The Carmen B. Pingree Center for Children with Autism has a rich history in Autism research. When still named the Childrenís Behavior Therapy Unit (CBTU), we were involved in biological/genetics research at both UCLA and Stanford Universities. Currently we work in partnership with the Autism Research Program at the University of Utah Medical Center in the area of genetics research..
Our whole intervention program is based on data collection. Families share in their individual childís and program data while their child is in treatment. Permission will be asked for your involvement with present/future research projects.
In 2002, the Utah Autism Research Program (UARP) was awarded an additional five years of funding \from NICHD for three research projects currently underway: immune studies, genetics, and neuroimaging. In addition to Drs. McMahon, Lainhart, and Coon, the investigative team now includes new members form the University of Utah: Robert Fujinami, Ph.D., a neuroimmunologist from the Department of Neurology; Mark Leppert, Ph.D., Co-Chair of the Department of Human Genetics; and Judith Miller, Ph.D., a psychologist with appointments in Psychiatry, Educational Psychology, and Psychology. In addition, Erin Bigler, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist in the Department of Psychology at Brigham Young University, has become an important collaborator for the neuroimaging project. The underlying theme for the Utah Autism Research Program is that genes for autism are more likely to be found by studying a variety of inherited traits seen in both individuals with autism and in their family members without autism. These traits are known as intermediate phenotypes. Examples of intermediate phenotypes include increased head circumference, high blood serotonin levels, and mild difficulties with social interactions, language, and repetitive behaviors.
Also in 2002, Dr. Judy Zimmerman of the Utah Department of Health and Dr. McMahon began a new epidemiologic study. The Utah Registry of Autism and Developmental Disabilities (URADD) is a population-based program designed to determine and monitor the number of children with autism and related conditions in Utah. This three-year study will help establish an accurate estimate of Utah children with Autism Spectrum Disorders who are currently 8 years of age. It will also begin a registry of all individuals of all ages in the state who have been diagnosed with autism. The investigators are members of the Utah Department of Healthís Children with Special Health Care Needs Bureau and the University of Utah Medical Centerís Department of Psychiatry. URADD is a collaborative undertaking of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Utah Department of Health, and the University of Utah Medical Center Department of Psychiatry.
opening of the Carmen B. Pingree Center, autism research enters a new era.
Opportunities for collaboration and cooperative endeavors have never been
better. The new school facilitates this by its close proximity to the University
of Utah campus and by providing space within the school for ASU and the UARP.
Partnership with Valley Mental Health and the Departments of Psychiatry and
Educational Psychology will further enhance these collaborations. New genetics
and neuroimaging proposals are currently under review at the National Institutes
of Health. The UARP is designing studies of dietary and gastrointestinal
problems, as well as studies of behavioral treatments to address these problems.
A series of seminars for research scientists has begun, with the hope of
attracting new ideas and technology. These all contribute significantly to the
hunt for new understanding of the causes of autism, improving treatment, and
The First Annual Autism Research Seminar provides an opportunity to survey the science of autism, both in Utah and internationally. Autism continues to be a mysterious and daunting challenge to individuals with autism, to their families, and to research scientists. With measured optimism, we can conclude that autism research in Utah has a rich history, a strong presence, and a bright future.