The NDD Lab at the 2019 SCAND Research Symposium

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 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!


NDD Lab at the National Fragile X Conference

Superheroines of Fragile X Research!

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Being trailblazers of Fragile X research is no small feat!  Dr. Bridgette Tonnesen, Dr. Debra Reisinger, and Dr. Jane Roberts attended the National Fragile X Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio last week where they presented their research alongside the world’s leading Fragile X experts.  This family-friendly forum which occurs every two years helps families affected by FXS get the support which they need.  For more information,   stay up to date by following the National Fragile X Foundation:

Governor's Proclamation

Governor Henry McMaster declares July 22nd Fragile X Awareness Day

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Although the genetic underpinnings of fragile X syndrome are known by scientists, it often goes undetected due to lack of awareness among the public and sometimes in the medical community. We are proud of South Carolina for increasing efforts to raise awareness about this condition, with the aim of helping patients with the fragile X gene make better-informed decisions and encouraging all South Carolinians to fight for early diagnosis and treatment of this disorder.

Governor Henry McMaster proclaimed July 22nd, 2018 at Fragile X Awareness Day in South Carolina. In honor of this occasion, Dr. Roberts will be speaking at the SC State House Lobby in Columbia on Monday, July 23rd at 11:00AM.  Please consider coming out to the State House to commemorate this special occasion!

Robin Blackwood and her son Sam

Advocating for Children’s Health

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Local community leader, Robin Blackwood, headed to Washington, D.C. to share the story of her son Sam, who was diagnosed with fragile X syndrome, with legislators. Blackwood joined parents from around the nation as part of the 14th annual Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day. Blackwood advocated for children’s health, particularly to safeguard care for children with special needs. Thanks for bringing awareness to such an important issue! Read more about her efforts at Greenville Online and Fox Carolina.

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