Officials from Geisinger Health System and Bucknell University celebrated the grand opening of the Autism and Developmental Medicine Center, a national model for implementing guidelines for early diagnosis, medication management and treatment options for children with developmental disorders.
"The Autism and Developmental Medicine Center gives children and families who face the challenges of developmental disorders the opportunity to receive a diagnosis and treatment through an enhanced model of care," said Glenn D. Steele Jr., M.D., Ph.D., president and chief executive officer at Geisinger Health System. "The result is that families will have access to the latest treatment options, research initiatives and targeted clinical studies right here in central Pennsylvania."
The Geisinger-Bucknell Autism and Developmental Medicine Center is opening under the larger auspices of Geisinger's Autism and Developmental Medicine Institute, a system-wide initiative of Geisinger's Department of Research.
Disorders treated at the Lewisburg center will include autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), a collection of developmental disabilities categorized by impairments in communication, social interaction, and repetitive, restrictive patterns of behavior, as well as other related neurodevelopmental disorders.
The new center was developed by David H. Ledbetter, Ph.D., executive vice president and chief scientific officer at Geisinger Health System, in partnership with Scott M. Myers, M.D. and Thomas D. Challman, M.D., neurodevelopmental pediatricians at Geisinger, and David W. Evans, Ph.D., professor of neuroscience and psychology at Bucknell University. The center will include clinical care, research and education, representing a unique partnership between Geisinger and Bucknell.
"This initiative will present opportunities in healthcare studies rare for undergraduates anywhere in America, and will expand the opportunities Bucknell faculty have to impact understanding of a major national and family challenge," said John C. Bravman, Ph.D., president of Bucknell University. "It gives the university the potential to become a global destination for students and scholars interested in studying brain development, abnormal development associated with autism, and cancers affecting the brain and nervous system."
This joint effort will bring together Geisinger's neurodevelopmental pediatric specialists, psychiatry/psychology, radiology, pediatric neurology, and genomic medicine with Bucknell's academic programs in neurosciences, psychology, education, mathematics and computer sciences, providing Bucknell students and researchers the opportunity to work with Geisinger's clinicians and scientists in a collaborative and integrated manner. The building will also house a state-of-the-art neuroimaging center.
"Symptoms of neurodevelopmental disorders are typically apparent by age 2, and can be diagnosed and treated at this early age. Optimal outcomes for each child depend on precise diagnosis, tailoring treatment programs for the child and support for the families," Dr. Ledbetter said. "By screening children at the optimal time, arriving at an accurate diagnosis, and implementing personalized treatment and medical options, patients and their families will face significantly improved outcomes."
Clinical services at the ADMI will focus on diagnosis and care, augmented by case management, neurology, audiology speech-language, radiology (neuroimaging) and medical genetics/genomics.
Research will be integrated into the overall program and not be viewed as separate from clinical delivery. The research agenda is broad and includes understanding both typical and atypical development, behavior, genetics of autism, family and school dynamics. Additionally, with innovative technology, such as neuroimaging, the ADMI research and clinical faculty will be able to provide insight into the efficacy of behavioral and pharmacological treatments.