NEWS | April 22, 2013

Epidemiologist to give lecture on connections between autism risk factors and health-care claims


Epidemiologist Craig Newschaffer of Drexel University will discuss “Autism Outcomes and Risk Factors: What Can We Learn from Health-Care Claims?” during the next UC Davis MIND Institute Distinguished Lecturer Series presentation.

MIND Institute MIND Institute

The lecture will take place on Wednesday, May 8, 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.

Newschaffer is professor and chairman of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Drexel University School of Public Health in Philadelphia and founding director of the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, launched in 2011 as the first autism research center focused on public health science. The Institute is developing a series of research programs that apply public health sciences to questions whose answers can improve the quality of life of individuals with autism and their families.  

As an epidemiologist whose main research focus is the discovery of autism risk factors, Newschaffer derives statistically significant data from such public records as birth certificates, census records, and health care claims.

He is principal investigator on an NIH Autism Center of Excellence (ACE) research network that runs the Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation (EARLI), a large cohort study designed to study autism risk factors and biomarkers by following mothers of children with autism at the start of subsequent pregnancies. UC Davis serves as one of several EARLI study sites, with the MIND Institute and the Department of Public Health Sciences collaborating on this effort.

Newschaffer has been a site principal investigator on several other major autism epidemiology initiatives, including the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network and the Study to Explore Early Development. He also leads a project exploring innovative approaches to autism case confirmation for the National Children’s Study.

Newschaffer holds a bachelors degree in biology and one in public relations from Boston University, a Master of Science degree in health-policy and management from Harvard University School of Public Health, and a doctoral degree in chronic disease epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University. He is a fellow of the American College of Epidemiology, serves as an associate editor of the American Journal of Epidemiology, and is on the editorial board of Autism Research.  

This year’s Distinguished Lecturer Series closes on June 12 with a talk by Stephen Scherer of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto on “Interpreting the Many Autism Risk Genes.”

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