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Feb. 19, 2014

MSU awards new seed-funding for autism research projects

In an effort to spur new approaches to research in autism, intellectual and other neurodevelopmental disabilities, Michigan State University has awarded funding for six new, multidisciplinary projects.

The funding will support MSU-led teams of researchers from several universities and clinical settings who are studying a wide variety of related issues, from investigations of perinatal risk factors for cognitive disorders to evaluations of the effectiveness of employment preparation for those with high-functioning autism.

“Our researchers in education, human medicine, social sciences, communications and other disciplines have been studying underlying causes and effective interventions for these disabilities for many years,” said Michael Leahy, professor in the MSU’s Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology, and Special Education. “Especially in the last decade, we have also been working across the world with various dedicated research groups, such as the DOCTRID Research Institute in Ireland, where we have partnered with the Daughters of Charity Service and 10 Irish universities.

“We hope this research funding initiative will take our work to the next level, allowing us to have a major impact in meeting these significant challenges.”

Leahy and Nigel Paneth, University Distinguished Professor of epidemiology and biostatistics and pediatrics, are co-directors of the initiative known as Research on Autism, Intellectual and other Neurodevelopmental Disabilities.

“We consider these new research grants to be seed funding – providing support for projects that have the potential to be nationally or internationally competitive for external funding that can greatly advance the scope of the studies,” said Paneth.

The new projects were chosen in a competitive process that included external reviewers.

For more information, including names of the award recipients, visit


By: Tom Oswald