The primary, long-term goal of this training program is to prepare a diverse pool of highly trained scientists to conduct interdisciplinary biological, behavioral, and clinical research to understand, treat, and prevent autism spectrum and related neurodevelopmental disorders. Rationale: This interdisciplinary training program addresses the current scientific and public focus on the lifelong effects of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) on social relations, educational and vocational success, community participation and contribution, and lifelong supports. According to Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of NIMH, ".. the nation, recognizes the urgent needs of the autism community, and presses on toward the goal of transformative scientific discoveries and enhanced services and supports that will make a difference in the lives of individuals and families living with ASD." This training program, now in its 10th year, prepares scientists to make transformative discoveries in the biology and psychology of persons with autism, discoveries that will improve services and supports, prevent or ameliorate disability, and enhance the lives of persons with ASD and related disorders and the lives of their families. Program objectives involve: 1. Provision of 24 months of postdoctoral interdisciplinary research training to 8 NIH-funded MD and PhD trainees from diverse scientific fields and from cultural backgrounds under-represented in science. 2. Development and delivery of an interdisciplinary curriculum that imparts to trainees the current research questions, methods, and findings on autism spectrum and related neurodevelopmental disorders in diverse fields of study, including genetics/genomics;animal models;epidemiology;immunology; cultural competency and health disparities;neuroanatomy;neuroimaging;metabolomics/proteomics; neurochemistry/psychopharmacology;neurophysiology;and research design and analysis. 3. Development and delivery of training content that grounds trainees in the ethics of research involving children, persons with disabilities, family members, and research access by underrepresented groups; 4. Delivery of training that provides experiential and conceptual understanding of the clinical and psycho- social effects of autism and related disabilities on persons with the disorders and on their families. Design of the trainin program Four main aspects of the training program provide interdisciplinary and disciplinary research expertise: (1) a weekly, interdisciplinary two year curriculum that focuses on the biology and psychology of ASD and related disorders, and on the ethics of research;(2) ongoing disciplinary mentorship and research training from a faculty member with autism research expertise;(3) interdisciplinary research experience with a mentor and team from a different discipline;and (4) experiences of the clinical and everyday effects of ASD on persons and their families.

Public Health Relevance

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) affect 1 out of 88 persons with lifelong effects on social relations, educational and vocational success, community participation and contribution, and lifelong supports, effects which challenge public health systems as well as personal, family, and community wellbeing. According to Dr. Thomas Insel, director of NIMH, ...the nation, recognizes the urgent needs of the autism community, and presses on toward the goal of transformative scientific discoveries and enhanced services and supports that will make a difference in the lives of individuals and families living with ASD. Thi interdisciplinary autism research training program, now in its 9th year, addresses the public health challenges of ASD by preparing scientists to make transformative discoveries in the bio-psych-social aspects of autism and related disorders, discoveries that will improve community participation, services and supports, prevent or ameliorate disability, and enhance the lives of persons with ASD and related disorders and the lives of their families.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Type
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
Project #
2T32MH073124-11
Application #
8665825
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1)
Program Officer
Sarampote, Christopher S
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
11
Fiscal Year
2014
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Name
University of California Davis
Department
Psychiatry
Type
Schools of Medicine
DUNS #
City
Davis
State
CA
Country
United States
Zip Code
95618
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Roberts, Andrea L; Lyall, Kristen; Rich-Edwards, Janet W et al. (2013) Association of maternal exposure to childhood abuse with elevated risk for autism in offspring. JAMA Psychiatry 70:508-15

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