November 10, 2015

Wayne State's University Pediatricians Autism Center, Michigan Area Health Education Center and College of Education receive $750,000 to expand autism initiatives in Michigan

DETROIT - The University Pediatricians Autism Center (UPAC) in the Wayne State University School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, the Wayne State University College of Education, and the Michigan Area Health Education Center (MI-AHEC) - a Wayne State University program that seeks to increase access to quality primary care providers in underserved communities - today announced that they have been awarded a $750,000 contract from the State of Michigan to increase the number of applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapists, diagnostic and treatment centers, and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) clinical training for primary care providers. The multidisciplinary team will be lead by Krista Clancy, M.S., LLP, BCBA, director of behavioral services at UPAC. The contract is effective Nov. 1, 2015, through Sept. 30, 2016.

Steven E. Lipshultz, M.D., FAAP, FAHA, chair of the Department of Pediatrics, University Pediatricians  president, and pediatrician-in-chief of the Children's Hospital of Michigan, said, "The University Pediatricians Autism Center was founded in 2008 by internationally prominent autism investigator Diane C. Chugani, Ph.D. This new funding will directly help meet our critical need for greater availability of faster, more effective screening and treatment of children for ASD; early, active involvement by parents; and help meet the critical need for more trained providers."  

Chugani, professor of pediatrics and chief of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, added, "We are extremely proud of the team we have built at UPAC to meet the needs of children with ASD and their families, and of Krista Clancy, who has collaborated with MI-AHEC and the College of Education's educational psychology program to develop and implement new programs for the training of board certified behavior analysts (BCBA) and registered behavior technicians to allow more children to access treatment."  

Clancy and the UPAC team have been collaborating with the College of Education since 2013, and are currently training their fourth cohort of students in the BCBA master's program. When it comes to treatment, early use of intensive behavioral therapy remains the current standard of care, and UPAC is working to make this treatment available to all children with ASD.

"Michigan AHEC is on the cutting edge of developing programs to address the need for trained workers to help treat children with autism," said Ramona Benkert, Ph.D., ANP-BC, FAANP, co-principal investigator and interim associate dean for academic and clinical affairs of the Wayne State University College of Nursing. "We are very pleased to partner with UPAC and the College of Education on this State of Michigan initiative, which will allow us to expand on our efforts to help increase services to individuals with ASD."  

"The autism state contract is perfectly aligned with AHEC's mission of providing much-needed clinical support and education to children, families and health care professionals dealing with Autism Spectrum Disorders," added Tsveti Markova, M.D., FAAFP, co-principal investigator of MI-AHEC, endowed chair and professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences, and associate dean for graduate medical education. "Training of the Wayne State University family medicine residents will allow them to work interprofessionally with nurse practitioner and physician assistant graduate students to provide optimal care at autism centers. This initiative is expected to increase access, improve quality of care and reduce health care costs in Michigan."  

MI-AHEC is funded by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (Grant # U77HP26582) and Wayne State University. Academic partners include Wayne State University's College of Nursing, School of Medicine, Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and School of Social Work; the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry; Central Michigan University; Western Michigan University; and Northern Michigan University.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports ASD is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the country, with approximately one in 68 children diagnosed with ASD nationwide. In Michigan, during the 2014-15 school year, the Michigan Department of Education reported 17,986 children with ASD in special education - annual growth rate has been seven to eight percent in the last five years.


Rachel Huber
Phone: 313-577-0437
Krista M.
Phone: 734-564-1849