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Clarkson University Students Present Research on Autism Spectrum Disorders, Doctoral Candidate Wins Award

A Clarkson University doctoral candidate has won an award for his research on autism spectrum disorders, and five other students presented their work at the Eastern Analytical Symposium in Somerset, N.J.

Clarkson University doctoral candidate Armand Gatien Ngounou Wetie, left, receives the Eastern Analytical Symposium Graduate Student Research Award from 2014 EAS President Anne-Françoise Aubry.Armand Gatien Ngounou Wetie of Cameroon has been working with Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science Costel C. Darie on research to identify autism biomarkers. He was one of only four graduate students to receive the EAS Graduate Student Research Award, which was awarded by the symposium for the first time, this year.

"If you look at the number of grad students in each university at the Eastern Analytical Symposium and narrow it down to four grad students, and one of them is ours, I think it's good," Darie said.

Ngounou said the symposium was an opportunity for him to keep up with the latest developments and innovations in bio-analytical chemistry as well as connect with other scientists and look for job opportunities. As part of his recognition, he was invited to have dinner with 2014 EAS President Anne-Françoise Aubry.

"This is an encouragement to keep working hard and a motivation to keep pressing on and try to make a difference," he said.

Alisa G. Woods, a researcher at both Clarkson University and the SUNY Plattsburgh Center for Neurobehavioral Health, said autism usually is not detected in children until they are verbal, and even then the symptoms are frequently missed. Because early diagnoses result in the best outcomes for people on the autism spectrum, she said, using biomarkers to detect autism can lead to better treatment.

"We found nine different proteins that were elevated in the saliva of people with autism compared to the saliva of people without autism," she said.

The research team chose to use saliva samples because they can collect the samples themselves, Woods said. Clarkson uses the samples to analyze the biochemistry, while SUNY Plattsburgh analyzes the psychological factors.

"We went toward saliva biomarkers because it's easy and it doesn't upset kids to take the samples," she said. "We're collecting here in the North Country."

A paper on the biomarker study recently was accepted by the journal Autism Research. Woods said she is now recruiting for a larger study, and those interested in participating can contact her at .

Along with Ngounou, five other Clarkson students presented posters on their research in autism spectrum disorders at the symposium. Chemistry doctoral student Kelly Wormwood, chemistry doctoral student Roshanak Aslebagh, chemistry doctoral student Devika Channaveerappa, biomolecular science undergraduate student Megan Borland '16 and biomolecular science undergraduate student Emmalyn Dupree '16 displayed their work on identifying biomarkers.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University doctoral candidate Armand Gatien Ngounou Wetie, left, receives the Eastern Analytical Symposium Graduate Student Research Award from 2014 EAS President Anne-Françoise Aubry.

[A photograph for media use is available at .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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