excellence in Autism Research
Pittsburgh, PA
Mentor: Marlene Behrmann, Ph.D.
Fellow: Kate Humphreys, Ph.D.
Face Processing in Infant Siblings of Children with Autism

Albert Einstein College of Medicine
New York, NY
Mentor: Isabelle Rapin, M.D.
Fellow: Sylvie Goldman, M.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 L.R. Rubenstein, M.D., Ph.D.
Fellow: Maria Inmaculada Cobos-Sillero, 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.
Fellow: Kathryn Suzanne Scherf, Ph.D.
The Emergence of Object-processing Deficits in Autism: A Brain-based Investigation

John Hopkins School of Medicine
Balitmore, MD
Mentor: Alex Kolodkin, Ph.D.
Fellow: Qiaung Wang, Ph.D.
Regulation of Dendritic Morphology

Yale Child Study Center
New Haven, CT
Mentor: Robert Schultz, Ph.D.
Fellow: Marc Thioux, Ph.D.
MRI Studies of the Neurophysiological Bases of Autism Spectrum Disorders