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BIDMC's Dennis P. Wall honored for autism research

BOSTON -- Dennis P. Wall, PhD, an investigator in the Department of Pathology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Director of the Computational Biology Initiative at the Center for Biomedical Infomatics at Harvard Medical School, was recently honored at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR). Attended by more than 1,800, IMFAR is the world's largest international conference on autism.

Wall, whose research has led to a new method to diagnose autism in young children in a matter of minutes, is the recipient of IMFAR's prestigious 2013 Slivka/Ritvo Innovation in Autism Research Award for outstanding achievement in clinical advancement. The award was presented May 2nd, during the annual IMFAR scientific meeting in Donostia / San Sebastian, Spain.

The process of diagnosing autism is complex and subjective. With the recent rise in incidence of autism disorders, the need for accurate and widely deployable methods for screening and diagnosis is substantial. Wall's laboratory has developed algorithms and associated deployment mechanisms to detect autism rapidly and with high accuracy. The algorithms are designed to work within a mobile structure, combining a small set of questions and a short home video of the subject, to enable rapid online assessments. Wall's work testing these methods in clinical environments, including the Developmental Medicine Center at Boston Children's Hospital, is demonstrating the value of this approach.

"We believe this approach will make it possible for more children to be accurately diagnosed during the early critical period when behavioral therapies are most effective," said Wall. "We hope further testing over the next several months will provide sufficient data for us to begin offering this solution to families who are navigating the complex system of autism diagnosis and treatment."

Wall received his doctorate in Integrative Biology from the University of California, Berkeley and conducted postdoctoral research as a National Science Foundation fellow at Stanford University. He is the recipient of the Harvard Medical School Leadership Award.


Contact: Bonnie Prescott
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

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