January 27, 2011

VU renewed as Autism Treatment Network site

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Sleep research is one of the many initiatives made possible through VU’s participation in the national Autism Treatment Network. (photo by Chad A. Stevens)

VU renewed as Autism Treatment Network site

Autism Speaks' Board of Directors is renewing Vanderbilt University as an Autism Treatment Network (ATN) site with a three-year, $420,000 grant to continue developing standards and guidelines for the evaluation and treatment of medical conditions associated with autism.

The ATN is the nation's first network of academic medical centers dedicated to developing a model of comprehensive care for children and adolescents with autism.

Vanderbilt was first selected as a site in 2008 and is one of 17 centers in the United States and Canada.

“That Vanderbilt University Medical Center continues to be part of the national Autism Treatment Network is vital to our ability to continue to improve diagnosis, medical care and intervention for children on the autism spectrum,” said Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center.

“Progress on understanding and treatment of autism is a creative collaboration at Vanderbilt, and the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is grateful to be a part of this important endeavor,” she said.

Principal investigator Beth Malow, M.D., M.S., professor of Neurology and Pediatrics, said the grant would be used to fund initiatives under way in the medical and behavioral aspects of autism research and development of clinical guidelines.

The ATN is currently conducting a multi-site parent sleep education research trial, led by Malow's team, and has approval for a second project in the area of epilepsy, led by Gregory Barnes, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of Neurology and Pediatrics.

“The ATN is a catalyst for those interested and excited about autism and wanting to help these children and their families,” said Malow, also a Vanderbilt Kennedy Center investigator.

Malow said data from children and families participating in the ATN will improve the standard of care and treatment for children with autism throughout North America.

Co-PIs at Vanderbilt are Zachary Warren, Ph.D., director, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD), and Niru Madduri, M.D., assistant professor of Pediatrics.

“The renewal of our ATN grant is an excellent opportunity for us. With this support we will continue to develop the interprofessional services that make Vanderbilt a leader in the care of individuals with autism spectrum disorders,” said Tyler Reimschisel, M.D., director of the Division of Developmental Medicine and the Center for Child Development.