A Message From Our Director - June 2021

Dr. Daniel Geschwind

Dear Friends:

I hope you and your families are well. As the pandemic seems to be lifting at least locally, I thought it opportune to share positive happenings at CART, so as to add to some of the cautious optimism around some return to normalcy that thankfully seems to be spreading, in our neck of the woods. One aspect of the reemergence that is particularly salient to me is the realization of how important even our most banal routines can be in our daily life and how the pandemic’s disruption of these routines can lead to unease and distress. At the same time, it provides an opportunity to reassess what we may have taken for granted and embrace adaptive changes in our lives. One aspect of this relevant to clinical services at CART has been a shift to Telehealth and all of the adaptations that this has required for practitioners and our community. I bring your attention to the COVID resources that we have compiled on our website since last winter.

The pandemic also put a wrench in many of our research projects involving direct patient interaction, since all but the most necessary in person visits for clinical care were curtailed for many months. Fortunately, National Institutes of Health (NIHI), which helps fund some of our research, allowed us continue to keep our staff and trainees on our payroll, since retraining new researchers would cost far more and likely delay projects even further. However, this means that we may need additional research support to ensure that we reach our goals -- we continue to work with our supporters and NIH to meet these needs.

At the same time, we are excited to have several junior faculty whose programs we are working to develop, as we continue to build and expand the work force in this area, and grow CART researchers for the next generation. This includes continuing to build our capacity in biomarker discovery, in the comprehensive study of motor function in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as our CARING Clinic, which focuses on those with rare genetic disorders associated with ASD and developmental delay. Please stay tuned as we hope to feature these faculty in future newsletters.

The pandemic seemed also to coincide with and perhaps initially give us more space to become more involved with important social justice and anti-racism movements, which we at CART have embraced as part of our fabric (click here to read CART’s statement of commitment to anti-racism). Please contact us and continue to visit our website to stay abreast of these developments or get more involved.

As always, we would love to hear from you – please contact me with any questions or messages for CART.

My best wishes to you and your families during what has been (hopefully) the most challenging period that we have faced together as a society.

Best regards,

Daniel H. Geschwind, M.D., Ph.D.
Gordon and Virginia MacDonald Distinguished Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry, and Human Genetics Director, UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART)
Senior Associate Dean and Associate Vice Chancellor, Precision Health
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA