The Thompson Center hosts grand opening for new research facility

After a $5 million grant from the Missouri State Legislature, the Thompson Center opens new Research and Training Facility next door to first building.
The Thompson Center is located on Keene St. off of I-70 drive SE.

The Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders hosted a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Thompson Center Research and Training Facility on Friday.

In 2016, former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon proposed an allocation of $5 million of the 2017 state budget to expand the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Once approved, that money was used by the organization to purchase a second building next door to the original facility and to renovate the majority of its bottom floor, said Dr. Stephen Kanne, executive director of the Thompson Center.

The Thompson Center’s mission is to “improve the lives of individuals and families affected by autism spectrum disorder and neurodevelopmental disorders through world class programs that integrate research, clinical service delivery, education and public policy,” according to its website. The new facility includes research offices, diagnostics, treatment options and support systems for those affected by autism spectrum disorder.

Garnett Stokes, MU provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, spoke prior to the ribbon cutting. Stokes said the center is effective because of the interdisciplinary work being done on all fronts of autism treatment and awareness.

“The Thompson Center houses internationally recognized investigators who study treatment effectiveness, biological markers for diagnosis, social skills, severe behavior intervention and a whole lot more than that,” Stokes said.

Though it owns the entire two-story building, the Thompson Center only occupies about three-fourths of the lower floor so far. Kanne said this allows for further expansions in the future. He also said the new space will be effective in increasing professional development and training output.

“The other rooms have greatly increased our ability to train multiple professionals across the states, as well as students,” Kanne said. “We train all across Missouri, all across the nation and all across the world. We host hundreds of parents and teachers and medical professionals every year. We're outfitted with all the new technology that helps support the new training that we do.”

Booths were set up to demonstrate the different research being done on campus for the different areas of autism spectrum disorder, and presentations were given by a variety of professionals from the Thompson Center. Ambassadors for the Columbia Chamber of Commerce also helped with the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright spoke prior to the ceremony. He said he believes the facility has tremendous potential and upholds MU’s core values.

“The Thompson Center works hard to fulfill MU’s mission of sharing knowledge with citizens and organizations across the state,” Cartwright said. “Opening the research and training facility represents another step forward in developing quality care for individuals with developmental challenges. This new facility provides new research space and capabilities.”

Cartwright said the opening of this addition demonstrates how an effective relationship between a university and the state government can lead to improvements for the community.

“Further expanding the horizons of the Thompson Center will be of immense importance to the families of Missouri's children,” Cartwright said. “This endeavor is a heartening illustration of how the state and the university can work in tandem for the greater good of all.”

Edited by Olivia Garrett |

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