Psychologist and neuroscientist to direct KU autism research and training center

Psychologist and neuroscientist to direct KU autism research and training center

Karen Henry

Today, Matthew W. Mosconi assumes the directorship of the Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training, or K-CART.

K-CART has headquarters at the University of Kansas Edwards campus and is allied with the Center for Child Health and Development at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Mosconi, associate professor of clinical child psychology and associate scientist at KU’s Life Span Institute, brings a new dimension to K-CART’s research agenda through his focus on identifying the brain mechanisms that cause the development of behavioral and cognitive issues characteristic of Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD.

He has also examined brain-behavior linkages related to single gene conditions like Fragile X Syndrome and other neurodevelopmental disorders. This work seeks to determine the physiological mechanisms in different forms of autism so that biologically based tests can be developed for early identification and so that new targets for treatment can be identified.

As director of clinical/translational research for K-CART since 2016, he established a monthly lecture series that provides a research forum for clinicians and researchers from KU, KU Medical Center and Children’s Mercy Hospital who represent multiple disciplines and who are focused on work with individuals with ASD. The series also hosts guest lecturers from across the country who are leaders in their fields.

"Dr. Mosconi is among the elite biobehavioral scientists in the field of autism,” said John Colombo, director of the Life Span Institute and professor of psychology. “His work emphasizes sensorimotor development and repetitive behaviors in autism. He uses psychophysiological and electrophysiology methods in his work. Both of these characteristics are consistent with and complement the history of autism research at KU and the existing community of KU autism scholars."

Mosconi joins Kathryn Ellerbeck, M.D., MPH, FAAP, who directs the Center for Child Health and Development at KU Medical Center and serves as the co-director of K-CART.

Mosconi completed his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill before conducting his postdoctoral training in developmental cognitive neuroscience and pediatric neuropsychology at the University of Illinois in Chicago. He moved on to the faculty at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in 2011, where he also served as director of research for its Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders.

In 2015, he joined KU as associate professor of psychology and applied behavioral science and associate scientist in the Life Span Institute. He then served as director of clinical/translational research for K-CART beginning in 2016. 

Mosconi’s research has been supported by National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, Autism Speaks, the Phelan-McDermid Syndrome Foundation and the Once Upon A Time Foundation. He has published in multiple high-impact journals, including JAMA Psychiatry, the Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Neurophysiology, Molecular Autism, NeuroImage and Biological Psychiatry.

Mosconi serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders and Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. He was the recipient of the International Society for Autism Research 2014 Young Investigator Award.

Mosconi succeeds K-CART Director Debra Kamps, who is retiring. During her tenure, Kamps helped raise the profile of autism research conducted at KU. She was the first director for K-CART, which was established in 2008 with private and public funds. Under her leadership, 12 KU Discovery Grants were awarded to 16 KU scientists, stimulating new research initiatives and leading to externally funded grants.

She also established a resource center for families at the KU Edwards campus. Further, the Autism Connections video series was developed, the Beyond the Diagnosis annual professional/parent conference was initiated and the statewide Autism Training Program expanded.

Kamps also is a senior scientist at the Life Span Institute and the associate director of the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, another Life Span Institute affiliated research center, at the Children’s Campus of Kansas City in Kansas City, Kansas.