Autism in the Arab world

Vital Signs » Spring 2014
photo of Boonshoft School of medicine students T.J. Klein, Kelsey Black, and Jeffrey Zabinski

Fulbright grant supports Boonshoft School of Medicine student’s research on autism

Boonshoft School of Medicine student T.J. Klein has been selected for a Fulbright U.S. Student Program fellowship for 2013-2014 to study autism in Oman.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program offering opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide.

Klein began the nine-month study at Sultan Qaboos University, located outside of Muscat, the capital city of Oman, in September.

“Autism, like many other mental health and developmental disorders, is relatively unstudied and under-diagnosed in non-Western parts of the world,” said Klein, who completed his second year of medical school. “This project includes public health outreach and education, as well as biomedical studies dealing with the genetic and possible environmental causes of this disorder.”

Although Klein has not been personally affected by autism, he gained an interest in it when he took a course on autism during his postbaccalaureate program at the University of Pennsylvania.

“My medical specialty interests are internal medicine, pediatrics, neurology, and psychiatry,” said Klein, who earned his undergraduate degree at Princeton University. “This project really is a perfect fit as it dovetails all of these fields. ”

“I am looking forward to learning more about the Arab culture and customs,” said Klein, who would like to be an academic physician at a large research university, where he can work closely with patients in the clinic and conduct basic science research. “I realize that there can be some distance between the general American public and the Arab Muslim world, and I hope to use this opportunity to help bridge that distance.”

Photo: (From left) Boonshoft School of medicine students T.J. Klein, Kelsey Black, and Jeffrey Zabinski went to Oman in June 2012 as part of a medical observership at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital.

Last edited on 09/22/2015.