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Autism Science Foundation Announces 2014 Grant Recipients

The Autism Science Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to funding autism research, has announced the recipients of its 2014 annual pre and post-doctoral fellowships as well as the recipients of its first undergraduate summer research grants.

Pre and Postdoctoral Research Grants

Five postdoctoral and four predoctoral grants will be awarded to student/mentor teams conducting research in autism interventions, etiology, treatment targets, biomarkers, language development and animal models. “The autism community has demanded more research to understand what is causing autism and to develop better treatments” said ASF president Alison Singer. “We are proud to be able to increase our research funding in response to this national health crisis and we are especially grateful to all our donors and volunteers who have come together to support autism research and make these grants possible.”

“ASF attracts outstanding applicants across the board, representing a broad range of perspectives on autism science” said Dr. Matthew State, Chair of the ASF Scientific Advisory Board and Chairman of the Psychiatry Department at the University of California, San Francisco. “These projects show great potential to move the field forward.”

The following projects were selected for 2014 funding:

Postdoctoral Fellowships

Dr. Boaz Barak/Dr. Guoping Feng: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Characterizing and Manipulating the Social Reward Dysfunction in a Novel Mouse Model for Autism

Goal: Provide treatment-facilitating insight into the pathophysiology of autism


Dr. Shweta Ghai/Dr. Gordon Ramsey: Emory University, Marcus Center

Identifying Biomarkers for Early Diagnosis of Prosody Disorder in ASD using Electroglottography

Goal: Improve vocal and language development in children with ASD


Dr. Katherine Kuhl-Meltzoff Stavropoulos/Dr. James McPartland: Yale University

The Effects of Oxytocin on Social Learning in Individuals with ASD

Goal: Understand who may or may not benefit from oxytocin treatment


Dr. Julia Parish-Morris/Dr. Robert Schultz: University of Pennsylvania

Developing Automated Algorithms to Assess Linguistic Variation in Individuals with Autism

Goal: Design effective, personalized interventions for pragmatic language deficits


Dr. Aarthi Padmanabhan/Dr. Vinod Menon: Stanford University

Social Motivations and Striatal Circuit Development in Children and Adolescents with Autism

Goal: Determine windows of brain plasticity during which intervention may be especially successful


Predoctoral Fellowships

Alexandra Bey/Dr. Yong-hui Jiang: Duke University

The Role of Shank3 in Neocortex Versus Striatum and the Pathophysiology of Autism 

Goal: Determine whether and how specific brain regions control specific ASD-related behaviors


Nick Goeden/Dr. Alexandre Bonnin: University of Southern California

The Impact of Maternal Inflammation During Pregnancy on Placental Tryptophan Metabolism, and the Downstream Consequences on Fetal Brain Development 

Goal: Understand the impact of prenatal inflammation and infection on fetal brain circuits and ASD development


Erin Li/Dr. Alexander Kolevzon: Seaver Autism Center, Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai

Mapping the Neurobehavioral Phenotype in Autism and Phelan McDermid Syndrome 

Goal: Characterize the clinical features of Phelan McDermid Syndrome compared to idiopathic autism; provide autism-intensive training to medical school students to build a pipeline of knowledgeable, autism-friendly physicians


Donghui Wei/Dr. Daniele Piomelli: University of California, Irvine

Endocannabinod Enhancement of Sociability in Autism-related Mouse Models

Goal: Develop and test novel therapies for ASD


Undergraduate Summer Research Grants

Nine undergraduate research grants will be awarded to highly-accomplished undergraduate student/mentor teams conducting research in autism genetics, animal models, language development, vocational training evaluation, imaging, and treatment disparity. “It’s critically important to develop the next generation of autism scientists and to provide early training to highly promising young scientists” said ASF president Alison Singer. “This was an extremely impressive group of applicants and we are proud to be able to support so many outstanding young researchers.”

“We developed this new funding mechanism so that ASF could help encourage the brightest young scientists to pursue a career in autism research” said ASF co-founder Karen London. “These students are paired with well-established mentors and will work on promising projects that will give them exceptional ‘hands-on’ experience and pave the way to their own autism research careers.”

The following students were selected for summer 2014 funding:

Student: University:  Mentor:
Andrea Chu Boston University Dr. Helen Tager-Flusberg
Jordan Doman University of Pittsburgh Dr. Carla Mazefsky
Molly Johnson University of Pennsylvania Dr. David Mandell
Veronica Kang University of Washington, Seattle Dr. Sara Jane Webb
Cynthia Peng Rutgers University Dr. Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom
Jonathan Raduazzo Harvard University Dr. Christopher Cowan
Nicholas Ray San Diego State University Dr. Inna Fishman
Sam Tomlinson Yale University Dr. James McPartland
Michelle Won University of Notre Dame Dr. Joshua Diehl


In its five years of operations, the Autism Science Foundation has funded over $1.6 million in grants including pre and postdoctoral fellowships, medical school gap year research fellowships, 3-year early career awards, treatment grants, undergraduate summer research funding, research enhancement mini-grants and travel scholarships to enable stakeholders to attend the annual International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR).

The Autism Science Foundation (ASF) is a 501(c) (3) public charity. Its mission is to support autism research by providing funding to scientists and organizations conducting autism research. ASF also provides information about autism to the general public and serves to increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders and the needs of individuals and families affected by autism. To learn more about the Autism Science Foundation or to make a donation visit

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