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Autism Speaks’ Chief Science Officer to visit March 18-19



Geraldine Dawson

Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer (CSO) of Autism Speaks, will visit Lehigh University on March 18-19 for a unique series of events and speaking engagements open to the Lehigh community and members the public.

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that affects as many as 550,000 people under 21 years of age, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Autism Speaks funds global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism; raises public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society; and brings hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder.

Dawson, who was named CSO in 2008, is a widely known scientist and clinician specializing in research on the causes and treatment of autism and the effects of experience on early brain development. Prior to joining Autism Speaks, Dawson served as Founding Director of the University of Washington Autism Center.

“Geri Dawson is a pioneering investigator in autism research,” says Neal Simon, professor of biological sciences and director of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute program grant that is supporting the event. “By integrating approaches that bridge psychology, neuroimaging, diagnostics, and genetics, she is providing new insights into the causes of autism and leading the development of innovative intervention strategies. Dr. Dawson’s accomplishments are a powerful example of the progress that can be achieved in understanding a disorder by bridging multiple fields.”

Dawson serves on the National Institutes of Health Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee Scientific Advisory Panel and is also on the Editorial Boards of several journals. She is a strong advocate for families and has testified before the U.S. Senate on behalf of individuals with autism.

Dawson will speak at a series of events that will address both the scientific community and the general public. On March 18 at 4:10 p.m., Dawson will speak at a technical seminar on “Early intervention, brain plasticity, and the prevention of autism” in Neville Hall, Room 1. Dawson’s visit will culminate on March 19 at 7 p.m. at Packard Lab, Room 101 with a public lecture entitled “New directions in research on the causes, detection, and treatment of autism spectrum disorders.” Both events are free and open to the public, but tickets are required.

Also, on March 19, Dawson will hold open discussions with two of the communities impacted by the disease. At 2:30 p.m., parents and caregivers of children with autism can meet with Dr. Dawson, followed by a 3:30 p.m. session with mental health professionals and teachers of children with autism. Both events will take place at Neville Hall, Room 1.

To reserve free tickets to the seminar or public lecture, please e-mail inhhmi@lehigh.edu or call (610) 758-5602. Tickets may be picked up at the Department of Biological Sciences office in Iacocca Hall or at the door no later than 15 minutes prior to the start of the lecture.

Dawson’s visit is sponsored by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for Undergraduate Bioscience Education with support from the College of Education.

--Tricia Long


Posted on Wednesday, March 11, 2009

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