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Research Programs of Excellence

Child Development and Autism

The University of Rochester has one of the largest autism spectrum disorder research programs in the U.S., and is one of only 17 Autism Treatment Network sites. We collaborate with researchers across the country to study causes, characteristics, and care of children and youth with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disorders. We are testing new treatments and comparing different treatment options to identify the most effective therapies that optimize care for these children. Our unique partnerships with the community are crucial to advancing our work. Basic studies are also underway to understand the neurobiology and behavioral responses of individuals with autism. In addition, our nationally-recognized environmental medicine group is actively investigating the relationship between environmental exposures and autism.

Child Health Promotion

Our researchers are working to ensure that new treatments are not only safe and effective for children, but that they reach the children who need them most. For instance, we are one of seven sites in the country whose research has led to major advances in understanding respiratory and diarrheal diseases, changes in vaccine recommendations, and the development of new vaccines for children. Our community-based research is nationally recognized for its work in immunization delivery and asthma prevention. Through unique partnerships between researchers and pediatricians at Golisano Children’s Hospital, the University, and throughout the Rochester community, we have proven to be a national model for pediatric care.

Infectious Diseases

Childhood infections are considered routine in pediatric practice. However, some infections can lead to serious complications and, in rare cases, death. We have established a legacy of excellence in the study of childhood infections. For example, pioneering pediatric studies were instrumental in the development of vaccines for type B Haemophilus influenzae (Hib), virtually eradicating a leading cause of meningitis in preschoolers, preventing thousands of cases of permanent brain damage every year. We are also one of the leading centers of influenza research in the country. Our current research focuses on understanding the body’s immune response to infections and the basic biology of pathogens, developing new vaccines, and discovering new drugs to treat infections.


In the last 30 years, our ability to support and care for our smallest premature infants has improved dramatically. Our researchers were the first to administer lung surfactant to premature infants, saving the lives of tens of thousands of babies. Today, while neonatal lung disease and infection continue to be two important causes of disease and disability in premature infants, we continue to be nationally recognized, housing the nation’s only Respiratory Pathogens Research Center and one of the country’s most state-of-the-art inhalation facilities to study lung disease. Our current research focuses on identifying infants at greatest risk, understanding how oxygen affects the developing lung, and how prematurity affects the development of disease later in life. We are also investigating new drugs to help high-risk premature infants fight severe fungal infections that cause their substantial illness or death.

Stem Cells/Cancer Research

Nearly 14,000 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer each year in the U.S. While the survival rate has increased dramatically during the past 40 years, cancer remains a leading cause of death in children, and two-thirds of childhood survivors face at least one chronic health condition. Our researchers are studying not only the underlying biology of cancers, but of cellular and molecular development, blood disorders, genetic diseases, and immune system disorders. Their studies are helping us better understand how cancers form, how to reduce the toxicity of treatments like radiation, and how to improve treatments like bone marrow transplantation by using blood stem cells to restore the immune system. Our goal is to develop new vaccines and therapies that provide precision cancer care, and that, ultimately, prevent and cure cancer.