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RI-CART Enrolling New Participants in Statewide Autism Research Project

8/21/2014

Large-scale registry of children and adults with autism will provide better insight into origins of autism


The Rhode Island Consortium for Autism Research and Treatment (RI-CART), a group of the state’s leading experts on autism research, education, health and services, is currently enrolling new participants in its confidential statewide registry. The data collected from the large-scale registry will help identify genes involved in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and related developmental disorders to better understand the origins of autism.

Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental condition that emerges in childhood. Autistic warning signs include complex symptoms that appear prior to age three, such as abnormal communication and social interaction, and rigid and repetitive stereotyped behaviors. Options for diagnosis and treatment of autism remain limited – leading to the need for larger-scale studies of the origins of autism, and how best to identify and provide effective treatment as soon as possible.

RI-CART is led by Eric Morrow MD, PhD, an assistant professor in biology at Brown University and a genetics researcher at Bradley Hospital, and Stephen Sheinkopf, PhD, an assistant professor of pediatrics, psychiatry and human behavior at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and a clinical psychologist and researcher at Women & Infants Hospital. The RI-CART team will initially enroll 2,000 children and adults living in Rhode Island and surrounding communities, who have been carefully assessed clinically, into a confidential research registry.

The data collected from the group will help identify genes involved in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and related developmental disorders. These discoveries will help explain the medical causes of autism, improve abilities to make an early diagnosis and potentially guide treatments. A clinical assessment will also be conducted, and enrollment will help to support future studies. Additional information collected about health care and services for adults with ASD will help to understand satisfaction with, and barriers to, receiving care in this population.

Longer term RI-CART projects will also benefit from the data in the registry, including examining early diagnosis and treatment, studying the causes of ASD, and reviewing treatments and support for people with ASD.

The study is supported by a grant from the Brown Institute for Brain Science, the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute, the Brown Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Bradley Hospital, The Rhode Island Foundation, and the Department of Pediatrics at Women & Infants Hospital, along with a major grant from the Simons Foundation.

For more information about RI-CART, its research, or to enroll in the registry, please call 401-432-1200, email RICART@Lifespan.org, or visit www.AutismRI.org.