Rujuta Wilson, MD
Director, Wilson Motor Lab
Principal Investigator, UCLA Center for Autism Research & Treatment (CART)
Assistant Professor of Pediatric Neurology & Psychiatry, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine
Neurology and Pediatrics Faculty Member, UC-Leadership Education in Neurodiversity (UC-LEND) Program
Neurology Node Director, HRSA Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health (AIR-P)
Vice Chair of Sports Science Committee, United States Tennis Association (USTA)
Dr. Rujuta B. Wilson is a behavioral child neurologist specializing in autism spectrum disorders and related neurodevelopmental disorders. She is an Assistant Professor in Pediatric Neurology and Psychiatry at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and the UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART). She leads the motor phenotyping core of CART and is also a member of the UCLA Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC) phenotyping core.
After completing a combined BA/MD program at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dr. Wilson completed her residency in pediatrics and child neurology at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. She was then the recipient of the Savant Behavioral Neurology Fellowship and completed her behavioral child neurology fellowship at the UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment. Dr. Wilson has been committed to research and clinical care for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities and neurogenetic conditions since medical school when she received a Child Neurology Foundation medical student grant to engage in clinical care and research for individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders.
Dr. Wilson’s research is focused on developing quantitative methods of motor phenotyping with the overarching goal of 1) improving characterization of motor development in individuals with developmental disabilities, 2) better understanding how specific motor differences can impact cognition and language, and 3) developing more targeted interventions for children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Her NIH-funded research evaluates motor development in infants at elevated risk for autism from early infancy through early childhood.
Dr. Wilson’s work also extends to measuring the physical and behavioral benefits of organized physical activity for children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Through her clinical practice, Dr. Wilson recognized that motor difficulties experienced by individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities often leads to less engagement in physical activity, which can ultimately have long-term negative impacts on health and wellness. She also recognized the paucity of inclusive and adaptive physical activity interventions available for individuals with developmental disabilities. To target these issues, Dr. Wilson and Ms. Emily Coker (4th year medical student at UCLA and founder of the Expressive Movement Initiative) launched the UCLA chapter of the Expressive Movement Initiative (EMI) in October 2019, a program designed to introduce the art of creative movement and therapeutic dance to children with developmental disabilities. Dr. Wilson currently serves as the Neurology Node Director of the HRSA Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health (AIR-P). The primary study associated with the AIR-P Neurology Node is a dance intervention for children with developmental disabilities between the ages of 4-17 years old using the EMI model.
Additionally, Dr. Wilson has a longstanding commitment to education and training the next generation of clinicians and trainees. She serves as Associate Program Director of the UCLA Child Neurology Program as well as Training Director for the UC Leadership Education in Neurodiversity (UC-LEND) program. Nationally, Dr. Wilson serves as the Vice Chair of the United States Tennis Association Sports Science Committee where she is focused on improving access to tennis for children with developmental disabilities and educating coaches on how to best serve each child’s unique needs. As an invited member of the American Academy of Neurology Education Committee, Dr. Wilson serves on numerous workgroups and subcommittees to improve training and education in child neurology. She is also the chair of the Best Practices Committee for ACEing Autism, a national organization providing weekly tennis classes to children with ASD.
Most recently, Dr. Wilson has been selected as a Los Angeles Times Super Doctor, Southern California Rising Stars 2020, and as a Los Angeles Magazine 2020 L.A. Top Doctor.