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Leading Pediatric Neuropsychiatrist to Guide Autism Speaks Medical Research

October 13, 2011


 Today Joseph Horrigan, M.D., joined the staff of Autism Speaks to fill the newly created position of assistant vice president, head of medical research. In this position, Dr. Horrigan will oversee Autism Speaks’ medical research activities—with the goal of speeding the development of safe and effective medicines that can improve the lives of those with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).

Dr. Horrigan’s hire reflects Autism Speaks increasing emphasis on translational research, which seeks to usher the most promising new treatments through the clinical trial process and, when appropriate, into widespread use.

“Dr. Horrigan is a highly respected pediatric neuropsychiatrist and researcher with exceptional knowledge and experience across a variety of therapeutic areas,” says Autism Speaks’ Chief Science Officer Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D."His expertise will be invaluable with respect to our clinical portfolio, which has tremendous potential to provide new and more effective treatments for individuals whose lives are impacted by autism.”

Since 1992 Dr. Horrigan has been a consulting psychiatrist at a residential facility serving school-aged children, including those with ASD or significant learning and behavioral deficits. He has served as a physician and investigator in the Developmental Neuropharmacology Clinic at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and directed the university’s Pediatric Psychopharmacology Clinic within the Clinical Center for the Study of Development and Learning. In this capacity, he directly cared for many children, adolescents and adults with ASDs and related neurodevelopmental disorders.

Since 2002, Dr. Horrigan has coordinated pediatric drug development within the Neurosciences Medicines Development Center at GlaxoSmithKline. He has a special interest in developing new measures that improve safeguards for children participating in drug research. In this regard, he has worked with the World Health Organization and StaR Child Health to improve the quality and ethics of pediatric clinical research and to improve the availability of child-friendly medicines to patients in all parts of the world.

In the areas of neurology and psychiatry, Dr. Horrigan has served as the medical leader for a variety of clinical programs testing new medicines for pediatric bipolar disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, insomnia, pediatric epilepsy and neurodevelopmental disorders. He also serves as a scientific advisor to the FRAXA Research Foundation, which seeks a cure for Fragile X syndrome.

“I am extremely excited to join Autism Speaks, which is the driving force in innovative autism research,” says Dr. Horrigan. “Our understanding of the biological basis of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism has accelerated dramatically over the past several years. Joining Autism Speaks is a truly exceptional opportunity to play a meaningful role in facilitating the development of novel treatments that will benefit people with autism.”

Dr. Horrigan earned his M.D. from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, in Rochester, New York. His Sc.B. in psychology was received, magna cum laude from Brown University, in Providence Rhode Island. Dr. Horrigan is a board certified specialist in both general psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry. As a researcher, he is widely published in peer-reviewed journals and has served on the editorial board of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and as a journal peer reviewer for Psychiatric Services, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, Psychopharmacology Bulletin, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences.