Greeting from Dr. Joel Bregman
|Dr. Joel Bregman speaking at Thompson Center grand opening
Since my arrival in December, I have focused my efforts on becoming fully acquainted with the current programs of the Center and meeting with leaders of the Schools and Departments of the University that play a key role in Center activities. It is clear that in the Thompson Center’s brief history, a great deal of progress has been made toward achieving the goal of becoming a regional and national center of excellence. With the support of the faculty and staff of the Center, the academic leaders and administrators of the University, State government, and the Thompson Foundation, I plan to lead the next phase of the Center’s development in continuing the pace of diagnostic assessment, expanding the range of evidence-based treatment interventions, increasing professional consultation to school districts and health centers, enhancing the interdisciplinary nature of clinical services, and integrating expanded research efforts with the goal of unraveling the complex genetics and neurobiology of autism and identifying biological and clinical predictors of treatment response.
During my first week as Executive Director, I had the pleasure of participating in the grand opening ceremony of the new state-of-the-art Thompson Center facility. We were honored by the presence and participation of Nancy and Bill Thompson, University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton, Governor Jay Nixon, state representatives, and members of the Thompson Foundation. This was truly an auspicious occasion, ushering in a new era in the development of this Center of Excellence.
The faculty and professional staff of the Thompson Center continue to receive honors and well-deserved grant support for their clinical and research endeavors. The Autism Treatment Network grant was renewed to support work in developing best medical practices for patient care. This project, funded by Autism Speaks, is a collaborative effort with other major autism centers throughout the country. Dr. David Beversdorf received two awards to support his work exploring the roles of brain chemistry, structure, and function, stress, and immunity in autism (from the US Health Research Service Administration, and the KC Area Life Sciences Institute). Drs. Janet Farmer and Micah Mazurek and their colleagues received Mizzou Advantage awards for their studies, “Treating Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Technological Innovation for Children’s Health Care” and “Exploring Human-Companion Animal Interaction for Families of Children with Autism,” respectively. To complement current research and treatment initiatives, a clinical trials program is being initiated at the Thompson Center. This program will implement standardized, scientific methods to study the effectiveness and safety of medications and other treatments through participation in multi-site investigations funded by federal, private foundation, and pharmaceutical company grants. In the near future, three funded clinical trials will begin; targeting motor and language challenges, irritability and serious problem behavior, and core features of autism spectrum disorders.
The Thompson Center welcomes Dr. Jamie Severtson, Ph.D., BCBA, who joins the Intervention Division. Her leadership, in collaboration with Drs. Janet Farmer and Jessa Love, will be instrumental in expanding much needed behavioral treatment services and BCBA training initiatives.
The Center continues to provide the community with high quality educational programs. Recently, Drs. Temple Grandin and Catherine Lord gave insightful presentations on successful life experiences for those with autism spectrum disorders and new research efforts in diagnostic classification and treatment outcomes.
Those of us dedicated to the continued success and development of the Thompson Center express our gratitude to those who support our efforts, including the Thompson Foundation, the University of Missouri, the State of Missouri, and other philanthropic foundations. We wish to thank the Ella’s Hope Foundation for donating a portion of their well deserved award from the Pepsi Refresh Grant.
Joel Bregman, MD