Amanda Gulsrud: Alumna Represents UCLA in National Study of Autism

Assistant professor at Geffen School of Medicine leads UCLA's participation in the SPARK study, which will explore spectrum disorders through DNA data.

Amanda Gulsrud (’07, Ph.D., Human Development & Psychology), assistant professor in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in autism and the development of early interventions, appeared on CBS News for her involvement with SPARK for Autism. Dr. Gulsrud leads UCLA’s participation in the national program, which provides free DNA testing for families with children on the autism spectrum in order to learn more about the condition and to find solutions.

The Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART) at UCLA’s Semel Institute is actively seeking families in underserved communities in Los Angeles to take part in the SPARK study.

“We know that communities of color are not represented in research at the rate of White families,” said Gulsrud to CBS News. “Autism does not discriminate. It occurs at equal rates across all ethnic groups. So it’s important to get representation in research like this.”

Currently, more than 15,000 families are engaged in the SPARK program nationwide; the program is seeking data from 50,000 families.

Dr. Gulsrud is the clinical director of the UCLA Child and Adult Neurodevelopmental Clinic and co-leads an Autism Speaks Early Access to Care initiative, developing and delivering treatments in the low-resourced community of South Los Angeles. Dr. Gulsrud was awarded the Autism Speaks 10 most significant research achievements in 2010 and again in 2012 for her work in collaboration with Connie Kasari on parent-mediated early intervention and peer-mediated intervention in schools. Dr. Gulsrud is the principal investigator for the Center for Autism Research & Treatment (CART) at UCLA.

To watch the segment on CBS.com, visit this link.