Self-Injurious Behavior, Mental Retardation and Autism

Rockville, MD

December 6-7, 1999

The 1999 Merrill conference in Rockville, Maryland brought together 25 of the leading scholars on self-injurious behavior. Researchers discussed the genetic, neurobiological and behavioral causes and treatments for self-injurious behavior, a problem that affects 5-17% of persons with mental retardation and autism. Many new findings and tools have been developed in the past 40 years, but there have been few opportunities to integrate approaches. The ultimate goal of the 1999 Merrill conference was to produce multi-disciplinary models that will result in more effective treatment.

The conference was co-sponsored by the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development of the NIH.

Participants contributed their expertise to a book, edited by Stephen Schroeder, Mary Lou Oster-Granite and Travis Thompson. It was published by the American Psychological Association. It contains information about the behavioral and biological antecedents of SIB, the role of Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome and opioid peptides, as well as other critical information drawn from a variety of fields.

For an overview of self-injurious behavior, read our three-part In the Know science feature written for the general public:

Self-Injurious Behavior: Genetics and the Environment -- Two Heads of the Coin

Self-Injurious Behavior: Breakthroughs in Treatment

Self-Injurious Behavior: How Science is Delivering Answers

1999 Conference Participants 

Keynote Speaker  

  • Luis M. Proenza, President, University of Akron 

Iowa State University 

  • Charlotte R. Bronson, Professor of Plant Pathology 
  • Bruce Harmon, Deputy Director of the Ames Laboratory, Distinguished Professor of Physics 
  • P. B. Swan, Vice Provost for Research & Advanced Studies 

Kansas Board of Regents 

  • Kim A. Wilcox, Executive Director 

Kansas State University 

  • Bikram S. Gill, Director of the Wheat Genetics Resource Center, University Distinguished Professor of Plant Pathology 
  • Marc A. Johnson, Dean of Agriculture; Director, Agricultural Experiment Station & Cooperative Extension Service 
  • R. W. Trewyn, Vice Provost for Research & Dean of the Graduate School; President, KSU Research Foundation 

University of Kansas 

  • Robert E. Barnhill, Vice Chancellor for Research & Public Service, President of CRINC 
  • Sally Frost Mason, Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Professor of Molecular Biosciences 
  • Robert Hemenway, Chancellor 
  • Roberta Johnson, Director of the Hall Center for Humanities 
  • Ted Kuwana, EPSCOR Director & Regents Distinguished Professor of Chemistry 
  • Kathleen McKluskey-Fawcett, Associate Provost 
  • Mabel Rice, Director, Merrill Advanced Studies Center, University Distinguished Professor of Speech-Language-Hearing 
  • James Roberts, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research & Public Service 
  • Dick Schiefelbusch, Director Emeritus, Life Span Institute 
  • Steve Schroeder, Director, Life Span Institute 
  • David E. Shulenburger, Provost 
  • Don Steeples, McGee Distinguished Professor of Geophysics 
  • Marilyn Stokstad, Judith Harris Murphy Distinguished Professor of Art History 
  • George S. Wilson, Higuchi Professor of Chemistry & Pharmaceutical Chemistry 

University of Kansas Medical Center  

  • Charles DeCarli, Director, Alzheimer’s Center & Professor of Neurology 
  • Don Hagen, Executive Vice Chancellor 
  • K. Michael Welch, M.D., Vice Chancellor for Research 

University of Missouri - Columbia 

  • Andrew J. Blanchard, Director of Research, College of Engineering, Professor of Electrical Engineering 
  • Jack O. Burns, Vice Provost for Research 
  • Roger A. Sunde, Professor & Chair of Nutritional Sciences; Cluster Leader, Food for the 21st Century 
  • Richard L. Wallace, Chancellor 

University of Nebraska 

  • Thomas Rosenquist, Director of Research, Medical Center in Omaha; Chair, Cell Biology & Anatomy 

Other Participants 

  • Keith Yehle, Legislative Assistant to Senator Pat Roberts, Washington, D.C.  
  • Bob Woody, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, Washington, D.C.