Robert H. Ring, Ph.D. Named Chief Science Officer of Autism Speaks

NEW YORK, NY (JUNE 13, 2013) – Robert H. Ring, Ph.D., a respected autism and neurodevelopmental disorders researcher and executive, has been named Chief Science Officer of Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization.

Ring, who is currently Autism Speaks' vice president of translational research, has devoted his entire career to improving the lives of people affected by mental health disorders, with specific focus on autism spectrum disorders (ASD) during the last seven years.  He replaces Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D.

"Dr. Ring knows how important it is to put science into action, to have the research we support work for the community and make a real difference in people's lives," said Liz Feld, President of Autism Speaks. "His appointment is an exciting moment for Autism Speaks as we continue to push the boundaries of autism research."

"This is a time of unprecedented progress and opportunity in the field of autism research, and Autism Speaks will continue to play a pivotal role as a catalyst for innovation," said Ring. "As Chief Science Officer of Autism Speaks, I have the responsibility of ensuring that our scientific work is always focused on delivering meaningful results for people with ASD and their families.  I can't think of a more exciting or urgent challenge."

As Chief Science Officer, Ring will lead Autism Speaks initiatives including the full genome sequencing collaboration with BGI and the Autism Tissue Program and its integration into the recently announced Autism BrainNet. Ring  joined Autism Speaks in June of 2011 and  has been responsible for the development and implementation of the organization’s expanding translational research portfolio, which is focused on moving biological science “from bench to bedside” – or from laboratory experiments into clinical trials – with the goal of improving outcomes for individuals with ASD. Ring also serves as President of Delivering Scientific Innovation for Autism (DELSIA), a venture philanthropy arm that is working beyond the science to catalyze scientific breakthroughs and innovations in technology into the development of products that will improve the quality of life and health for individuals with autism.

"We thank Dr. Dawson for all she has done for Autism Speaks," said Bob Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks. "Her vision helped establish our position as a critical driver of autism research here in the U.S. and internationally. Dr. Ring has done tremendous work developing our translational research portfolio. He is the ideal person to build on our success and lead Autism Speaks' autism research efforts as we seek to further elevate the impact it can have for our families."

"I am so grateful to Bob and Suzanne Wright and my colleagues at Autism Speaks, who have literally changed the landscape in autism science and advocacy," said Dawson, who has been appointed as Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and co-director of the Duke University Center on Autism Diagnosis and Treatment. "It has been a privilege to work with this remarkable team for the past five and half years. Rob Ring’s expertise will help ensure that our science investments continue to bring real benefit for individuals with autism and their families.”

Prior to joining Autism Speaks, Ring served as senior director and head of the Autism Research Unit at Pfizer Worldwide Research and Development. There he led the first research group in the history of the pharmaceutical industry focused specifically on the discovery and development of medicines for neurodevelopmental disorders. Ring also served on its executive leadership team for neuroscience and played an instrumental role in shaping the development of Pfizer’s strategy for autism spectrum disorders.

Ring earned a B.A. double major in both Fine Art and Biology from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA, and a Ph.D. in Molecular Neurobiology from the City of Hope National Medical Center in Southern California. He holds adjunct faculty appointments in the Departments of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine (New York) and Pharmacology and Physiology at Drexel University College of Medicine (Philadelphia).

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, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated one in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 78 percent increase in six years that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.

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 $195 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 95 cities across North America. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships and related activities in more than 40 countries on 5 continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.AutismSpeaks.org.