Autism Treatment Network


The CDRC Autism Program is proud to be a part of the Autism Treatment Network (ATN). Sponsored by the national advocacy organization Autism Speaks, OHSU and eleven other university-based medical centers across the country are working together to improve the availability, quality, and effectiveness of medical care for individuals with autism and their families.

As part of the ATN, the CDRC Autism Program enrolls interested families in a patient registry, which allows for a better understanding of the medical conditions associated with autism. All medical centers within the ATN are committed to improving the quality of treatment options for individuals with autism and their families, with an initial focus on medical treatment.

Autism Programs participating in the ATN recognize that treatment of medical conditions seen in individuals with autism can be improved. In order to do this, the ATN has a long-term goal of evaluating medical treatment of individuals with autism and developing best practice guidelines.

Here at CDRC, we have brought together a collection of pediatric specialists in the areas of genetics, metabolism, neurology, gastroenterology, feeding, and sleep. In collaboration with other ATN sites, a comprehensive evaluation and referral protocol has been developed, and research is being conducted in the areas of sleep problems and quality of life (for more information on research opportunities in the Autism Program, click here). For more information about the ATN you can visit our website at


Director of Autism Research

Robert Steiner, MD, The Autism Program has received funding to conduct clinically-based research in a number of areas important to the autism community.

  • Ongoing evaluation of the utility of all of our diagnostic activities, including standardized and informal measurement tools
  • Ongoing evaluation of medical conditions associated with autism - how often they occur, symptom presentation, and effective treatment
  • Exploration of genetic causes and markers for autism including the relationship between autism and cholesterol metabolism and identifying copy variations in certain genes
  • Identifying quality of life issues that are important to individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families
  • Empirically supported treatment for young children with autism spectrum disorders and their families

If interested, current funded research projects being conducted within the Autism Program are listed below.

Autism Treatment Network (ATN)

PI: Robert Steiner, MD , Fully funded by Cure Autism Now/Autism Speaks

  • ATN is designed to support collaboration to improve medical treatment for autism
  • ATN is the nation's first network to focus explicitly on the study and advancement of medical treatment for individuals with autism
  • ATN includes physicians and healthcare practitioners from 12 medical centers that have come together to evaluate the medical conditions present in autism and to provide best practices for their identification and treatment
  • ATN will evolve treatment guidelines that will be made available to physicians, researchers, parents, policy makers and others focused on enhancing the care of individuals with autism
  • Treatment of Sleep Problems in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder with Melatonin: Characterizing Endogenous Melatonin Profiles and a Double-blind, Placebo-Controlled Treatment Trial
  • Clinical trial of Melatonin in children with an ASD provides new information regarding the role of sleep problems in behavior phenotype, occurrence and type of sleep problems in ASD

The Relationship Between Autism and Cholesterol Synthesis

PI: Robert Steiner, MD, Funded by Collins Medical Trust and Cure Autism Now

  • This project will help determine the extent to which abnormal cholesterol metabolism is related to autism

Cholesterol and SLO "Dietary Cholesterol and Defects in Cholesterol Synthesis, NIH R01 grant # HL073981

  • This project determines the effects of altering dietary cholesterol changes (or statins) in SLOS on cholesterol and fatty acid synthetic pathways
  • The Autism Program is involved with this project and has developed additional focus investigating neurocognitive profiles and autism with this population

The Identification of Young Children with Autism with the Ages and Stages Questionnaires

PI: Robert Nickel, MD

If you are interested in finding out more about ongoing research projects or participating in autism-related research at OHSU, you may contact our research coordinator, at 503 418-5076.

In addition, a major study on communication problems in autism in children 3-8, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is currently underway at OHSU's Center for Spoken Language Understanding.

More information is available for parents wishing to participate.

Recent publications/presentations

  • Sikora, D.M., Pettit-Kekel, K., Merkens, L., Pennfield, J., & Steiner, R.D. (2006). The near universal presence of autism spectrum disorders in children with Smith- Lemli-Opitz syndrome.American Journal of Medical Genetics, 140A(14), 1511- 1518.
  • Hartley, S.L., Buckendorf, G.R., Haines, K., Hall, T., & Sikora, D. (in press, available online). The Oral and Written Language Scales: Is it useful for older children with autism spectrum disorder?Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
  • Sikora, D.S., Hartley, S.L., McCoy, R., Gerrard-Morris, A., & Dill, K. (in press, available online). Performance of individuals with mental health disorders on the ADOS-G: A question of diagnostic utility.Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
  • Sikora, D.S., Hall, T.A., Hartely, S.L., Gerrard-Morris, A., & Cagle, S. (in press, available online). Does parent report of behavior differ across ADOS-G classifications: Analysis of scores from the CBCL and GARS.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
  • Kuhlthau, K. & Hall, T.(May, 2007). HealthRelated Quality of Life for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Enrolled in the Autism Treatment Network. Poster presentation at Pediatric Academic Societies' Annual Meeting, Toronto, Canada
  • Grant, K.J., Sikora, D.M., Li, S.T., Thomas, J.C (February, 2007). Investigating the Clinical Utility of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Generic (ADOS- G) in the diagnosis of Asperger's Disorder. Poster presentation at the Association of Behavioral Analysis (ABA) International Autism Conference "Progress and Challenges in the Behavioral Treatment of Autism", Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Hall, T.& Sikora, D. (February, 2007).The Relationship Among Scores from the GARS, CBCL and the ADOS-G Classifications of Autism, Autism Spectrum, and Non-Spectrum.Poster presentation at the annual meeting of the International Neuropsychological Society, Portland, OR.
  • Dill, K., Flachbart, C., Hall, T., & Sikora, D.M. (August, 2007).Establishing Clinical Utility for an Autism Assessment Battery.Oral paper presentation at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA.
  • Gerrard-Morris, A., Hall, T.& Sikora, D.M. (February, 2008).Neurocognitive Profiles of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.Poster presentation at the annual meeting of the International Neuropsychological Society, Waikoloa, HI.