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Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee Holds Inaugural Meeting

WASHINGTON, DC  (December 3, 2007) -- The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) met on November 30 for the first time since being reconstituted as part of the Combating Autism Act of 2006 (CAA). The CAA specified the creation of the IACC “to coordinate all efforts within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) concerning autism spectrum disorder.”

Among the attendees from HHS were Secretary Michael Leavitt and National Institutes of Health Director Elias Zerhouni, M.D. Thomas Insel, M.D, Director, National Institute of Mental Health is serving as Chairman of the IACC.

Alison Singer, Executive Vice-President, Autism Speaks was appointed by Secretary Leavitt as a Public Member of the IACC. In her remarks to the committee, Singer highlighted the importance of the committee gaining a fundamental understanding of what comprises the baseline funding assumptions when developing a strategic plan that will include proposed budgetary requirements, as tasked by the Combating Autism Act. This information will inform committee members of where actual funding shortfalls may exist as they deliberate the strategic plan. She also expressed the importance of stakeholder input throughout the process of developing the strategic plan.

Additionally, Gary Goldstein, M.D., Clinical Science Advisor, Autism Speaks and President, Kennedy Krieger Institute presented to the committee on non-government funding for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research.

The committee overwhelmingly approved a process plan for developing the strategic plan for ASD research. The process plan includes intervals of public stakeholder feedback before the IACC would approve the Strategic Plan in May 2008. It also called for expedited consideration of the plan through IACC workgroups, workshops and an additional IACC meeting in March 2008. Lee Grossman, President and CEO, Autism Society of America, was the only member of the 18-member committee to vote against the process plan.

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee is next scheduled to meet on March 14, 2008.