Researcher Funded by PCORI to Further Autism Research

A researcher at the University of Florida will use seed money to help forge a much-needed bridge between patients with autism and professionals who can provide them with support and information.

Jennifer Elder, Ph.D., R.N., a professor in the UF College of Nursing, part of UF Health, received a “Tier I Pipeline to Proposal” award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, or PCORI, to build and forge collaborations to further autism research for underserved families.

“With the rising prevalence of autism spectrum disorders, families of these patients require guidance in identifying and assessing evidence-based interventions that are most suitable, which may prove difficult for families in poor and rural areas that may lack these resources,” Elder said. “Ultimately, the goal for our research is to help these individuals progress from the fringes of intervention to the center by implementing the most current evidence-based treatments.”

Elder will lead the nine-month research project at UF. Her project seeks to connect patients and families in rural, underserved communities with clinicians, teachers and community members to identify interventions that are most effective for individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

Elder will develop community advisory boards composed of parents, clinicians who treat patients with autism spectrum disorders, teachers and high-functioning adults who are on the spectrum and who live in rural and underserved areas of North Central Florida. The goal will be to connect these boards with UF researchers who conduct patient-centered outcomes research and identify the best treatment and interventions for this population.

Her study joins PCORI’s portfolio of 47 Pipeline to Proposal awards funded in April. It is the first Pipeline to Proposal fund awarded at UF. The pipeline award provides seed money to individuals and groups who have the expertise and passion to participate in patient-centered outcomes research and to create partnerships within communities that lead to high-quality research proposals.

Tier I awards provide up to $15,000 per project to help recipients build their community partnerships and begin developing governance structures, communications plans and potential research questions.

PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 to fund research that gives patients a better understanding of available prevention, treatment and care options. It was founded to advance the field of patient-centered comparative effectiveness research and provide patients with information that will help them make better-informed decisions about their care.