News Release

Kessler Foundation scientists receive nearly $800,000 in federal grants to advance research in post-stroke neglect and autism

Investigators aim to uncover the role of gaze in post-stroke reading impairments and develop an employment-specific assessment tool for transitional youth with autism

Grant and Award Announcement

Kessler Foundation


image: Kessler Foundation research scientists (from left), Timothy Rich, PhD, OTR/L, Co-Principal Investigators Helen Genova, PhD, and Heba Elsayed, MD. view more 

Credit: Kessler Foundation

East Hanover, NJ – September 11, 2023 – Three Kessler Foundation research scientists, Timothy Rich, PhD, OTR/L, and Co-Principal Investigators Helen Genova, PhD, and Heba Elsayed, MD, have been awarded $777,325 in federal grants by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to expand research in the fields of neglect dyslexia and autism. These studies may provide major steps towards finding innovative solutions for individuals affected by these conditions.

Dr. Rich, research scientist in the Center for Stroke Rehabilitation Research, was awarded $626,889 to conduct research on “Gaze, Head Rotation, and Neuroanatomic Correlates of Reading Errors in Neglect Dyslexia.” Neglect dyslexia, a reading impairment associated with post-stroke spatial neglect, presents a significant obstacle to achieving functional independence in daily activities. “We aim to delve deeper into understanding the mediating role of gaze in neglect dyslexic errors. By collecting biometric, behavioral, and neuroimaging data, this research will provide valuable insights into the neural networks supporting spatial cognition,” said Dr. Rich. “In addition, the study will contribute to enhancing the detection and classification of visuospatial deficits, ultimately working towards improving the lives of those affected by neglect dyslexia.”

Dr. Genova, associate director, and Dr. Elsayed, associate research scientist for the Center for Autism Research, were awarded a $150,436 grant to collaborate on a study titled, “A Novel Employment Specific Social Communication Assessment Tool for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).” Individuals on the autism spectrum, particularly those in transition age, face higher rates of unemployment. “A key challenge identified by the autism community is social communication differences, which can impact interactions with peers in the workplace,” explained Dr. Elsayed.

“Our study aims to address this challenge by evaluating specific language profiles used by individuals on the spectrum,” said Dr. Genova. “By looking at language patterns across various workplace contexts, we can obtain valuable insights into social communication differences that exist,” she stated. “Furthermore, the project lays the foundation for future studies on how to address these communication differences to improve employment success for individuals on the autism spectrum,” added Dr. Elsayed.

In conclusion, these federal grants will significantly advance understanding of neglect dyslexia and autism, paving the way for innovative interventions and improvements in the lives of individuals with these disabilities. For more information on volunteering for one of these studies, visit the Foundation’s Join a Study webpage.

Funding: National Institutes of Health grants #K01HD109446 and #R02MH132000.

About National Institutes of Health
NIH’s mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability. Scientific and technological breakthroughs generated by NIH research have helped more people in the United States and all over the world live longer, healthier lives. These advancements were achieved by making disease less deadly through effective interventions to prevent and treat illness and disability. For more information, visit

About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research. Our scientists seek to improve cognition, mobility, and long-term outcomes, including employment, for adults and children with neurological and developmental disabilities of the brain and spinal cord including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and autism. Kessler Foundation also leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit

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