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The AIR-B Network brings together an innovative group of investigators on the cutting edge of autism intervention research. This network is currently composed of nine research sites:

UCLA serves as the network coordinating center and is responsible for completing network goals. All sites enroll study subjects, follow the same study protocols, and share responsibilities for regulatory activities. Each research center has a leading principal investigator (PI) and a team of pre- and post-doctoral scholars, undergraduates, and other professionals from a wide range of disciplines. Conducting research in multi-site platform has many advantages, such as speed of study completion, ability to recruit large enough samples to examine treatment moderators, greater diversity in participants, and higher likelihood of generalizable findings.

 
     
 

Coordinating Site


University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)- Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART)
UCLA serves as the coordinating center and as a research site for the AIR-B Network activities. AIR-B offices are located in the Semel Institute Building, and are accompanied by the Kasari Research Lab, the UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART), and a range of other research and clinical programs (see www.semel.ucla.edu). Activities at UCLA for AIR-B include: coordination of cross-site activities and projects, developing and validating tools, dissemination activities, and a liaison for Autism Intervention Guidelines Project (sub-contract to RAND).

Connie Kasari, Ph.D. is a Professor of Psychological Studies in Education and Psychiatry at UCLA and founding member of the Center for Autism Research and Treatment. Her current research focuses on developing targeted interventions for early social communication development in at-risk infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with autism; and peer relationships for school aged children with autism. She is involved in several randomized controlled trials, with her most recent work involving multi-site studies for interventions aimed at underserved and under-represented populations of children with autism. She has been published widely on topics related to social, emotional, and communication development and intervention in autism. She is on the treatment advisory board of the Autism Speaks Foundation, and regularly presents to both academic and practitioner audiences locally, nationally and internationally. Dr. Kasari serves as the principal investigator for AIR-B at the UCLA. Kasari Lab Website



Amanda Gulsrud, Ph.D. is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the UCLA Department of Psychiatry in the David Geffen School of Medicine and clinical director of the CAN Clinic, where she provides diagnostic evaluations and brief treatment for very young children with neuro developmental disorders. Dr. Gulsrud received a B.A. in Psychology and History at UCLA and her Ph.D. in Psychological Studies in the Education division of the Department of Education at UCLA. She completed a postdoctoral internship at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and was awarded her license in Clinical Psychology in 2011. She is currently a co-investigator in the recently awarded ACE Center grant examining the early treatment response, including biomarkers, and developmental trajectories of children 12- 21 months of age at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. Dr. Gulsrud has been awarded the Autism Speaks Top 10 Research Achievements in 2010 and again in 2012. Dr. Gulsrud serves as a co-principal investigator for AIR-B at the University of California, Los Angeles.


Participating Sites


University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC)
The Division of Neurodevelopmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at the University of Rochester is partnering with the Rochester City School District in AIR-B II. The division contains a federally-funded University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, and it conducts many studies aimed directly at improving the lives of individuals with autism or other intellectual disabilities. Teams of experienced clinician-scientists, along with dedicated study coordinators and research assistants, work together on investigations that are supported by the National Institutes of Health, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, and private foundations such as Autism Speaks.

Tristram Smith, Ph.D. is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), where he leads federally funded studies comparing the efficacy of different interventions for children with autism. He is also a clinician in URMC’s Community Consultation Program, serving students with autism and other intellectual disabilities in schools and other agencies. He has authored a number of studies suggesting that behavioral interventions may be especially effective when implemented intensively (more than 20 hours per week) and early (beginning prior to five years of age). Dr. Smith serves as the principal investigator for AIR-B at the University of Rochester.


Suzannah Iadarola Ph.D. is a pediatric psychologist and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center. She specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Suzannah is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and provides behavioral treatment for individuals with ASD through the ASD Behavior Clinic at the University of Rochester Medical Center. With her colleagues, she has also helped develop and implement community-based interventions for students with ASD and their teachers, and is an investigator on community-partnered research studies in the Rochester area. Currently, she is conducting a CTSI-funded research project on addressing parenting stress in caregivers of children with ASD.  Dr. Iadarola serves as a co-principal investigator for AIR-B at the University of Rochester.



Lynne Levato, Ph.D. is an Instructor of Clinical Pediatrics and a licensed psychologist who specializes in behavioral assessment and intervention for young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). She provides consultative services to individuals, families, and school staff at agencies supporting students with ASD through URMC’s Community Consultation Program. Her research interests focus on early intensive behavioral intervention and academic interventions for individuals with ASD. Dr. Levato serves as a co-principal investigator for AIR-B at the University of Rochester.


University of Pennsylvania—Center For Mental Health Policy and Services Research (CMHPSR)
The Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research (CMHPSR) was established in 1986 and is part of the Department of Psychiatry of the Health System, Perelman School of Medicine. The CMHPSR consists of a group of multidisciplinary faculty and staff who research the organization, financing, and management structure of mental health care systems and the delivery of mental health services. They provide consultation and technical support to those individuals and programs involved in implementing system change. CMHPSR’s objective is to link the best research and evaluation findings to policy decisions and the delivery and implementation of services.

David Mandell, ScD. is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics’ at the University of Pennsylvania. The goal of his research is to improve the quality of care that individuals with autism receive in their communities. This research is of two types. The first examines, at the state and national level, the effects of different strategies to organize, finance, and deliver services on service use patterns and outcomes. The second consists of experimental studies designed to determine the best strategies to successfully implement proven-efficacious practices in community settings. Dr. Mandell serves as the principal investigator for AIR-B at the University of Pennsylvania.


Melanie Pellecchia, Ph.D. is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research. She has a doctorate degree in school psychology from Temple University and a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis, also from Temple University. Melanie was involved in the development and oversight of several publicly funded early intervention programs for preschool aged children with autism. She has also provided extensive consultation and staff training to autism support teachers and staff in early intervention and elementary school classrooms. Melanie’s professional interests include improving services for children and parents of young children with autism, and consulting to teachers of challenging students. Dr. Pellecchia serves as a co-principal investigator for AIR-B at the University of Pennsylvania.


University of California, Davis (UC Davis)- Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorder (MIND Institute)
The UC Davis MIND Institute (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) is a collaborative international research center, committed to the awareness, understanding, prevention, care, and cures of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Dr. Peter Mundy, Ph.D. is the Director of the Education research and professor at the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute, a developmental and clinical psychologist, and a Lisa Capps Professor of Neurodevelopmental Disorder and Education. He is well known for his research and theory on the role joint attention plays in the development of ASD. Many of the instruments most commonly used for the diagnosis or early identification autism now include measures of joint attention, and early interventions often focus on joint attention to improve learning in preschool children with autism. In the past 8 years at the MIND Institute Dr. Mundy has been expending his joint attention model of ASD to try to understand how best to improve learning after preschool among school-aged children with ASD. Dr. Mundy serves as the principal investigator for AIR-B at the University of California, Davis.

Aubyn Stahmer, Ph.D. is an expert in the translation of evidence-based autism research to community-based practice and delivery. The main goals of her research include developing ways to help community providers, such as teachers and therapists, help children with autism and their families by providing high quality care. She is an internationally respected expert in the use of naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions which are validated treatments for autism. Dr. Stahmer has conducted extensive research in the areas of parent coaching, early intervention, inclusive education and services research in autism spectrum disorders. In addition, she is very involved in the autism community, participating in the California Best Practice Guidelines Committee and the National Standards projects, developing guidelines for autism treatment. Dr. Stahmer serves as a co-principal investigator for AIR-B at the University of Pennsylvania.


A.J. Drexel Autism Institute
The A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, is the first research organization built around a public health science approach to understanding and addressing the challenges of autism spectrum disorders. The Autism Institute's mission is to discover, develop, promote and disseminate population-level and community-based approaches that will prevent autism-associated morbidity and disability and improve the quality of life for individuals with autism of all ages.

Elizabeth McGhee Hassrick, Ph.D. is an assistant professor with the Life Course Outcomes Research Program at the A. J. Drexel Autism Institute. She received her masters and doctoral degrees in Sociology from the University of Chicago and masters in Education from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Her research, investigating collaboration networks across home and school settings, has been published in peer review journals and funded by grants from the Health Resource and Services Administration, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Spencer Foundation and the National Academy of Education. Dr. McGhee Hassrick is currently investigating social network interventions that promote positive outcomes for people with ASD, their families and communities. Her research tracks the interactional and organizational dynamics that sustain or disrupt networks of diverse expertise that shape the ongoing treatment of people diagnosed with ASD, over their life course. Dr. McGhee Hassrick serves as the principal investigator for AIR-B at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute.


Florida State University—Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD)
The FSU CARD is part of a state-wide system of centers supported in part by the State of Florida for the care of individuals with ASD. FSU CARD is dedicated to providing individuals with autism or related disabilities and their families and friends with free consultations, resources, and educational supports to build knowledge, confidence, infrastructure, and sustainability within the community.



Amy M. Wetherby, Ph.D., CCC-SLP is a Professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences and Director of the Autism Institute in the College of Medicine and the Laurel Schendel Professor of Communication Disorders at Florida State University. Dr. Wetherby is an expert in ASD language-based interventions and assessments and leads a variety of ASD-related projects. Dr. Wetherby serves as the principal investigator for AIR-B at CARD.

Kennedy Krieger Institute—Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD)
The Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland is a multi-faceted, multidisciplinary program for children with autism spectrum disorders and their family members. CARD combines research, clinical (assessment and intervention) services, as well as community outreach and training to help improve the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorders, their families, and the community who cares for them. CARD endorses a flexible approach to treatment, adjusting the core set of methods used and goals of intervention to meet the needs of each child and his or her family.



Rebecca Landa, Ph.D., CCC-SLP is a Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the founder and director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) at Kennedy Krieger Institute.  Dr. Landa has pioneered research aimed at identifying the earliest signs of autism through the study of infant siblings of children with autism. Her current research focus is on learning processes in autism, as well as early detection of and intervention for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Dr. Landa serves as the principal investigator for AIR-B at Kennedy Krieger Institute.

New York – Presbyterian Center for Autism and the Developing Brain (CADB)
During AIR-B I, the University of Michigan Autism and Communication Disorders Center (UMACC) participated in the AIR-B Network under the direct supervision of Dr. Catherine Lord.  The University of Michigan Center was a comprehensive program providing clinical services, assessments, research, and training relating to the diagnosis and care of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). After the completion of the AIR-B I studies, the center closed and Dr. Lord transferred to Weill Cornell Physicians. All remaining AIR-B I Network activities (data collection and analysis) now operate out of the New York Presbyterian Center for Autism and the Developing Brain (CADB). CADB is a collaborative program between New York-Presbyterian, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, in partnership with New York Collaborates for Autism. CADB offers Early Intervention services to children 12-36 months old suspected of having an autism spectrum disorder.



Catherine Lord, Ph.D. is a Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and a licensed clinical psychologist with specialties in diagnosis, social and communication development, and intervention in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). She is the founding director of CADB and founder of the former UMACC. Dr. Lord is renowned for her work in longitudinal studies of children with autism, as well as for her role in developing the autism diagnostic instruments used in both practice and research world-wide today. Dr. Lord serves as the principal investigator for AIR-B at CADB.

Seattle Children’s Research Institute—Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development
The Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute is a national leader in conducting innovative clinical and health-outcomes research. They bring together a diverse and talented group of research scientists with varied backgrounds and a shared purpose: to work collaboratively to address major issues that affect the health of children everywhere. The center works closely with Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington clinicians, allowing them to quickly translate research findings into advanced clinical practices and improved outcomes. This comprehensive autism research program encompasses clinical trials, behavioral research, and intervention studies.



Bryan King, MD is a Professor and Vice Chair of Psychiatry at the University of Washington and Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. His primary focus is repetitive self-injurious behavior (SIB). He is currently involved in studies of the safety and effectiveness of medications to treat behavioral disturbances in persons with ASD. He is also interested in exploring better ways to collect data in clinical trials involving this population. Dr. King serves as the principal investigator for AIR-B at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

 

 
     
 


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This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UA3 MC 11055 (AIR-B). This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.
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