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Renowned Autism Expert Dr. Catherine Lord To Lead New Comprehensive Autism Treatment Institute

Researcher Catherine Lord, Ph.D.A leading autism authority who is helping transform the way autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed and treated, Dr. Catherine Lord has been named director of the new Institute for Brain Development at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University Medical Center. She will also be appointed to the faculties of Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Created in collaboration with the New York Center for Autism, the Institute will be a center of excellence for best-practice evaluations and treatments for individuals living with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disorders of the brain, across their lifespans. Situated primarily on the Hospital’s 214-acre Westchester Division campus in White Plains, the Institute will be a resource for community-based providers and families; it is scheduled to open in 2012.

Dr. Lord has been at the forefront of research to find ways to better treat autism spectrum disorders. She led the development of tools that have become the gold standard for diagnosis: the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and the Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised (ADI-R). She currently serves as director of the Autism and Communication Disorders Center at the University of Michigan, where she is professor in the Department of Psychology, Psychiatry and Pediatrics, and senior research professor in the Center for Human Growth and Development.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism spectrum disorders affect one in 110 children and one in 70 boys. An estimated 1 million to 1.5 million American adults and children live with an autism spectrum disorder.

“With growing numbers of children affected by autism spectrum disorders, there is an ever increasing need for a comprehensive program dedicated to providing the very best in diagnosis and treatment. There is no one better suited to lead this program than Dr. Catherine Lord,” says Dr. Herbert Pardes, president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. “Her decades-long work of listening and working closely with patients and their families has helped us better understand the unique and complex ways these disorders manifest. And her work to codify and share this knowledge is helping improve the lives of countless individuals and their families.”

Dr. Lord will lead a multidisciplinary clinical team comprising physician-faculty from Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University Medical Center in pediatrics, psychology, neurology, psychiatry and other disciplines, as well as specialists in speech and language, occupational and behavioral therapies. Research will extend from the Institute’s clinical services in White Plains to the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center campuses in Manhattan.

“We are delighted that this tripartite program, as envisioned by Laura Slatkin, Ilene Lainer and their colleagues, and now to be led by Dr. Cathy Lord, a world expert, will be advancing research and clinical care in autism,” says Dr. Lee Goldman, dean of the faculties of health sciences and medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.

“Collaborative research in the environment of a dedicated clinical program is the ideal way to increase knowledge about these disorders and develop new targeted approaches that best meet the needs of affected children and adults,” says Dr. Antonio M. Gotto Jr., the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College.

“The New York Center for Autism is honored to have Dr. Catherine Lord as director of the Institute for Brain Development,” say co-founders Laura Slatkin and Ilene Lainer. “Dr. Lord is a world-renowned authority on autism. Her deep understanding of the disorder and the field at large will play an important role in advancing the Institute’s work, improving our understanding of the disorder, as well as improving the lives of individuals with autism and their families.”

“I am thrilled to have been chosen to lead the Institute for Brain Development and help shape its development,” says Dr. Lord. “My goal is nothing short of transforming the way autism is treated in the New York metro area and beyond. We intend to provide the very best environment for treating autism spectrum disorder. By integrating our services with community organizations and resources, the Institute will offer a wide variety of options, locations and treatments for families and patients of all ages and needs.”

Dr. Catherine Lord
Throughout her career, Dr. Lord has provided clinical evaluations and consultations and trained university students and professionals in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Her current projects include the development of a module for the ADOS appropriate for adolescents and adults with limited verbal skills; analyses of behavioral phenotype data from the Simons Simplex Collection, a repository of cell lines and behavioral measures for families with a child with autism and a typical child; the development of a measure of spontaneous, functional language in children with ASD; several studies of different therapies including for young children and peer-mediated interventions at schools; and a longitudinal study of children followed from age 2 who are now in their 20s.

Dr. Lord graduated with degrees in psychology from UCLA with a B.A., summa cum laude, and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. She received postdoctoral training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Dr. Lord has held faculty appointments at the University of Chicago; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; University of Alberta School of Medicine, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; and University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. She was also a visiting professor at the NYU Child Study Center, NYU School of Medicine.

She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards; in 2011 she received the Patricia Buehler Legacy Award for Clinical Innovation from the American College of Occupational Therapy; the Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Clinical Psychology by the Society of Clinical Psychology; and the Asperger/Kanner Medal from the Free University of Berlin. She was chair of the Committee on Effectiveness of Early Intervention in Autism for the National Research Council and is currently on the DSM V Neurodevelopmental Disorders Committee. She has given more than 100 invited lectures and authored more than 160 original, peer-reviewed papers, nine books and more than 60 reviews and book chapters.

Material adapted from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

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