2019 Gatlinburg Conference

Current and former members of the NDD Lab at the 2019 Gatlinburg Conference

2019 Gatlinburg Conference

The NDD Lab attended the 2019 Gatlinburg Conference on Research and Theory in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in San Antonio, Texas. This year’s theme was “Translational Research on Down Syndrome.”

Dr. Jane Roberts is a member of the Executive Committee for the conference, which was established in the 1960s as an annual scientific meeting designed to advance translational biobehavioral research on intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Dr. Abigail Hogan and Dr. Elizabeth Will chaired symposia on “Neurophysiological Indicators of ASD-Related Behavioral Phenotypes” and “Mechanisms and Functional Consequences of Motor Impairments across Down Syndrome, Fragile X, Autism, and Single Gene Mutations”, respectively. Doctoral students Jordan Ezell, Shannon O’Connor, Carla Wall, and Conner Black presented research posters.

We were delighted to run into several former team members at the conference, including Kelly Caravella White, Carly Moser, Sara Matherly, and Debra Reisinger.

For more information about the Gatlinburg conference, go to their website.


Dr. Jessica Klusek in her lab

Former NDD Lab Postdoctoral Fellow Receives Early Career Award

Dr. Jessica Klusek has received an Early Career R21 Award from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Dr. Klusek spent three years in the NDD Lab for a postdoctoral fellowship before joining the USC Communication Sciences and Disorders department as an assistant professor in 2016. Her research focuses on communication disorders associated with autism and fragile X syndrome.

She will use the three-year, $440K grant to advance her research on the FMR1 premutation, aiming to delineate the full range of oral and written language features associated with the FMR1 premutation as well as their interface with cognitive-executive aspects of the phenotype and FMR1 gene dysfunction. This will be the first systematic investigation of language abilities in premutation carrier mothers—examining aspects of written and oral language that differ from non-carrier mothers and mothers who have children with autism spectrum disorder.

“This research will refine our understanding of the full range of language phenotypes linked with FMR1 gene dysfunction,” she says. “It will also inform the development of identification and treatment efforts targeted towards the specific needs of mothers who carry the FMR1 premutation and their families.”

If you’re interested in participating in Dr. Klusek’s study, you can learn more at http://www.scfamilystudy.com.


NDD Lab Team at INSAR

Calling for Applications: Postdoctoral Fellowship Position at the NDD Lab

Dr. Jane Roberts and the Neurodevelopmental Disorders Lab at the University of South Carolina are pleased to announce the availability of one full-time NIH-funded postdoctoral fellowship position. The fellow will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of ongoing projects focused on early development in fragile X syndrome, autism, Down syndrome, and siblings of children with autism.

Specialized training in the following domains will be offered:

  • Advanced physiological methods (e.g., heart activity, EEG/ERP, salivary cortisol)
  • Autism diagnosis (e.g., ADOS-2 research reliability)
  • Professional development (e.g., design of new studies, manuscript preparation, student mentorship, grant preparation, and the transition to independence)

The fellow will be encouraged to submit their own application for external funding to a major federal agency or private foundation. Dr. Roberts’ postdoctoral fellows have a history of external funding success, particularly with NIH F32 and Loan Repayment Program (LRP) applications.

Applicants with expertise in neurodevelopmental disorders will be considered. Our group is multi-disciplinary and includes faculty, staff, and students with training in Communication Sciences and Disorders as well as Clinical, School, and Developmental Psychology. While this fellowship has a primary focus on research, there will be many clinical training opportunities, and clinical supervision can be provided by our team’s licensed child psychologist.

The start date is Fall 2019, with some flexibility as needed. This is a two-year position, with possibility of extension.

Please e-mail a CV and statement of interest to:
Jane E. Roberts, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychology
Jane.Roberts@sc.edu


SCAND Planning Committee Members

The NDD Lab at the 2019 SCAND Research Symposium

Several members of the NDD Lab recently presented at the South Carolina Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (SCAND) Symposium at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston, SC. The SCAND Consortium is a network of scientists in various fields who are united by their mission to understand neurodevelopmental disorders and to provide support for families affected by this disorder throughout the state of South Carolina.

Current research specialists Ramsey Coyle, Chandler Knott, and Kayla Smith and former research specialist Carly Moser presented posters at the symposium. Dr. Abigail Hogan presented a session on “Biobehavioral Indices of Anxiety in Autism and Fragile X Syndrome in Young Children” and Dr. Jane Roberts moderated a session on “From Bedside to Bench: Parental, Experimental and Treatment Perspectives for Anxiety in Neurodevelopmental Disorders.”


Dr. Elizabeth Will

Dr. Will Awarded NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship Grant

Dr. Elizabeth Will was awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F32) by the National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD) to support her research on early features of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Down syndrome.

The purpose of this prestigious award is to provide postdoctoral research training to promising early career scientists to broaden their scientific background and enhance their potential for conducting high-impact research.

Despite being a leading genetic cause of ASD, Down syndrome has been remarkably overlooked in efforts to identify early ASD risk features. Dr. Will’s study will aim to clarify the ASD-risk profile in Down syndrome, its bio-behavioral indicators during early development, and the extent of phenotypic overlap with other high-risk groups.

Recruitment for this study is currently underway. Dr. Will is currently recruiting:

  • Infants (14 months & younger) with Down syndrome
  • Children (36 months & younger) with Down syndrome

Please contact Dr. Will at willea@mailbox.sc.edu for more information or if you’re interested in participating in this study.


Down Syndrome Grants Funded by National Institutes of Health

Dr. Jane Roberts was recently awarded a supplemental grant to expand the NDD Lab’s current research efforts to include Down syndrome. These grant will build upon the lab’s longitudinal studies on the emergence and stability of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and anxiety in fragile X syndrome. The grant will allow us to learn more the early indicators of ASD in infants with Down syndrome and the diagnosis of ASD and anxiety in preschoolers with Down syndrome. We are so excited to be actively recruiting infants and preschoolers with Down syndrome!

Click here to learn more about our research!


NDD Lab doctoral students Sara Matherly and Kelly Caravella White

Team Member Updates!

We rang in the new year by welcoming three new research specialists to our assessment team! Kayla Jarvis and Nichole Mayberry joined the lab in January as full-time research specialists. Libby Tillman began volunteering in the lab as an undergraduate assistant in 2018, and is transitioning to her new role as a part-time research specialist while she completes her bachelors degree here at the University of South Carolina.

We also want to take a moment to congratulate Dr. Abby Hogan on her promotion to Associate Director of the NDD Lab! Dr. Hogan joined the lab in 2015 as a postdoctoral fellow. In addition to her new role, Dr. Hogan is a Research Assistant Professor in the USC Department of Psychology.

Many of our families know Carly Moser, who worked in the NDD Lab as a Research Assistant from 2016-2018. In 2019, Carly embarked upon her doctoral training in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the USC Arnold School of Public Health under the direction of one of our collaborators and former postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Jessica Klusek.

Two of our PhD students recently moved on to internships! Kelly Caravella White is currently completing an internship at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Sara Matherly is currently completing an internship at Blythewood High School and North Springs Elementary School, as well as with Developmental Pediatrics at USC Medical School and Palmetto Richland Hospital here in Columbia, SC.


Doctoral Student Carla Wall giving a presentation

Carla Wall Receives SPARC Grant from USC

Carla Wall, a doctoral student in the NDD Lab, was recently awarded a grant from the USC Office of the Vice President for Research. The Support to Promote Advancement of Research and Creativity (SPARC) Graduate Research Grant is a merit-based award designed to ignite research and creative excellence across all disciplines at the University of South Carolina. Carla’s research will focus on, “Decoding the Heterogeneity of Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Biobehavioral Study of Social Attention Across Intellectual Ability, Sex, and Syndrome.”

Congratulations, Carla!


Dr. Jane Roberts

Dr. Jane Roberts Appointed Interim Chair of USC Department of Psychology

In Fall 2018, Dr. Jane Roberts was appointed Interim Chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Roberts came to USC in 2008 as an Associate Professor in the School Psychology program. In 2013, she became Program Director of the School Psychology program and began teaching in the Clinical-Community program as well.

Congratulations, Dr. Roberts!


Speakers at the SC State House for Fragile X Awareness Day

FXS Awareness Day

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In the heart of South Carolina’s capitol, Dr. Jane Roberts, Dr. Jessica Klusek, Robin Blackwood, and the Kuperman family shared their personal experiences with Fragile X syndrome in honor of the proclamation of July 22, 2018 as Fragile X Awareness Day.  Thank you to everyone who came out to the State House to celebrate this declaration and to everyone who has played a role in raising awareness, advocating for policy, and fostering a welcoming community!

 


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