Dear Colleagues,

Our university is home to many resources designed to help the people of Missouri and beyond. One such jewel in our system is the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment. Last year, we were incredibly fortunate to recruit Dr. Stephen Sheinkopf as former executive director of the Thompson Center. He is a quadruple threat as an outstanding clinician, nationally known researcher, dedicated educator and trainer, and stellar administrator. Under Dr. Sheinkopf’s leadership, the Thompson Center is rising to new heights.

With the generous support of Bill and Nancy Thompson and the Thompson Foundation for Autism, along with support from the state of Missouri and MU Health Care, we provide excellent services to people across our community, state and region. Earlier this year, the Missouri legislature approved funds for a new Thompson Center building. Planning is underway for this new location, but once completed, the great work of the center will be even more visible to our state and the rest of the country.

Thompson Center researchers
I am joined, from left, by Roee Dar, a second-year medical student who conducted research at the Thompson Center over the summer; Dr. Stephen Sheinkopf, former executive director of the Thompson Center; and Dr. David Beversdorf, professor in the Departments of Radiology and Neurology.

Some of us may be familiar with the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, which was a national hub for psychiatry training and services in the U.S. from the 1940s to the 1970s. I envision the Thompson Center serving this kind of role as the focal point of autism research and training for our country right here in Missouri. We are well on our way to making this happen.

The center recently hosted its annual autism conference that drew more than 400 autism clinicians, researchers, caregivers and community organizers together to learn about new practices and perspectives in the field.

Thompson Center research poster showcase
The professional conference also included a research poster showcase where students such as Carrina Appling, neurosciences graduate student, had the opportunity to share their findings with other attendees.

The annual conference bolsters our standing as a leading center for autism and neurodevelopment. Conference sessions featured topics on autism in schools, autism in clinical practice and applied behavior analysis. The two-day professional conference was proceeded by a day of workshops dedicated to parents and caregivers of children with autism, a Q&A panel session with experts representing a variety of disciplines, and a specialized training for the ADOS-2, the gold standard tool for autism diagnostics.

Thompson Center showcase staff
Pictured, from left to right, are Megan Cook, office support assistant; Abby Powell, center administrator; and Marie Heuer, business manager. Kudos to all involved for showcasing us on the national level.

The event was made possible by generous support from sponsors, including MU Health Care. This gathering of hundreds of autism experts illustrates the strengths we have on our campus and how we have the expertise to impact the health of not just Missouri, but our country. Great job!


Rick Barohn, MD
Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Hugh E. and Sarah D. Stephenson Dean, School of Medicine