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Autism Speaks and Cure Autism Now Complete Merger

Combined Operations of Leading Autism Organizations Will Lead to Enhanced Research, Treatment and Advocacy Programs

(NEW YORK, NY – February 5, 2007) – Autism Speaks and Cure Autism Now (CAN) have completed their merger, uniting the nation's two leading autism advocacy organizations and their cutting-edge programs for research, treatment, and family services. Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks, announced today that the Boards of Directors of Autism Speaks and Cure Autism Now respectively had approved the transaction. The groups first reported their intention to merge in November 2006. The combined entity will be known as Autism Speaks.

The consolidation of the two organizations is based on their mutual commitment to accelerate and fund biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism spectrum disorders; to increase awareness of the nation's fastest-growing developmental disorder; and to advocate for the needs of affected individuals and families. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 166 children, with four times as many boys as girls affected. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade, leading the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to call autism a national public health crisis.

“The completion of this merger marks the tipping point in the autism community, bringing together the best science, collaborative minds and impassioned advocates,” said Bob Wright, chairman of the board of Autism Speaks. “A unified autism community is better prepared to ensure that the general public is aware of and responsive to this national healthcare emergency.”

“Cure Autism Now created a network of parents, bonded by hope, that partnered with scientists and accelerated research into the causes of and biomedical treatments for autism,” said Sallie Bernard, CAN's board chair. “Autism Speaks has demonstrated a commitment to making autism a public concern and to expanding funding for innovative programs.”

Cure Autism Now board members Sallie Bernard, Jonathan Shestack, Craig Snyder and John Wilson will join the Autism Speaks board of directors. CAN co-founder Shestack will also join the executive committee of the board. Bob Wright will continue to serve as chairman of the board of Autism Speaks and Suzanne Wright will continue to serve as vice chair. Mark Roithmayr will remain as president of Autism Speaks. CAN president and CEO Peter Bell will become an executive vice president of Autism Speaks and has been named staff liaison to the board of directors.

The combined organization will maintain both Cure Autism Now's and Autism Speaks' national walk programs and professional staffs. The scientific research processes, advisory boards and protocols of each entity have been integrated and flagship CAN programs, including the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE), Autism Treatment Network (ATN), Clinical Trials Network (CTN) and Innovative Technology for Autism (ITA), will be expanded.

Autism Speaks' chief scientific advisor, Dr. Gary Goldstein, president of the Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins, will serve as chair of Autism Speaks' Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). The following individuals will serve on the Scientific Advisory Committee;

  • Ted Abel, Ph.D.; University of Pennsylvania
  • David Baskin, M.D.; Methodist Neurological Institute
  • Joseph Coyle, M.D.; Harvard Medical School
  • Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom , M.D.; University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
  • Daniel Geschwind, M.D., Ph.D.; David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
  • CT Gordon, M.D.; University of Maryland Medical School
  • Susan Hyman, M.D.; University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
  • Portia Iversen; CAN co-founder
  • Jay Kolls, M.D.; Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
  • Eric London , M.D.; University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
  • Ricki Robinson, M.D., M.P.H.; Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California
  • Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, M.D.; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In February of 2006, Autism Speaks merged with the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR). “Our commitment to funding evidence-based science will always be our top priority” said Eric London, founder of NAAR and board and executive committee member of Autism Speaks. “Working with CAN, we will continue to raise as much money as possible to fund the most promising research worldwide."

Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of the growing autism epidemic and to raising money to fund scientists who are searching for a cure. The organization was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright. Bob Wright is Vice Chairman and Executive Officer, General Electric, and Chairman and CEO, NBC Universal. Autism Speaks and the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) combined operations in February 2006, bringing together two of the leading organizations dedicated to accelerating and funding biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism spectrum disorders; to increasing awareness of the nation's fastest growing developmental disorder; and to advocating for the needs of affected families. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit

Cure Autism Now is an organization of parents, clinicians and leading scientists accelerating research to prevent, treat and cure autism – for individuals and families today, and for future generations. Cure Autism Now is a leading private funder of biomedical research in autism, providing more than $39 million for research grants, education, outreach and scientific resources. Cure Autism Now has chapters across the country with national headquarters in Los Angeles. More information about Cure Autism Now can be found at