Dr. Chawarska was awarded a five-year, $11.5 NIH Autism Center of Excellence Program Project, titled, “Cellular, molecular, and functional imaging approaches to understanding early neurodevelopment in autism.” In the most comprehensive longitudinal study to date, Katarzyna Chawarska, PhD, Todd Constable, PhD, and the team at Yale School of Medicine and Department of Statistics will use state-of-the-art functional connectivity MRI techniques to investigate neural connectivity in fetuses and newborns to identify early markers and predictors of outcomes in babies later diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
They will examine if boys and girls with ASD differ in their brain wiring and whether this information may improve diagnosis and treatment of children with this pervasive neurobehavioral disorder.
Using cutting-edge stem-cell technology, they will map early neuronal growth and gene expression in children with ASD. Finally, they will conduct a novel treatment trial for high-risk infants targeting social attention.
Together, the projects will identify diagnostic and prognostic pre- and perinatal markers of ASD, discover neural, cellular, and molecular bases of risk and protective mechanisms, and clarify the neural bases of sex differences in ASD.
Investigators include Drs. Laura Ment, Flora Vaccarino, Fred Volkmar, Joseph Chang, Dustin Scheinost, Suzanne Macari, Kelly Powell, and Jamie McPartland. The project is funded by NIMH and NINDS.