Leonard Abbeduto, Ph.D. is the director of the UC Davis MIND Institute and holds the Tsakopoulos-Vismara Endowed Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at UC Davis. He is a nationally recognized expert on the behavioral profiles of individuals with intellectual disabilities, with a particular focus on the development and use of language by these individuals. Dr. Abbeduto’s current research projects examine the feasibility of using samples of spoken language collected in naturalistic contexts as outcome measures in clinical trials. His lab is also developing a multimodal intervention, including both pharmacological and behavioral components, that will target the narrative language skills of 10- to 17-year old children with fragile X syndrome. Abbeduto's research has been funded continuously by the National Institutes of Health since 1996. He has published more than 130 articles, book chapters, reviews, and books on fragile X, autism, Down syndrome and other disabilities and delivered numerous presentations throughout the nation and the world.
Angela John Thurman, Ph.D.’s research at the UC Davis MIND Institute focuses on characterizing the dynamic processes underlying the development of language and other skills in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, and Williams syndrome. Dr. Thurman's current projects are focused on characterizing developmental similarities and differences across different neurodevelopmental disorders and identifying the factors influencing child development. She is also interested in the development and validation of new methods for measuring cognitive, emotional, and behavioral skills across the lifespan in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders. The long-range goal is that this work will help identify the extent to which similar and/or different processes should be targeted in intervention efforts across neurodevelopmental disorders.
Jessica Klusek, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Klusek received her Ph.D. in Speech and Hearing Sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She followed her doctoral training with an NIH-funded postdoctoral fellowship in Psychology at the University of South Carolina, where she completed interdisciplinary training in physiology, psychology, and genetics. Dr. Klusek is also a certified, licensed speech-language pathologist. Dr. Klusek's lab focuses on studies that explain how communication features associated with autism and fragile X syndrome are shaped by genetic and physiological factors, using a multi-informant family-approach where both parents and their children report on specific factors.
Julie Lounds Taylor, PhD is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and an Investigator at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development. Dr. Taylor is an international leader in the study of how to improve the transition to adulthood and adult outcomes for individuals on the autism spectrum. With over 70 peer-reviewed publications, she has made important discoveries about the challenges faced by many individuals on the autism spectrum after leaving high school and the importance of engaging in meaningful work for positive behavioral development. After observing the difficulties families were experiencing in accessing adult disability services, Dr. Taylor and her colleagues developed a program to support families in navigating adult service systems, which she is currently testing in a clinical trial in three states in the U.S. She provides expertise in transition and adult-related issues to federal autism committees and initiatives and is currently co-leading a national working group on health and mental health for individuals on the autism spectrum.