UCLA CART’s Dr. Charlotte DiStefano is named one of the 2014 Mexiner Postdoctoral Fellows in Translational Research by Autism Speaks

June 30, 2014

The UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART) congratulates Dr. Charlotte DiStefano, for being awarded a 2014 Mexiner Postdoctoral Fellowship in Translational Research. The Mexiner Postdoctoral Fellowship in Translational Research, awarded by Autism Speaks, is a two-year fellowship, which invests in rising talent within the autism research community and supports projects bridging laboratory science and applications that directly involve individuals affected by autism spectrum disorder. The goal of the fellowship is to train a new generation of autism researchers.

Dr. DiStefano’s research entitled, “Using EEG to understand language and literacy abilities in minimally verbal children with ASD,” will identify EEG biomarkers related to language and literacy abilities in minimally verbal children with autism and determine if these biomarkers are related to progress in a communication intervention. Dr. DiStefano notes, “Approximately 30% of children with ASD are minimally verbal past age 5. We know very little about their language comprehension, despite anecdotal reports that some minimally verbal children understand great amounts of language and can even read.” The study’s goal includes identifying which subgroups will respond best to different types of therapy programs. Dr. DiStefano will work under the mentorship of Drs. Shafli Jeste, Sandra Loo, and April Benasich.

Dr. DiStefano received her PhD from UCLA. She has worked as a post-doctoral scholar with the UCLA Department of Psychiatry since 2013 under the mentorships of Drs. Connie Kasari and Shafali Jeste. Through her studies and work as a postdoctoral scholar, Dr. DiStefano has over nine years of experience as a special education teacher and interventionist for children with ASD.

To learn more about the Autism Speaks fellowship program, please see: https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/autism-speaks-names-20...