Agencies team up on autism research


UTICA— Five organizations from the Mohawk Valley signed into partnership on Thursday, Oct. 17 to research and understand the causes of autism spectrum disorder or ASD.

The Masonic Medical Research Institute, The Kelberman Center, Resource Center for Independent Living, ADHD & Autism Psychological Services and Advocacy PLLC and Upstate Cerebral Palsy came together at the Masonic Medical Research Institute along with Mayor of Utica Robert M. Palmerieri and Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente to make the announcement.

"Today indeed is a very special day," said Maria Kontaridis, Ph.D, and Gordon K. Moore professor and chair of biomedical research and translational medicine at MMRI.

"There's no question translational research, or research that moves us closer to clinical trials, requires cross discipline collaboration. Such collaboration provides opportunity for sharing resources, for expertise and techniques and together they generate preventative diagnostic and therapeutic tools neccessary to really develop novel treatments and find ways to cure disease"

Dr. Kontaridis said today we they fortunate to be able to provide such a collaborative opportunity in the community, for the community and by the community. All for the betterment of human kind.

With MMRI historically focused on cardiovascular research Dr. Kontaridis said when she first arrived in Utica she was determined to meet a remarkable cardiologist that she had heard about Dr. Michael Kelberman. She said she immediately knew after they met with his knowledgeability, his keen interest in science and his access to heart disease patients they would find a way to work together.

"But interestingly at that time I didn't know it would be in autism," Kontaridis said.

"Science is a team sport," Kelberman said. "It's not about individuals, you have to bring in people from all different areas in order to make real gains. And I think everybody up here is about that team sport. Up here on this stage are icons of the Utica community who've been here for many years, but also there are some people who are new to the community. But they are a part of the coalition that has to be created in order for something good to happen."

Filling out the stage along with Kontaridis were Gulhan Ercan-Sencicek Ph.D a MMRI Instructor, Dr. Robert Meyers, executive director of the Kelberman Center, Dr. Megan Brown, vice president of clinical operations ADHD Autism Phycological Services and Advocacy, PLLC, Louis B. Tehan, president and CEO of United Cerebal Palsy, Inc. and Zvia McCormick, CEO for Resource Center of Independent Living.

Mayor Palmerieri said not only was this a good thing for the city, but more importantly all the people this partnership would ultimately benefit.

"I'm excited to just listen and hear," Palmerieri said. "But I am very honored that Masonic Medical Research Institute is globally known and it's in the city of Utica, now joined in partnership as we are going to embark upon today. It just transforms not only the research, but it also transforms what a great city we have."

"I want to thank Maria (Kontaridis) for the growing we have seen in the short period of time you've been here along with your board of directors, Kelberman, Louie Tehan, Rob (Meyers)," Palmieri said. "It is an exciting day for all of us, because as you know, we understand the research that has to go into this, and when you have the partnership, the working together it just proves at this time good things are going to happen. I am honored it's connected to the name of Utica, New York and Oneida County, where we are all from and thanks so much for what you do and what you all will be doing."


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