School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Dr. Diane Chugani invited to White House to discuss autism research

Diane Chugani, Ph.D.

Diane Chugani, Ph.D.

A member of the Wayne State University School of Medicine will meet with White House officials this month to discuss autism and autism research.

Diane Chugani, Ph.D., professor of Pediatrics and Radiology for the School of Medicine and director of the Translational Imaging Laboratory at Children's Hospital of Michigan, has been invited to the April 25 meeting, which will include researchers, people with autism and their family members.

The meeting is taking place in observance of Autism Awareness Month. On April 1, President Barack Obama signed a presidential proclamation recognizing April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day.

While Dr. Chugani did not have details about the agenda, she has been told that she will meet with senior White House officials. Her invitation came from Kareem Dale, associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement & Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy.

Dr. Chugani, chief of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, founded the Children’s Hospital Autism Center in 2008. Her research focuses on the mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of autism and designing and testing new treatments for the condition.

A member of the Scientific Advisory Boards of Autism Speaks and the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance, she was a founding board member of the International Society for Autism Research. Closer to home, she helped establish and serves as a trustee for the Autism Alliance of Michigan.

In 2008 she was awarded a $5.79 million grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health for a study dedicated to finding a treatment for autism. The grant, “Early Pharmacotherapy Guided by Biomarkers in Autism,” continues her earlier research that showed that the brain’s serotonergic system is abnormal during critical periods of brain development in children with autism.

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