Our Impact 2019

2019 Scientific Review Process

The Eagles Autism Foundation is committed to investing every dollar raised by participants into cutting-edge autism research as well as programs in the community. By providing the necessary resources to doctors, scientists, and clinicians at world-class institutions, we will be able to assist those touched by autism, as well as future generations.

For the scientific review process this year, the Eagles Autism Foundation continued to work with their scientific advisor, Dr. Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom, an accomplished biomedical researcher from the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School to lead the scientific review process. This year’s peer review panel is made up of fourteen internationally recognized researchers who have demonstrated a clear and steadfast commitment to autism research, services and programs. The chosen scientists are leaders in specific subject areas within Autism that contributed to a diverse and powerful panel.

2019 Panelists

Dr. Celine Saulnier

Celine Saulnier, PhD

Neurodevelopment Assessment and Consulting Services

Celine Saulnier earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Neuropsychology from the University of Connecticut. She then conducted her postdoctoral fellowship at the Yale Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine. She then became the training and clinical director of the Yale Autism Program. After that she was recruited to the Marcus Autism Center and Emory University School of Medicine to build a large-scale clinical research program. Since then she founded Neurodevelopmental Assessment and Consulting Services (NACS) which is a center for research-reliable diagnostic assessments, reevaluation at transitional times and support and recommendations for individuals, their families, and support networks for Autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders


Chiara Manzini, PhD

Child Health Institute of New Jersey

Chiara Manzini received her PhD from Columbia University. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at the Child Health Institute of New Jersey. She researches how deficits in brain development affect cognitive function. Her lab identifies genes which cause neurodevelopmental diseases such as intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorder or brain malformations. After this finding, they use animal models to recapitulate the human disease and observe the differences and the molecular mechanisms of development. The lab specifically looks at intracellular signaling deficits that could be targeted for the development of novel therapies.

Ted Abel, PHD

Ted Abel, PhD

University of Iowa

Ted Abel completed his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Harvard University and went on to complete his post-doctoral fellowship from Columbia University. Abel currently is completing research at the University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics. His current research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of memory storage and the molecular basis of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders. The lab currently uses mouse models to examine the role of molecular signaling pathways as well as transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of gene expression in defining how neural circuits mediate behavior.


Susan Bookheimer, PhD

University of California, LA

Susan Bookheimer completed her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Wayne State University.  Susan is a clinical neuropsychologist with an interest in human cognition in relation to brain structure, function, and pathology.  With this, her expertise lies in structural and functional MRI (fMRI), positron emission tomography, and intraoperative electrocortical stimulation mapping.  Her most recent work focuses on understanding the neural basis of social communication deficits in autism using fMRI in both verbal and nonverbal communication and focusing on emotional aspects of social comprehension.  Bookheimer has published more than 215 articles in the field of neurological and neurodevelopmental disabilities and is a leader in the field of autism neuroimaging.


Kristen Brennand, PhD

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Kristen Brennand completed her PhD from Harvard University.  She is currently a stem cell biologist working to bridge the fields of developmental neuroscience and psychiatry.  She currently focuses on developing in vitro models of schizophrenia in order to identify novel insights into the molecular and cellular phenotypes of mental illness.  She also focuses on research topics such as gene expression, human genetics and genetic disorders, migration and synaptogenesis.

Dr. Eric Butter

Eric Butter, PhD

Ohio State University College of Medicine

Eric Butter received his PhD in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Child Clinical and Community Psychology from Bowling Green State University.  Butter is a founding faculty member of Nationwide Children’s Child Development Center, which is an interdisciplinary program offering multiple specialties including psychology, social work, marriage and family therapy, speech and language therapy and genetics counseling. His research primarily focuses on bio-medical correlates and potential etiologies of Autism Spectrum disorder and ADHD as well as psychological and medical treatment of these disorders.

Dr. Heath Cody Hazlett

Heather Cody Hazlett, PhD

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Heather Cody Hazlett is a staff member at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities. She received her PhD in School Psychology specializing in child neuropsychology from the University of Georgia.  Hazlett is a licensed psychologist and her primary focus is on autism spectrum disorders.  Through her research she focuses cognitive neuroscience, brain development, magnetic resonance imaging and neuroimaging.  In addition to research, Hazlett participates in a multi-disciplinary clinic conducting evaluations for autism spectrum disorders and co-supervises a pediatric neuropsychology clinic.

Dr. Susan Hyman

Dr. Susan Hyman

University of Rochester Medical Center

Susan. L. Hyman, M.D., has three decades of experience treating and researching autism spectrum disorders and is the chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on Autism.  Hyman completed her M.D. from Brown University.  Hyman’s recent research has focused on the diet and nutrition of children with autism, most effective behavioral treatments for the developmental disorder, and medical management of children and adolescents with Autism. She is well-versed in current research of the genetic and potential environmental causes of autism and of the important role of parents in treating children.  Hyman’s research on the gluten- and casein-free diet, which is popular for individuals with Autism, showed that the diet had no impact on their behavior when they don’t have gastrointestinal issues.  Officials also called upon Hyman to explain the development of the sizeable jump in Autism prevalence rates in 2012 announced by the CDC to national media.

Dr. Eric Levine

Eric Levine, PhD

University of Connecticut School of Medicine

Eric Levine completed his PhD from Princeton University in Neuroscience. Levine’s current research focuses on synaptic modulation in the hippocampus and cortex of the mammalian brain.  Levine’s most recent work studies physiologic roles of endogenous cannabinoids and nerve growth factors such as BDNF in various forms of synaptic plasticity that are important for learning and memory.   Another area of interest of Levine’s focuses on neuronal and synaptic deficits in Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Matthew Maenner PHD

Matthew Maenner, PhD

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Matthew J. Maenner studied at University of Wisconsin and received his PhD from the School of Medicine and Public Health in Population Health on Epidemiology.  Maenner completed his dissertation based on how developmental disabilities are classified in epidemiological studies. He has numerous published manuscripts in the field of Autism.  Maenner now serves as an Epidemiologist and Surveillance Team Lead at the Center for Disease Control and Preventions Developmental Disabilities Branch.

Dr. Kimberly McAllister

Kimberley McAllister, PhD

University of California, Davis

Kimberley McAllister is the Director at the Center for Neuroscience at UC Davis under the College of Biological Sciences.  She received her PhD in Neurobiology from Duke University.  Her laboratory studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms of synapse formation in the developing cerebral cortex as well as the role for immune molecules in the brain during development and disease.  Kimberley focuses on Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, Development and Plasticity, and Medical Neuroscience.

Dr. Eric Morrow

Dr. Eric Morrow

Brown University

Eric M. Morrow received his PhD in genetics and neurodevelopment at Harvard University. He received his MD degree from the Health Science Training Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School. While at Harvard Medical School he conducted clinical and scientific training in neurology and psychiatry.  Before coming to Brown University, he was the Massachusetts General Hospital Rappaport Neuroscience Scholar and Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School.  His current research focuses on genetic perturbations that underlie disorders of human cognitive development.  He currently directs the Developmental Disorders Genetics Research Program (DDGRP) at Brown University.


Julie Lounds Taylor, PhD

Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Julie Lounds Taylor completed her PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University of Notre Dame.  Taylor’s current research program focuses on how individual, family, and societal characteristics interact to promote healthy development, particularly in the face of non-normative family situations. Her current research interests include developing and testing a parent advocacy training to improve service access and post-school outcomes as youth with Autism transition from school-based to adult services.  She is also investigating understanding the implications of employment and other day-to-day experiences for mental health and quality of life.  In addition, she also has an interest examining unique vulnerabilities of women on the autism spectrum, as well as vulnerabilities common across sex/gender.  Lastly, Julie is investigating the role of language development during the transition to adulthood for youth with fragile X syndrome.

Dr. Sara Jane Webb

Sarah Jane Webb, PhD

University of Washington

Sara Jane Webb completed her PhD from the University of Minnesota Institute of Child Development in Child Psychology.  Her current research focuses on the functional neurobiology and development of information processing in individuals with autism spectrum disorders, other developmental disorders and typical development.  She currently is using EEG, event-related potentials (ERPs), eye-tracking, and behavioral measures to study how children encode, store, and retrieve information about visual images such as faces, and how these processes are impacted by developmental disruptions.

Research Institutions

  • Shinjae Chung – Neural circuit and molecular mechanisms underlying sleep disturbances in autism spectrum disorder
  • Edward Brodkin – Randomized Controlled Trial of a Novel, Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment Program to Improve Social Functioning in Adults on the Autism Spectrum
  • Melanie Pellecchia – A Randomized Trial of Project ImPACT, an evidence-based intervention for infants and toddlers with autism spectrum disorder
  • Benjamin Yerys – A Longitudinal MRI Study of Toddlers with Simplex Autism
  • Whitney Guthrie – Computational analysis of interpersonal synchrony: A lens into the early emergence of autism
  • Yu-Han Chen – Social neural markers as indicators of cognitive outcome in preschoolers with ASD
  • Veronique Lefebvre – Uncovering genetic networks in neocorticogenesis and their roles in ASD
  • Wei Song – Identifying Biobehavioral Markers of Atypical Social-Emotional Reciprocity in ASD
  • Casey Zampella – Getting Out There: Identifying Individual, Environmental, and Service Use Factors Associated with Community Participation among Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Matthew Dalva – Novel Ube3a unsilencers for the treatment of ASD and Angelman Syndrome

Community Programs

In order to meet a need in the Autism community today, Eagles Autism Foundation has launched its Community Grant Process, in which nonprofits in the Philadelphia area were eligible to apply to support programs that serves those affected. The applications were reviewed internally based on if the programs were evidence based, would serve a need in the community and the program’s relevance to our mission. In this year’s community grant process, seven institutions were chosen as they demonstrated the ability to be a leader in providing services to those affected by autism today but also the potential to have an impact in the future.

Special Olympics PA logo
Elywn logo
SJU Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support logo
A Step Up Academy logo
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia logo
Philadelphia Parks and Recreation logo
The Philadelphia Orchestra logo