Research

NeurAbilities Receives NJ Grant for Autism Research!

We are proud to announce that NeurAbilities was awarded almost $400,000 from the New Jersey Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism. NeurAbilities will lead a collaborative team including Courtagen Life SciencesSt. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and the Coriell Institute for Medical Research.

 

From the Courier Post, Kim Mulford, July 15, 2014

“NeurAbilities, a Gibbsboro-based nonprofit, has been awarded nearly $400,000 from the state to study the genetics and symptoms of children with severe autism.

The grant is among $2.5 million awarded to six institutions this year by the Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism, announced Tuesday by state Health Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd.

Projects include an analysis of special transportation services for people with autism; a study looking at how stress affects patients at the cellular level; and a look at the use of video as therapy.

NeurAbilities is the only winner from South Jersey.

“This grant is a fantastic opportunity to really investigate the correlation of your genetic makeup with your underlying biological disorder,” said Pnina Mintz, who co-founded NeurAbilities with her husband, Dr. Mark Mintz.

The Center for Neurological and Neurodevelopmental Health in Gibbsboro will lead the project.

Researchers hope the results will help health care providers create individualized treatment plans, so they aren’t “shooting in the dark anymore,” Pnina Mintz explained.

The two-year study will involve 26 children with severe autism. Each patient will be tested for genetic and mitochondrial abnormalities, along with a clinical assessment of their symptoms, and extensive testing of their cognitive abilities and psychological function.

There is no cure for autism, said Dr. Mark Mintz, the study’s principal investigator. But there are therapies and treatments that can improve a patient’s quality of life.

“If you understand the genetic issues, you can start to develop targeted and informative treatment plans,” the researcher added.

Indeed, genetic testing has already become an important part of diagnosing and treating people with autism, said Stephen Scherer, director for the Toronto-based Hospital for Sick Children Centre and the Autism Speaks Ten Thousand Genomes Program.

Research has shown genetics are the underlying contributor in roughly 20 percent of those with autism. But few studies have examined the genetics of children with severe autism, according to Scherer, and much more data is needed.

“This will be a valuable study for the field,” Scherer said.

The other grant winners were Rutgers University’s Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway and New Brunswick; Rutgers University’s Center for Advanced Infrastructure & Transportation in Piscataway; Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick; and William Paterson University in Wayne.

Reach Kim Mulford at (856) 486-2448 or kmulford@courierpostonline.com. Follow her on Twitter @CP_KimMulford”

NJ Governor's Council Clinical Enhancement Center Grant Program 2008-2011

The Governor's Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism awarded $1.5 million to NeurAbilities for a three year grant initiative from 2008 through 2011. NeurAbilities subcontracted The Center for Neurological and Neurodevelopmental Health (CNNH) as the designated Autism Center of Excellence for the seven county southern NJ region.

The primary goals of the Clinical Enhancement Center were clinical enhancement of existing services, creation of new and innovative programs and service delivery models and increasing clinical capacity by:

  • Enhancement, expansion and regionalization of "Patient-Centered Specialty Care Medical Home" (PCSCMH) health-care delivery model for the identification, diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders.
  • Augmentation of evidenced-based interventions.
  • Outreach, education and training throughout the southern New Jersey region.
  • Utilization of innovative and cost effective technologies to expand access to care.
  • Develop transition and continuity of care planning from adolescence to adulthood.

The PCSCMH model results in:

  • Reduction of fragmentation of care and overutilization of the health care system.
  • Accurate diagnoses.
  • Targeted treatment interventions.
  • Rapid response and access to care.
  • Cost efficiencies: reductions in medications, hospitilizations and overutilization.
  • Emphasis on quality.
  • Improved clinical outcome and wuality of life for individuals and their families.

All goals set forth in the GCMRTA-CEC grant application were met and generally exceeded. The Governor's Council of New Jersey has demonstrated that through this grant program, New Jersey families and professionals now have improved access to enhanced clinical services for ASDs, availability of expeditious and comprehensive interdisciplinary diagnostic evaluations and therapeutic services, and provision of an array of community-based workshops and training programs. This will allow for earlier and more accurate identification and diagnoses of children with ASDs which should improve long-term outcomes. Furthermore, grant funds have been expanded and multiplied by the infusion of "in kind" support from CNNH to develop and maintain the various programs and services. Through the generosity of the GCMRTA-CEC grant and additional "in kind" contributions from CNNH, a successful, sustainable strategy for the continuance of the Clinical Enhancement Center has been developed following the cessation of the grant program, further demonstrating the utility, success and importance of the GCMRTA-CEC grants program to individuals and families confronting and enduring Autism Spectrum Disorders.

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