Ongoing research studies at The Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders focus primarily on the development of novel behavioral interventions and strategies for better health outcomes for children with ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Our research provides important information on the underlying mechanisms of neurodevelopmental disorders as well as the efficacy of interventions in individuals with ASD, ADHD, and comorbid conditions.  The following is a list of ongoing projects:

Autism Treatment Network (ATN).  The ATN is a major national research network consisting of 14 national and  international sites. The purpose of this project is to help develop evidence-based protocols and standards of care for many of the most challenging medical conditions surrounding autism today.  Learn more about the Autism Treatment Network (ATN) by clicking here.

Autism and Gastrointestinal Dysfunction. The purpose of this study is to research the links between gastrointestinal symptoms and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The aim of this research program is to examine if successful treatment of functional constipation results in the improvement of ASD-related behaviors and oxidative stress. Please contact Tanya Thampipop for more information at 949-267-0491. Click here for flyer.

Career Development Counseling for Adolescents and Young Adults with ASD. The purpose of this project is to examine the success of a tailored career counseling tool for individuals with ASD. This tool provides an assessment of interests and skill development as well as progress monitoring. Please contact Jean Gehricke’s lab for more information at 949-267-0491.

The Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders Research Recruitment Database. The purpose of this research study is to collect consent from families to participate in a research database, the ATN Registry, and to be contacted about future research studies in autism and neurodevelopmental disorders. Please contact Jennifer Phan for more information at 949-267-0454.

Coordination of the frontal lobes perfusion and the motor-sensory cortex in children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder. The purpose of this research study is to investigate the brain’s hemodynamic (i.e., circulation of the blood) response to tactile (sense of touch) support in ASD treatment, using Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS). NIRS is a non-invasive optical imaging, which measures changes of the blood concentration in the brain. The goal of this study is to provide findings that will assist psychologists and neurologists in understanding and utilizing valid communication techniques that could help children with ASD in developing their communication skills. Please contact Jean Gehricke’s lab for more information at 949-267-0491.

Prefrontal cortex phase synchronization as a biomarker for autism. The aim of this NIRS study is to evaluate patterns of spontaneous neurovascular integration in the right and left frontal cortex of children with ASD as a biomarker for autism. The proposed study is the first that will document phase-synchronization deficits in children with ASD, which will set the stage for more research on PFC-phase synchronization as a biomarker for early detection, treatment outcome, and development of phenotypes that are part of the autism spectrum for the development of the brain imaging–genetics of ASD. Please contact Jean Gehricke’s lab for more information at 949-267-0491.

Project BIG (Brain Imaging and Genetics). This project focuses on the neurobehavioral correlates of ADHD and drug abuse. Individuals with ADHD are at an increased risk for drug abuse. The study uses various brain imaging modalities and genetic approaches to understand and develop treatment for drug abuse in individuals with ADHD. Please contact Jean Gehricke’s lab for more information at 949-267-0491.

Project SAM (Student-Assisted Minecraft Therapy). This project focuses on the effects of Minecraft Therapy on attention, processing speed, and collaborative as well as creative activities.  Minecraft engineers are UCI students trained in coaching children with autism and ADHD. Please contact Jean Gehricke’s lab for more information at 949-267-0491.

Project SALT (Student-Assisted LEGO Therapy). The aim of this project is to examine a curriculum designed to enhance vocal communication and social skills in a fun and creative atmosphere using LEGOs. Coaches are trained students from UCI, who will assist in building LEGOs, communication, and social skill development.  Please contact Jean Gehricke’s lab for more information at 949-267-0491. Click here for flyer.

Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART) under the leadership of nationally recognized metabolic genetic specialist Dr. J. Jay Gargus, UC Irvine professor of physiology & biophysics and professor of pediatrics, the team of researchers have launched an innovative drug discovery platform that unites UC Irvine scientists from diverse areas of study in a common purpose: to develop an effective ASD drug therapy. This multidisciplinary initiative explores the causes and cures of ASD through a broad spectrum of studies ranging from gene function to cell biology to brain function and behavior.

Jean Gehricke, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and an Associate Professor at the UCI Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Gehricke is well known for his scientific work on the underlying mechanisms of ASD, ADHD and comorbid drug abuse. He has been the Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator on numerous research grants funded by the National Institutes of Health, Autism Speaks, the California Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Currently, he is expanding this research program by using brain-imaging techniques to better understand complex brain-behavior interactions.  In addition, Dr. Gehricke is developing novel behavioral interventions, which include play therapy and transition services for individuals with ASD.

Gillian Hayes, Ph.D., Assistant Professor from the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science is our Director of Technology Research. She has been participating in research regarding how technology can assist children and families impacted by autism and have begun providing parent workshops at our center. She will participate in the broader teaching efforts of our center as well as helping us create and/or develop partnerships for clinical technology services.

Erik Linstead, PhD., Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Software Engineering and director of the undergraduate computing programs in the Schmid College of Science and Technology at Chapman University is our Associate Director of Technology Research.  Projects in his lab span the areas of deep learning, mobile computing, predictive analytics, and virtual reality.  Erik holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Pediatrics at UC, Irvine, and serves on the board of directors for Autism Research Group (ARG).

We hope you’ll consider participating in a local or national research project that can help us create and disseminate new and more effective treatments for our children.  Your decision to participate in any study is completely voluntary and will not affect your child’s care at our center.


2500 Red Hill Ave
Suite 100
Santa Ana, CA 92705


Phone: 1.949.267.0400
Fax: 1.949.221.0004
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University of California, Irvine Choc Childrens Chapman University William & Nancy Thompson Family Foundation Children & Families Commission of Orange County