Autism New Jersey Lauds Rutgers Brain Health Institute Appointments to Further Research

July 11, 2019

Rutgers Brain Health Institute (BHI) has announced the appointments of three new faculty members to launch a center for autism research. The renowned autism experts are joining teams at Rutgers University and Children’s Specialized Hospital that will focus on diagnosing, treating, and supporting children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and pediatric feeding disorders.

Wayne Fisher, Ph.D., will join Rutgers as the inaugural director of both the Rutgers Center for Autism Research and Services (RUCARES) at BHI and CSH-RUCARES, a clinical entity within RUCARES and in partnership with Children’s Specialized Hospital. He was formerly the director of the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at the Munroe-Meyer Institute at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Dr. Fisher will coordinate autism-related research activities at Rutgers, bringing together the work of several centers across the university. He will serve as a Henry Rutgers Professor with a tenured appointment in the Department of Pediatrics at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS) and as a core member of BHI.

Dr. Fisher’s current colleagues, Cathleen Piazza, Ph.D., and Brian Greer, Ph.D, BCBA-D, will be joining him at Rutgers. 

Dr. Piazza will be joining the faculty in the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, and she will be starting the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program at Children’s Specialized Hospital. Dr. Piazza previously directed the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program at the Munroe-Meyer Institute at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She also served as the  director of the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Programs at the Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and at the Marcus Autism Center at Emory University.  The programs Dr. Piazza has directed have been internationally recognized for their outstanding clinical services, research, and training.

Dr. Piazza and her team have extensive expertise treating children with and without neurodevelopmental and feeding disorders. Notes Dr. Fisher, ” I anticipate that this program will be equally stellar. Up to 80 percent of children with autism have feeding disorders, so their need for feeding services is great.”

Dr. Greer, who was also on staff at the Munroe-Meyer Institute,  will direct the Severe Behavior Program, which will provide a continuum of services for children and their families, including routine and intensive outpatient services and partial hospitalization services. The clinical programs also will serve as a training site for students, interns, and postdoctoral fellows. These trainees will conduct clinical research that further improves the quality of services and facilitates dissemination of innovative approaches to treatment, and also advances our understanding of the relevant behavioral processes that underlie problem and appropriate behavior.

“With their focus on developing a world-class program to address severe challenging behavior right here in New Jersey, we are fortunate to have Dr. Fisher and his team, with their considerable expertise and experience, providing assessment and treatment for this underserved population,” said Autism New Jersey Executive Director Dr. Suzanne Buchanan.

Read a Q & A with Dr. Fisher on his new role at Rutgers Brain Health Institute>>