Renowned Autism Expert Dr. Catherine Lord to Lead New Comprehensive Autism Treatment Institute

Institute for Brain Development Will Offer Evaluation, Treatment and Research for Autism Spectrum Disorders in Children and Adults

Jun 2, 2011


A leading autism authority who is helping transform the way autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed and treated, Dr. Catherine Lord has been named director of the new Institute for Brain Development at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University Medical Center. She will also be appointed to the faculties of Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Created in collaboration with the New York Center for Autism, the Institute will be a center of excellence for best-practice evaluations and treatments for individuals living with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disorders of the brain, across their lifespans. Situated primarily on the Hospital's 214-acre Westchester Division campus in White Plains, the Institute will be a resource for community-based providers and families; it is scheduled to open in 2012.

Dr. Lord has been at the forefront of research to find ways to better treat autism spectrum disorders. She led the development of tools that have become the gold standard for diagnosis: the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and the Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised (ADI-R). She currently serves as director of the Autism and Communication Disorders Center at the University of Michigan, where she is professor in the Department of Psychology, Psychiatry and Pediatrics, and senior research professor in the Center for Human Growth and Development.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism spectrum disorders affect one in 110 children and one in 70 boys. An estimated 1 million to 1.5 million American adults and children live with an autism spectrum disorder.

"With growing numbers of children affected by autism spectrum disorders, there is an ever increasing need for a comprehensive program dedicated to providing the very best in diagnosis and treatment. There is no one better suited to lead this program than Dr. Catherine Lord," says Dr. Herbert Pardes, president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. "Her decades-long work of listening and working closely with patients and their families has helped us better understand the unique and complex ways these disorders manifest. And her work to codify and share this knowledge is helping improve the lives of countless individuals and their families."

Dr. Lord will lead a multidisciplinary clinical team comprising physician-faculty from Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University Medical Center in pediatrics, psychology, neurology, psychiatry and other disciplines, as well as specialists in speech and language, occupational and behavioral therapies. Research will extend from the Institute's clinical services in White Plains to the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center campuses in Manhattan.

"We are delighted that this tripartite program, as envisioned by Laura Slatkin, Ilene Lainer and their colleagues, and now to be led by Dr. Cathy Lord, a world expert, will be advancing research and clinical care in autism," says Dr. Lee Goldman, dean of the faculties of health sciences and medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.

"Collaborative research in the environment of a dedicated clinical program is the ideal way to increase knowledge about these disorders and develop new targeted approaches that best meet the needs of affected children and adults," says Dr. Antonio M. Gotto Jr., the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College.

"The New York Center for Autism is honored to have Dr. Catherine Lord as director of the Institute for Brain Development," say co-founders Laura Slatkin and Ilene Lainer. "Dr. Lord is a world-renowned authority on autism. Her deep understanding of the disorder and the field at large will play an important role in advancing the Institute's work, improving our understanding of the disorder, as well as improving the lives of individuals with autism and their families."

"I am thrilled to have been chosen to lead the Institute for Brain Development and help shape its development," says Dr. Lord. "My goal is nothing short of transforming the way autism is treated in the New York metro area and beyond. We intend to provide the very best environment for treating autism spectrum disorder. By integrating our services with community organizations and resources, the Institute will offer a wide variety of options, locations and treatments for families and patients of all ages and needs."

Dr. Catherine Lord

Throughout her career, Dr. Lord has provided clinical evaluations and consultations and trained university students and professionals in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Her current projects include the development of a module for the ADOS appropriate for adolescents and adults with limited verbal skills; analyses of behavioral phenotype data from the Simons Simplex Collection, a repository of cell lines and behavioral measures for families with a child with autism and a typical child; the development of a measure of spontaneous, functional language in children with ASD; several studies of different therapies including for young children and peer-mediated interventions at schools; and a longitudinal study of children followed from age 2 who are now in their 20s.

Dr. Lord graduated with degrees in psychology from UCLA with a B.A., summa cum laude, and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. She received postdoctoral training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Dr. Lord has held faculty appointments at the University of Chicago; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; University of Alberta School of Medicine, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; and University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. She was also a visiting professor at the NYU Child Study Center, NYU School of Medicine.

She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards; in 2011 she received the Patricia Buehler Legacy Award for Clinical Innovation from the American College of Occupational Therapy; the Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Clinical Psychology by the Society of Clinical Psychology; and the Asperger/Kanner Medal from the Free University of Berlin. She was chair of the Committee on Effectiveness of Early Intervention in Autism for the National Research Council and is currently on the DSM V Neurodevelopmental Disorders Committee. She has given more than 100 invited lectures and authored more than 160 original, peer-reviewed papers, nine books and more than 60 reviews and book chapters.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, based in New York City, is the nation's largest not-for-profit, non-sectarian hospital, with 2,353 beds. The Hospital has more than 2 million inpatient and outpatient visits in a year, including more than 220,000 visits to its emergency departments — more than any other area hospital. NewYork-Presbyterian provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine at five major centers: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division. One of the most comprehensive health care institutions in the world, the Hospital is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education and community service. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area and is consistently ranked among the best academic medical institutions in the nation, according to U.S.News & World Report. The Hospital has academic affiliations with two of the nation's leading medical colleges: Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. For more information, visit

Columbia University Medical Center

Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, pre-clinical and clinical research, in medical and health sciences education, and in patient care. The Medical Center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Established in 1767, Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons was the first institution in the country to grant the M.D. degree and is now among the most selective medical schools in the country. Columbia University Medical Center is home to the largest medical research enterprise in New York City and state and one of the largest in the United States. For more information, please visit

Weill Cornell Medical College

Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University's medical school located in New York City, is committed to excellence in research, teaching, patient care and the advancement of the art and science of medicine, locally, nationally and globally. Physicians and scientists of Weill Cornell Medical College are engaged in cutting-edge research from bench to bedside, aimed at unlocking mysteries of the human body in health and sickness and toward developing new treatments and prevention strategies. In its commitment to global health and education, Weill Cornell has a strong presence in places such as Qatar, Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Through the historic Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, the Medical College is the first in the U.S. to offer its M.D. degree overseas. Weill Cornell is the birthplace of many medical advances — including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer, the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., the first clinical trial of gene therapy for Parkinson's disease, and most recently, the world's first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. Weill Cornell Medical College is affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where its faculty provides comprehensive patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The Medical College is also affiliated with the Methodist Hospital in Houston, making Weill Cornell one of only two medical colleges in the country affiliated with two U.S.News & World Report Honor Roll hospitals. For more information, visit

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Takla Boujaoude 212-821-0560