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Clare Harrop, PhD, research assistant professor in the Department of Allied Health Sciences’ Office of Research, has received a KL2 grant through the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS). She is the first recipient to represent the Department of Allied Health Sciences.

The K grant is funded through UNC’s NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program and will provide Harrop with up to three years of salary support, in addition to research and training funds.

Harrop, whose research is focused on extending previous research in eye tracking studies, continues to examine sex differences in autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Harrop’s previous research, using eye tracking, has shown that females with ASD respond to social stimuli more than other stimuli. Harrop hypothesizes that such a response will not be found at a neural, or brain, level. Such a finding would suggest a protective factor in females who experience ASD, perhaps to the extent of their ability to camouflage their difficulties with learnt behaviors. Harrop is studying two to eight-year-old girls to understand when this effect emerges.

Harrop credits the grant with allowing her time to conduct her research, in addition to funding for supplemental training opportunities. Her training involves learning about emerging methodologies, neurosciences classes, conferences, and NC TraCS educational events and trainings.

Her mentors include Aysenil Belger, director of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and Kevin Pelphrey, PhD, a 2001 graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill.

UNC-Chapel Hill’s NC TraCS Institute is the integrated hub of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program. TraCS combines the research strengths, resources and opportunities of the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, partner institutions RTI International (RTI) in the Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (N.C. A&T) in Greensboro, and North Carolina State University (NCSU) in Raleigh.