Autism expert Matthew Lerner, an associate professor of Psychology, Psychiatry, and Pediatrics at Stony Brook University, has received the 2019 Richard “Dick” Abidin Early Career Award and Grant from the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, which includes a $20,000 grant to help fund his study of a novel approach to treat anxiety and depression in teenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). As director of the Social Competence and Treatment Lab at Stony Brook, Lerner and his team try to understand how children and teens connect to one another and make friends, with a particular focus on helping those with ASD.
According the Society, the annual award is “intended to recognize an early career psychologist who has established a program of empirical research that has a major impact on the field’s understanding of psychopathology, prevention, assessment, treatment, or public policy relative to child and adolescent development or mental health.”
“Current approaches to treating teenagers with ASD who experience anxiety and depression are complex and take significant amounts of time with patients and caregivers,” said Lerner. “We are taking an approach that may potentially be less burdensome and take less time than standard treatments to help alleviate these troubling problems that often occur with teenagers who have ASD.”
Dr. Lerner is collaborating with Jessica Schleider, an assistant professor of Clinical Psychology, to launch the study that begins in September. The Abidin award enables the researchers to use the funding for the study in an unrestricted manner for a one-to-two-year period.
Lerner is also coordinator of the Stony Brook Autism Research Group, an interdisciplinary team of investigators with an interest in ASD. In this role he conducts translational and clinical research involving children and adults with ASD and related social challenges, engages the local ASD community in these research efforts to ensure their practical utility, and trains graduate students, undergraduates, residents, and fellows in these and similar efforts.
In 2016 Professor Lerner received a $2.3M Biobehavioral Research Award for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS) from the National Institute of Mental Health for his research project, “Optimizing Prediction of Social Deficits in Autism Spectrum Disorders.”
Read more about the Lerner Lab