In his inaugural address on April 15, 2011, John Fry, announced the formation of the Drexel Autism Public Health Research Institute (APHRI). The Institute will be the first autism research center focused on public health science.
Housed in Drexel’s School of Public Health and directed by Craig Newschaffer, Professor and Chair of the Department and Epidemiology and Biostatistics, the Institute will focus on research intended to:
- Discover preventable causes of autism spectrum disorders
- Develop approaches that will help children with autism receive services more quickly and efficiently
- Promote the spread of effective intervention approaches throughout the community, including underserved areas
- Provide a better understanding of how adolescents and young adults with autism can be integrated into the community and lead maximally independent and fulfilling lives
- Create new ways to share accurate information about autism that puts scientific accuracy at the forefront but respects community perspectives.
The Institute will build on the faculty, resources and research ongoing at the Drexel University School of Public Health. Most notably, the School of Public Health is the national coordinator of the Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation (EARLI), directed by Dr. Newschaffer, and is one of the NIH's few Autism Centers of Excellence research projects. EARLI is a network of research sites that will enroll and follow 1,200 mothers of children with autism at the start of another pregnancy and document the newborn child’s development through three years of age. The EARLI Study will examine possible environmental risk factors for autism and study whether there is any interplay between environmental factors and genetic susceptibility.
Additionally, faculty and students at the School of Public Health lead research into the interplay of environmental exposures and genetic predisposition, as well as the ethics of communicating autism research findings.