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Autism Working Group

A letter from Michael Lerner, introducing CHE-Autism

1/12/2009: As a New Year gift to the many CHE Partners interested in autism, CHE is initiating CHE-Autism, a Working Group dedicated to exploring the new paradigm of autism research and treatment in Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

CHE and Commonweal have had a strong interest in ASD for many years. Commonweal co-hosted a series of conferences over the past decade exploring the new paradigm of autism research and treatment. Two of the co-hosts of these conferences, Martha Herbert and Robert Hendren have agreed to serve as Science Advisers to CHE Autism.

Martha Herbert, M.D., Ph.D., is an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, a pediatric neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and a member of the Harvard-MIT-MGH Martinos Centre for Biomedical Imaging. She is the Director of the TRANSCEND Research Program (Treatment Research And NeuroSCience Evaluation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) and of the Autism Society’s Treatment Guided Research Initiative. Her work includes looking at how chronic active and environmentally modulated physiological processes like inflammation and oxidative stress may contribute dynamically to brain and behavioral features of autism throughout the lifecourse and not just during early development, taking a whole systems approach to studying infants at risk for autism, and optimizing ways to measure changes in brain function that can result from treatment intervention.

Robert L. Hendren, D.O., is Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Vice Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at University of California San Francisco. Dr. Hendren has been a practicing child and adolescent psychiatrist for more than 30 years, a successful clinical and translational researcher, and former Director of the Divisions of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and at the Robert Wood Johnson and New Jersey Medical Schools. Until recently he was Professor of Psychiatry and the Tsakopoulos-Vismara Endowed Chair and Executive Director of the M.I.N.D. (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) Institute, Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at UC Davis, and President of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Both Dr. Herbert and Dr. Hendren are pioneering leaders in new paradigm of autism research and treatment. We are grateful for their ongoing support.

CHE-Autism will be a facilitated list to ensure that all posts are germane to your interests and meet out CHE standards of "science and civility." That means that all posts will be reviewed by a facilitator before being posted to the list.

I will facilitate CHE-Autism initially with my colleague Sheila Opperman, who has been involved with our autism work for years. We hope to identify CHE Partners who would like to be candidates for the position of co-facilitators. This involves reviewing posts for distribution to the list, responding to Partner concerns,and seeking out relevant science reports for distribution. It requires a strong grounding in both CHE's standards of science and civility, excellent judgment, and willingness to volunteer time each day to stay current on the science news flow.

We hope you will join CHE-Autism.

With warm best wishes,

Michael Lerner
President, Commonweal
Vice Chair, Colaborative on Health and the Environment



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