The National Institutes of Health recently announced $100 million in awards over five years to support nine Autism Centers of Excellence (ACEs), one of which is a collaborative effort at the University of Virginia (UVA) involving several Yale faculty members. The Yale Child Study Center (YCSC) will serve as the lead department for the Yale site of the ACE network, alongside the Department of Pediatrics.
Led by former YCSC faculty member Kevin Pelphrey, Ph.D. who is now at UVA, the network has been in existence for ten years. The latest grant received as part of the NIH award announcement is the second renewal of this project. Associate Professors Denis Sukhodolsky, Ph.D. and Abha Gupta, M.D., Ph.D. will serve as the co-leads at Yale. Other key Yale personnel include Roger Jou, M.D., Ph.D.; James Duncan, Ph.D.; Nicha Dvornek, Ph.D.; and Lawrence Staib, Ph.D.
“Yale is one of the sites of this multisite consortium studying late diagnosis in autism, which often affects females and gender diverse individuals”, explains Gupta. The title of the project led by Sukhodolsky and Gupta is Neurodevelopmental Biomarkers of Late Diagnosis in Female and Gender Diverse ASD.
“Many female and gender diverse autistic people are misdiagnosed or late diagnosed, putting them at greater risk for depression, anxiety and self-harm. This study will develop new tools to speed up diagnosis and combine clinical and neuroimaging data to help autistic people to get the right help at the right time,” says Sukhodolsky.
According to the NIH announcement, “This endeavor funds large research projects to understand and develop interventions for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Created in 2007, the ACE program is renewed every five years. ASD is a complex developmental disorder affecting how a person behaves, interacts with others, communicates, and learns. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that ASD affects nearly 2% of 8-year-olds in the United States.”