Skip navigation

Calls to Action

Obama Honors Autism Speaks Researcher Young-Shin Kim

Kim receives president’s early career scientist award; Autism Speaks funding her investigation of DSM-5’s effects on autism community
January 08, 2014

President Obama has awarded Yale child psychiatrist and epidemiologist Young-Shin Kim the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. It is the highest honor bestowed by the federal government on emerging American researchers.

With funding from Autism Speaks, Dr. Kim is currently investigating the effects of the revised DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Her study is using the new criteria to re-evaluate a large sample of school children who had been diagnosed with autism using the older, DSM-IV criteria. These findings will help determine whether the new diagnostic checklist is excluding children who would have previously received an ASD diagnosis and related services – and if so, why.

Dr. Kim's earlier Autism Speaks research included a ground-breaking study that used direct screening to show an autism prevalence of 1 in 38 among South Korean school children. Many of the children identified had previously gone undiagnosed and without services. (Autism Speaks is currently funding a follow-up U.S. prevalence study using the same direct-screening methods.) 

Dr. Kim's presidential award cites her work investigating possible gene-environmental interactions among the South Korean children diagnosed through her Autism Speaks-funded research.  

Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Rob Ring welcomed the White House’s acknowledgement of Dr. Kim’s important work. “We are enormously pleased and proud that one of our Autism Speaks investigators is receiving this type of national recognition,” he said. “Career development of young talent in the autism field will always be one of the most important areas of investment we make in our science mission at Autism Speaks.”

The awards, originally established by President Bill Clinton, are bestowed based on innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology by federally funded investigators who’ve demonstrated national service through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach. The Department of Health and Human Resources helps support Dr. Kim’s work at the Yale School of Medicine.

“The impressive achievements of these early-stage scientists and engineers are promising indicators of even greater successes ahead,” President Obama said in announcing this year’s awardees. “We are grateful for their commitment to generating the scientific and technical advancements that will ensure America’s global leadership for many years to come.”

Also see: Weatherstone Fellow Elaine Hsiao Makes Forbes '30 Under 30'

You can explore all the research Autism Speaks is funding using this website’s grant search
Subscribe to Autism Speaks Science Digest for autism research news, blogs and more – delivered biweekly to your inbox.