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Montclair State makes play to become hotbed for autism research

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Montclair State University's College of Education and Human Services has been awarded a five-year, $1.5 million grant from the state to coordinate clinical research at the multisite New Jersey Autism Center of Excellence, according to the university.

"This is going to bring in a different kind of grant money and a different kind of business for the college," said Megan Delaney, grants coordinator for the College of Education and Human Services at Montclair State University.

On Thursday, state Department of Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary O'Dowd, members of the Governor's Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism, and first lady Mary Pat Christie will be at Montclair State to announce two grants totaling $3.7 million to create the center of excellence and to fund a clinical research project, according to the state Department of Health and Senior Services

The grants are the first of a total of $8 million in grants to be awarded by year's end by the Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism.

In September 2011, the university established the Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health, to provide professional development programs and support services to families, and the Center for Research and Evaluation, which does evaluation and applied research. The New Jersey Autism Center of Excellence's work will be coordinated by the MSU centers, according to Gerry Costa, director of Center for Autism at Montclair State University.

"In so many ways, this grant proposal gave us an opportunity to help coordinate activities at three to-be-funded clinical research sites," Costa said. "So far, one of those sites has been funded, in the Department of Genetics at Rutgers University, and the two other sites have yet to be selected, and will be selected by the end of the year."

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