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Diana Robins, PhD

Institute Director, Professor


Phone: (215) 571-3439

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Diana L. Robins, Ph.D. is Director and professor at the AJ Drexel Autism Institute, where she also leads the Research Program in Early Detection and Intervention for ASD. Much of her work has centered around developing, validating, and refining a widely used screening tool for ASD, the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers . The original M-CHAT paper has been cited more than 1100 times, and the validation of the recent revision, M-CHAT-R with Follow-Up (M-CHAT-R/F), demonstrated that the 2-stage screening questionnaire detects many cases of autism, and children in the study were diagnosed about two years younger than the national median, which improves access to ASD-specific early intervention. Dr. Robins’ other research endeavors use neuroimaging and other techniques to understand deficits in social cognition in individuals with ASD, as well as neural mechanisms of intact social cognition in typically developing individuals. She also collaborates with colleagues from Georgia State University on studies of imitation, social cognition, and the development of social, play, and communication skills in toddlers at risk for ASD.

Dr. Robins’ research has been funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Autism Speaks, and the National Institute of Mental Health, and she has collaborated on projects funded by the Department of Defense and the Templeton Foundation. Her work has been published in leading pediatric and autism journals, including Pediatrics, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, and Autism: the International Journal of Science and Practice. She currently sits on the editorial boards for Neuropsychology and the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, and is an ad hoc reviewer for dozens of journals and grant panels.

Dr. Robins received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology, with an emphasis in Clinical Neuropsychology from the University of Connecticut. Following her APA-approved internship at the University of Florida Health Sciences Center, Dr. Robins completed a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Yale University School of Medicine Child Study Center. She then spent 10 years on the faculty at Georgia State University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Psychology and the Neuroscience Institute. Dr. Robins was among the faculty on Georgia’s first Leadership and Education in Neurodevelopmental Disorders (LEND) program, housed at Georgia State University.