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Ira L. Cohen, PhD

Ira L. Cohen, PhD, specializes in autism and the genetics of autism, diagnosis, and behavioral assessment. He received his PhD in psychobiology from Rutgers University in 1974 under the supervision of Michael R. D’Amato. He was an NIH post-doctoral fellow in experimental psychopathology and behavior therapy at NYU Medical Center from 1975-1977. He was then employed as a research psychologist at NYU Medical Center/Bellevue Hospital under the supervision of Dr. Magda Campbell, where he worked with children with autism from 1977-1980. There, he developed objective rating scales, a carpet-based activity monitor, and developed operant conditioning procedures for quantifying behaviors in the children. He joined the Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities in 1981 as part of the Autism Demonstration Project under the supervision of Dr. Erwin Friedman. There he served as a research scientist, and later, as head of the Division of Behavioral Assessment and Research, and chair of the Department of Psychology. He is currently Visiting Research Scientist at the Institute. He completed his Autism Diagnostic Interview training and certification in June 1999 under Christopher Smith of Mt. Sinai Hospital. He then completed his Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule training and certification in August 1999 under Catherine Lord at the University of Chicago. He is a member of the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 

Dr. Cohen is the author and coauthor of over 100 peer-reviewed publications on autism. He is the coauthor of the PDD Behavior Inventory (PDDBI) and the author of the PDD Behavior Inventory Screening Version (PDDBI-SV).

Areas of Expertise

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Fragile X syndrome
  • Statistical analysis
  • Operant conditioning
  • Machine learning
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Behavioral assessment


  • BA in psychology, Temple University (1969)
  • MS in psychobiology, Rutgers University (1972)
  • PhD in psychobiology, Rutgers University (1974)
  • NIH post-doctoral fellow, NYU Medical Center (1975-1977)

Products, Abstracts, and Publications


  • Past member of human rights committee, Eden II School for Autistic Children, Inc., Staten Island, NY
  • Professional advisory board, Foundation for Educating Children with Autism, Inc.
  • Professional advisory board, Institute for Child Development, State University of New York at Binghamton
  • Board of advisors, Foundation for Children with Developmental Disabilities, Rockland County, NY