Joshua Gordon, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and Chair, IACC
Dr. Joshua Gordon was appointed as the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH ) in September 2016, and serves as the Chair of Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. Prior to joining the NIH, Dr. Gordon was a member of the faculty of Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry from 2014-2016, where he used his training in psychiatry and neuroscience to combine laboratory-based studies examining mouse models of human psychiatric illness with clinical practice and teaching in general psychiatry. His expertise in neurophysiology, or the study of patterns of electrical activity in the brain that underlie behavior, has allowed him to investigate features of the neural circuitry that underlie mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression. He earned his B.A. degree in Biology from Washington University in St. Louis, and his M.D./Ph.D. from the University of California at San Francisco. He did his residency and fellowship in Psychiatry at Columbia University/NYS Psychiatric Institute. While teaching and conducting research at Columbia University, he also directed Neuroscience Education for Columbia’s Psychiatric Residency Training Program. Dr. Gordon has received several awards and grants for his research, including an IMHRO Rising Star Award, two NARSAD Young Investigator awards, an APA-GlaxoSmithKline Young Faculty award, and research grants from the National Institute of Mental Health. In his role as NIMH Director, Dr. Gordon oversees the lead federal agency for research on mental health disorders and conditions. With an annual budget of approximately $1.5 billion, NIMH supports more than 2,000 research grants and contracts at universities and other institutions across the country and overseas. In addition, the NIMH intramural research program supports approximately 300 scientists who work in laboratories at NIH. The mission of the NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure.
James F. Battey, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Dr. James Battey has served as a Federal member of the IACC since 2007. He is the Director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) at NIH. The Institute supports biomedical and behavioral research and research training in the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech, and language. Dr. Battey is widely recognized for his work on G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), a large family of proteins important in cell-to-cell communication, and integral to an array of physiological processes, including taste and smell, vision, immune response, and the transmission of messages between nerve cells. Dr. Battey was appointed Director of the Intramural Research Program for NIDCD in 1995 and has served as the Director of NIDCD since 1998. He received his Bachelor of Science degree with honors in physics at the California Institute of Technology. He earned his M.D. and Ph.D. in Biophysics from Stanford University, where he also received residency training in Pediatrics.
Diana W. Bianchi, M.D.
Director, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Dr. Diana W. Bianchi joined the IACC as a Federal Member in 2016. She is the Director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. In this role, she oversees the Institute's research on pediatric health and development, maternal health, reproductive health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and rehabilitation medicine, among other areas. These efforts include managing a staff of approximately 1,400 people and an annual budget of approximately $1.3 billion. Dr. Bianchi serves as an ambassador and spokesperson for NICHD. Prior to joining NIH, she spent 23 years at Tufts Medical Center, where she was the founding Executive Director of the Mother Infant Research Institute, as well as the Natalie V. Zucker Professor of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology at Tufts University School of Medicine. Dr. Bianchi also was the Vice Chair for Pediatric Research at the Floating Hospital for Children, Boston. From 2011 through 2015, she served on the National Advisory Council of NICHD. She is currently Editor-in-Chief of the international journal Prenatal Diagnosis and is a Past President of the International Society for Prenatal Diagnosis and the Perinatal Research Society. She is a former member of the Board of Directors of the American Society for Human Genetics and a former council member of both the Society for Pediatric Research and the American Pediatric Society. She was elected to membership in the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) in 2013. Dr. Bianchi received her B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania and her M.D. from Stanford University School of Medicine. She completed her residency training in Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital, Boston and her postdoctoral fellowship training in Medical Genetics and Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, both at Harvard. She is board-certified in all three specialties and is a practicing medical geneticist with special expertise in reproductive genetics.
Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., D.A.B.T., A.T.S.
Director, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Dr. Linda Birnbaum joined the IACC as a Federal member in 2009 and is Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) at NIH and the National Toxicology Program (NTP). As NIEHS and NTP Director, Birnbaum oversees a budget of $850 million that funds biomedical research to discover how the environment influences human health and disease. A board-certified toxicologist, Dr. Birnbaum has served as a Federal scientist for 31 years. Prior to her appointment as NIEHS and NTP Director, she spent 19 years at the Environmental Protection Agency where she directed the largest division focusing on environmental health research. Birnbaum started her Federal career with 10 years at the NIEHS — first as a senior staff fellow in NTP, then as a Principal Investigator and research microbiologist, and finally as a group leader for the Institute's Chemical Disposition Group. Dr. Birnbaum's research focuses on the pharmacokinetic behavior of environmental chemicals, mechanisms of actions of toxicants, including endocrine disruption, and linking of real-world exposures to effects. She is the author of more than 700 peer-reviewed publications, book chapters, abstracts and reports. In addition to her role at NIEHS, she is also an adjunct professor in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, the Curriculum in Toxicology, and the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as in the Integrated Toxicology Program at Duke University. In October 2010, she was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, one of the highest honors in the fields of medicine and health. Dr. Birnbaum received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Dr. Francis Collins joined the IACC as a Federal member in 2009, following his appointment as the 16th Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in August 2009. Dr. Collins, a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the Human Genome Project, served as Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the NIH from 1993-2008. This remarkable international project culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book. On March 10, 2010, Dr. Collins was named a co-recipient of the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research for his leading role in this effort. In addition to his achievements as the NHGRI director, Dr. Collins' own research laboratory has discovered a number of important genes, including those responsible for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington's disease, a familial endocrine cancer syndrome, and most recently, genes for type 2 diabetes and the gene that causes Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome. Prior to coming to the NIH in 1993, he spent nine years on the faculty of the University of Michigan, where he was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. He is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Collins was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007. In a White House ceremony on October 7, 2009, Dr. Collins received the National Medal of Science, the highest honor bestowed on scientists by the United States government. Dr. Collins received a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Virginia, a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Yale University, and an M.D. with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Ruth A. Etzel, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, Office of Children’s Health Protection (OCHP), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Dr. Ruth Etzel joined the IACC as a Federal member in 2015. She is Director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Children's Health Protection (OCHP) and a senior advisor to the Administrator on children's health. Previously, Dr. Etzel was a Professor of Epidemiology at the Zilber School of Public Health at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. She received her M.D. from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and completed residencies in Pediatrics and Preventive Medicine in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Dr. Etzel was selected for the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, and during her fellowship discovered that protection from environmental contaminants was integral to keeping children and their families healthy. She received her Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of North Carolina School of Public Health. She was a pioneer in studying the health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke among infants; her work led to nationwide efforts to reduce indoor exposures to tobacco, including the ban on smoking in U.S. airliners. Dr. Etzel served in numerous public-sector leadership positions at agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Agriculture, and the Indian Health Service. She played a key role in informing the EPA’s agreement with U.S. paint companies to stop the addition of mercury compounds to interior latex paints to protect the health of children. Dr. Etzel served as the Senior Officer for Environmental Health Research at the World Health Organization from 2009 to 2012. She is the founding editor of the book Pediatric Environmental Health (a 3rd edition was published in 2012) that has helped to train thousands of doctors about how to recognize, diagnose, treat and prevent illness among children from hazards in the environment. She co-edited the Textbook of Children's Environmental Health, published in 2014. In addition to being board-certified in Pediatrics, Dr. Etzel is also board-certified in Preventive Medicine and served for 9 years on the American Board of Preventive Medicine. Dr. Etzel has received numerous awards, including the 2007 Children's Environmental Health Champion Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Distinguished Service Award from the U.S. Public Health Service, and the Arthur S. Flemming Award.
Tiffany R. Farchione, M.D.
Deputy Director, Division of Psychiatry Products, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Dr. Tiffany Farchione joined the IACC as a Federal member in 2012. She received her medical degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and completed adult residency and child & adolescent fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh’s Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. Dr. Farchione is board certified in both general and child & adolescent psychiatry. Prior to joining FDA in 2010, Dr. Farchione was affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and was on the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh. As the Deputy Division Director in the Division of Psychiatry Products at FDA, Dr. Farchione is involved in the oversight of new drug review for all psychiatric drug development activities conducted under INDs, and the review of all NDAs and supplements for new psychiatric drug claims.
Melissa L. Harris
Acting Deputy Director, Disabled and Elderly Health Programs Group, Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
Melissa Harris joined the IACC as a Federal member in 2015. Ms. Harris currently serves as the Acting Deputy Director of the Disabled and Elderly Health Programs Group (DEHPG) at CMS. Prior to this, she led the Division of Benefits and Coverage (formerly the Division of Coverage and Integration), overseeing the implementation of the Medicaid state plan benefit structure. In this position she also provided policy and operational guidance on the Alternative Benefit Plan coverage authority for the Medicaid expansion population. Ms. Harris has also been a Technical Director for the Disabled and Elderly Health Programs Groups, Division of Coverage & Integration (DCI). In this role she, provided leadership to DCI on policy-setting for the following Medicaid topics: targeted case management, rehabilitative services, adult day health care, inpatient psychiatric services for individuals under age 21, home health, institutions of mental diseases, school-based services, hospice benefit, and private duty nursing. In addition to other responsibilities, she co-chaired a cross-cutting team within CMS to implement Affordable Care Act provision 2703 – State Plan Option to Provide Health Homes to Enrollees with Chronic Conditions. Ms. Harris has also previously served as a Health Insurance Specialist for the Disabled and Elderly Health Program Group. Ms. Harris has a Certified Public Accountant License and is a graduate of Salisbury State University.
Laura Kavanagh, M.P.P.
Deputy Associate Administrator, Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
Laura Kavanagh has served on the IACC as a Federal member since 2011. She became Deputy Associate Administrator of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in April 2015. The mission of MCHB is to provide leadership, in partnership with key stakeholders, to improve the physical and mental health, safety and well-being of the maternal and child health population. Through its Title V program, MCHB serves 40 million women, infants, children, adolescents, and their families each year, including fathers and children with special health care needs. Prior to assuming her role as MCHB DAA, Laura served as the director of the Divisions of MCH Workforce Development and Research, Training and Education at MCHB. As Division Director, Ms. Kavanagh oversaw MCHB’s applied research, MCH workforce development, and Healthy Tomorrows programs. She was also the director of MCHB’s Autism Initiative, a cross-division program that includes research, training, state demonstration projects, and a national evaluation. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia (Echols Scholar) and Georgetown University, where she received a master’s degree in public policy with an emphasis on health policy analysis. Selected awards include American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics 2011 Dale Richmond/Justin Coleman Lectureship Award; National Public Health Leadership Institute Fellow (2008-2009); and American Public Health Association’s Maternal and Child Health Young Professional Award (1998).
Walter J. Koroshetz, M.D.
Director, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Dr. Walter Koroshetz joined the IACC as a Federal member in 2009. He is Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). He directs the NINDS planning and budgeting, and oversees Institute scientific and administrative functions. Prior to his appointment as Director in July 2015 he served for eight years as Deputy Director at NINDS. Before joining NINDS, Dr. Koroshetz served as Vice Chair of the Neurology Service and Director of Stroke and Neurointensive Care Services at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). He was also a Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and led neurology resident training at MGH between 1990 and 2007. Dr. Koroshetz trained in internal medicine and then neurology at MGH, after which he did post-doctoral studies in cellular neurophysiology at MGH and the Harvard neurobiology department. He joined the MGH neurology staff, first in the Huntington's disease unit and then in the stroke and neuro-intensive care service. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Koroshetz graduated from Georgetown University and received his medical degree from the University of Chicago.
Laura Pincock, PharmD, MPH
Pharmacist Officer, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Dr. Laura Pincock is Pharmacist Officer at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Center for Evidence and Practice Improvement and a Captain in the U.S. Public Health Service. She oversees several projects encompassing evidence-based practice, systematic review, and evidence synthesis in areas related to autism screening, diagnosis, and intervention. Dr. Pincock holds a Master’s degree in public health from university of Massachusetts and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science.
Marcella Ronyak, Ph.D., LCSW, CDP
Deputy Director, Division of Behavioral Health, Indian Health Service (IHS) Headquarters
Dr. Marcella Ronyak is the Deputy Director for the Division of Behavioral Health at Indian Health Service (IHS) Headquarters. She is responsible for providing leadership and direction to programs and activities designed to improve the health services to 2.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) through a system of IHS, Tribal, and Urban (I/T/U) operated facilities and programs. Prior to re-joining IHS, she was the Director of the Office of Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and served as the IHS Alcohol and Substance Abuse Lead. Preceding her federal career, she worked for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation as the Tribal Psychologist and as an independent contractor providing clinical services to children and families within the community. Dr. Ronyak is a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Nespelem, Washington.
Stuart K. Shapira, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Director for Science and Chief Medical Officer in the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Stuart K. Shapira, MD, PhD is Associate Director for Science and Chief Medical Officer in the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Prior to this role, Dr. Shapira served as a medical officer on the Pediatric Genetics Team in NCBDDD. His research activities included dysmorphology of autism, birth defects epidemiology, and newborn screening. Dr. Shapira received his PhD degree in Genetics and his MD degree, both from the University of Chicago. He completed a residency in Pediatrics and a clinical fellowship in Genetics and Metabolism at Boston Childrens Hospital. He also completed dual research fellowships in Genetics and Metabolism, and in Allergy and Immunology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Shapira is board-certified in Clinical Genetics, Biochemical Genetics, and Molecular Genetics. Prior to joining the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities in 2005, Dr. Shapira practiced clinical genetics and metabolic genetics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. He currently serves as CDC liaison to the Committee on Genetics for the American Academy of Pediatrics, as chairman of the Dysmorphology Workgroup for the Centers for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Research and Epidemiology, and as NCBDDD liaison of the Interagency Collaborative to Advance Research in Epilepsy. Dr. Shapira has authored and coauthored more than 100 journal articles, book chapters, and abstracts, and he has been an invited speaker at numerous regional, national, and international scientific conferences.
Deputy Associate Commissioner, Office of Disability Policy, Social Security Administration (SSA)
Melissa Spencer joined the Social Security Administration in 1996 and is currently the Deputy Associate Commissioner for the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Office of Disability Policy. The Office of Disability Policy establishes all the medical criteria for Social Security Disability benefits and for Supplemental Security Income. Ms. Spencer is a graduate of SSA’s Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program. Before entering the Senior Executive Service, Ms. Spencer served as the Acting Deputy Associate Commissioner for the Office of Quality Review and led all quality reviews for SSA’s programmatic workloads, including disability claims. She redesigned the State Disability Determination quality review processes by instituting virtual review and SSA’s Targeted Denial Review. Ms. Spencer has served on several national groups, developing expertise in key areas including childhood disability policy. She provided leadership and guidance to states as the federal liaison for the Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia Disability Determination Services. Before joining SSA, Ms. Spencer spent 13 years in the Virginia Disability Determination Services as a disability examiner and manager after beginning her career as a vocational rehabilitation counselor. She holds a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Rehabilitation Services from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Lawrence J. Wexler, Ed.D.
Director, Research to Practice Division, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), U.S. Department of Education (ED)
Dr. Larry Wexler joined the IACC as a Federal member in 2015 having previously served as an alternate for four years for the Assistant Secretary. He is the Director of the Research to Practice Division in the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) within the U.S. Department of Education. The Research to Practice Division provides leadership and oversees the implementation of the IDEA discretionary grant programs to support seven grant programs: state personnel development; personnel preparation; technical assistance and dissemination; technology, media services and educational materials, parent-training and information centers; IDEA data; and the Promoting Readiness for Minors In Special Education. Dr. Wexler has been a special educator for forty five years having been a teacher of students with severe disabilities, program director, principal, state intellectual disabilities specialist, chief of staff to the State Director of Special Education, director of state monitoring, OSEP state contact, OSEP project officer, Deputy Director of the Monitoring and State Improvement Planning Division and Associate Division Director responsible for OSEP’s National Initiatives Team. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the School of International Service at American University, a Master’s degree in teaching with concentration in intellectual disabilities from Howard University and a Doctorate with concentration in severe disabilities from the Johns Hopkins University.
Nicole M. Williams, Ph.D.
Program Manager, Autism Research Program, Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Dr. Nicole Williams joined the IACC as a Federal member in 2015. Dr. Williams serves as a Program Manager for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs at the Department of Defense, a complex extramural biomedical research program that includes the DoD Autism Research Program (ARP). Dr. Williams oversees the management of the ARP which has funded 124 research awards representing $59.4 million in appropriated funds since its inception in 2007. Dr. Williams holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Loyola University, Chicago.
Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
Administration for Community Living (ACL)
David G. Amaral, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, University of California, Davis; Director of Research, UC Davis MIND Institute
Dr. David Amaral joined the IACC as a public member in 2015. Dr. Amaral joined the University of California, Davis in 1995 as a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Center for Neuroscience and is Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience. In 1998, he was named Chair of the Beneto Foundation Chair and Founding Research Director of the UC Davis MIND (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) Institute. Dr. Amaral received a joint Ph.D. in psychology and neurobiology from the University of Rochester and carried out postdoctoral work at Washington University in neuroanatomy. He spent 13 years at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies before moving to UC Davis. Dr. Amaral pursues research on the neurobiology of social behavior and the development, neuroanatomical organization, and plasticity of the brain, and the biological bases of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). His autism research includes neuroanatomical and neuroimaging studies of neuroanatomy, brain function, and research into neuroimmune etiologies of ASD. As Research Director of the MIND Institute, he coordinates a comprehensive and multidisciplinary analysis of children with autism called the Autism Phenome Project designed to define biomedical characteristics of different types of autism. Most recently, Dr. Amaral has become Director of Autism BrainNet, a collaborative effort sponsored by the Simons Foundation, Autism Speaks, and the Autism Science Foundation to solicit post mortem brain tissue to facilitate autism research. In April of 2015, he became Editor-in-Chief of Autism Research, the official journal of the International Society for Autism Research.
James Ball, Ed.D., B.C.B.A.-D.
President and CEO of JB Autism Consulting; Chair, Autism Society Board of Directors
Dr. Jim Ball joined the IACC as a public member in 2012. Dr. Ball is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D) who is the President and CEO of JB Autism Consulting. He has worked in the private sector field of autism for more than 25 years, providing educational, employment, and residential services to children and adults affected with autism. Dr. Ball has lectured nationally and internationally, provided expert testimony, and published in the areas of early intervention, behavior, consultation services, social skills, technology, and trauma. He is a featured author and is on the advisory board for the Autism Asperger's Digest magazine. His award winning book, "Early Intervention & Autism: Real-Life Questions, Real-Life Answers" was released in 2008. Dr. Ball, a former Board of Trustee member for the New Jersey Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community (COSAC), now Autism New Jersey, is also a member of the COSAC/Autism NJ Professional Advisory Board. He is a Board member of the Autism Society's Board of Directors and is currently the Chair of the National Board. Prior to that, Dr. Ball assisted the Autism Society’s Board as the Co-Chair of the Panel of Professional Advisors (2005-2009). Dr. Ball has won numerous awards, including NYFAC’s Autism Inspiration Award, Autism Society’s Literary Work of the Year for his manual on social security and employment for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, and Autism New Jersey’s highest honor, its Distinguished Service Award. He received his Doctor of Education degree from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Samantha Crane, J.D.
Legal Director and Director of Public Policy, Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN)
Samantha Crane, J.D. joined the IACC as a public member in 2015. Ms. Crane is Director of Public Policy at ASAN’s national office and an autism self-advocate. She previously served as staff attorney at the Bazelon Center of Mental Health Law, focusing on enforcing the right to community integration as established by the Supreme Court in Olmstead v. L.C., and as an associate at the litigation firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart, & Sullivan, L.L.P., where she focused on patent and securities litigation. From 2009 to 2010, Ms. Crane served as law clerk to the Honorable Judge William H. Yohn at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Ms. Crane holds a B.A. from Swarthmore College, with high honors, in Psychology. She graduated magna cum laude in June 2009 from Harvard Law School, where she was Senior Content Editor for the Journal of Law and Gender. During law school she interned at the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where she worked in the Disability Rights Section. She also interned at the American Bar Association’s Commission on Mental and Physical Disability, the Disability Law Center of Massachusetts and Harvard Law School’s clinical programs in special education and in disability and estate planning.
Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine; Director, Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development
Dr. Geraldine Dawson joined the IACC as a public member in 2010. She holds an appointment as a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the Duke School of Medicine and is a faculty member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences. She holds secondary appointments in the Department of Pediatrics and the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the university. Dr. Dawson also is Director of the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development, an interdisciplinary autism research and treatment center. She is the President of the International Society for Autism Research. Previously, Dr. Dawson was the Chief Science Officer at Autism Speaks, a science and advocacy organization. Before joining Autism Speaks, Dr. Dawson was Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington. There, she was Founding Director of the University of Washington Autism Center where she directed three consecutive NIH Autism Center of Excellence research awards on genetics, neuroimaging, early diagnosis, and treatment, and oversaw the University of Washington Autism Treatment Center, which provides interdisciplinary clinical services for individuals with autism from infancy through young adulthood. Dr. Dawson is a licensed clinical psychologist who has published extensively on autism spectrum disorders, focusing on early detection and intervention and early brain development. Dr. Dawson worked in collaboration with Dr. Sally Rogers to develop and empirically-validate the Early Start Denver Model, a comprehensive early intervention program for toddlers and preschool age children with autism. Dr. Dawson received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology with a minor in Child Clinical Psychology from the University of Washington and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at Los Angeles.
David S. Mandell, Sc.D.
Director, Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research; Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
David S. Mandell, ScD, joined the IACC as a public member in 2012. He is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, where he directs the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research. He also is Associate Director of the Center for Autism Research at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The goal of his research is to improve the quality of care individuals with autism receive in their communities. This research is of two types. The first examines the effects of different state and federal strategies to organize, finance and deliver services on service use patterns and outcomes. The second consists of experimental studies designed to determine the best ways to successfully implement proven-efficacious practices in community settings. Dr. Mandell is the author of more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific publications. He co-chaired the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Autism Task Force from 2003 to 2006 and consults with Philadelphia agencies to help them develop appropriate policies to meet the needs of people with autism. Dr. Mandell holds a bachelor of arts in psychology from Columbia University and a doctorate of science from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.
Brian Parnell, M.S.W., C.S.W.
Medicaid Autism Waiver & Community Supports Waiver Administrator, Division of Services for People with Disabilities, Utah Department of Human Services
Mr. Parnell joined the IACC as a public member in 2015. He has led a distinguished career in child welfare and disabilities services and as an administrator of public and nonprofit agencies, having supervised and managed social service programs for more than 20 years. His extensive experience includes work on child welfare in the state of California, including two years on a county Behavioral Health Board. In 2012, Mr. Parnell moved to Utah and became an administrator in the Utah Division of Services for People with Disabilities, Department of Human Services and helped develop Utah’s Medicaid Autism Waiver. The Autism Waiver was launched as a pilot program, and was so successful that it was approved by the Utah Legislature as an ongoing program. Mr. Parnell is married and has seven children, three of whom are on the autism spectrum.
Kevin Pelphrey, Ph.D.
Carbonell Family Professor and Director, Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute; George Washington University & Children's National Medical Center
Dr. Kevin Pelphrey joined the IACC as a public member in 2015. He is the Carbonell Family Professor and Director of the Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute at George Washington University (GW) and Children’s National Health System (CNHS) in Washington, DC. The Institute serves as a focal point for translational research and comprehensive clinical services for people living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). His program of research investigates the brain basis of neurodevelopmental disorders to develop biologically-based tools for detection, stratification, and individually tailored treatments. Using multimodal neuroimaging, his team has identified the neural circuitry supporting the representation of social cues, including auditory, visual and tactile signals. They have applied the knowledge generated from these studies to understanding the predictors of response and neural mechanisms supporting behavioral change in children, adolescents and adults with autism receiving behavioral treatments, novel pharmacological interventions, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and virtual reality mediated “telemedicine” CBT. Dr. Pelphrey is also the Principal Investigator of the NIH ACE-Multimodal Developmental Neurogenetics of Females with Autism network that spans GW/CNHS (the lead site), Yale, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), University of California San Francisco (UCSF), University of Southern California (USC), and Seattle Children’s Research Institute (SCRI). This Network has generated a shared national treasure consisting of comprehensive, multi-level (gene-brain-behavior) data from large and diverse cohorts of young women and men with ASD. They are now following these young people as they transition through adolescence and into young adulthood. Dr. Pelphrey’s contributions to developmental cognitive neuroscience have been recognized by receipt of a Scientist Career Development Award from the NIH, a John Merck Scholars Award, and the American Psychological Association's Boyd McCandless Award for distinguished early career theoretical contributions to Developmental Psychology. He is the father of two children on the autism spectrum.
Edlyn Peña, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Director of Doctoral Studies, California Lutheran University
Dr. Edlyn Peña joined the IACC as a public member in 2015. Dr. Peña earned her Ph.D. in Education with a concentration in Higher Education in 2007 from the University of Southern California (USC). After teaching graduate level courses at USC for several years, Dr. Peña joined the California Lutheran University (CLU) faculty in 2009. As an Associate Professor in Higher Education Leadership at CLU, Dr. Peña teaches a number of research methods and content courses in the area of higher education. Her own research focuses on social justice issues for ethnic/racial minorities and students with autism and other developmental disabilities in higher education. Among her many publications, Dr. Peña has published two peer reviewed articles, a book chapter, and a book review about autism and disability and has presented her work at national and international research conferences. She also chairs dissertations for Doctor of Education students at California Lutheran. Dr. Peña is a highly active member of the autism and disability community. She is the mother of a son on the autism spectrum.
Louis Reichardt, Ph.D.
Director, Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI)
Dr. Louis Reichardt joined the IACC as a public member in 2015. He joined the Simons Foundation to lead SFARI in July, 2013. Prior to this, he was the Jack D. and DeLoris Lange endowed chair in cell physiology and Professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco, where he directed its neuroscience graduate program (1988-2013) and Herbert W. Boyer Program in Biological Sciences (1998-2013). A Fulbright scholar with an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a Ph.D. In Biochemistry from Stanford University, Reichardt was a research fellow at Harvard Medical School and a Howard Hughes investigator for more than 20 years. The recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship in 1985, he is a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was one of three founding editors of the journal Neuron, is currently a senior editor of the Journal of Cell Biology as well as serving on the editorial boards of several other journals as well as the scientific advisory boards of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Spinal Cord Injury and Paralysis Foundation and the Myelin Repair Foundation. Past science-related service includes chairmanship of five Gordon Research Conferences in cell, developmental and neurobiology and scientific directorship of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks Special Neuroscience Research Program. Reichardt’s research has focused on neurotrophins, a family of proteins that play a key role in neuron survival, development and function and the functions of several families of cell adhesion receptors, including integrins and cadherins, on brain development and function. He has made major contributions to the study of intracellular signaling pathways that mediate the effects of these proteins — including the Wnt pathway, which may play a role in autism spectrum disorders. Reichardt is also a noted mountaineer who climbed both Mount Everest and K2 by new routes 30 years ago, after which he served as President of the American Alpine Club. Reichardt has also served on the Board and is currently Treasurer of the American Himalayan Foundation, a non-profit foundation committed to supporting improvements in education, medical care, environmental protection and cultural preservation in Nepal, India and Tibet.
Robert Ring, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer, Vencerx Therapeutics
Dr. Robert Ring joined the IACC as a public member in 2014. Dr. Ring is the Chief Executive Officer of Vencerx Therapeutics, a biotechnology company focused on developing medicines for rare neurodevelopmental disorders, with a focus on genetic and syndromic causes of autism such as Fragile X and Phelan-McDermid Syndrome. Previously, Dr. Ring served as the Chief Science Officer of Autism Speaks, the world’s largest autism science and advocacy foundation, from 2013-2016. A neuroscientist by training, Dr. Ring was responsible for shepherding the science mission of the foundation, and managed a diverse portfolio of research investments aimed at improving diagnosis, treatment and prevention of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Prior to joining Autism Speaks, Dr. Ring headed the Autism Research Unit at Pfizer Worldwide Research and Development (Groton, CT), which represented one of the earliest dedicated research programs in large pharma focused exclusively on the discovery, development and commercialization of medicines for neurodevelopmental disorders. Prior to Pfizer, Dr. Ring worked for ten years at Wyeth Research (Princeton, NJ), distinguishing himself in leadership roles across different areas of research focused on development of medicines for brain disorders. Dr. Ring holds separate adjunct faculty appointments in the Department of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine (New York) and Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at Drexel University College of Medicine (Philadelphia).
John Elder Robison
Neurodiversity Scholar in Residence at the College of William and Mary
Mr. John Elder Robison joined the IACC as a public member in 2012. Mr. Robison is the Neurodiversity Scholar in Residence at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA. He is an autistic adult who is best known for working to increase public understanding of autism, and helping schools, businesses and government accommodate and accept people with autism. He is committed to diversity and is a strong advocate for autism science and research. He is dedicated to the goal of helping people with autism obtain an equal opportunity at success in work and social life. Mr. Robison is active on numerous ASD-related boards and committees in the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia. In addition to his service on the IACC, Mr. Robison has served on the steering committee for the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) Autism Core Set project, and on organizing committees for the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR), panels and committees for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and boards for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Mr. Robison's books Look Me in the Eye, Be Different, and Raising Cubby are some of the most widely read accounts of life with autism in the world. In addition to his work as an autism advocate and author, Mr. Robison has had a lifelong interest in cars. He is the founder of JE Robison Service of Springfield, Massachusetts, a business that restores Rolls-Royce, Land Rover, Jaguar, Mercedes, and BMW automobiles. Earlier Mr. Robison worked as an engineer in music and electronics. In his youth he was the American engineer for Britannia Row Audio, the sound company formed by the musical group Pink Floyd; and was the creator of the signature illuminated, fire breathing, and rocket launching special effects guitars played by KISS.
Alison Tepper Singer, M.B.A.
Parent/Family Member and Founder and President, Autism Science Foundation
Ms. Alison Singer has served as a public member on the IACC since 2007. Ms. Singer is Founder and President of the Autism Science Foundation, a not-for-profit organization launched in April 2009 to support autism research. The Autism Science Foundation supports autism research by providing funding and other assistance to scientists and organizations conducting, facilitating, publicizing and disseminating autism research. Ms. Singer is the mother of a child with autism and legal guardian of her adult brother with autism. From 2005-2009 she served as Executive Vice President and a Member of the Board of Directors at Autism Speaks. Ms. Singer also currently serves as Chair of the Associates Committee of the Seaver Autism Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and on the external advisory boards of the Yale Child Study Center, the Marcus Autism Center at Emory University, and the CDC's Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. She chairs the public relations committee for the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) and serves as a member of the program committee for the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR). Ms. Singer graduated magna cum laude from Yale University with a B.A. in Economics and has an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Julie Lounds Taylor, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Special Education, Vanderbilt University; Investigator, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center
Dr. Julie Lounds Taylor joined the IACC as a public member in 2015. Dr. Taylor is an assistant professor of Pediatrics and Special Education at Vanderbilt University and an Investigator at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, a Eunice Kennedy Shriver Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDDRC). Her current research interests include factors that promote a positive transition to adulthood for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families, as well as the impact of having a sibling with an intellectual or developmental disability. She has published research on a variety of autism and disability services-related issues, including sex and gender differences, peer victimization, transition planning, secondary education and vocational training, employment, and daily life skills for people on the autism spectrum. Dr. Taylor earned her Ph.D. in developmental psychology at the University of Notre Dame and conducted her postdoctoral research at the Waisman Center, Lifespan Family Research Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Josie Briggs, M.D. (for Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.)
Director, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCAAM), National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Dr. Josie Briggs, an accomplished researcher and physician, is Director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the leading Federal agency for research on integrative and complementary health practices. At NIH, in addition to leadership of NCCAM, she has served as Acting Director of the Division of Clinical Innovation in the newly established National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. Dr. Briggs is also a member of the NIH Steering Committee, the most senior governing board at NIH. She also serves as a member of the NIH Scientific Management Review Board. Dr. Briggs received her A.B. in biology from Harvard-Radcliffe College and her M.D. from Harvard Medical School. She completed her residency training in internal medicine and nephrology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York, where she was also Chief Resident in the Department of Internal Medicine and a fellow in clinical nephrology. She is a recipient of many awards and prizes, including the Volhard Prize of the German Society of Nephrology, the Alexander von Humboldt Scientific Exchange Award, and NIH Director's Awards for her role in the development of the Trans-NIH Type I Diabetes Strategic Plan, her leadership of the Trans-NIH Zebrafish Committee, and her direction of the NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory.
Deborah (Daisy) Christensen, Ph.D. (for Stuart K. Shapira, M.D., Ph.D.)
Epidemiologist, Surveillance Team Lead, Developmental Disabilities Branch, National Center on Birth Defect and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Dr. Daisy Christensen is an Epidemiologist in the Developmental Disabilities Branch, Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the CDC. She currently is the Surveillance Team Lead where she leads the Early Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (Early ADDM) Network and the ADDM Cerebral Palsy Network and collaborates on studies of autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, and other child developmental disabilities.
Judith A. Cooper, Ph.D. (for James F. Battey, M.D., Ph.D.)
Deputy Director, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD); Director, Division of Scientific Programs, National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Dr. Judith Cooper is currently Deputy Director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders at the NIH. In addition, she serves as Director, Division of Scientific Programs, within NIDCD, and finally, she has programmatic responsibilities for the areas of language, language impairments, and language in deaf individuals. Dr. Cooper's current responsibilities include overseeing and coordinating the activities of her division; advising within NIDCD and across the NIH regarding issues related to language and language disorders; participating in trans-NIH initiatives focused in language as well as autism; and, working with potential and funded researchers in language across the US and beyond, providing advice, direction, and encouragement related to research grant focus, development and preparation. She received her B.F.A. at Southern Methodist University in 1971 with a major in Speech-Language Pathology, her M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology at Vanderbilt University in 1972, and her Ph.D. at the University of Washington in 1982 in Speech and Hearing Sciences. She was elected a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in 2006 and received the Honors of the Association in 2007.
Jennifer Johnson, Ed.D. (for Administration for Community Living)
Deputy Director, Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD), Administration for Community Living (ACL)
Dr. Jennifer Johnson is Deputy Director of the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD). Dr. Johnson holds a doctorate in special education from the George Washington University (GW). She has worked at the Department of Health and Human Services for over a decade. She began her career with the federal government in AIDD when it was a part of the Administration for Children and Families. In her most recent position, she led the Office of Program Support for AIDD. Previously, Dr. Johnson worked in the private sector holding positions in organizations such as the Council for Exceptional Children, the National Clearinghouse for Professions in Special Education, the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, and GW. Her work focused on a broad variety of disability issues, including early care and education, implementation of disability policy, the intersection of disability and diversity, and professional development for educators.
Alice Kau, Ph.D. (for Diana W. Bianchi, M.D.)
Program Director, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Dr. Alice Kau joined the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Branch as a Health Scientist Administrator in June 2003. Dr. Kau is responsible for the Branch’s Bio-behavioral Research Program with emphasis on autism research. She also serves as a key member of the autism and behavioral science research communities on behalf of the Branch and assists in formulating and planning activities of these programs. Dr. Kau received her doctorate in developmental psychology from Ohio State University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in clinical psychology at the Department of Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Prior to coming to the NICHD, Dr. Kau was an assistant professor/of psychology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins University.
Cindy Lawler, Ph.D. (for Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D.)
Chief, Genes, Environment and Health Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Dr. Cindy Lawler is Chief of the Genes, Environment and Health Branch in the Division of Extramural Research and Training. She is the lead NIEHS representative for extramural autism activities and manages a number of extramural grants that address the contribution of the environment and gene-environment interaction in autism etiology. Dr. Lawler also has responsibility for the NIEHS extramural portfolio of epidemiologic research in Parkinson’s disease.
She received her Ph.D. in experimental psychology at Northeastern University and received postdoctoral training in the Brain and Development Research Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). Prior to joining NIEHS, Lawler was a faculty member in the UNC-CH Department of Psychiatry and the Program in Toxicology and held an adjunct appointment in the Department of Biostatistics. She served as a Principal Investigator on an NIH-supported research grant in behavioral neuroscience, with an emphasis on dopamine receptor pharmacology and development of novel pharmacologic agents to treat diseases and disorders related to altered dopamine neurotransmission.
Laura Mamounas, Ph.D. (for Walter Koroshetz, M.D.)
Program Director, Neurogenetics Cluster, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Dr. Laura Mamounas joined the NINDS in 2001 and serves as a Program Director in the Neurogenetics Cluster at NINDS. She currently oversees research grant portfolios and programs in: i) neurotrophic factor signaling mechanisms; ii) molecular determinants of neurodevelopment; and iii) childhood neurodevelopmental disorders including Rett Syndrome, autism (genetic/molecular investigations and animal models), and Tourette Syndrome. Dr. Mamounas also manages the GENSAT contract and the NINDS Human Genetics (DNA & Cell Line) Repository. Dr. Mamounas received her Ph.D. in neurobiology from Stanford University and completed her postdoctoral training in the Department of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Prior to joining the NINDS, Dr. Mamounas conducted basic research at the Gerontology Research Center (National Institute on Aging), and then was a faculty member in the Department of Pathology (Division of Neuropathology) at Johns Hopkins where she directed an NIH-funded research program on neurotrophic factor mechanisms in neurodegeneration, repair & plasticity and brain aging.
Shui-Lin (Stan) Niu, Ph.D. (for Nicole Williams, Ph.D.)
Science Officer, Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Dr. Stan Niu is the Science Officer for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) at the Department of Defense, where he manages a broad portfolio of biomedical research programs including Autism Research Program, Bone Marrow Failure Research Program, Peer-reviewed Cancer Research Program, Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychological Health. He is recently elected as the chair for the SBIR/STTR program. His current portfolio consists of 160 research awards with over $60 million dollars. Prior to coming to CDMRP in 2010, Dr. Niu worked as a Technology Transfer Specialist where he managed intellectual properties and as a Staff Scientist where he studied polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids and G protein coupled receptor function at NIH. He published 22 peer-reviewed scientific papers. Dr. Niu received a B.S in Organic Chemistry from Tongji University and a Ph.D in Biophysics from University of Hawaii.
Robyn Schulhof, M.A. (for Laura Kavanagh, M.P.P.)
Senior Public Health Analyst, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
Robyn Schulhof, M.A. is a Senior Public Health Analyst with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Ms. Schulhof has been working in public health for the past 16 years in a variety of capacities including policy, HIV/AIDS, and developmental disabilities. For the past seven years, she has been a senior project officer for the Leadership Education and Other Related Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program, funded under the current Autism CARES Act, managing funding to 19 programs. Ms. Schulhof also directs the cooperative agreement with the Interdisciplinary Technical Assistance Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) in order to ensure that MCHB-funded grantees and others have access to tools for autism service providers. As a member of the MCHB autism team, Ms. Schulhof supports implementation of the bureau’s CARES Act funded programs. Ms. Schulhof is a major advocate for families being part of federal training and research programs.