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Meet Our Scientific Advisory Board

Meet Our Scientific Advisory Board

Paul S. Appelbaum, M.D., is the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine and Law, and director of the Center for Law, Ethics and Psychiatry at Columbia University. He directs Columbia’s Center for Research on Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of Psychiatric, Neurologic and Behavioral Genetics. Appelbaum is the author of many articles and books on law and ethics in clinical practice. He is past president of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law and the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society, and has twice served as chair of the Council on Psychiatry and Law and of the Committee on Judicial Action for the American Psychiatric Association. He performs forensic evaluations in civil and criminal cases and treats patients with a broad variety of problems, including depression, anxiety and adjustment problems.

Becca Lory Hector, CAS, BCCS, was diagnosed on the autism spectrum as an adult and has become an autism advocate, consultant, speaker, and writer. With a focus on living an active, positive life, her work includes autism consulting, public speaking engagements, writing a monthly blog, Live Positively Autistic, and the bi-weekly podcast that she co-hosts, Spectrumly Speaking. Lory Hector’s goals are to spread acceptance and understanding, and to encourage self-advocacy. Previously she worked for non-profit, grassroots organizations that provide resources and services directly to individuals on the autism spectrum. She is a Certified Autism Specialist (CAS) and a Cognitive Specialist (BCCS). Lory Hector is honored to sit on the Advisory Board of the Nassau-Suffolk chapter of the Autism Society of America, the Board of Directors of Different Brains and the Foundation for Life Guides for Autism, and the Community Council of AASET (Autistic Adults and other Stakeholders Engaged Together). An animal lover with a special affinity for cats, Lory Hector spends most of her time with her partner, Antonio Hector, and their emotional support animal, Sir Walter Underfoot.

Sandy Magaña, Ph.D., M.S.W., holds the Professorship in Autism and

Neurodevelopmental Disabilities in the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work (UT SSW). In addition, she co-directs the University of Illinois, Chicago, Family Support Research and Training Center from UT SSW, which aims to expand the research on family members who provide support and care to people with disabilities across the life course. Magaña’s research focus is on the cultural context of families who care for persons with disabilities across the life course. Her current research includes investigating racial and ethnic disparities among children with autism and developmental disabilities and developing culturally relevant interventions to address these disparities She also focuses on identifying pathways from identification and diagnosis to evidenced-based treatment for under served children with autism.

Heather C. Mefford, M.D., Ph.D., is an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington in the Division of Genetic Medicine and attending physician at Seattle Children’s Hospital in the Medical Genetics Clinic. Mefford has a research laboratory devoted to the discovery of novel genetic and genomic causes of pediatric disease. A major focus of her group’s work is to identify genetic causes of pediatric epilepsy. Using state-of-the-art technology, including next-generation sequencing, the group has recently identified numerous new epilepsy genes. She has also been involved in the discovery and characterization of several new genomic disorders.


Megan O’Boyle is the parent of a 17-year-old daughter with Phelan-McDermid Syndrome (PMS). This diagnosis includes autism, intellectual disabilities, epilepsy, ADHD, and other medical conditions. She is the principal investigator for the Phelan-McDermid Syndrome Data Network (PMS_DN, PCORnet) and the Phelan-McDermid Syndrome International Registry (PMSIR). O’Boyle is passionate about the value of the patient’s voice in research, drug development, clinical trial design, development of related legislation, and quality of life decisions. She advocates for data sharing, collaborating with other advocacy groups, sharing resources, and streamlining institutional review board practices and policies.

Kevin Sanders, M.D., is the Global Lead for the Autism Program for Roche Product Development in Basel, Switzerland. Before Roche, he was an associate clinical professor of psychiatry and the director of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Division at Vanderbilt University. He also served as the director of the Child Psychiatry Consult Service at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, attending inpatient physician at the Vanderbilt Psychiatry Hospital, co-site principal investigator of the Autism Treatment Network, director of the Medical Exploration of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (MEND) research program and medical director of the Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD) at Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. He has had extensive experience in clinical research in autism, including participation either as a principal investigator or sub-investigator in most trials for new molecular entities targeting autism.

Scott Sutherland, B.F.A., is a Software Engineer and Staff Scientist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Sutherland became a founding faculty member in the Indiana University School of Informatics where he taught in their M.S. in New Media program (now M.S. in Human-Computer Interaction). Over the last two decades, he managed software development projects in biotechnology, clinical care, and for biomedical research institutions, including the Broad Institute and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. At the Broad Institute, Sutherland serves as the Director of the Portals vertical in the Data Sciences Platform. He is the program manager for the institute’s involvement in the All of Us Research Program, and serves as a principal investigator for projects that involve development of scientific portals or patient-facing disease registries.

Amy Wetherby, Ph.D.,  is a distinguished research professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences and director of the Autism Institute in the Florida State University College of Medicine and the Laurel Schendel Professor of Communication Disorders. The overarching goal of her research is to build the capacity of healthcare systems to improve early detection and provide access to cost-efficient early interventions that are feasible for far-reaching community implementation. Wetherby brings unique research and clinical expertise in early detection, parent-implemented interventions for infants and toddlers with ASD, community-based screening and interventions, and experience directing multisite studies.