Investigators Current Studies Cognitive Enhancement Therapy Completed Studies Infant Siblings of ASD Children Categorization in Children & Adults With Autism Emotion Processing Imaging/fMRI Autism Treatment Network Autism Task Force

Principal Investigators


Nancy Minshew

Nancy J. Minshew, MD

Program Director

NIH/NICHD  Center for Excellence in Autism Research

PA Department of Health "Deciphering Altered Brain Connectivity in ASD to Improve Intervention"

Principal Investigator

NIH/NIMH "Adapting Cognitive Enhancement Therapy for ASD

Department of Defense "A Randomized Clinical Trial of Cognitive Enhancement Therapy for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders"

Autism Speaks "Evidence-Based Cognitive Rehabilitation to Improve Functional Outcomes for Young Adults with ASD"


NIH/NICHD "Early Identification of Autism a Prospective Study"

Autism Speaks "Autism Treatment Network"

DHHS Health Resources and Services Administration “Autism Intervention Research Networks”
Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology

Child Neurologist

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine


Dr. Minshew is the director of the Center for Excellence in Autism Research at the University of Pittsburgh in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University. Over the past 20 years, she has pursued research on how individuals with autism think and how the brain functions differently in individuals with autism.  She has also supported the search for genes in autism.  Dr. Minshew's research has involved collaborations with many neuroscientists who together have developed scientific evidence for autism as a disorder of complex information processing that impacts cognitive and neurological processes resulting from altered connectivity among brain regions.  Dr Minshew is now working with several colleagues on the development of novel interventions for autism that reflect the scientific advances in the understanding of autism.

Mark Strauss

Mark S. Strauss, PhD

Principal Investigator

NIH/NICHD Autism Center of Excellence "Development of Categorization & Facial Knowledge in Low & High Functioning Autism"
Associate Professor of Psychology

University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Strauss received his doctoral degree from the University of Illinois. He served three years as a Lieutenant in the Navy's Medical Service Corp during the Vietnam era and has been a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh since 1978. While at the University of Pittsburgh, he has been both the department's Chairperson and the head of its Developmental Psychology Program.
In 1986 he co-founded the university's Office of Child Development, a center involved with policy, intervention, and evaluation issues related to programs that serve children, youth and families. His research focuses on the early development of perceptual and cognitive abilities in infants and children. Specifically, he has been conducting studies on how children learn basic information about categories and f
s during their infancy and preschool years. Currently, he is the Principal Investigator of a research grant from the National Institutes of Health that is studying differences in the cognitive abilities of individuals with autism. This research studies both infants at risk for autism as well as older children and adults who have been diagnosed with the disorder.

Carla Mazefsky, PhD

Carla Mazefsky, PhD
Principal Investigator

NIH/NICHD "Change-Sensitive Measurement of Emotion Dysregulation in ASD"

Simons Foundation/N. M. Lurie Foundation "Autism and Developmental Disabilties Inpatient Reserch Cooaborative (ADDIRC)"

Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust "Adolescent Social-Emotional Skills Enhancement Training (ASSET)"


Associate Professor

Department of Psychiatry

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine


Dr. Mazefsky is a licensed clinical psychologist specialized in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Mazefsky was the 2012 recipient of the Ritvo/Slifka Award for Innovation in Autism Research from the International Society for Autism Research. She is the associate editor of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Western PA Chapter of Autism Speaks. Dr. Mazefsky’s research has been funded by the Organization for Autism Research and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Her program of research is focused on emotional dysregulation in ASD, including the identification of underlying neural mechanisms, the conceptualization, treatment, and assessment of problems with emotional control, and co-occurring depression and anxiety. While most of her research to date has focused on high-functioning adolescents with ASD, she is expanding to more of a lifespan perspective, and is now conducting research on psychiatric inpatients with ASD as part of a multisite study to better understand and improve outcomes for those most severely affected by the disorder.

Shaun Eack, PhD

Shaun Eack, PhD
Principal Investigator

NIH/NIMH "Cognitive Enhancement Therapy for ASD"

PA Department of Health "Cognitive Enhancement Treatment"

Autism Speaks "Evidence-Based Cognitive Rehabilitation to Improve Functional Outcomes for Young Adults with Autism-Spectrum Disorders"

Department of Defense "A Randomized Clinical Trial of Cognitive Enhancement Therapy for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders"

Associate Professor of Social Work and Psychiatry

University of Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine


Dr. Eack's primary research focus is on the development, implementation and evaluation of psychosocial treatment methodologies for persons with neurodevelopmental disorders. He is the director of the Perspectives Program at the Center for Excellence in Autism Research, which is developing novel interventions for adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Dr. Eack's most recent work focuses on the application of Cognitive Enhancement Therapy, a neurocognitive and social-cognitive rehabilitation program, to adults with ASD. Cognitive Enhancement Therapy is based on decades of research on brain disorders, and seeks to improve social interaction abilities in people with autism spectrum disorders through the improvement of brain function.


Marlene Behrmann

Marlene Behrmann, PhD

Co-Principal Investigator

PA Department of Health "Inducing Plasticity in Cortical Connectivity via a Novel Intervention in ASD"

Professor of Psychology

Carnegie Mellon University
Dr. Behrmann also has appointments in the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh) and in the departments of Neuroscience and Communication Disorders at the University of Pittsburgh. She received a B.A. and M.A. at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, in Speech and Language Pathology, and a PhD in Psychology at the University of Toronto. Her research is on the psychological and neural mechanisms that underlie the ability to recognize visual scenes and objects (common objects, f
s and words), represent them internally in visual imagery, and interact with them through eye movements, reaching and grasping, and navigation.
The major research approach is the study of individuals who have impairment in visual perception, including individuals who have had a stroke or selective trauma, and individuals who are autistic. This behavioral/neuropsychological approach is combined with several other methodologies, including measuring accuracy and response time in normal subjects, simulating visual processes and their breakdown following brain-damage using artificial neural networks; and examining the biological substrate using functional neuroimaging to evaluate patterns of cortical activity.

Marcel Just

Marcel Adam Just, PhD

Principal Investigator

NIH/NIHCD "Systems Connectivity & Brain Activation: Imaging Studies of Language & Perception"

D.O. Hebb Professor of Psychology 
Director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging

Carnegie Mellon University

Dr. Just is a 15-year recipient of the NIMH Research Scientist Award, a 20-year Principal Investigator on Office of Naval Research grants related to spatial reasoning, computational modeling and individual differences, and grants from NIMH. He is the author of major theoretical and empirical publications on reasoning, cognitive modeling, language processing, visuo-spatial reasoning, individual differences, and neuroimaging. Dr. Just is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is also a founding Co-Director of a new brain imaging research facility (The Brain Imaging Research Center) that houses a state-of-the-art MRI scanner funded by the National Science Foundation.
Dr. Just’s research uses brain imaging (fMRI) in high-level cognitive tasks to study the neural basis of the architecture of cognition. The fMRI studies attempt to determine the underlying cortical components of the cognitive system and the nature of the collaboration among the components in many different types of tasks. The individual projects study high-level cognition, such as various working memory tasks in the language and spatial domains, sentence comprehension, mental rotation, imagery, object recognition, problem solving, and decision-making. The fMRI results are being used in the development of a theory of cognition based on the dynamic, collaborative activity of the relevant components, each drawing on its own set of relative specializations. This approach provides a mapping between cognitive function and brain activation

Tom Mitchell Tom Mitchell, PhD

Co-Principal Investigator

NIH/NIHCD "Systems Connectivity & Brain Activation: Imaging Studies of Language & Perception"

Fredkin Professor of AI and Learning

Director (CALD), Computer Science

Center for Automated Learning and Discovery

Carnegie Mellon University

Fredkin Professor of AI and Learning Director, Center for Automated Learning and Discovery School of Computer Science
Dr. Mitchell works on new learning algorithms, such as methods for learning from labeled and unlabeled data. Much of his research is driven by applications of machine learning such as understanding natural language text, and analyzing fMRI brain image data to model human cognition.


Diane Williams Diane Williams, PhD

NIH/NICHD Autism Center of Excellence - Subject Core

Co-Principal Investigator

NIH/NICHD "Disturbances of Affective Contact: Development of Brain Mechanisms for Emotion"
Associate Professor

Department of Speech-Language Pathology

Duquesne University

Dr. Williams holds a doctorate in speech-language pathology and has extensive clinical experience with individuals with autism and two years of post-doctoral research training. She is conducting behavioral and fMRI studies of language processing in individuals with autism in collaboration with Dr. Minshew and Dr. Marcel Just. Dr. Williams completed a post-doctoral fellowship in autism with Dr. Minshew after obtaining her doctorate in speech-language pathology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. She has more than 20 years of clinical experience with individuals with autism giving her a unique ability to translate research.


Webster Hall, Suite 300, 3811 O’Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 • Toll Free 1-866-647-3436 • Phone 412-246-5485 • Fax 412-246-5470

All Inquiries including Dr. Minshew:
2006 CeFAR at the University of Pittsburgh