National Institutes of Health Awards $100 million for Autism Centers of Excellence Program

Mount Sinai School of Medicine is one of nine grantees to receive research funding over next five years.

New York
 – October 15, 2012 /Press Release/  –– 

The Mount Sinai Medical Center and four other leading institutions have received a $100 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to support clinical trials that determine whether oxytocin nasal spray improves social functioning in children with autism spectrum disorder.

"The study is unique because it is the largest treatment study with oxytocin to date as it will ultimately include 300 children (ages 3-17) with an autism spectrum diagnosis," said Alexander Kolevzon, MD, Clinical Director of the Seaver Autism Center and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics. "This is one of the first treatment studies that will focus  on both verbal and nonverbal individuals and will target the core symptom of social deficits in autism."

Study participants will receive either active medicine (oxytocin) or placebo (fake medicine) for the first 6 months and then all participants will receive the active medicine (oxytocin) for an additional 6 months.

The study will take place at the ASPIRE program at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, NC; the Lurie Center for Autism of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City ; Seattle Children’s Research Institute; and the Vanderbilt Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD), Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.

"Our objective is to provide the infrastructure necessary to meet the needs of the autism community across the continental United States by developing novel treatments to help with core ASD symptoms on an ongoing basis," said Dr. Kolevzon. "The overarching purpose of the ACE SOARS Network is to develop and optimize safe, personalized treatments that improve functioning and reduce disability for individuals with autism spectrum disorders."

The Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai School of Medicine will play a critical role in the SOARS Network as one of five clinical trial sites. Total funding to Mount Sinai will exceed $1.5 million over five years.

About The Mount Sinai Medical Center

The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Established in 1968, Mount Sinai School of Medicine is one of the leading medical schools in the United States. The Medical School is noted for innovation in education, biomedical research, clinical care delivery, and local and global community service. It has more than 3,400 faculty in 32 departments and 14 research institutes, and ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and by U.S. News & World Report.

The Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation's oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. In 2012, U.S. News & World Report ranked The Mount Sinai Hospital 14th on its elite Honor Roll of the nation's top hospitals based on reputation, safety, and other patient-care factors. Mount Sinai is one of 12 integrated academic medical centers whose medical school ranks among the top 20 in NIH funding and by  U.S. News & World Report and whose hospital is on the U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll.  Nearly 60,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients last year, and approximately 560,000 outpatient visits took place. 

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