Ami Klin is a U.S. clinician and social neuroscientist with roots in Brazil and Israel and training in England. He directed the Yale University Autism Program for many years prior to moving to Atlanta, where he now directs the Marcus Autism Center, which is at the intersection of the Emory University School of Medicine, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and Emory’s Center for Translational Social Neuroscience.
As a clinician, he refers to himself as a ‘walking laboratory of social engagement’. As an investigator, his focus is on concepts and methods that help quantify human experience as it occurs in social interaction. In a longstanding collaboration with Dr. Warren Jones, this work has led to ways of mapping and quantifying people’s moment-by-moment internal adjustments to their social surroundings. In infants, this work has led to examination of the basis for enculturation and shared experiences. And in infants with autism, this work has led to ways of detecting risk for autism in the first six months of life. Deployment of their technologies and methods in universal screening for autism in infancy is underway.
Capitalizing on brain neuroplasticity, this work is meant to radically lessen the intensity of the disabilities associated with autism through early intervention, thus optimizing these children’s lifetime outcomes. With a societal cost of more than $40 billion per year in the U.S. alone – mostly associated with older individuals who never benefited from early intervention – this approach promises a better life for millions of children and families, and a radical change in the overwhelming and often devastating economics of this condition.