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Home > ARRA Stories > Dr. Linda M. Brzustowicz Awarded NIH Challenge Grant To Study Genetic Biomarkers for Autism
Dr. Linda M. Brzustowicz Awarded NIH Challenge Grant To Study Genetic Biomarkers for Autism

October 5, 2009

Photo of Dr. Linda Brzustowicz

Dr. Linda M. Brzustowicz

Dr. Linda M. Brzustowicz, professor of Genetics at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-New Brunswick, has been awarded a research grant from the National Institutes of Health's Challenge Grant Program for her proposal, “Behavioral and Genetic Biomarker Development for Autism and Related Disorders,” to study behavioral and genetic components of autism.

The NIH Challenge Grant Program is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 to “support research on topic areas which address specific scientific and health research challenges in biomedical and behavioral research (that will) have a high impact in biomedical or behavioral science and/or public health.” Dr. Brzustowicz is one of only a few hundred scientists nationally to receive one of these prestigious grants awarded from more than 20,000 applications. With collaborators Dr. Judy Flax (Rutgers-New Brunswick Department of Genetics), Dr. Steven Buyske (Rutgers-New Brunswick Department of Statistics), Dr. Barbie Zimmerman-Bier (Chief of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at The Children's Hospital at Saint Peters University Hospital) and Dr. Christopher Bartlett (Department of Pediatrics, The Ohio State University), Dr. Brzustowicz intends to identify behavioral traits, particularly aspects of language ability, that are strongly influenced by genetic factors in family members of individuals with autism. The project will seek to identify the specific genes involved in these traits. Autism and related disorders are a major cause of developmental disability worldwide. Dr. Brzustowicz's project combines detailed behavioral assessments of individuals with autism and their extended family members, together with state-of-the-art molecular and statistical genetic approaches to better understand the complex genetic basis of this disorder.

About Dr. Linda M. Brzustowicz

Dr. Brzustowicz obtained an A.B. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Harvard University and an M.D. from Columbia University, and completed residency training in Psychiatry at Columbia University before joining the faculty at Rutgers in 1994 as an assistant professor. She is a board-certified psychiatrist with training in molecular and statistical genetics. Dr. Brzustowicz's Psychiatric Genetics Laboratory at Rutgers focuses on understanding the genetic component of serious behavioral disorders, including autism, schizophrenia, and specific language impairment, with the goal of identifying new insights that will lead to improvements in diagnosis and treatment.

In fiscal year 2009, more than $391 million of research at Rutgers was sponsored by the federal government, state government, corporations, and foundations, providing research experiences for undergraduates, support for graduate assistants and postdoctoral researchers, and bringing state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to our campuses.

This article originally appeared on the Rutgers and Federal Recovery Funding website. Reposted with permission.

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  • Autism
  • Behavioral and Social Science
  • Brain Disorders
  • Clinical Research
  • Genetics
  • Human Genome
  • Mental Health
  • Mental Retardation (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD))
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