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Autism Spectrum Disorders

The Christian Sarkine Autism Treatment Center (CSATC) has led the field in studying treatments for autism spectrum disorders.  Funding for this research comes from competitive grants awarded by  the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and nonprofit foundations.  CSATC frequently consults and participates in novel research funded by pharmaceutical and other biotechnology companies.  The center was one of five Research Units of Pediatric Psychopharmacology (RUPPs) federally funded to study medication development in autism.  This research, published in the renowned New England Journal of Medicine in 2002, showed that risperidone was markedly effective for treating irritability and aggression in children with autism.  This research eventually led to approval of the first FDA-approved medication for use in autism.  The center and its researchers have received funding from the NIMH, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, Autism Speaks, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Indiana Department of Education.

In addition to its internationally respected research on the therapeutics of autism, the CSATC also investigates the underlying etiology and pathophysiology of this complex disorder.  The Center contributed lymphoblastoid cell lines to the NIMH Center for Genetic Studies.  Ongoing studies plan to examine candidate genes, gene expression, and neuroimaging. 

The HANDS (Helping Answer Needs by Developing Specialists) in Autism team, led by Dr. Naomi Swiezy, conducts research on its various community training and outreach programs.  The primary goal is to determine the effectiveness of HANDS training through participant satisfaction, fidelity to the training program, participant knowledge, and application of training curriculum, and benefit to individuals with autism. Within this overall goal, the HANDS in Autism team also tests new instruments and questionnaires for measuring the above goals.  The data gathered is used to aid in improving and individualizing the various training and outreach programs to best serve those working with individuals with autism.

Learn more about our current research studies.

Learn more about our community outreach and education programs.

Faculty members involved in this research include:

Christopher J. McDougle, M.D.
Kimberly A. Stigler, M.D.
Naomi Swiezy, Ph.D.
John I. Nurnberger, Jr., M.D., Ph.D.
Craig A. Erickson, M.D.
Noha Minshawi, Ph.D.