University scientists are key players in a new program aiming to advance autism research by creating a statewide registry of patients who have been diagnosed as on the spectrum. Spearheaded by the Rhode Island Consortium of Autism Research and Treatment, also known as RI-CART, the program gained funding through a variety of sources, including two recent grants totaling over $1 million.
RI-CART’s mission is to “improve the lives of Rhode Islanders with autism spectrum disorders by promoting collaborative, cutting-edge research, improving health care and support services and providing data-driven education and advocacy,” according to the organization’s website. The 14-member organization, including Brown University and Bradley Hospital, comprise an interdisciplinary group of researchers, physicians and educators.
RI-CART currently has its sights set on creating a statewide registry of autism patients which researchers could use to learn more about the neurologic disorder, said Stephen Sheinkopf, co-director of RI-CART and assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior and pediatrics.
The registry will include patients’ demographic information, medical history, official diagnosis, severity of symptoms and even information biological samples, said Sheinkopf, whose research focuses on the early identification of autism in children.