Pennington Family Foundation Awards $200,000 Grant to Lieber Institute for Brain Development for Autism Research

The Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation support research project to identify why some individuals with autism have better outcomes in adulthood

May 27, 2015, 10:19 ET from Lieber Institute for Brain Development

BALTIMORE, May 27, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Lieber Institute for Brain Development (LIBD) announces the award of a $200,000 grant from the Pennington Family Foundation that will support its efforts to improve the lives of individuals with schizophrenia and related neurodevelopmental disorders.

"We are very grateful for this new partnership with the Pennington Family Foundation," said Daniel R. Weinberger, M.D., Director and CEO of LIBD. "Our model at LIBD is driven by collaboration to bring as many resources as possible to bear on understanding and better treating psychiatric illness. We are happy to have this new partner committed to improving the lives of people living with the most complex, and least understood, medical conditions."

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder typically diagnosed during childhood with a great diversity of outcomes in terms of overall functioning and integration into society in adulthood. Remarkably little is known about what drives the different outcomes. The LIBD research project will generate preliminary data about the biological associations of these variable outcomes as proof of concept for larger studies that can drive the development of effective intervention strategies.

By applying various aspects of clinical research expertise—from genetic screening and analysis to brain imaging and in-depth demographic and environmental assessments—the LIBD project seeks to identify tangible criteria that can improve outcomes and prevent long-term disability for people living with ASD. There is also substantial genetic/ biologic overlap between ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia, thus extending the potential impact of this study.

The Irene W. and C.B. "Doc" Pennington Foundation is committed to investing in people, partnerships, and new ideas that solve specific problems, and together ensure a vibrant and sustainable community. Doc Pennington established the Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation in 1980 to discover the triggers of chronic diseases through innovative research that improves human health across the lifespan. The Penningtons pledged $125 million to Louisiana State University, the largest single gift to an institution of higher learning at the time, and created the Pennington Medical Foundation to serve as trustee of the gift.

This new clinical study will take place at the Sheppard Pratt-Lieber Research Institute, Inc. (SPL) that opened in January, 2015 as a joint venture between Sheppard Pratt Health System, Inc. and the Lieber Institute for Brain Development (LIBD) to translate scientific advances in genetics and brain research into clinical practice.

About LIBD:                                                               
The mission of the Lieber Institute for Brain Development is to translate the understanding of basic genetic and molecular mechanisms of schizophrenia and related developmental brain disorders into clinical advances that change the lives of affected individuals. LIBD is an independent, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization and a Maryland tax-exempt medical research institution affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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SOURCE Lieber Institute for Brain Development