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Grant Enables Further Recruitment and Development of State-Wide Partnership for Autism Research

Release Date: 05/06/2016

The Rhode Island Consortium for Autism Research and Treatment (RI-CART), a group of the state’s leading experts on autism research, education, health and services, has received a $1.5 million renewal grant from the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative. The three-year grant, awarded to Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, and with a subcontract to Bradley Hospital, will enable RI-CART to continue recruitment and development of a state-wide, population-based autism patient registry.  

The first grant from Simons Foundation was received in August 2013. Since then, RI-CART has recruited more than 1,000 individuals and their families to participate in the registry. The goal for phase II of this effort is to recruit an additional 1,000 participants into a study that includes a brief clinical assessment, collection of biological samples for genetic analysis, and referrals to other research studies. Participants’ families are active in the management and function of RI-CART. The long-term goal is to enroll all individuals with autism in Rhode Island in this unique research network.

“Autism is a poorly understood family of related conditions. Unfortunately, there is no specific medical treatment for autism, underscoring the importance for additional research,” said Stephen Sheinkopf, PhD, a clinical researcher at Women & Infants Hospital’s Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk, assistant professor at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and co-director and principal investigator of RI-CART. “What makes RI-CART truly unique is that this state-wide collaboration is building an infrastructure for clinical and translational research on autism spectrum disorders.”

A unique aspect of RI-CART is that families actively participate in the management and function of the project. RI-CART has partnered with The Autism Project, an organization that offers support and programming for individuals with autism. “RI-CART is an exciting opportunity for collaboration between clinicians and researchers, as well as the individuals and families impacted by autism,” said Joanne Quinn, executive director of The Autism Project and a member of the RI-CART leadership team.

RI-CART has also been supported by funds from the Brown University Institute for Brain Science, the Norman Prince Neuroscience Institute, and the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.  

For more information about RI-CART, call (401) 432-1200, email, or visit

The Rhode Island Consortium for Autism Research and Treatment (RI-CART) is comprised of clinicians, researchers and community members with the shared mission of accelerating research on the causes of and treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders. RI-CART is a unique collaboration among partner organizations across Rhode Island – the state’s leading hospitals including Bradley Hospital, Hasbro Children's Hospital, Women & Infants Hospital, Butler Hospital, Memorial Hospital and Rhode Island Hospital; institutions of higher education including Brown University, the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College; service agencies including the Groden Center and Perspectives Corporation; state agencies including the Rhode Island departments of Health and Education; and community programs and parent advocacy groups including The Autism Project. RI-CART is based at Bradley Hospital in East Providence, RI. Learn more by contacting or on the web at


About Women & Infants Hospital 

Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is one of the nation’s leading specialty hospitals for women and newborns. A major teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University for obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics, as well as a number of specialized programs in women’s medicine, Women & Infants is the 9th largest stand-alone obstetrical service in the country and the largest in New England with approximately 8,500 deliveries per year. A Designated Baby-Friendly® USA hospital, U.S.News & World Report 2014-15 Best Children’s Hospital in Neonatology and a 2014 Leapfrog Top Hospital, in 2009 Women & Infants opened what was at the time the country’s largest, single-family room neonatal intensive care unit.

Women & Infants and Brown offer fellowship programs in gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, neonatal-perinatal medicine, pediatric and perinatal pathology, gynecologic pathology and cytopathology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. It is home to the nation’s first mother-baby perinatal psychiatric partial hospital, as well as the nation’s only fellowship program in obstetric medicine.

Women & Infants has been designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiography; a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology; a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and a Neonatal Resource Services Center of Excellence. It is one of the largest and most prestigious research facilities in high risk and normal obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics in the nation, and is a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Gynecologic Oncology Group and the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network.