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Scientist on Computer


The Foundation is proud to financially support the many projects, people, and organizations serving the intellectually and developmentally disabled of our region. 

CIRC McNulty Scientist Award Recipients

Since 2005 the FCIDD has awarded 18 scientists grants to further research in their chosen field. These have  ranged from $50,000 to $100,000 per award for research and clinical activities to include such diseases and disorders as Alzheimers, Autism, Brain Tumors, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Rett Syndrome, Schizophrenia, Spinal Cord and Traumatic Brain Injury among others. Several of these scientists are featured below.

Dr. Sarah O'Kelly

Dr. Sarah O'Kelly, Ph.D. Associate Professor

Director of the  Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Clinic 

Research Interests: Cognitive and behavioral phenotypes of children and adults with ASD, ASD treatment-outcome, family functioning in ASD and other developmental disabilities, screening and interdisciplinary diagnosis of ASD in at-risk populations

Farah Lubin, Ph.D. Associate Professor

Director, NINDS Neuroscience Roadmap Scholars Program
Co-Director for Research, IRACDA-MERIT Program
Co-Chair, SoM Black/African-American Faculty Association

Research Areas
Learning, memory and synaptic plasticity; epigenetics, non-coding RNAs; gene transcription; epilepsy disorders; neurodevelopment and developmental disabilities


Kristina Visscher, Ph.D. Associate Professor

Co-director, Neuroimaging Laboratory

Research Areas
Cognitive neuroscience by studying  human behavior and brain activity using precise behavioral measurements (including psychophysics and tracking of eye movements), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG).

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Dr. Summer Thyme

Dr. Thyme is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. Her primary research goal is to uncover the molecular basis of complex neurodevelopmental disorders and ultimately create therapies. She has a broad background in biochemistry, molecular biology, neurobiology, and computational techniques. As a Ph.D. student with Dr. David Baker, she engineered biomolecular interactions, providing the foundation and skills for her long-term goals of developing new therapeutics for these disorders. As a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Alexander Schier, she studied the genes involved in complex neuropsychiatric disorders, generating over a hundred zebrafish mutants for schizophrenia-associated genes and assessing their brain activity, brain structure, and behavior. With this tour-de-force project, she became a leader in the field of zebrafish studies of neurodevelopmental disorders. Such models form the basis for identifying targets for rational drug discovery and phenotypes for unbiased drug screens.

Exciting details from Dr. Brandon Rocque about his research as the 2021 McNulty Scientist Award recipient.

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