In this K23 career development award, Dr. Rujuta Wilson will develop training in quantitative analysis of motor development to aid in early identification of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). Dr. Wilson?s longer-term goal is to be a leading clinician-scientist in motor development, utilizing novel quantitative methods and analyses to identify mechanisms, biomarkers, and treatments of motor impairments across diverse developmental populations affected by these impairments. Through the support of this K23 and the enriched transdisciplinary training environment and resources at UCLA, Dr. Wilson aims to accomplish the following training goals: (1) develop expertise in theoretical models and assessment of infant motor and developmental trajectories, (2) acquire knowledge of optimal statistical methods and skills in longitudinal modeling, signal processing, and machine learning techniques to analyze complex quantitative motor data and develop prediction models, (3) develop proficiency in advanced methods of clinical research design and implementation, and (4) translate the K23 training and findings into an R01 utilizing motor risk markers to aid in clinical stratification and monitor developmental outcomes of a targeted motor intervention. To achieve these goals, Dr. Wilson has assembled an exemplary mentorship team, including her primary mentor, Dr. James McCracken, a child psychiatrist with decades of research dedicated to studying development in children and in design and conduct of clinical trials in NDDs; co-mentor, Dr. Grace Baranek, a leader in the study of sensory- motor and behavioral risk markers of NDDs in the first year of life; co-mentor, Dr. David Elashoff, a leader of biostatistics with extensive knowledge of high dimensional data sets and sensor monitoring data; collaborators and contributors, Drs. William Kaiser, Beth Smith, Shafali Jeste, and Susan Bookheimer, experts in advanced analytic techniques of signal processing and machine learning, wearable sensors, high risk infant studies, and neuroimaging methods in high risk infants, respectively. Motor impairments occur across an array of NDDs and emerge early in disease course, but early identification remains an ongoing challenge due to lack of quantitative measures that can objectively identify these early motor impairments. The overarching goal of the proposed longitudinal study is to (1) utilize a validated wearable sensor to derive quantitative measurements of motor function and identify motor impairments in infants at high risk for NDDs (e.g., infants with an older sibling with Autism Spectrum Disorder [ASD]) as early as 3 months of age, and (2) examine the relationship of these motor impairments to symptoms of ASD and to delays in social communication, language, and cognition. This proposal will facilitate the development of novel transdiagnostic motor phenotyping tools that can be utilized to inform clinical screening, clinical risk stratification, and intervention studies across a range of neurologic disorders.
These aims directly address NICHD research priorities; in particular, ?research establishing the validity of biomarkers and outcome measures for intellectual and developmental disability symptoms.?

Public Health Relevance

Motor development plays a crucial role in the acquisition of social communication skills, cognition, and language, and motor impairments detrimentally affect downstream development. Many neurodevelopmental disorders describe motor impairments as an early comorbid symptom; however, current standardized assessments of motor function fail to clearly characteize these early motor impairments. This longitudinal study will utilize quantitative measures to objectively characterize the earliest manifestation of motor impairments in infants at high risk for autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders and elucidate the mechanistic relationship of these impairments to symptoms of autism and other adverse developmental outcomes with the goal to improve early identification and inform targeted interventions.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23)
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National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Initial Review Group (CHHD)
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Kau, Alice S
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University of California Los Angeles
Schools of Medicine
Los Angeles
United States
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