2014-2015 Presenters

Blacher PictureJan Blacher, Ph.D.

Jan Blacher received her A.B. in Psychology from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and her Ph.D. in Special Education/Developmental Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is currently Distinguished Professor of Education and UC Presidential Chair of the Graduate School of Education, at the University of California, Riverside. She also holds a joint appointment as Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology at UCLA.

Dr. Blacher is known nationally for her research on developmental disabilities, and for her expertise in autism and special educational programming.  Dr. Blacher is frequently asked to appear as an Expert Witness in contested cases involving right-to-education suits for children with autism. Dr. Blacher is Consulting Editor for the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities, on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, and an Editor of the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research. Dr. Blacher is first Past-President of Division 33 (Intellectual Disabilities and Autism) of the American Psychological Association.

Dr. Blacher is the Founding Director of SEARCH, a Family Autism Resource Center established at UC Riverside.  Dr. Blacher’s research, which is longitudinal in nature, focuses on the family context of children and adolescents with and without developmental disabilities, including predictors of later psychopathology. She has published on family coping in Anglo and Latino families, and is currently studying the cultural context of autism and the transition to early schooling for children with autism. Her work is funded the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). In addition to having Fellow status in three research organizations, Dr. Blacher has also been selected as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Eileen FowlerEileen G. Fowler, PT, PhD

Dr. Fowler is an Adjunt Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at UCLA.  She received her degree in Physical Therapy from Northeastern University in Boston and her PhD in Physiological Science from UCLA with a major in Biomechanics and a minor in Motor Control.  She is a faculty member of the Tarjan Center at UCLA, Director of Research and Education for the UCLA Center for Cerebral Palsy, Director of the Kameron Gait and Motion Analysis Laboratory, and holds the Peter William Shapiro Chair.  She is currently the first Vice President of the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine and will become President at the 2015 annual meeting.

Dr. Fowler has over 30 years experience in the evaluation and treatment of pediatric neuromuscular and orthopedic disabilities. Her research focus is in the area of biomechanics and motor control.  Grants have focused on the effect of exercise, pharmacological and surgical interventions on spasticity, strength, gait and function.  Her cerebral palsy research focuses on reduced selective motor control of  the lower extremities due cortiocospinal tract injury.  Her research has been supported by NIH, NIDRR, Cerebral  Palsy International Foundation, United Cerebral Palsy, Shriners Hospitals for Children, the Foundation for Physical Therapy, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  Duchenne muscular dystrophy is another current research focus.  

Ofer Golan Ofer Golan, PhD

Dr. Golan is an Assistant Professor at the child and adolescent clinical program in the Department of Psychology at Bar-Ilan University, Israel. He is also the clinical director of two units specializing in diagnosis and treatment of individuals with autism spectrum disorder.  

Dr. Golan's work combines basic and applied research, investigating the understanding, expression, and regulation of emotion in individuals with ASD, and examining the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral and technology-based interventions designed for this population.  His research has been supported by the European Commission, the Israel Science Foundation, and the Association for Children at Risk in Israel.

Dr. Golan received a bachelor's degree in psychology and sociology from Tel-Aviv University, and a master's degree in child clinical psychology from Bar-Ilan University. He completed doctoral and post-doctoral training with Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen at the Autism Research Center in the University of Cambridge, UK.

Ted Hutman, PhDTed Hutman

Dr. Hutman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA in the Center for Autism Research and Treatment (also known as CART).  He is also a clinical and developmental psychologist, specializing in autism spectrum disorder, as well as social-emotional and social-cognitive development.  Dr. Hutman received a bachelor's degree and master's degree in Modern Thought & Literature from Stanford University. He completed doctoral and post-doctoral training with Dr. Marian Sigman at the UCLA Department of Psychology.  Currently, he is an investigator on the longitudinal study of infant siblings of children with autism, a primary project of the NIH-funded Autism Center of Excellence at CART.  This research integrates behavioral, eye-tracking, electrophysiological, neuroimaging, and genetic methodologies to identify brain-based markers of autism during infancy, to improve efforts to screen infants for autism, and to develop targeted treatments.

Dr. Hutman has a career development award from the National Institute of Mental Health.  His research has also been supported by the Friends of the Semel Institute, the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute, the FPR/UCLA Center for Culture, Brain & Development, the UCLA Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Research Center, and the Mattel Children’s Foundation.

Alice KuoAlice Kuo, MD, PhD

Dr. Kuo is an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and of Health Policy and Management in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.  She is Chief of the Medicine-Pediatrics Section and Director of the Medicine-Pediatrics Comprehensive Care Center at UCLA.  Her research interests are mainly in early childhood, and she has published in the areas of developmental screening and services, early literacy practices, cognitive and language development in young minority children, and mental health services for children.

She is the Director of the Research Training and Education Core for the CART, and also Principal Investigator of the HRSA-funded Health Care Transitions Research Network for children with autism spectrum disorder.   She is the Director of the Combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics residency program at UCLA, the Pathways for Students into Health Professions and the NHLBI-funded Summer Research Fellowship in Health Disparities in the Fielding School of Public Health, and the Training Core for the Center for Population Health and Health Disparities.

At the national level, Dr. Kuo is the Chair of the Transition Committee for the Medicine-Pediatrics Program Directors Association, and is on the Task Force for Adults with Complex Conditions Originating in Childhood for the Society of General Internal Medicine and the Steering Committee for the Pediatric to Adult Care Transitions Workgroup of the Council on Subspecialty Societies of the American College of Physicians. She is also Policy Chair of the Council on Community Pediatrics for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Kuo has written and edited a book entitledChild Health: a Population Perspective, published by Oxford University Press in 2015.

Dr. Kuo obtained her BA degree from Harvard University, her medical degree from UCLA, and her PhD from UCLA in Psychological Studies in Education.  She has been on the faculty at UCLA since 2000. 

Elizabeth LaugesonElizabeth Laugeson, PsyD

Dr. Laugeson is a licensed clinical psychologist and an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA Semel Institute, and newly appointed Training Director for the Tarjan Center.  Dr. Laugeson is the Founder and Director of the UCLA PEERS Clinic, which is an outpatient hospital-based program providing parent-assisted social skills training for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other social impairments across the lifespan.  She is also the Director of The Help Group – UCLA Autism Research Alliance, which is a collaborative research initiative dedicated to developing and expanding applied clinical research in the treatment of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder.

Dr. Laugeson has been a principal investigator and collaborator on a number of NIH and CDC-funded studies investigating social skills training for children and adolescents with social difficulties from preschool to early adulthood and is the co-developer of an evidence-based social skills intervention known as PEERS.  Since 2010, she has authored three books related to social skills training including, The Science of Making Friends: Helping Socially Challenged Teens and Young Adults, Social Skills for Teenagers with Developmental and Autism Spectrum Disorders: The PEERS Treatment Manual, and The PEERS Curriculum for School-Based Professionals: Social Skills Training for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  She was a two-time recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health in 2004 and 2006, the recipient of the Semel Scholar Award for Junior Faculty Career Development in 2008, and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Pepperdine University in 2010.

Having trained thousands of mental health professionals, educators, and families in the PEERS method, Dr. Laugeson is dedicated to developing and testing evidence-based treatments to improve social skills across the lifespan, and disseminating these empirically supported programs across the globe. At present, the PEERS manuals have been translated into at least six languages and the program is used in over a dozen countries.  Dr. Laugeson has presented her ground-breaking research at international conferences throughout the world including the U.S., Canada, England, Finland, Holland, Spain, Australia, and China.  Her work has been featured on national and international media outlets such as People magazine, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CBS, NBC, NPR, and Channel 4 in the United Kingdom. 

Mary O'ConnorMary J. O’Connor, PhD, ABPP

Dr. O’Connor is a Professor at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine.  She received her PhD from UCLA.  She holds a specialty board certification in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology and has taught medical students, psychiatry residents, child psychiatry fellows, and child clinical psychology interns for over 30 years.  Dr. O’Connor was the former Training Director for the Tarjan Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEED), which is a program designed to train clinical psychology interns and postdoctoral fellows to become leaders in the field of developmental disabilities.  She was the founder of the UCLA Infant and Preschool Service, was the Program Director of the UCLA Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Clinic, and the ABC Partial Hospital Program, which provide diagnosis and treatment of children with prenatal alcohol exposure and other psychiatric and behavioral problems.

Over the past 30 years, Dr. O’Connor has conducted research on the prevention of alcohol consumption in pregnant women, intervention with children with prenatal alcohol exposure, and medical and allied health education on prevention, diagnosis and treatment resulting in over 100 journal articles, abstracts, and book chapters.   All of her recent work has been on collaborative national initiatives with the long-term goal of developing best practice models to be disseminated on local, state, and national levels.  The results of her research have been adopted as national and international models for prevention and intervention.  She has served on multiple national task forces and expert panels focusing on the topic of prenatal exposure to alcohol.

Most recently, Dr. O’Connor was a member of  the National Interagency Coordinating Committee on FASD work group that developed a new diagnostic classification, Neurobehavioral Disorder Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (ND-PAE), which now appears in the DSM 5.   Dr. O’Connor’s work in the field exemplifies her dedication to children and families who have been touched by the consequences of prenatal exposure to alcohol and culminated in her induction into the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Hall of Fame.

Jeffery WoodJeffrey Wood, Ph.D.

Jeffrey Wood is an Associate Professor in the Division of Human Development and Psychology in the Education Department at UCLA, with a joint appointment in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He received a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the UCLA Psychology Department, specializing in clinical trials of cognitive behavioral therapy for childhood anxiety disorders and OCD.

Dr. Wood was the PI of a CART Pilot Grant in 2004. He has since been the recipient of several awards from NIH, AERA, and UCLA, and has attained multiple grants from NIH, Autism Speaks, and the Organization for Autism Research to study cognitive behavioral interventions for school-aged children with autism. His work has been published in well-regarded scientific journals such as Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Developmental Psychology, and Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 

Drawing upon contemporary cognitive science models of memory retrieval competition and cognitive neuroscience models of information processing in autism, Dr. Wood has been developing novel intervention techniques and adapting techniques from other areas of childhood psychopathology (e.g., emotional disorders, disruptive behavior disorders, and habit disorders) in the formation of a comprehensive cognitive behavioral therapy program for school-aged children with autism spectrum disorders and high levels of anxiety. Dr. Wood's research seeks to identify effective treatment methods that improve self-regulation, increase adaptive behaviors in social and academic contexts, and address the varying patterns of symptom expression (e.g., repetitive behaviors) and psychiatric comorbidity (e.g., anxiety, conduct problems) seen in many children with ASD. 

Dr. Wood is currently Principal Investigator on the Anxiety-Focused Interventions for Youth with Autism project, a 3-site study of CBT for children and adolescents with autism and anxiety funded by NICHD, and the Treatment of Autism Symptoms in Children study for elementary school aged children, which is funded by NIMH.