Utah State University researcher Reed Warren, world-renowned for his studies into the genetic origins of autism, has died of kidney cancer. He was 55.

"He was as good as they get, a really good man who treated everyone well, who was humble and loved everyone," said fellow researcher and Logan pediatrician Dr. J. Dennis Odell."No one knew what caused it. Reed found genetic markers - that certain genes were associated with autism," Odell said. "He made a huge contribution."

Fellow researcher Dr. Ron Torres of Salt Lake City was saddened to learn of Warren's passing. Warren and Torres grew up in Price and attended high school and medical school together.

"He was always - even in high school - honest, sincere and decent," Torres said. "His character was developed at a young age."

When Warren started his research on the causes of autism and other disorders such as Down syndrome, the research "was remote in the scientific community, said Marvin Fifield, director of the Center for Persons with Disabilities.

"Reed's work put it on the cutting edge. It's phenomenally important," he said.

Warren died Monday at his home in Logan.