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Principal Investigator

Photo of Susan Swedo

Susan Swedo, M.D.

Section on Behavioral Pediatrics (SBP)


Dr. Swedo is currently Chief of the Section on Behavioral Pediatrics 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 Section on Behavioral Pediatrics 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

No Evidence of Antibodies against GAD65 and Other Specific Antigens in Children with Autism. Kalra, S., Burbelo, P. D., Bayat, A., Ching, K. H., Thurm, A., Iadarola, M. J., Swedo, S. E.. BBA Clin. 2015 Dec 1;4:81-84 PMID: 26366376.

Use of intravenous immunoglobulin in the treatment of twelve youths with pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections. Kovacevic M, Grant P, Swedo SE.. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2015 Feb;25(1):65-9. doi: 10.1089/cap.2014.0067. Epub 2015 Feb 6. PMID: 25658609.

12-Week, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Add-on Riluzole in the Treatment of Childhood-Onset Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Grant, P. J., Joseph, L. A., Farmer, C. A., Luckenbaugh, D. A., Lougee, L. C., Zarate, C. A., Jr., and Swedo, S. E.. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014 May;39(6):1453-9. doi: 10.1038/npp.2013.343. Epub 2013 Dec 19 PMID: 24356715.

Patterns of skill attainment and loss in young children with autism. Thurm, A., Manwaring, S. S., Luckenbaugh, D. A., Lord, C., and Swedo, S. E.. Dev Psychopathol.. 2014 Feb;26(1):203-14. doi: 10.1017/S0954579413000874. Epub 2013 Nov 25. PMID: 24274034.

Dietary Adequacy of Children with Autism Compared to Controls and the Impact of Restricted Diet. Graf-Myles, J., Farmer, C., Thurm, A., Royster, C., Kahn, P., Soskey L, Rothschild L, Swedo S.. Dev Psychopathol. 2014 Feb;26(1):203-14. doi: 10.1017/S0954579413000874. Epub 2013 Nov 25. PMID: 24042076.

Dietary adequacy of children with autism compared with controls and the impact of restricted diet. Graf-Myles, J., Farmer, C., Thurm, A., Royster, C., Kahn, P., Soskey L, Rothschild L, Swedo S.. J Dev Behav Pediatr.. 2013 Sep;34(7):449-59. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e3182a00d17 PMID: 24042076.

Lack of Serum Antibodies against Borrelia burgdorferi in Children with Autism. Burbelo, P. D., Swedo, S. E., Thurm, A., Bayat, A., Levin, A. E., Marques, A., and Iadarola, M. J.. Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2013 Jul;20(7):1092-3. doi: 10.1128/CVI.00643-12. Epub 2013 May 8 PMID: 23658391.

A pilot open-label trial of minocycline in patients with autism and regressive features. Pardo, C. A., Buckley, A., Thurm, A., Lee, L. C., Azhagiri, A., Neville, D. M., Swedo, S. E.. J Neurodev Disord.. 2013;5(1):9. doi: 10.1186/1866-1955-5-9. Epub 2013 Apr 8. PMID: 23566357.

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