Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Research

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social communication and the presence of repetitive behaviors and restricted interests. The prevalence of ASD has been rising steadily over the past 10 years, with recent estimates that 1/68 children have ASD (CDC, 2014).

Research Focus

Dr. Suma Jacob’s research lab conducts studies that examine the effects of novel interventions on social functioning and repetitive behaviors for both children and adults.

There are currently no approved medications specific for social behaviors in autism. Recently, several investigational drugs are being studied because of their potential to improve social functioning and restrictive, repetitive behaviors in individuals with autism. Please visit our specific studies below to learn more.


Tics are sudden, rapid, recurrent movements or vocalizations that are not done on purpose and are difficult to control. Tics usually occur many times a day and can interfere with daily activities.
  • Examples of motor tics are eye blinking, head jerking, shoulder shrugging, mouth/tongue movements, and hand movements.
  • Examples of vocal tics are sniffing, throat clearing, grunting, coughing, and blurting out syllables.
  • Tourette's Disorder is characterized by motor and vocal tics for at least a year.
  • Chronic motor or vocal tic disorder involves either motor or vocal tics for at least a year.


Suma Jacob, MD, PhD
Associate Professor
Principal Investigator