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Catherine Rice, PhD

Emory Autism Center

School of Medicine

Phone: 404-727-8350



Catherine Rice, PhD, is a developmental psychologist, director of the Emory Autism Center and professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University.  She has worked with people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder through teaching, diagnostic assessment, program planning, consultation, training and research for over 25 years.

In her current position, Dr. Rice oversees educational and clinical programs for toddlers through adults with an emphasis on meaningful social and communicative engagement in everyday life.  These programs touch the lives of hundreds of individuals with autism and their families each year.  She also leads a statewide collaborative aimed at building professional capacity for early diagnosis of autism.  Early in her career, Cathy held several positions at the Emory Autism Center as a teacher, clinician and researcher, which led her to the field of public health in order to better understand the increases in autism seen among children in the community. 

Between her current and past positions at the Emory Autism Center, Dr. Rice spent 14 years as a Behavioral Scientist and Epidemiologist with the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Development Disabilities.  Her work included leading the state collaboration to determine prevalence and describe the population of children with an ASD in multiple areas of the United States through the Autism Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network.  She also worked with the Learn the Signs-Act Early team to improve early identification and led the effort to collect data on the important safety issue of wandering among people with autism and other developmental disabilities.  She continues to provide some expert consultation on determining autism case status and improving developmental and autism screening in the community to the CDC.

Dr. Rice has served on numerous boards for state-level and national organizations, including the role of CDC liaison to the Services Research and Policy Subcommittee of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, the advisory body to the federal government on autism-related services and research.

As important as these formal roles and accomplishments may be, Dr. Rice also brings a deep dedication to respect and dignity in her interactions with individuals with autism.  Her science is informed by her commitment to social justice.  Her advocacy is informed by the best available evidence and an awareness of knowing what we don’t know. 

Dr. Rice received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Emory University and her doctorate in Developmental Psychology from Boston College. She is a licensed psychologist in the state of Georgia and conducts specialized training on the assessment of autism. She formerly held positions at the Emory Autism Center as a teacher, clinician and researcher, as well as an Adjunct Assistant Professor with the Emory University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Dr. Rice is a member of the American Psychological Association, the Georgia Psychological Association, the Society for Research in Child Development, and the International Society for Autism Research. She was named the Autism Society of America Professional of the Year in 2008.