Laura Hewitson, PhD

lhewitson Laura Hewitson, PhD is the Director of Research for The Johnson Center for Child Health and Development, and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern. Dr. Hewitson graduated with honors in Biology from the University of Essex, UK in 1990, and then earned her PhD in Biological Sciences at the University of York, UK. She relocated to the US in 1994 to pursue post-doctoral training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was a Staff Scientist at Oregon Health Sciences University from 1997-2001, held the position of Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences from 2002-2009; and held an Adjunct faculty position there from 2009-2010. She has also been appointed as an Affiliate Scientist at the Washington National Primate Research Center since 2009. Her research has focused on developing animal models in order to better understand the genetic and environmental influences that lead to infertility and/or adverse pregnancy outcomes. She has published over 60 peer-reviewed scientific papers, invited reviews, and book chapters, and has presented her work at many national and international conferences.

Dr. Hewitson is currently collaborating with scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School to identify blood biomarkers for autism that could potentially predict autism risk, assist in early diagnosis, or even identify potential therapeutic targets. With funding from The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) and the Department of Defense (DoD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), Hewitson and colleagues are working to identify antibodies that are elevated in blood samples of children with autism, using a novel approach - a combinatorial peptoid library - that has been recently developed at the University of Texas Southwestern.

As the Research Director at Johnson Center for Child Health and Development, Dr. Hewitson oversees a diverse research portfolio for children with autism focusing on immune dysfunction, nutrition, and the development of biomarkers as both diagnostic tools and as possible therapeutic targets.

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