Meet Our Lead Scientists and Researchers
David Beversdorf, M.D., Professor of Radiology, Neurology, and Psychological Science, University of Missouri
Dr. Beversdorf is a Professor of Radiology, Neurology, and Psychological Science at the University of Missouri. He is currently involved in research on autism, dementia, cognitive effects of stress, the cognitive neuroscience of problem-solving ability, functional neuroimaging, and pharmacological modulation of cognition. He is also actively involved in the Brain Imaging Center at the University of Missouri. Dr. Beversdorf’s research has been funded by the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke, National Institute On Drug Abuse, Department of Defense, the Stallone Fund and the National Alliance for Autism Research.
Gari Clifford, Ph.D., Biomedical Informatics at Emory University and Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
Dr. Clifford is trained as a PhD in Neural Networks and Biomedical Engineering from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom. He has an international reputation in mHealth informatics, critical care data analysis and the application of signal processing and machine learning to medicine. Dr. Clifford received postdoctoral research training from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when he later became a Principal Research Scientist, and also helped found the Sleep, Circadian Rhythm and Neuroscience Institute at the University of Oxford, where he is an Honorary Professor and led one of its five themes.
Juergen Hahn, Ph.D., Professor & Department Head, Biomedical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Dr. Hahn is the department head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in addition to holding an appointment in the Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering. Dr. Hahn’s research focuses on the development of new systems analysis techniques and their application in systems biology as well as for traditional chemical engineering processes, over 140 peer-reviewed publications in print. Special emphasis is placed on methods for nonlinear systems that can take into account significant levels of uncertainty in the model. Applications of these techniques include biomarker identification for autism spectrum disorder. Dr. Hahn is also leading an exploratory analysis of how The Center for Discovery’s data can be used to better understand and improve patient outcomes.
Brad Ferguson, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Missouri
Dr. Ferguson holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of North Texas and a M.A. in Clinical Psychology (Neuropsychology and Applied Behavior Analysis specializations) from Middle Tennessee State University. He is currently studying the association between immune, endocrine, and psychophysiological markers of stress and gastrointestinal disorders in those with autism spectrum disorder. Dr. Ferguson is also leading the psychophysiological biomarker assessment for predictors of responses to medications, and also the relationship to aberrant behaviors.
Terry Katz, Ph.D., Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine
Dr. Katz is a Senior Instructor and licensed psychologist in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She provides assessment and treatment for children and families through her work at the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic at JFK Partners and at the Child Development Unit at the Children’s Hospital. Dr. Katz is involved in the Autism Treatment Network (ATN), a network of collaborative clinical teams that provides ongoing care to children and families at sites across the United States and Canada. She co-founded and co-leads a sleep clinic for children with autism at the Child Development Unit.
Don Lollar, Ed.D., The University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, Oregon Health and Science University
Dr. Lollar is the Director, OHSU University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities and Associate Director of CDRC for Academic Affairs in January 2010. He also has a faculty appointment in OHSU’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. Prior to joining the team, he was a Senior Research Scientist at the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Lollar is a nationally recognized expert in the areas of disability and health, and particularly in the prevention of secondary conditions and health promotion, and the development and implementation of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF).
Jeffrey Lombardo, PharmD, BCOP, Associate Director of the Empire State Patient Safety Assurance Network, Research Assistant Professor at the University at Buffalo
Dr. Lombardo is Associate Director for UB’s patient safety organization Empire State Patient Safety Assurance Network. In this role, he facilitates organization participation, logistics and implementation with participating sites as well as reviewing data and presenting reports on findings. Dr. Lombardo is also a member of the SUNY Global Health Institute where he brings his patient safety and research expertise to partner schools for various collaborations, including studies on medical marijuana. Additionally, Dr. Lombardo is a member of UB‘s Center for Integrated Global Biomedical Sciences.
Kara Gross Margolis, M.D., Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Columbia University; Pediatric Gastroenterologist, New York-Presbyterian/Columbia
Dr. Margolis is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Columbia University and Pediatric Gastroenterologist at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. Dr. Margolis is a physician-scientist and well-known pioneer in the clinical and translational research fields of enteric neuroscience, intestinal inflammatory disorders, brain-gut axis conditions and autism. Dr. Margolis is a lead researcher on GI issues at The Center for Discovery where her work includes studying gut microbiome abnormalities in complex conditions.
John Ratey, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
Dr. Ratey is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an internationally recognized expert in Neuropsychiatry. He has published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles, and 11 books published in 17 languages, including the groundbreaking ADD-ADHD Driven to Distraction series with Ned Hallowell, MD. With the publication of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, Dr. Ratey has established himself as one of the world’s foremost authorities on the brain-fitness connection.
Stephan Rechtschaffen, M.D., Co-founder, OMEGA Institute; CEO, Blue Spirit
Dr. Rechtschaffen is cofounder of the Omega Institute and creator and director and visionary of Blue Spirit Costa Rica in Nosara. Dr. Rechtschaffen is also a widely recognized holistic physician who lectures on health, wellness, nutrition, longevity, and time. For decades, he has been involved in developing communities that model sustainable and spiritual dimensions of living a more wholesome and authentic lifestyle. He is a coauthor of Vitality and Wellness and author of Timeshifting, a book that focuses on one’s relationship to time and stress amidst the quickening pace of modern life.
Rune Simeonsson, Ph.D., MS.PH., Professor and Chair of Psychology Department, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Dr. Simeonsson is Professor and Chair of the Psychology Department at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Dr. Simeonsson holds appointments as a research professor of psychology and fellow at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. His academic preparation and professional background reflect the intersection of child development, special education and public health, particularly the developmental and psychological characteristics of children and youth with chronic conditions and disabilities. Dr. Simeonsson’s research includes studies of the role of school and community environments on school participation of students, and analyses of the developmental progress of young children, with data collected from the National Early Intervention Longitudinal Study.
Nicole Withrow, Ph.D., MS, RD, Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Northern Colorado
Dr. Withrow is the Assistant Professor and Dietetic Internship Coordinator at the University of Northern Colorado. She is an affiliate faculty member at Colorado State University and remains a PRN Pediatric RDN at the Colorado Children’s Hospital where she specializes in working with children with special needs and their families. Dr. Withrow’s research interests are in dietary habits, food selectivity, nutritional risk, weight status, specialized dietary interventions, and GI issues in children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Ruth Ann Luna, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Pathology and Immunology, Baylor College of Medicine and Director of Medical Metagenomics, Texas Children’s Hospital
Dr. Luna is the Director of Medical Metagenomics of the Texas Children’s Microbiome Center (TCMC) at Texas Children’s Hospital and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology & Immunology at Baylor College of Medicine. Her primary research focus is the microbiome-gut-brain axis in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Dr. Luna is currently presiding over the largest pediatric autism microbiome study in the country. She also serves as Director of the DNA Sequencing Core of the Texas Children’s Microbiome Center.
Tor Savidge, PhD, Associate Professor, Pathology & Immunology and Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine and Principal Investigator, Neuroimmune-Microbe Interactions, Texas Children’s Hospital
Dr. Savidge’s research interests include studying microbial-neuroimmune interactions in the gastrointestinal tract and nervous systems. His work has established new disease susceptibility biomarkers to Clostridium difficile infection and Fecal Microbiota Transplantation failure, as well as identifying new precision-based microbial therapy for recurrent C. difficile infection based on population-scale metagenomics and functional microbiome analysis. Dr. Savidge is working alongside Dr. Luna on what role the brain-gut-microbiome axis plays in Autism Spectrum Disorder.