A new Honolulu pediatric disability treatment center will shut its doors in February due to the sudden departure of the organization’s chief doctor.

Milestones President and CEO Dr. Ryan Lee announced his departure from the nonprofit last week for personal health reasons, and the group’s directors board subsequently decided to shut down the facility.

The nonprofit medical treatment and research group focused its mission on improving diagnoses and treatment plans for youth with autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy and other developmental disorders.

Lee led a neurodevelopmental clinic at Shriners Hospital for Children in Honolulu before becoming a founding member of Milestones, which opened its doors 10 months ago.

The departure of Dr. Ryan Lee, president of Milestones, for health reasons caused the treatment center to close down. Courtesy of Milestones

“We are proud of the accomplishments of Milestones since our launch in March of last year,” Lee said in a press release.

“Our organization was founded to meet a need for a single entity to enhance care for children with neurodevelopmental and behavioral conditions in Hawaii. During that time, 1,700 children received specialized care and treatment. We appreciate the hard work of the physicians and staff at Milestones over the past year.”

Lee led one of the world’s first studies of the behavioral effects of a ketogenic diet on children with autism.

He forged a partnership between Milestones researchers and University of Hawaii Manoa biologist Masato Yoshizawa earlier this year in a unique project to explore the evolution of Mexico’s blind cave fish behavior and its implications for children with autism.

The interdisciplinary team of biologists and pediatric disability specialists had been investigating how cave fish respond to a ketogenic diet, and the implications of those responses for autism research. Cave fish and some children with autism share behavioral traits, such as anti-socialization and difficulty sleeping.

Efforts to notify Milestone’s team of professionals, partners and patient families began last week. The organization will extend its service for as long as possible to assist with transitions and referrals.

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