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Active Studies

Neonatal Biomarkers StudyNeonatal Biomarkers in Extremely Preterm Babies Predict Childhood Brain Disorders: The Elgan-3 Study (Extremely low gestational age newborns) 

With support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) the Extremely Low Gestational Age Newborn Study completed its third wave of study visits (age 15 year) and begins the fourth wave, as participants reach 17 years of age.

The NIH selected ELGAN, along with similar studies in the United States, to join in a study of about 50,000 children to learn how the Environment influences Child Health Outcomes (ECHO). You can read more about ECHO at https://echochildren.org/

ELGAN researchers have followed over one thousand children born at least 3 months early between 2002 and 2004 at 14 different hospitals in five states. We assessed these premature babies at birth and again when they were two and ten years old. In the first few weeks after birth, when the babies had routine blood tests, we saved a drop or two for later testing. Through analyzing these saved blood samples, we learned that children who had signs of sustained inflammation in their blood were more likely to have development problems when they were 2 and 10 years old.

See our study: www.elganstudy.org

Social Cognition: Research study for Adolescents with an Autism Spectrum Disorder A magnetic resonance imaging study to measure the concentrations of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain and discover how they are related to the social deficits seen in autism spectrum disorder. We are also testing how a medication changes these neurotransmitter levels, with the goal of using this technology to aid drug development for autism spectrum disorder.
Please see our Social Cognition study brochure
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02901431

Long-term Antipsychotic Pediatric Safety trial
Please see our Long-term Antipsychotic Pediatric Safety trial brochure
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03522168

Autism Care Network (ACN): The ACN is a network of autism centers across the US and Canada who are all working to develop and improve reliable, standardized care practices for children and adults with autism and also their families. Our hope is that through our research and data collected from families like yours, we are able to promote optimal health, safety, and quality of life for all individuals with autism. At UMass Chan Medical School we have partnered with the CANDO clinic, Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics (DBP) and countless other providers to enhance care for children with autism and their families. For more information about the ACN please visit https://autismcarenetwork.org/. Please see attached flyer for more information about UMass Chan’s involvement.
Please see our ACN Family Recruitment Flyer

Digital Helpers Study – This study enrolled teens and young adults ages 14 – 22 who have ASD to help us with a research study using Digital Helpers. The purpose of this study is to learn from teens and young adults on the autism spectrum, their parents/guardians and others, what an Augmented Reality-based Digital Helper should look like, sound like and what it should be able to do so it can be a helper that is useful and enjoyable for teens/young adults with ASD.
Please see our Digital Helper Study brochure

Enhancing Social Skills for Transition-Age Teens/Young Adults with Autism Applied XR Roleplay Proof of Concept
This project proposes to develop enhancements to the existing PEERS® (Program for the Education and Enrichment Relational Skills – a world renowned program for providing evidence-based social skills treatment to individuals with ASD and utilizes in-person, group lessons, and role-play to enhance social skill development) and reduce the number of personnel required to deliver the program. We aim to extend the use of the program in the larger community by harnessing a new type of roleplay capability created using extended reality, XR, (a broad technology that includes virtual reality). This new XR roleplay capability will enable local teens or young adults with ASD to interact with scripted avatars as coaches and role-play with partners online while using their own customizable avatars in a 3-dimensional (3D) location to enhance their social skills reflecting a set of engagements based on a lesson from PEERS®.
Recruiting youth with ASD, ages 13-22.

Gabapentin Trial with MRI: Research study for adolescents with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – A Magnetic Resonance Imaging clinical trial with gabapentin to test how this drug affects neurotransmitter levels. We are also testing whether this drug leads to clinically measurable improvement in core social cognition problems in adolescents ages 13 to 17 with ASD.
Please see our Gabapentin Trial with MRI study brochure

Imaging Neural Markers of Social Engagement in the First Year of Life – Using functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate how patterns of social engagement in the first year of life influence the development of the social brain and subsequent developmental outcomes. (PI: Kim)

Using multimodal imaging techniques and translational research to characterize microglial function and effects on synaptic pruning in children with ASD to determine how brain function is related to psychosocial stressors, social cognition, and emotion regulation deficits. (PI: Jalnapurkar)

 Other ongoing research studies at the Shriver Center.

As a prospective participant, you may also be interested in the following resources:

• Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s description of a brain scan (MRI) experience [Youtube video made as part of the 2019 American Psychiatric Association annual meeting]

Publications from the National Institute of Mental Health [resource list from the National Institute of Mental Health]

Neuroimaging and Mental Illness: A Window Into the Brain

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute’s Children and Clinical Studies