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Autism Speaks Names Nine New Members to Scientific Advisory Committee

NEW YORK, NY (June 18, 2008) -- Autism Speaks, the nation's largest organization dedicated to funding and facilitating autism research, announced today that it has named nine new members to its Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), a group of scientific and medical experts who will help shape Autism Speaks' strategic plan for science and research priorities.

In 2007, Autism Speaks awarded more than $30 million in science grants to fund research into the causes, prevention and treatments for autism. The organization will be announcing the latest round of research grants in the treatment and basic/clinical categories in the coming weeks.

The new members of the Autism Speaks' SAC are:

  • Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., is the Chair of the SAC and the Chief Science Officer of Autism Speaks. She is currently on the faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Priorto joining Autism Speaks, Dr. Dawson served as Founding Director of the University of Washington Autism Center, an NIH Autism Center of Excellence.
     
  • Martha Herbert, M.D., Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and is a Pediatric Neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is also Director of the TRANSCEND (Treatment Research and Neuroscience Evaluation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) Research Program.
     
  • Craig Newschaffer, Ph.D., is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Drexel University School of Public Health. Dr. Newschaffer's research focuses on monitoring the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders, and also how particular genes might interact with environmental exposures to increase the risk of autism. He recently began working with Peking University to study autism in China. Dr. Newschaffer is the father of a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
     
  • Martin Raff, M.D., is Professor at the Medical Research Council Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology and Cell Biology Unit and in the Biology Department at University College London. A world-renowned researcher of immunology, cell biology, and developmental neurobiology, Dr. Raff is the grandfather of a child with an ASD.
     
  • Glenn Rall, Ph.D., is Program Leader of the Viral Pathogenesis Group at Fox Chase Cancer Center and Associate Professor, Division of Basic Science, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
     
  • Steve Scherer, Ph.D., is Senior Scientist in the Department Genetics and Genomic Biology at SickKids Hospital, and Associate Professor, Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics, University of Toronto in Canada.
     
  • Ezra S. Susser, M.D., Dr. P.H., is Chair, Department of Epidemiology and Professor of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons and Co-Director, Statistics and Epidemiology, HIV Center for Clinical and Behavior Studies (NYSPI) at Columbia University. His research focuses on the epidemiology of mental disorders and examines the role of early life experiences.
     
  • Roberto Tuchman, M.D., is the Founder of the Miami Children's Hospital Dan Marino Center and Director of the Dan Marino ChildNETT (Neurodevelopmental Evaluation and Treatment Teams). He is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of Miami School of Medicine and is Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Nova Southeastern University.
     
  • Stephen T. Warren, Ph.D., is Chair of the Department of Human Genetics at Emory University. Dr. Warren was instrumental in the discovery of the fragile X gene in 1991, and his research into fragile X continues today. Dr. Warren is a Diplomat of the American Board of Medical Genetics with subspecialty certification in both clinical cytogenetics and clinical molecular genetics.

Returning members of the SAC are: David Baskin, M.D., F.A.C.S, Methodist Neurological Institute in Houston Texas; Joseph Coyle, M.D., McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School; Daniel Geschwind, M.D., Ph.D., David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; Gary Goldstein, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer, Kennedy Krieger Institute and Professor, Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine and School of Hygiene and Public Health; and Eric London, M.D., Director of Autism Treatment Research at the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities and director of the newly created New York State Autism Consortium. He is also the co-founder of the National Alliance for Autism Research, which merged with Autism Speaks in 2006.

“We are greatly indebted to this top notch team of scientists and physicians who will help guide our scientific vision and priorities at Autism Speaks,” said Dr. Geraldine Dawson, Chief Science Officer for Autism Speaks. “Their advice and perspective will be used to identify goals and strategies that will accelerate the pace of autism research.”

For complete bios on each member of the Autism Speaks Scientific Advisory Committee, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.
About Autism
Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 150 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention and treatments for autism, and to advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Senior Advisor at Lee Equity Partners and served as vice chairman, General Electric, and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal for more than twenty years. Autism Speaks has merged with both the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and Cure Autism Now (CAN), bringing together the nation's three leading autism advocacy organizations. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.