Research News

TIPSHEET: Vanderbilt autism experts available for interviews on World Autism Day, April 2

A variety of Vanderbilt University experts are available for interviews on autism. The United Nations designated April 2 World Autism Day in November 2007.

Vanderbilt has a campus broadcast facility with a dedicated fiber optic line for live TV interviews and a radio ISDN line.

On April 22, 2008, the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development is hosting the Marino Autism Research Institute Scientific Symposium, an all-day event that will explore the role of environment in increasing autism risk and its impact on the diversity of behavioral and medical symptoms. More information about the symposium is available at:

Ann Kaiser, professor of special education, Susan Gray Chair in Education and Human Development
Kaiser can discuss communication strategies and interventions that parents of children with autism can use with their children. She is the associate editor of the American Journal on Mental Retardation.

Craig Kennedy, professor and department chair of Special Education; associate professor of pediatrics; director, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Behavioral Disorders Clinic
Kennedy studies severe disabilities, including autism, and can discuss issues of social interaction, aggression and the relationship between genes, the brain and environment on behavior.

Pat Levitt, director, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center; professor of pharmacology
Levitt, a nationally recognized autism expert, can discuss the molecular and developmental basis of neuropsychiatric and developmental disorders, including autism. Among other positions, Levitt is chair of the scientific advisory board of Cure Autism Now and is a member of the National Advisory Mental Health Council for the National Institute of Mental Health.

Beth Malow, associate professor of neurology; director, Vanderbilt Sleep Center
Malow can discuss the relationship between sleep and neurological diseases and developmental disorders including autism, and can discuss how often undiagnosed sleep disorders in individuals with autism can exacerbate other symptoms.

Wendy Stone, professor of pediatrics; professor of psychology; director, Treatment and Research Institute on Autism Spectrum Disorders
Stone, a nationally recognized autism expert, has served on several national advisory panels about the diagnosis and treatment of autism. She pioneered early screening of children with autism and is extending her model of screening for 2-year-olds to children as young as 12 months old.

James Sutcliffe, assistant professor of molecular physiology and biophysics
Sutcliffe’s research dissects the genetics of autism. He studies the genetic basis of autism spectrum disorders, molecular genetics, statistical genetics, neuropsychiatric genetics and other aspects of genetic disorders.

Mark Wolery, professor of special education
Wolery studies inclusive classes and instruction for young children with disabilities, particularly toddlers with autism. Wolery heads up a federally funded program at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development to prepare master’s students to provide direct services to young children with autism and their families and to consult with other professionals who are teaching young children with autism.

Paul Yoder, professor of special education
Yoder studies communication and language development and intervention in children with language delays including children with autism mother-child language interactions in these children, and early intervention.

All of the researchers listed above are investigators in the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development. For more information on the Kennedy Center, visit

For more information on Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development, ranked No. 2 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, visit

Media Contact: Melanie Moran, (615) 322-NEWS