The reasons why autism spectrum disorders are almost five times more common among boys than among girls may soon be revealed, thanks to a five-year, $15 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant awarded to Yale School of Medicine for the Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE) research program.
Led by principal investigator Kevin Pelphrey of Yale Child Study Center, the Yale ACE award is part of a $100 million National Institutes of Health grant to nine institutions investigating sex differences in autism spectrum disorders, or ASD, as well as studying ASD and limited speech.
Pelphrey and a collaborative team of researchers from Yale, UCLA, Harvard, and the University of Washington, will investigate the poorly understood nature of autism in females. The team will study an unprecedented number of girls with autism and will focus on genes, brain function, and behavior throughout childhood and adolescence. The objectives are to identify causes of autism and develop novel treatments.
ASDs are complex developmental disorders that affect how a person behaves, interacts with others, communicates, and learns. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ASD affects approximately 1 in 88 children in the United States.
"This award represents an innovative collaboration among three laboratories at Yale led by Drs. Matthew State, James McPartland, and myself," said Pelphrey, the Harris Associate Professor in the Child Study Center, and associate professor of psychology, and director of the Child Neuroscience Laboratory. "It is my hope that this award will invigorate research in autism at Yale and allow us to maintain our outstanding history of cutting edge work in this field."