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Professor Wiliam Fifer

Professor of Developmental Neuroscience at New York State Psychiatric Institutes & Columbia University Autism Center

William Fifer’s research programme focusses on the effects of the early environment on fetal and infant brain/behavior development. Within the fetal/infant perinatal research effort in the Division of Developmental Neuroscience at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and the Columbia University Autism Center of Excellence they have active collaborations within the Departments of Psychiatry, Obstetrics, Pediatrics, Behavioral Medicine and Public Health focused on investigations of the role of early experience in shaping fetal/infant physiology and neurobehavior. Their team investigates the complex interplay of sleep physiology, central and peripheral nervous system control and the development of executive functions to understand how they relate to resilience and risk for neurodevelopmental disorders. A major emphasis of their work is to determine how patterns of early life experiences, often associated with pre or perinatal exposures, shape the developing brain and later neurodevelopmental outcome.  NIH, Welcome Leap and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation support  current research on the effects of maternally mediated exposures on the developing fetus, early learning and memory, sensory development, brain regulation during sleep and assessment of risk for neurological disorders.  Their lab is currently part of an NIH Autism Center of Excellence at Columbia Cenrin, including four large cohort studies with local, national and international colleagues in NYC, South Africa, the Northern plains and the United Kingdom investigating early markers and trajectories of neurodevelopmental disorders aimed at early detection and ultimately the development of timely interventions.