WASHINGTON, Feb. 5, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The George Washington University on Wednesday announced the selection of Kevin Pelphrey as the inaugural director of the university's Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute. Dr. Pelphrey brings more than 15 years of experience in autism and neuroscience research, most recently as director of Yale University's Center for Translational Developmental Neuroscience. He will begin his new role April 1.
As the founding director, Dr. Pelphrey will refine and implement the vision of the Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute as a resource that offers evidence-based clinical treatments and conducts research on the full spectrum of autism. In partnership with Children's National Medical Center, the Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute will focus particularly on adults with autism, a rarely covered age range in the field. In addition, Dr. Pelphrey will encourage research on females with autism, as they exhibit signs differently than males and are often diagnosed at a later age. He aims to make the institute a "one-stop" resource for families affected by autism in the Washington metropolitan region.
The Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute was established as an initiative in 2010 with the mission of improving the lives and addressing the needs of adolescents and adults with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders as they transition into adulthood.
"Autism is a lifelong diagnosis but is so rarely researched past childhood," said Dr. Pelphrey. "The Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute provides the opportunity for us to take a lifespan perspective and consider the disorder from molecules to minds, looking at everything from the chemical makeup of the disorder to how it manifests in people's behaviors."
The Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute will primarily be housed on GW's Virginia Science and Technology Campus in Ashburn, Virginia. The university is investing more than $5 million to establish the Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute as a leader in autism research and policy. Once onboard, Dr. Pelphrey will hire five new faculty members as well as administrative staff.
In addition to funding from the university and research grants, Nelson Carbonell, chair of the GW Board of Trustees, and his wife Michele Carbonell, chair of the National Capital Area chapter of Autism Speaks, donated $2.5 million in 2014 to establish the Carbonell Family Professorship in Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Dr. Pelphrey will become the first to hold the endowed professorship when he begins.
"Dr. Pelphrey will be a catalyst to bring in more resources to help autistic children and adults," said Mr. Carbonell. "Right now, there aren't enough programs, policies or strategies for adults and teens with autism transitioning to adulthood, but the Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute, under the leadership of Dr. Pelphrey, has the real potential to change that."
SOURCE George Washington University