Marcus Autism Center leads the way in research to recognize early symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Our work translates research findings from the lab directly to the patient.

We’ve seen how early diagnosis and treatment can change the course of a child with autism’s life. Finding ways to diagnose and treat autism as early as possible is at the root of all our innovative research.

Our center conducts research across several studies and predominantly focuses on:

  • Advancing autism treatment and care
  • Clinical trials
  • Early brain development
  • Education science
  • Neuroimaging
  • Social neuroscience
  • Spoken communication

Learning about genetics by tracking a baby’s eye movement

A recent paper by our faculty, published in Nature reveals direct genetic influence on the way infants see their social world—behaviors that are disrupted in children with autism. Marcus Autism Center and our research partners in Atlanta and St. Louis used eye-tracking technology to track what babies look at, and what they don’t. Scientists found striking evidence for the role genetics plays in shaping how infants pay attention to their world.

Mapping infants’ brains to learn more

We now know that brain development is different in typically developing children than in infants and toddlers who are later diagnosed with autism. We’re mapping how the brain changes during this crucial window of development. What we learn will help us to diagnose and treat autism as early as possible.

Clinical trials that lead to breakthroughs for kids

Marcus Autism Center faculty members published one of the largest randomized clinical trials on autism to date in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association. From this research we established a parent training program, website and extensive manual within 30 days of the study’s publication.

We are an Autism Center of Excellence

For the second time Marcus Autism Center has been chosen by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as an Autism Center of Excellence (ACE). It is the most prestigious recognition in autism research – across the country and in the world.

What this means for research

The ACE designation supports large-scale multidisciplinary studies on autism, with the goal of identifying causes and best treatments for autism. As one of only five centers to receive this recognition, Marcus Autism Center will receive $11.25 million through a five-year grant.

Over the next five years, our team will study the development of both brain and behavior in 250 human infants and 15 infant monkeys. The projects span from genes to neighborhoods, and aim to generate new scientific discoveries, leading to a new community-based system of healthcare delivery for infants and toddlers with autism and their families.