The NIH has just announced $5.3M in two new awards through the Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE) program to support autism research studies led by two University of California investigative teams, at UCLA and the UC Davis Medical Center MIND Institute. ACE funding is earmarked for large, multi-disciplinary studies into the origins of autism spectrum neurological disorders and avenues for their treatment. In the case of the two latest awardees, one is a clinical behavioral study and one is a study of genetic variants. The $5.3M is initial one-year funding, with extensions of up to five years. The ACE program includes both centers and networks. Centers are made up of multiple investigators at one site working together on a specific research problem; networks include investigative teams from different sites engaged in a focused study. Both UCLA and UC Davis are ACE centers and will lead the current research projects, though in collaboration with colleagues at other research institutions, namely Harvard, UW, Vanderbilt, Emory, Johns Hopkins, and Yale. As with all ACE research, data and findings are collected centrally by the NIH to maximize their availability to the larger research community.
[In this video, Dr. Daniel Geschwind of UCLA describes his lab's autism genetic research, on which newly-funded ACE study is based]
University of California Los Angeles research geneticist Daniel Geschwind will lead a new ACE study identifying genetic variants linked to autism spectrum disorders, with a special focus on African American families with autistic children. Geschwind is a professor of neurology, director of the Neurogenetics Program and the Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART) and co-director of the Center for Neurobehavioral Genetics at UCLA. The Geschwind Lab includes three other faculty research scientists, 9 post-docs, 8 graduate students, 2 undergraduate researchers, and 10 staff members. The lab is located on campus in the Gonda Building, on Charles E. Young Dr. South.
UC Davis MIND Institute psychiatrist and behavioral scientist Sally J. Rogers will lead the second newly-funded ACE project, which includes two studies comparing methods of early intervention treatments and assessing their longterm success. In a recent UCDMC press release (which we think misstates the amount of the recent award, at least in regards to the NIH contribution), Dr. Rogers says:
“The number of children who develop autism now overshadows all other early childhood disabilities and represents more than 1 percent of all the children in our country. The funds from the National Institutes of Health, and the support of the MIND Institute and UC Davis, will allow us to identify the best treatments for autism early in life and mitigate as much as possible the disabling effects of this all-too-prevalent and lifelong condition.”
Dr. Rogers is principal investigator of the Early Start Lab at the MIND Institute on 50th Street on the Sacramento UCDMC campus. 13 other researchers make up her lab team. For earlier blogs of ours on the MIND Institute, read Davis M.I.N.D. Institute Makes Headlines with Autism Research Study Results and Molecular Biology Research $3M DoD Grant at UC Davis.
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