Meet The board
Lawrence fung, md, phd
Dr. Lawrence Fung is a scientist and psychiatrist specialized in autism, and the father of a teenager on the autism spectrum. He is the director of the Stanford Neurodiversity Project, which strives to uncover the strengths of neurodiverse individuals and utilize their talents to increase innovation and productivity of the society as a whole. He directs the Neurodiverse Student Support Program, Neurodiversity at Work Program, and Adult Neurodevelopment Clinic at Stanford. Dr. Fung is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. His lab advances the understanding of neural bases of human socio-communicative and cognitive functions by using novel neuroimaging and technologies. His team devises and implements novel interventions to improve the lives of neurodiverse individuals by maximizing their potential and productivity. He is currently conducting a study to demonstrate that specialized employment programs such as Neurodiversity at Work program will result in higher retention rates and quality of life.
REnee wachtel, md
Treasurer and Secretary
Dr. Renee C. Wachtel is a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician and a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at UCSF. She has been involved in autism research over many years, including investigating potential metabolic causes for autism and early detection of autism. She teaches pediatric residents from UCSF and is an advocate for children with special needs at the state and local level. She has worked with the pediatric community to recognize the important role of pediatric providers in the screening of children in their practices for developmental delays and behavioral issues that impact the child and their family. She has worked with many vulnerable and at-risk populations and has many years of experience with community supports for children and their families with developmental disabilities.
lisa croen, phd
Dr. Lisa Croen is a senior research scientist at the Division of Research (DOR), Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC), and the director of the Kaiser Permanente Autism Research Program. Her research interests include the epidemiology of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, environmental exposures and gene/environment interaction, and the delivery of health services to individuals with autism spectrum disorder across the life span. Currently, Dr. Croen is the Co-Principal investigator at Kaiser Permanente of the NIH-funded ECHO study, principal investigator of several NIH-funded studies including Early Markers for Autism study (EMA) and Immune and Metabolic markers during Pregnancy and Child Neurodevelopment (IMPaCT), and site principal investigator on several large federally funded autism studies including the Study to Explore Early Development (SEED), the Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation (EARLI), the Autism Centers of Excellence ACTION Network, and the ECHO ASD-ER study. In collaboration with clinical colleagues, she is conducting mixed methods studies to evaluate autism treatments at KPNC, the transition from pediatric to adult healthcare among KPNC patients with autism, barriers and facilitators of healthcare service use among Latino families affected by autism, and the health status and healthcare utilization of adults with autism. Dr. Croen received her master's degree in public health and her doctorate in epidemiology, both from the University of California, Berkeley.
joachim hallmayer, md
Dr. Joachim Hallmayer is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University and a member of Stanford Bio-X, the Maternal and Child Health Research Institute, and the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute. A main focus of Dr. Hallmayer's research is to find genetic markers linked to autism and pervasive developmental disorders. A second research focus is to resolve the heterogeneity of clinical phenotypes such as schizophrenia into genetically simpler, quantifiable components, thus facilitating the search for susceptibility genes for these disorders. Several phenotypes that have been reported to correlate with clinical schizophrenia are currently being studied. These include neurocognitive variables such as sustained attention and a number of event-related potentials such as mismatch negativity, MMN.
lauren weiss, phd
Dr. Lauren Weiss earned her BS in Human Genetics from the University of Michigan, where she began studying the genetics of autism in the lab of Dr. Miriam Meisler. She received her Ph.D. in Human Genetics from The University of Chicago, where she worked with Dr. Carole Ober and Dr. Ed Cook, Jr. Her postdoctoral fellowship in Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics was carried out in Boston at Massachusetts General Hospital/Broad Institute (Harvard/MIT) with Dr. Pamela Sklar and Dr. Mark Daly. She joined the faculty of UCSF as a Staglin Family/IMHRO Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Institute for Human Genetics in 2008. Her research focuses on understanding the genetic architecture of autism - working with genome-wide genetic data to identify additional susceptibility loci, the genetic mechanisms by which DNA variants influence autism risk, and the genetic and physiological pathways these risk loci implicate, with long term goals to use genetic tools to improve understanding, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of autism and related traits.
michelle pearl, PhD
Dr. Michelle Pearl is a Research Scientist with the Environmental Health Investigations Branch of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). She received her MPH and PhD in epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Pearl has contributed over 40 peer-reviewed publications, with a focus on social and environmental exposures during pregnancy and their impact on birth and developmental outcomes. Her current research explores multigenerational effects of smoking and air pollution exposure on risk of autism in the third generation.
somer bishop, phd
Dr. Somer Bishop is a clinical psychologist and Associate Professor in Residence in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Weill Institute for Neurosciences at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Bishop’s research and clinical interests focus on the assessment of social-communication and restricted and repetitive behaviors characteristic of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and how these symptom dimensions are affected by individual and contextual factors across the lifespan. Dr. Bishop’s research is focused on identifying and refining dimensional measures of ASD-related behavior. She is interested in developing tools that can be used in both clinical and research settings to assess profiles of social-communicative and other behavioral strengths and challenges across development in varied clinical populations (e.g., ASD, intellectual disability, ADHD). Another line of research focuses on promoting psychological health and well-being among adolescents and adults on the autism spectrum, with a particular focus on understanding the impact of positive and negative social experiences on depressive symptoms. Her work has been funded by NIH, HRSA, DoD, the Autism Science Foundation, and the Simons Foundation. She has co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters, and she serves on multiple journal editorial boards and grant review panels. At the UCSF Center for ASDs and NDDs, Dr. Bishop participates in comprehensive, multi-disciplinary assessment and treatment of children and adults with neurodevelopmental disorders. She directs the diagnostic training program, conducting multiple-day trainings on widely used autism diagnostic tools and best diagnostic practices for professionals from all over the world.
JENNIFER AMES, phd
Jennifer Ames is a staff scientist in the Division of Research at Kaiser Permanente Northern California. Dr. Ames research interests include the delivery of healthcare services to autistic individuals across the lifespan and the interplay of genetic and environmental factors in the etiology of autism. Her current studies focus on improving the transition from pediatric to adult care for autistic youth and addressing disparities in reproductive health care services in autistic women and gender-diverse adults. One of the overarching goals of this research is to improve access to inclusive and neurodivergent-competent healthcare for people with autism and other developmental disabilities.
Dr Ames is also applying novel methods in polygenic and complex environmental mixtures modeling to better understand how interactions between prenatal exposures to multiple endocrine-disrupting chemicals and genetic variation in specific genes may influence neurodevelopment. She enjoys working with multidisciplinary settings, with collaborators in environmental health, biostatistics, immunology, and genetics.
MEET THE staff
Isabella graduated from Stanford in 2021 with a B.A.H in Human Biology and a B.A. in Linguistics. In undergrad, she won three national championships as a member and captain of the Stanford women’s lightweight rowing team, led the Stanford Women’s Educational Erging Program, and was a preclinical interviewer and coordinator of patient advocates at Cardinal Free Clinics. She’s interested in the intersection of autism, child language acquisition and medicine. Previously, conducting research on neurotypical word and conceptual learning for her undergraduate thesis, she is currently studying expressive language and the cognitive and linguistic correlates of reading acquisition in autistic children at Tsinghua University. Isabella is also the event coordinator for the 2022 Stanford Neurodiversity Summit and a camp counselor for Stanford Neurodiversity Project - Research, Education, Advocacy Camp for High Schoolers.