News Release: Emory Healthcare , Research , School of Medicine

Oct. 13,  2010

Marcus Autism Center Appoints First Chief

Former Yale Autism Program Director, Ami Klin, PhD, to Help Transform Autism in State of Georgia

News Article ImageAmi Klin, PhD

Marcus Autism Center has appointed Ami Klin, PhD, as its first chief of autism and related disorders. Klin will also be a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar at Emory University and director of the Division of Autism and Related Developmental Disabilities in the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine.

Klin is an internationally recognized psychologist and researcher. He comes from the Child Study Center at Yale University School of Medicine, where he was the Harris Professor of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and directed the Yale Autism Program.

While at Yale, Klin's primary research activities focused on the social mind and brain, and aspects of autism from infancy through adulthood. In his most noted work, Klin used eye-tracking technology to visualize and measure social engagement, allowing him to monitor infants who potentially have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The world-renowned leader has significant academic research funding accomplishments. In 2007, the Yale Autism Program, with Klin as principal investigator, was awarded the Autism Center of Excellence status by the National Institutes of Health. This highly competitive and prestigious award included $7.5 million of direct funding.

As a Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) Eminent Scholar, Klin joins other world-renowned scientists recruited to Georgia by the GRA and its partner academic research universities. These scientists serve as a key catalyst for advancing research in Georgia through dozens of centers of research excellence – university-based enterprises that serve as magnets for scientists and federal research dollars.

“The efforts of Dr. Klin and his team will lead Georgia into the forefront of research into autism spectrum disorders. Their work can potentially transform the lives of countless children and their families worldwide,” says Michael Cassidy, president and CEO of the Georgia Research Alliance.

Klin’s appointment concludes the Marcus Autism Center’s nationwide search for a leader who will transform its efforts in diagnosis, treatment, research and advocacy for children with autism and related disorders. The appointment coincides with the 20th anniversary of founder Bernie Marcus’s commitment to improving the lives of children with autism and related disorders. Marcus Autism Center is a wholly owned subsidiary of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta,

“Autism is no longer a rare disorder,” says Marcus. “Dr. Klin has the breathtaking ability to think about this disorder in terms of a system of care and change the future for the next generation of children affected with ASDs.” ASDs are the fastest growing developmental disabilities in the United States, affecting one in 110 children nationally. In Georgia, that number is even higher. It is estimated that more than 20,000 Georgia children – or roughly one in 98 – have an ASD.

“I am very excited to join Marcus Autism Center–the largest and most comprehensive center in the Southeast providing treatment for children with autism and related disorders,” says Dr. Klin. “We look forward to advancing this comprehensive center by bringing experts and advocates from key academic and statewide organizations together to solve the puzzles and challenges associated with autism spectrum disorders.”

Klin’s new role is crucial, as the number of children with these conditions continues to rise. Klin and his team will play an instrumental role in the autism community, working collaboratively with experts at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Emory University School of Medicine and the Emory Autism Center, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Atlanta Autism Consortium. He will join Marcus Autism Center and Emory at the beginning of 2011, along with other experts from Yale University.

“We have a unique opportunity in Atlanta to impact the future for children on the spectrum,” says Don Mueller, executive director, Marcus Autism Center. “Dr. Klin’s recruitment illustrates the commitment the Atlanta community has to building a world-class autism center in our neighborhood. His team will work closely with members of the Atlanta Autism Consortium to transform care for children with ASDs in Georgia and around the world.”

"There are very few recruitments that we consider transformative. The recruitment of Dr. Klin and his colleagues will transform our programs in autism and social neuroscience and have an impact far beyond Georgia," says Barbara Stoll, MD, George W. Brumley Professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine and chief academic officer at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

A native of Brazil, Dr. Klin lived in Israel for many years, receiving his bachelor's degree from Hebrew University. He earned his doctorate in cognitive psychology at the University of London. Dr. Klin was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale before he joined the faculty in 1992. He was honored for his medical contributions by the Autism Society of America Foundation, the Asperger's Association of New England and the Connecticut Autism Spectrum Resource Center, among others. He is a member of the International Society for Autism Research.

Marcus Autism Center is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of children with autism spectrum disorders and developmental disabilities, treating more than 4,000 children a year. Marcus Autism Center offers services with generous philanthropic support from community leaders and funding from local and state governments. The Marcus Autism Center staff of highly trained pediatric professionals is supported by research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Marcus Autism Center is committed to helping children realize their greatest potential.

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The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

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