Talk will include a call for greater equity in research
UC Davis MIND Institute Director Leonard Abbeduto will kick off the highly regarded Distinguished Lecturer Series on Oct. 11. Abbeduto, who is a distinguished professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, will present “Rethinking Treatment Studies in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities: Insights from 12 Years at the MIND Institute.”
The talk will take place at 4:30 p.m. at the MIND Institute, located at 2825 50th St. in Sacramento. Admission is free and no registration is required. Researchers, clinicians and the public are all welcome.
UC Davis MIND Institute
Distinguished Lecturer Series
Who: Leonard Abbeduto, UC Davis MIND Institute
What: “Rethinking Treatment Studies in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities: Insights from 12 Years at the MIND Institute.”
When: Oct. 11, 2023, 4:30 p.m.
Where: UC Davis MIND Institute, 225 50th St., Sacramento, CA 95817
All lectures are free and open to the public. No registration is required, and seating is first come, first served.
It’s not Abbeduto’s first Distinguished Lecturer Series presentation. He was a speaker in the series in 2007, when he was chair of the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. That talk covered his early research characterizing the nature of the language and communication challenges experienced by youth with fragile X syndrome or Down syndrome. Abbeduto says the experience helped steer him to the MIND Institute four years later.
This time, Abbeduto will focus on the state of research in the field of neurodevelopmental disabilities. “I’ll be talking about how we think about clinical trials, how we measure outcomes and about shifting the way we sort people into categories for diagnosis, intervention and research.”
Abbeduto will call for greater equity in research. “We want to move away from identifying people solely in terms of a diagnosis and recognize that people have many other factors that may influence their trajectory. A more holistic approach would be more equitable.”
Abbeduto recently coauthored an impactful commentary about this paradigm shift. It was the basis for a special issue in the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
“It’s fascinating to look back and see how differently we are doing things today, compared to when I gave my first series lecture in 2007,” he shared.
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to address the community one last time as director of the MIND Institute,” Abbeduto said. It has been the highlight of my career and I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned with all who attend.”
A bittersweet event
It’s bittersweet as well, since Abbeduto is stepping down as director of the MIND Institute at the end of October. He’s been at the helm of the world-renowned research and clinical care institute for nearly 12 years and will transition to emeritus faculty.
Abbeduto led a significant expansion of MIND Institute faculty, adding 20 new faculty members, who hail from both campuses, for a total of about 60 now. He also oversaw a major expansion of clinical care and services, including a wide array of diagnostic and treatment options and a division of Genomic Medicine through the Department of Pediatrics. In addition, he supported new clinics focused on individuals with disabilities transitioning to adulthood and the early diagnosis of autism.
Among his key accomplishments was securing National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for the MIND Institute Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center. This grant provides core support to more than 80 projects and dozens of scientists on both campuses.
In recent years, diversity, equity and inclusion have been a key focus for Abbeduto, who is known for his collaborative leadership style. He also helped to create and co-directs the UC Davis Redwood SEED Scholars, a four-year, inclusive, residential college program for students with intellectual disabilities on the Davis campus.
After he transitions, Abbeduto will continue his research. He studies the development of language across the lifespan in individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Abbeduto has published more than 240 articles, chapters, reviews and books on fragile X syndrome, autism, Down syndrome and child development. His research has been NIH-funded since 1985.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to address the community one last time as director of the MIND Institute,” Abbeduto said. “It has been the highlight of my career and I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned with all who attend.”
The UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento, Calif. is a unique, interdisciplinary research, clinical, and education center committed to deepening scientific understanding of autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions. It is a highly collaborative center, bringing together families, researchers, clinicians, community leaders and volunteers with the common goal of developing more personalized, equitable, and scientifically proven systems of support and intervention. The institute has major research efforts in autism, fragile X syndrome, chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Down syndrome. More information about the institute and its Distinguished Lecturer Series, including previous presentations in this series, is available on the Web at mindinstitute.ucdavis.edu.