The Lurie Family Autism Center will build on the clinical practice at LADDERS, a program at MassGeneral Hospital for Children that provides expertise in neurology, developmental pediatrics, gastroenterology, and psychiatry/psychopharmacology for children with autism. The gift from the foundation will enable the expansion of the clinical program into adult internal medicine, augmentative communication, nutrition, audiology, vocational and transitional planning support, and care coordination between clinicians, therapists, educational and family counselors, and researchers.
"Many of the children we saw originally are not children anymore," said Margaret Bauman, who founded LADDERS in 1981. "They stayed with us because they have no other place to go where their unique challenges are understood by doctors and therapists."
A national search has begun for a director for the Lurie Center. That person will hold an endowed chair at Harvard Medical School and, through the foundation's gift and the ongoing commitment of MGH to outreach and fundraising, will be provided with the resources to promote the discovery and testing of new treatments and the training of future leaders specializing in medical care for the autistic population. The center also will participate in a separate multi-institutional medical training program at HMS funded by the NLM Family Foundation to educate a new generation of physicians in the modern care of patients with autism.
"Through the years, the Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation has done so much to advance the understanding of autism spectrum disorders, and we are honored to join in this enduring partnership," said MGH president Peter Slavin. "With this transformational gift, the Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation is breaking new ground in the scientific study and clinical care of autism spectrum disorders. We are deeply committed to utilizing MGH's full research enterprise to gain new and pioneering insights into these developmental disorders, while providing the finest multidisciplinary, compassionate lifespan care to patients and families affected by autism."