The Yale Child Study Center has received $11 million in grants - and was designated the top research center among those awarded the funding - to continue its internationally recognized research into autism and Asperger's syndrome.
A grant for $6 million results from Yale's designation as one of 10 centers for Collaborative Program of Excellence in Autism (CPEA). A second grant, which will total $5 million over five years, comes from the Studies to Advance Autism Research and Treatment (STAART) initiative sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.
The CPEA grant will fund longitudinal and follow up studies of children with autism. It also will fund neuroimaging, research into the genetic basis of autism, and a study of Asperger's syndrome, which, like autism, is partially characterized by an inability to engage appropriately with peers. The STAART-funded research focuses on the biomedical and behavioral aspects of autism.
"Because of the work we've done and continue to do, we can make a big difference in the lives of the autistic," said Fred Volkmar, M.D., professor of child psychiatry, pediatrics and psychology and principal investigator on the research project, of which Yale is the lead site. "In the past, people with autism tended to do very poorly, but with earlier detection more and more people with autism are leading active and productive lives."
Ami Klin, professor of child psychiatry and, with Volkmar, recipient of the STAART grant, said the grant will fund several areas of research, among them eye tracking studies of social engagement; gaze processing in young children with autism; roots of social communication with auditory preferences; behavioral and neural plasticity in face recognition; and fluvoxamine in children and adolescents with anxiety disorders.
Autism is now considered one of a group of illnesses collectively known as pervasive developmental disorders, affecting about one in 200 to 250 people.
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