Kessler Foundation launches center for Autism research

Kessler Foundation on Wednesday announced the opening of the Center for Autism Research, which will be led by Helen Genova, neuroscientist and associate director, and is dedicated to developing evidence-based research for children, adolescents, and adults on the autism spectrum.

This new facility, located at 120 Eagle Rock Ave. in East Hanover has meeting rooms, testing facilities, and a new pediatric waiting room designed for the comfort of children and their parents.

The focus of Center is to improve quality of life for neurodiverse individuals who communicate, interact, behave, and learn differently than neurotypical people. The Center will explore outcomes and develop interventions for adults and children on the spectrum, with particular focus on the critical transition from adolescence to adulthood.

Genova is known for her research in disorders of social functioning in populations with autism, brain injury and multiple sclerosis, with broad-based funding from federal, state, and private sources.

“Today marks a turning point in autism spectrum disorder research,” said Rodger DeRose, president and CEO of Kessler Foundation. “With the support of our donors and the work of our scientists and collaborators, we are confident that our Center for Autism Research will deliver much needed behavioral breakthroughs to the autism community,” he said.

The Center directly involves the autism community in multiple aspects of research, ensuring that the science is informed by those who matter the most. “By engaging the autism community, the Center will objectively deliver meaningful and accessible results to clinicians, educators, parents, and individuals on the autism spectrum,” added DeRose.

“Our goal is to develop easily accessible tools for individuals on the spectrum to overcome barriers they face in community integration and social functioning. To address these issues, we are implementing principles of positive psychology, virtual reality technology, web-based interventions, and neuroimaging,” explained Genova.

Research in autism has been underway for more than a year at the Foundation, where Genova’s team has worked on numerous studies, instituting a range of techniques and groundbreaking tools.