First-Ever Statewide Summit on Autism on September 18

On September 18, 2015, the New Jersey Autism Center of Excellence Coordinating Center at Montclair State University will host “The Unfolding Story of Autism Research in New Jersey: From Cells to Society,” the first- ever statewide summit on autism.

The daylong summit is open to parents and families, educators, care providers, researchers and policymakers. Seating is limited and registration is required. RSVP by calling 973-655-7573 or 973-655-7950.

“The Unfolding Story of Autism Research in New Jersey: From Cells to Society” will feature 16 of the clinical research programs funded under the New Jersey Autism Center of Excellence (NJ ACE) by the Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism within the Department of Health. Designated as the NJ ACE Coordinating Center at Montclair State University (CC-MSU) and housed at the University’s Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health, the CC-MSU provides support, assistance and oversight to more than 24 NJ ACE-funded projects.

“We at Montclair State University are honored to have been designated as the state NJ ACE Coordinating Center and are pleased to convene this first-ever summit. Our major theme is to profile the research being conducted in, and funded by, the state of New Jersey,” says Dr. Gerard Costa, director of the Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health at Montclair State University and principal investigator of the NJ ACE Coordinating Center.

According to Costa, autism spectrum disorder requires a comprehensive and integrated research agenda that seeks to better understand and support both people on the spectrum and their families. “This summit is meant to promote collaboration, communication and integration among the many researchers and the many disciplines involved in the field,” he said.

The summit will also generate opportunities for greater interest and support for current and future research programs while also identifying themes of interest and concern to the participating stakeholders.

A Historic Summit

Dr. Caroline Eggerding, who chairs the Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism, will join Costa and Montclair State University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Willard Gingerich in welcoming participants to the conference.

Dr. Michael Lewis, University Distinguished Professor at the Institute for the Study of Child Development at Rutgers’ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School will moderate the day’s events, which will feature a keynote address by Dr. Willis F. Overton. The Thaddeus L. Bolton Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, at Temple University, Overton’s address is titled “Research Begins With Questions and Implicit Assumptions: How May this Impact Autism Research.”

Cathleen Bennett, who serves as the acting commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health will introduce presentations by NJ ACE researchers from Rutgers University, Children’s Specialized Hospital, St. Peter’s University Hospital, Rowan University, William Paterson University and The Center for Neurological and Neurodevelopmental Health II, who will discuss their work in terms of both current perspectives on and a deeper understanding of autism.

Summit attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in a moderated discussion with the presenting researchers.

“Autism is not a disorder of behavior, but a difference in structure, functioning and processing of the human brain,” said Costa. “New Jersey has taken leadership in supporting the most talented researchers to better understand the nature of autism spectrum disorder. This summit is the first statewide presentation of some of the exciting research being conducted under the NJ ACE umbrella.”

To register for the summit, call 973-655-7573 or 973-655-7950.