Rutgers Brain Health Institute Announces Appointments to Further Autism Research

Rutgers Brain Health Institute Announces Appointments to Further Autism Research

Three new faculty members will help launch centers for autism research

Wayne Fisher will join Rutgers as the inaugural director of the Rutgers Center for Autism Research, Education and Services (RUCARES) at BHI and CSH-RUCARES.
Courtesy of Wayne Fisher

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Renowned autism experts are joining teams at Rutgers University and Children’s Specialized Hospital to lead new centers in the Rutgers Brain Health Institute (BHI).

The centers, the first of their kind in New Jersey, will be dedicated to innovative research, education and service. They will focus on diagnosing, treating and supporting children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and pediatric feeding disorders.

Wayne Fisher, the director of the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at the Munroe-Meyer Institute at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, will join Rutgers this fall as the inaugural director of both the Rutgers Center for Autism Research, Education and Services (RUCARES) at BHI and CSH-RUCARES, a clinical entity within RUCARES and in partnership with Children’s Specialized Hospital (CSH). The first program delivered by CSH-RUCARES will be for the treatment of children with ASD who have severe behavior challenges.

Fisher will coordinate autism-related research activities at Rutgers, bringing together the work of several centers across the university. He will serve as a Henry Rutgers Professor with a tenured appointment in the Department of Pediatrics at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS) and as a core member of the BHI. Prior to his work at the Munroe-Meyer Institute, Fisher was a professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and served as executive director of the Neurobehavioral Programs at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and the Marcus Behavior Center at the Marcus Institute where he built clinical-research programs in autism and developmental disabilities.

Brian Greer will join as assistant director of CSH-RUCARES, among other roles.
Courtesy of Brian Greer
Brian Greer will join Rutgers in late July as a tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics in RWJMS and as a core member of BHI. He will serve as the assistant director of CSH-RUCARES, overseeing the Severe Behavior Disorders in Children Program. Greer received his M.A. and Ph.D. in behavioral psychology from the University of Kansas. He did post-doctoral work at the Munroe-Meyer Institute, Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders and Severe Behavior Disorders Program.

Cathleen Piazza, a professor in pediatrics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the director of the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program at Munroe-Meyer Institute, will also join Rutgers as a tenured professor in the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP) and as a core member of the BHI. In addition, she will be the director of the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program at CSH, a RWJBarnabas Health facility that provides inpatient and outpatient services at 13 locations across New Jersey. She will also join the professional teams in the small bowel/liver transplant and intestinal rehabilitation programs. She will join Rutgers in December. Previously, she was a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Kennedy Krieger Institute where she was the chief psychologist of the Neurobehavioral Unit, the director of training and the director of the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program.

Cathleen Piazza will also join Rutgers as a professor in the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, among other roles.
Courtesy of Cathleen Piazza
Rutgers is a leader in basic, clinical, and translational autism research with more than 50 principal investigators working to advance autism treatment and resources. Rutgers faculty and students also work closely with the autism community in New Jersey, providing professional training, educational intervention and support services through GSAPP’s Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, College Support Program for students on the autism spectrum and the newly created Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services. Rutgers’ Boggs Center, as New Jersey’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, also plays a key role in developing policy and performing public outreach. Rutgers also leads autism efforts across New Jersey via the recently awarded New Jersey Autism Center of Excellence.

The BHI is the home for Rutgers’ overall neuroscience initiative and is a growing interdisciplinary institute that includes more than 250 principal investigators. The institute creates research programs focused on the biological underpinnings of brain function and dysfunction, develops treatments for brain disorders and educates the public, clinicians, faculty, students and state, national, and international health officials.

CSH is a leading national provider of inpatient and outpatient care for people from birth to 21 years with special health challenges in New Jersey and beyond. CSH treats a range of health challenges, from chronic illness and complex physical disabilities such as brain and spinal cord injuries to developmental and behavioral issues such as autism and mental health.

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