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NIH Grant Establishes Atlanta Autism Center of Excellence

By Stacy W. Kish on October 5, 2012


Background: Autism affects an estimated 1 in 88 children nationwide. The disorder is characterized by impaired social and communication skills. Currently, scientists can diagnose autism in children as young as two years of age. Although scientists do not have a firm grasp of what causes autism, they have linked the disorder to variations in brain biology.


What’s new: The National Institutes of Health awarded scientific grants to research institutes in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Boston. In Atlanta, the funds will be used to develop the Autism Center of Excellence. The Atlanta Center will coordinate local research institutes and hospital resources in this effort.


Why it’s important: This funding will allow scientists to explore new tools to diagnose and treat the disorder. In Atlanta, scientists will apply the federal grant money to four projects focused on social and vocal engagement, early treatment, and brain functioning. The results of this work will develop routine processes to help pediatricians around the country diagnose autism in children at an earlier age.

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