Nelson and Michele Carbonell, Kevin Pelphrey Honored for Commitment to Autism Research

The Carbonells and Dr. Pelphrey received a research and innovation award from the nonprofit Melwood.

carbonell installation
From left to right: Kevin Pelphrey, Michele Carbonell, Nelson Carbonell, Forrest Maltzman and Jeffrey Akman at the Carbonell Family Professor in Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders installation in October 2016. (William Atkins/ GW Today)
December 11, 2017

Nelson Carbonell Jr., B.S. ’85 and chair of the George Washington University Board of Trustees, his wife, Michele Carbonell, and GW researcher Kevin Pelphrey were recently honored for their commitment to autism research as part of the 2017 Melwood Ability Awards Benefit.

The GW leaders were awarded Melwood’s Research and Innovation Award for their work with the Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute (ANDI). Dr. Pelphrey is founding director of the institute, which has been supported through founding donations from the Nelson A. and Michele Carbonell Family Foundation.

Melwood is a nonprofit that advocates for and empowers individuals of differing abilities through community involvement. Melwood awarded several honors at its Thursday benefit event at the MGM National Harbor in Maryland. The event recognized leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to helping people with differing abilities soar beyond conventional barriers in the workplace.

Under Dr. Pelphrey, ANDI uses evidence-based clinical treatments to conduct research on the full spectrum of adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The Institute focuses on expanding the body of research on autism in girls, developing interventions for adolescents and adults with autism and helping them transition to adulthood.

It is an honor to receive recognition from Melwood, Dr. Pelphrey said.

“This award reflects the hard work of all of our faculty and staff as well as the support and partnership of the Carbonells,” Dr. Pelphrey said. “We are all looking forward to working with the Melwood team on collaborative projects to help adults with differing abilities to make the key transition into adulthood.”

An ANDI project aimed at understanding the different risks of ASD in girls and boys supported by the National Institutes of Health was awarded five years of renewal funding earlier this year. Girls are diagnosed with ASD much less frequently than boys are. Dr. Pelphrey and a network of colleagues at various institutions are working to understand why the risks are different among peers.

The Nelson A. and Michele Carbonell Family Foundation announced in April 2014 that it would make a gift of $2.5 million to the university to provide an endowment for a professor to serve as the inaugural ANDI director. Dr. Pelphrey was named the director and officially installed as the Carbonell Family Professor in Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders in October 2016.

“This award recognizes the extraordinary progress Kevin continues to make at GW's Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute,” Mr. Carbonell said. “The research and interventions Kevin and his team are leading will change the lives of so many, especially girls with autism and those transitioning to adulthood. My wife, Michele, and I want to thank Melwood for its advocacy and empowerment work and for recognizing GW's efforts.” 

University News


Autism Research Targets Transition to Young Adulthood

October 30, 2017
The NIH recently awarded more than $11.7 million to a GW-based research project on autism spectrum disorder diagnosis disparities.

Kevin Pelphrey Installed as Carbonell Family Professor in Autism

October 31, 2016
The position was created through a $2.5 million gift from the Nelson A. and Michele Carbonell Family Foundation.