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HHS Appoints Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Robert Ring as New Public Member of the IACC

NEW YORK, N.Y. (July 2, 2014) – Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, is pleased to announce the appointment of Robert Ring, Ph.D., its chief science officer, as a public member of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC). Comprised of both Federal and Public members, the IACC advises the government on federally funded autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research and related activities, and provides a forum for public input on these issues.

Dr. Ring’s appointment accompanies that of Wendy Chung, director of clinical research for the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI). The two organizations are the largest private funders of autism research in the United States.

“Both Dr. Ring and Dr. Chung will be important additions to the committee, given the depth of their scientific and clinical experience and their dedication to improving the lives of people on the autism spectrum,” says Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health and chair of the IACC.

“Advances in autism research have brought the field to an exciting moment in its history, where breakthroughs are increasingly poised to return tangible benefits for those with autism and their families,” Dr. Ring says. “At Autism Speaks, our science mission has long strived to ensure investments in research are best aligned to deliver support for the diverse behavioral, medical and educational needs of our community. Serving on IACC will only broaden the opportunities for me to help put science to work for our families.”

"We look forward to working with members of the IACC to advance the issues of the autism community,” adds Autism Speaks President Liz Feld, “from diagnosis throughout the entire lifespan."

Dr. Ring has served as Autism Speaks chief science officer since June 2013. Previously, he served as the organization’s vice president of translational research and the head of Delivering Scientific Innovation for Autism (DELSIA), Autism Speaks’ venture philanthropy affiliate. Dr. Ring also led Autism Speaks’ collaboration with the Simons Foundation to launch the Autism BrainNet, a privately funded multisite brain banking effort advancing research into the causes and treatment of ASD.

Prior to Autism Speaks, Dr. Ring served as head of the Autism Research Unit at Pfizer Worldwide Research and Development. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Westmont College, in Santa Barbara, with a double-major in biology and fine art. He received his doctorate in molecular neurobiology, from City of Hope National Medical Center, in Southern California. Dr. Ring holds adjunct faculty appointments in psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and in pharmacology and physiology at Drexel University College of Medicine.

About Autism 
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, and repetitive behaviors. An estimated 1 in 68 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum.

About Autism Speaks 
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed more than $500 million dollars to its mission, the majority in science and medical research. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 100 cities across North America. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships in more than 40 countries on five continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit AutismSpeaks.org.