Overview of the Autism Initiativeautism initiative.jpg

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) presents many challenges for families and national economic costs attributed to caring for children with ASDs were estimated at $11.5 billion in 2011. Nationally, the prevalence of ASD among 8 year olds has been estimated to be as high as one out of every 68 children. In Rhode Island, the number of children with ASDs receiving special education services has increased dramatically, from only 30 children in 1993 to 2,240 in 2014. The long-term vision of the Precision Medicine Program is to provide comprehensive assessments of children with an established or suspected diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. These assessments would include evaluations by a multidisciplinary team including pediatricians, geneticists, psychologists, neurodevelopment specialists, genetic counselors, and ethicists. Families will then be followed annually to assess the clinical and life course to identify genetic and epigenetic markers, as well as other biomarkers, that can help predict outcomes and guide individualized approaches to treatments. 

Leadership for the Autism, a Precision Medicine Approach Initiative comes from the Rhode Island Consortium for Autism Research and Treatment (RI-CART) based at Bradley Hospital and includes Dr. Eric Morrow and Dr. Stephen Sheinkopf. They are supported by a team of faculty, staff and trainees.


1. Genes-first Approach to Precision Medicine in Autism

These studies work towards developing an international registry for Christianson Syndrome, developing convergence across genetic subtypes and using precision medicine in autism clinics. 

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2. Biomarker Development for Measures of Treatment Response and Prognosis in Autism (The PHOEBE study)

This study developes biomarkers in order to better define the heterogeneity of ASD, including markers that can be used to predict outcomes and improve measurement of treatment response.

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3.The Prospective Infant Behavior Study (PIBS)

This study examines behaviors in newborns that may be related to developmental delays.

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4. Play and Autism

This project is a unique partnership with the Toy Design Program at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City to develop and implement a curriculum on developing toys appropriate for children with autism.

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5. The Rhode Island Consortium for Autism Research and Treatment (RI-CART)

This study explores better ways for physicians, scientists, service providers, educators and parents to collaborate on a broad range of autism-related research.