Science, Research, and Professional Advisors

Dr. Shafali Jeste


Dr. Jeste is a behavioral child neurologist specializing in autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders. She is Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology at the USC Keck School of Medicine, and the Las Madrinas Chair, Chief of Neurology and Co-Director of the Neurological Institute at CHLA. After earning a BA in philosophy from Yale University in 1997 and her MD from Harvard Medical School in 2002, Dr. Jeste completed a residency in child neurology and a fellowship in behavioral child neurology at Boston Children’s Hospital. She joined UCLA in 2010. Dr. Jeste’s research is focused on developing methods to improve precision in the diagnosis and treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders. Her lab studies neurodevelopmental disorders from early infancy through late childhood. Dr. Jeste has designed innovative studies in early predictors of autism in Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) that integrate biomarkers with behavior to define atypical development prior to the onset of autism. This work in TSC has led to the first randomized controlled clinical trial of behavioral intervention for these infants and has paved the way for other early intervention trials in rare genetic syndromes. Dr. Jeste’s research is directly inspired by her clinical work. To address the many gaps in medical care for rare genetic forms of neurodevelopmental disorders, she developed the Neurogenetics and Developmental Disabilities Clinic at CHLA. Dr. Jeste’s work is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and the Simons Foundation. She holds several national and international leadership positions including the Board of Directors of the American Brain Foundation, Board of Directors of the National Organization for Rare Disorders, the Board of Directors of the International Society for Autism Research, and she recently served as the Chair of the International Baby Siblings Research Consortium. In 2019 she was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for her innovations in research in early predictors and intervention for genetic neurodevelopmental disorders.

Dr. Rujuta B. Wilson


Dr. Rujuta B. Wilson is a pediatric neurologist specializing in autism spectrum disorders and related neurodevelopmental disorders. She is an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and the UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART). Dr. Wilson is the Director of Research for the UCLA Tarjan (UCEDD) Center. Dr. Wilson’s NIH funded research is focused on developing quantitative methods of motor phenotyping to improve characterization of atypical motor development, better understand how atypical motor skills can impact cognition and language and applying this information to inform targeted interventions for children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Wilson’s work also extends to measuring the physical and behavioral benefits of organized physical activity for children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Wilson is an invited member of the United States Tennis Association Adaptive Committee and the immediate past chair of the Child Neurology Society Leadership, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Dr. Wilson clinically sees patients in the UCLA Child and Adolescent Neurodevelopmental Clinic and the Care and Research in Neurogenetics Clinic. Dr. Wilson has been selected numerous times as a Los Angeles Times Super Doctor, Southern California Rising Stars, and as a Los Angeles Magazine L.A. Top Doctor. Dr. Wilson has enjoyed playing tennis since she was in middle school and has been actively involved with ACEing Autism since 2015.

Amanda Visek


Amanda J. Visek, PhD, FAASP, CMPC, Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) Fellow (FAASP) and Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC), and Centers for Disease Control Physical Activity in Public Health Fellow, is a scientist-practitioner and Associate Professor in the Department of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences at The George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health in Washington, D.C., USA. Amanda uses highly translational research approaches to identify and quantify determinants of fun in sport ecosystems using innovative mapping techniques, known broadly as FUN MAPS. Her research, sponsored by federal agencies and national sport governing bodies in the USA and abroad, has been enthusiastically received, worldwide, to guide the delivery of sport programs, inform coach education, and shape sport policy. Her research has been headlined across all major media, including television, newspapers, radio, and podcasts, including USA Today, Washington Post, Huffington Post, ESPNW, U.S. News & World Report, N.Y. Times for Kids, National Public Radio, CBS Radio, ABC News, NBC News, NBC Sports, FOX News, Beyond the Club, Way of Champions, Positive Coaching Alliance and many others, while also being featured globally. Her efforts to bridge science and practice also include working with athletes on various aspects of performance excellence from youth to professional sport levels, while serving as an Establishing Editor of the Journal for Advancing Sport Psychology in Research – an Open Access journal that publishes primary and secondary research and engages students as authors, peer reviewers, and editorial board members through mentored experiences. She has, and currently serves, in leadership positions for both AASP and the American Psychological Association’s Division 47 Society for Sport, Exercise, & Performance Psychology, organizations she has received career achievement awards for her contributions to science and applied sport practice.

Daniel H. Geschwind, MD, PhD


Dr. Geschwind is the Gordon and Virginia MacDonald Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics, Neurology and Psychiatry at UCLA. In his capacity as Senior Associate Dean and Associate Vice Chancellor of Precision Health, he leads the Institute for Precision Health (IPH) at UCLA, where he oversees campus precision health initiatives. In his laboratory, his group has pioneered the application of systems biology methods in neurologic and psychiatric disease, with a focus on autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and neurodegenerative conditions.

Dr. Geschwind is a pioneer in the transcriptomic and functional genomic analyses of the nervous system. His laboratory showed that gene co-expression has a reproducible network structure that can be used to understand neurobiological mechanisms in health and disease. He led the first studies to define the molecular pathology of autism and several other major psychiatric disorders and has made major contributions to defining the genetic basis of autism. He demonstrated the utility of using gene network approaches to discover new pathways involved in neurodegeneration and new approaches to facilitate neural regeneration. More recently, his laboratory demonstrated how knowledge of 3-dimensional chromatin structure can be used to understand the functional impact of human genetic variation.

Dr. Geschwind has trained over 70 graduate students and post-doctoral research fellows and is among the highest cited scientists in neurology, neuroscience and genetics (H index > 140). In addition to serving on several scientific advisory boards, including the Faculty of 1000 Medicine, the Scientific Advisory Board for the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the NIMH Advisory Council and the NIH Council of Councils, he currently serves on the editorial boards of the journals Cell, Neuron and Science. He has received several awards for his laboratory’s work is an elected Member of the American Association of Physicians and the National Academy of Medicine.