Shafali Spurling Jeste is a behavioral child neurologist specializing in autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders. She is professor of pediatrics and neurology at the University of Southern California (USC) Keck School of Medicine and the Las Madrinas Chair, chief of neurology and co-director of the Neurological Institute at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA).
After earning a B.A. in philosophy from Yale University in 1997 and her M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 2002, Jeste completed a residency in child neurology and a fellowship in behavioral child neurology at Boston Children’s Hospital. She joined the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2010 and USC in 2021.
Jeste’s research is focused on developing methods to improve precision in the diagnosis and treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders. Her lab studies neurodevelopmental disorders from early infancy through late childhood. She has designed innovative studies in early predictors of autism in tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) that integrate biomarkers with behavior to define atypical development prior to the onset of autism. This work led to the first randomized controlled clinical trial of behavioral intervention for infants with TSC and has paved the way for other early intervention trials in rare genetic syndromes.
Jeste’s research is directly inspired by her clinical work. To address the many gaps in medical care for rare genetic forms of neurodevelopmental disorders, she founded the CARING (Care and Research in Neurogenetics) Clinic. This clinic, which launched at CHLA in January 2022, has become the hub for several new clinical trials for genetic syndromes.
Her research is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Defense and SFARI. She holds several national and international leadership positions on the board of directors of the American Brain Foundation, the National Organization for Rare Disorders and the International Society for Autism Research. She recently served as chair of the International Baby Siblings Research Consortium. In 2019, she was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for her innovations in research in early predictors and intervention for genetic neurodevelopmental disorders.