Geraldine Dawson

William Cleland Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Geraldine Dawson is the William Cleland Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University, where she also is Professor of Pediatrics and Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience. Dawson is the Director of the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development. Her research has focused on autism early detection, treatment, and brain function. Using electrophysiological techniques, Dawson's lab discovered differences in brain circuitry related to face processing in children with autism, which are apparent during infancy before symptom onset and a lifelong brain-based autism biomarker. Dawson's studies were among the first to describe autism symptoms during infancy. With Sally Rogers, she co-created the Early Start Denver Model, an empirically-validated early autism intervention, which has been translated into 17 languages. Dawson demonstrated that early intervention can normalize aspects of brain activity in children with autism, a finding recognized by TIME Magazine as one of the top 10 medical breakthroughs of 2012. Dawson served as President of the International Society for Autism Research and was Founding Director of the University of Washington Autism Center. From 2008-2013, Dawson served as the first Chief Science Officer for Autism Speaks. Dawson has testified before the US Congress in support of autism legislation and was appointed by the U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. Dawson is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was awarded the American Psychological Association Distinguished Career Award (Div53); Association for Psychological Science Lifetime Achievement Award; Clarivate Top 1% Cited Researcher Across All Scientific Fields; NIH Top Research Advances of the Year (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019); Autism Society of America Award for Research Contributions; Autism Society Medical Professional of the Year; and Autism Society Award for Valuable Service. She is a Fellow of the Association for  Psychological Science and American Psychological Association. Dawson received a Ph.D. in Developmental and Child Clinical Psychology from the University of Washington and completed a clinical internship at UCLA.