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Principal Investigator:
Susan Swedo, M.D.


Dr. Swedo is currently Chief Pediatrics & Developmental Neuroscience Branch at the NIMH. Dr. Swedo received her M.D. from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and completed her pediatrics residency at Children's Memorial Hospital (Northwestern University) in Chicago. Dr. Swedo began her career as a hospital-based pediatrician in Evanston, IL and was later named Chief of Adolescent Medicine at the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University. She moved to the Washington area in 1986 and joined the staff of the Child Psychiatry Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health, where she conducted research on childhood obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Dr. Swedo and her NIMH team were the first to identify a new subtype of pediatric OCD, in which symptoms are triggered by cross-reactive antibodies produced in response to infections with Group A beta-hemolytic streptococci. The subgroup is known by the acronym, PANDAS, which stands for: Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections. This work led to the development of several novel therapies, including use of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) and plasmapheresis to treat acutely ill children, and antibiotics prophylaxis to prevent strep-triggered neuropsychiatric exacerbations. Subsequent work has revealed that the cross-reactive antibodies are unique to the PANDAS subgroup and have biologic activity in the CNS.

In 2002, Dr. Swedo moved to the extramural side of NIMH to serve as Associate Director for Pediatric Research and Director of the Division of Pediatric Translational Research. She returned to the Pediatrics & Developmental Neuroscience Branch in May 2006 to establish a multi-disciplinary, clinical research team dedicated to studies of autism spectrum disorders and related neurodevelopmental disorders. Studies of childhood-onset OCD are also underway in the Branch.

Research Interests

The Pediatrics and Developmental Neuroscience Branch is comprised of a clinical research team investigating the etiology, phenomenology, pathophysiology and treatment of developmental disorders and childhood psychiatric disorders. Autism spectrum disorders and childhood-onset obsessive compulsive disorder (and particularly the PANDAS subtype) are of particular research interest.

Selected Publications

A magnetization transfer imaging study of corpus callosum myelination in young children with autism . Gozzi M, Nielson DM, Lenroot RK, Ostuni JL, Luckenbaugh DA, Thurm AE, Giedd JN, Swedo SE. Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Aug 1;72(3):215-20. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.01.026. Epub 2012 Mar 2. PMID: 22386453.

An open label trial of donepezil for enhancement of rapid eye movement sleep in young children with autism spectrum disorders . Buckley AW, Sassower K, Rodriguez AJ, Jennison K, Wingert K, Buckley J, Thurm A, Sato S, Swedo S. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2011 Aug;21(4):353-7. doi: 10.1089/cap.2010.0121. PMID: 21851192.

Rapid eye movement sleep percentage in children with autism compared with children with developmental delay and typical development . Buckley AW, Rodriguez AJ, Jennison K, Buckley J, Thurm A, Sato S, Swedo S. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010 Nov;164(11):1032-7. doi: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2010.202. PMID: 21041596.

Children with obsessive-compulsive disorder: are they just little adults . Kalra SK, Swedo SE. J Clin Invest. 2009 Apr;119(4):737-46. doi: 10.1172/JCI37563. Epub 2009 Apr 1. PMID: 19339765.

Magnuson Clinical Center, Room 1C250, MSC 1255

Phone: +1 301 496 5323