Keynote Speakers


Pat Levitt, PhD - Thursday Keynote

  • Simms/Mann Chair in Developmental Neurogenetics, Institute for the Developing Mind, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
  • WM Keck Provost Professor of Neurogenetics, Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California (USC)

Pat Levitt directs the Developmental Neurogenetics Program of the Institute for the Developing Mind at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the USC Neuroscience Graduate Program. Levitt is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine. He also serves as Co-Scientific Director of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, a policy council that brings the best research from child development and neuroscience to assist state and federal policy makers and private sector business leaders in making wise decisions regarding program investment. Levitt’s research program focuses on the development of brain circuitry that controls learning, emotional and social behavior. Basic research involves determining the genetic and environment factors that influence circuit formation and the underlying influence of individual differences (heterogeneity) in complex behaviors. Clinical research addresses individual differences in symptoms exhibited by children with autismwho also have co-occurring medical conditions, as well as very young children exposed to adversity early in life that disrupts a child’s short- and long-term mental and physical health.


Connie Kasari, PhD - Friday Keynote 

  • University of California, Los Angeles, Professor of Human Development and Psychology, and Psychiatry 

Since 1990, Dr. Kasari has been on the faculty at UCLA where she teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses, and has been the primary advisor to more than 50 PhD students.  Her research aims to develop novel, evidence-tested interventions implemented in community settings.  Recent projects include targeted treatments for early social communication development in at risk infants, toddlers and preschoolers with autism, and peer relationships for school aged children with autism. She leads several large multi-site studies including a network on interventions for minimally verbal school aged children with ASD, and a network that aims to decrease disparities in interventions for children with ASD who are under-represented in research trials.  


Ami Klin, PhD - Saturday Joint Keynote

  • Director of the Marcus Autism Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University School of Medicine
  • Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar Professor and Chief of the Division of Autism and Developmental Disorders in the Department of Pediatrics at Emory

Dr. Klin obtained his PhD from the University of London, and completed clinical and research post-doctoral fellowships at the Yale Child Study Center. Subsequently, Dr. Klin directed Yale’s Autism Program and its NIH Autism Center of Excellence, and was the Harris Professor of Child Psychology & Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. The Marcus Autism Center is one of the largest centers of clinical care in the US and an NIH Autism Center of Excellence, with a comprehensive interdisciplinary program of research in basic, clinical and implementation science. Dr. Klin’s research activities addresses developmental aspects of social mind and social brain, from infancy through adulthood, with a current emphasis on lab- and community-based methods for advancing universal early screening, for promoting social-communication wellness, and for augmenting access to early intervention services. Together with Dr. Warren Jones, he has pioneered research methods for visualization and quantification of social visual engagement and reciprocal social interaction. 


Warren Jones, PhD - Saturday Joint Keynote

  • Director of Research at the Marcus Autism Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University School of Medicine
  • Norman Shutters Chair in Autism & Social Neuroscience and Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Emory.

Dr. Jones completed his PhD in Neuroscience at Yale University School of Medicine. Together with Dr. Ami Klin, he has pioneered research methods for visualization and quantification of social visual engagement and reciprocal social inter-action. Dr. Jones directs the Social Neuroscience Laboratory at the Marcus Autism Center, which focuses on mapping and quantifying the developmental course of social disability in autism spectrum disorder from birth through young adulthood. His research goals are measuring and quantifying the behavioral, brain and genetic foundations of social development in order to better understand the causes and consequences of autism and related disabilities. Dr. Jones leads development of a series of tools arising from this research aimed at future efforts to inform early identification and intervention.   






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