Rita-Cowell-AwardRita Cowell, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the UAB Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology, received the coveted McNulty Scientist Award from Civitan International during the annual Civitan Board reception hosted by Dr. Harald Sontheimer and the Civitan International Research Center on October 20th, 2011.

Dr. Cowell’s research focuses on how environmental stimuli can influence genetics to cause abnormal brain development resulting in disorders such as autism. Her studies are aimed at understanding how changes in gene expression during development contribute to the progression of neurodevelopmental disorders.

The Chesapeake Civitan McNulty Scientist Award was established in 2004 to support the research and research career of outstanding scientists with long term career commitment to research on developmental disabilities. The award is given each year in honor of the McNulty family. Tom and Mary McNulty and their son, Tommy, were the driving force behind the creation of the Civitan International Research Center and the research focus of Civitan International Foundation. To date the award has provided critical support to several successful research projects and help to develop successful clinical programs benefitting individuals with developmental disorders.