Ireland Joins NAAR Autism Genome Project

Irish Department of Health & Children Commits $6.1 million to Collaborative Effort

The Republic of Ireland's Department of Health and Children has recently made a five-year commitment of $6.1 million (€5 million) to the NAAR Autism Genome Project.

Micheal Martin, T.D., Ireland's Minister for Health and Children, made the announcement on September 24.

"The fact that researchers in Ireland have been asked to join in this collaborative project is a source of great satisfaction to my Department and to me personally,” said Minister Martin. “I am aware that were it not for the groundwork that has already been laid by our researchers we would not have been invited to get involved.”

The Irish research team taking part in the NAAR Autism Genome Project is led by Dr. Louise Gallagher and Dr. Michael Gill, of Trinity College of Dublin; and Dr. Sean Ennis, of University College of Dublin.

The NAAR Autism Genome Project has been developed and supported by NAAR and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The project includes approximately 170 investigators from Europe and North America that are pooling their resources to map the human genome in the search for autism susceptibility genes - the genes responsible for the inherited risk of autism. This unprecedented endeavor is the largest research collaboration ever to focus on the genetics of autism.

“In order to ensure that we develop the most appropriate and effective therapeutic interventions, there is a need for more clarity in relation to the factors behind autism,” said Minister Martin. “This is particularly important in relation to this area given the ongoing debate concerning both the causative factors and the many approaches to intervention which can lead to conflict between families of persons with autism and those seeking to support them. This is particularly pertinent where there is no sound research basis for a particular intervention.”

NAAR extends its sincere thanks to Minister Martin and the entire Department of Health and Children for partnering in this initiative. In addition, NAAR gives special thanks to Trustee Adrian Jones and Andy Shih, Ph.D., NAAR's director of Research & Programs, for their assistance in this effort.