Scientific and Clinical Advisory Council

Scientific and Clinical Advisory Council

SafeMinds Scientific & Clinical Advisory Council is comprised of clinicians, health professionals, and scientists from a variety of disciplines, including, among others, specialists and experts in autism, environment, toxicology, pediatrics, neuroscience, pharmacology, and psychology.

José G. Dórea, Ph.D.
Professor of Nutritional Sciences, University of Brasília
A graduate of the University of Pernambuco with advanced degrees from the University of Massachusetts (MSc and PhD), Dr. Dorea has worked at Iowa State University (USA), University of Hawaii (USA), and University of Campinas (Brazil). He has authored numerous book chapters, and has published on infant nutrition and the environmental impact of toxic (natural and man made) substances on the growth and development of children. Dr. Dorea is on the editorial board of peer-reviewed scientific journals, and has authored and co-authored more than 180 papers in journals of public health, medical and environmental sciences, toxicology, and pharmacology.

Cindy Schneider, MD
Medical Director, Center for Autism Research and Education
Dr. Schneider is the Medical Director of CARE, the Center for Autism Research and Education. Her integrative medical practice is exclusively dedicated to individuals with autism and related neurological and immune disorders. Dr. Schneider’s areas of special interest include treatment of the immune, gastrointestinal, and metabolic aspects of autism and the identification of environmental toxins contributing to the autism epidemic. She has designed and implemented multiple research studies, and collaborated with researchers worldwide. Dr. Schneider’s priorities in both her medical practice and her research include the identification of the causes of autism, the formulation of effective treatment protocols, and the prevention of autism in future generations.

Dr. Schneider has served as a member of the Defeat Autism Now! think tank since 1997, and serves on the Clinician Advisory Committee at the Autism Research Institute. She was the founding president and medical director of two nonprofit organizations for autism research, and is a medical advisor for SafeMinds. Dr. Schneider has published extensively in the areas of genetic vulnerability to environmental toxins, and innovative treatments for the gastrointestinal and immune complications of autism.

As the mother of two children with autism and a leading authority in the field, Dr. Schneider closely tracks developments in autism research, and provides both a medical and personal assessment of current and promising treatment options.

Robert Sears, M.D.
Robert W. Sears, MD, FAAP, is a board-certified pediatrician in a full-time private practice in Dana Point, Calif. He received his medical degree from Georgetown University, and did his pediatric residency training at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. “Dr. Bob,” as he likes to be called by his little patients, provides a unique blend of mainstream and integrative medical care. He is a co-author in the Sears Parenting Library, including The Baby Book and The Portable Pediatrician, and is the author of The Vaccine Book, The Autism Book, and HappyBaby: The Organic Guide to Baby’s First 24 Months. Dr. Bob has appeared on Dr. Oz, The Doctors, CNN, CBS Early Show, Fox Morning News, and Dr. Phil discussg parenting advice and pediatric health issues. He is a frequent speaker at parenting conferences, and serves on the medical advisory board for various organizations, including Talk About Curing Autism, Autism Care and Treatment Today, HappyBaby Organic Baby Food, and Kaplan University Department of Health Sciences. Dr. Bob is a contributor to, and regularly answers questions on his Ask the Experts forum.

April 30, 2020

Considering the Biology of Suicide in Autism

In our last SafeMinds Shares, we highlighted a review of the psychiatric conditions that frequently co-occur with an autism diagnosis. One of these conditions is suicidal thoughts and behaviors. The James Kirk Bernard Foundation, founded by parents with an autistic son and a typical son who died from suicide, has written an extensive overview of the commonalities between autism and suicide biology and life situations, which may explain why people with autism are a high-risk group for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. With April 30 marking the last day of Autism Awareness Month and May 1 the start of Mental Health Awareness Month, SafeMinds Shares brings this important topic to our readers.

April 30, 2020

Infants’ Screen Time, Less Play with Parents Linked to Higher Risk of Autism-Like Symptoms

According to a new study which has received criticism from some scientists and advocates, 12-month-old babies who spend time viewing images on a smartphone, tablet or television, are more likely to exhibit symptoms of autism by age 2. On the other hand, 12-month-old babies who spend part of their day playing with their parents have decreased odds of developing symptoms of autism by age 2. These new findings were released by Drexel University’s School of Medicine and Dornsife School of Public Health. The study was published online April 20 in JAMA Pediatrics.

April 30, 2020

Improvement from 6 Month Probiotic/Prebiotic Treatment for Autism

A new study [1] confirms differences in gut microbiome composition between autistic children and typically developing children, and has reported improvement in autism symptomatology with a probiotic/prebiotic treatment. Improvements were seen in gut microbiome diversity, metabolites and function, as well as autism behaviors and neurotransmitters.

April 30, 2020

Pets May Help Autism Families Alleviate Stress

New research out of the University of Missouri has discovered that pet ownership can be a positive experience for families with a member on the autism spectrum. Researchers from the university surveyed 764 families using the Interactive Autism Network about the benefits and burdens of pet ownership. Data extracted from the survey showed that the added responsibility of caring for a pet was well worth the effort. Children in homes with dog(s) and/or cat(s) were able to form bonds with their pet(s) which, in turn, provided the child with more comfort and less stress.

April 20, 2020

Autistic Aggression & Self Injury Helped by Common Drug

The common hypertension drug propranolol has been found to decrease aggression, self-injury and severely disruptive behavior in children and adults with autism if given in high doses. These behaviors afflict up to 68% of those with autism, with self-injurious behavior (SIB) alone affecting 42%. Among the study participants, the vast majority – 85% – were rated much improved or very much improved in their challenging behaviors, with 4% slightly improved and 11% not improved or worse.

April 20, 2020

Study Finds High Rate of Psychiatric Disorders in Autism

Wide Gaps Seen in Identification & Care – A new comprehensive review of scientific studies from the past 15 years has confirmed the extensive burden of psychiatric conditions that accompany a diagnosis of autism. The review found high rates of anxiety, depression, bipolar and mood disorders, schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, suicide behavior, eating disorders, substance abuse, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and disruptive, impulse-control, and conduct disorders in autism populations.

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