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Calls to Action

Inaugural IACC Report on Autism Research

August 30, 2012

The U.S. Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) and the Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) have released their inaugural report on autism publications across the last 30 years. Autism Spectrum Disorder Research Publication Analysis: The Global Landscape of Autism Research is available for free download. (See hyperlinked table of contents below.)

The report summarizes progress in autism science and provides goals for future research. It includes key findings from medical, biological, behavioral, educational and health services studies. The report also highlights the importance of global collaborations, both in funding and around specific scientific questions.

The report identifies the major institutions conducting autism research and the leading organizations supporting this work. It evaluates the extent of collaboration between scientists and research institutions around the world. In addition, the report assesses the impact of published research and identifies the most influential ideas in the field. It also looks back at historical trends across the seven critical research areas of the 2011 IACC Strategic Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorder Research

As the report outlines, In 2010, the United States had the largest number of autism publications (1,040), followed by the United Kingdom (287) and Canada (137). Of the top 25 countries publishing autism research, fewer than a third came from Asia (5) and Latin America (1), and none were published in Africa. However, publications from countries outside of North America and Europe have increased by 10 percent since 1980.

“The growth in international autism research and collaboration is very encouraging,” says Michael Rosanoff, M.P.H., Autism Speaks associate director of public health research and scientific review. “However, there are still many unexplored research opportunities and underserved populations around the world. It is said that autism knows no cultural or geographic boundaries, yet the vast majority of research has been conducted in only a handful of countries around the world. We hope to see a change in the pattern.”

Rosanoff pointed out that the United States also had the most international research collaborations, and that the number of publications that include authors from more than one country has tripled since 2000. Yet partnerships outside of North America and Western Europe remain scarce.

As a federal advisory committee, the IACC coordinates autism-related efforts within the Department of Health and Human Services. Congress created the committee in 2006 with the passage of the Combating Autism Act. It reauthorized the act and the committee in 2011. OARC manages and coordinates the committee and related cross-agency policies and activities.

“We at Autism Speaks commend this latest report compiling both past achievements and major challenges that lie ahead,” says Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D. “But the IACC’s work should not stop here. We need urgency. We need to recognize that autism is a public health crisis that compels the IACC to develop immediate, action-oriented strategic planning to maximize benefits for all of those struggling with autism around the world.”

Dr. Dawson is serving her second term as an IACC member. Please see her recent “Letter from the CSO” on IACC activities.

In addition to free download, the report can be ordered in hard copy by emailing IACCPublicInquiries@mail.nih.gov

IACC/OARC Autism Spectrum Disorder Publications Analysis:
The Global Landscape of Autism Research