NEWS | January 31, 2013

Catherine Lord, internationally respected autism researcher, to give Distinguished Lecture


Catherine Lord, director of the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain, will discuss “Longitudinal Studies of Autism Spectrum Disorder” during the next UC Davis MIND Institute Distinguished Lecturer Series presentation. 

UC Davis MIND Institute UC Davis MIND Institute

The lecture will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 13, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the MIND Institute auditorium at 2825 50th St., Sacramento. It is free and open to the public, and no reservations are required. 

Lord is renowned for her work in longitudinal studies of social and communicative development in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Longitudinal studies are correlational research studies involving repeated observations of the same variables over very long periods, often used in psychology to study developmental trends across the life span. 

Lord’s lecture will focus on her current longitudinal study of children from North Carolina and Chicago followed from age 2 who are now in their 20s. The project’s aim is to determine predictors of adolescent outcome as measured by adaptive skills, quality of life, positive affect, behavior problems, and symptoms of anxiety and depression, with an emphasis on coping strategies and their impacts on well-being and independence. 

Behavioral, cognitive, language and social development from ages 2 to 19 are being examined in two samples, a group of children originally referred for possible ASD and a group of controls. Some 187 children who were seen at ages 2, 3, 5 and 9 remain in a previously conducted early diagnosis study. Their families have participated in phone interviews and completed packets of questionnaires when the children were between 11 and 18, with a focus on adaptive skills, behavioral problems and pubertal development. 

Lord has long been involved in the development of standardized diagnostic instruments for ASD with colleagues in the United Kingdom and United States, including the Autism Diagnostic Interview–Revised and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), which have been critically important in providing standardized methods for research on the genetics and neurobiology of autism. 

The Center for Autism and the Developing Brain (CADB), located in White Plains, New York, is a joint program of New York-Presbyterian Hospital and the Departments of Psychiatry of Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and Weill Cornell Medical College, where Lord is a DeWitt Wallace Senior Scholar and professor of psychology. Her work at CADB involves research in validity and longitudinal studies, early diagnosis of children with autism, and evaluations and diagnoses of children and adults who may have autism. 

Lord holds degrees in psychology from UCLA and Harvard University and completed a clinical internship at Division TEACCH at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A licensed clinical psychologist with specialties in diagnosis, social and communication development and intervention in ASD, she has published over 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals, in addition to numerous books and chapters. 

Future Distinguished Lecturer Series speakers include Paul Patterson, the Anne P. and Benjamin F. Biaggini Professor of Biological Sciences at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, discussing “Gut-Brain-Immune Connections: Modeling an Environmental Risk Factor for Autism” on March 13. Bradley L. Schlaggar of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis will explain “Development of the Brain’s Functional Networks” on April 10, and additional series presentations will take place on May 8 and June 12. 

All Distinguished Lecturer Series presentations are free and open to the public, with no reservations required. The MIND Institute Resource Center, specializing in information and resources relating to neurodevelopmental disorders and related conditions, is open one hour before and 30 minutes after each presentation. 

The UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento, Calif., was founded in 1998 as a unique interdisciplinary research center where families, community leaders, researchers, clinicians and volunteers work together toward a common goal: researching causes, treatments and eventual preventions and cures for neurodevelopmental disorders. The institute has major research efforts in autism, fragile X syndrome, chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Down syndrome. More information about the institute and its Distinguished Lecturer Series, including previous presentations in this series, is available on the Web at