(New York, N.Y. - Nov. 30, 2005) - Autism Speaks and the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) have signed a memorandum of understanding to combine operations and bring together two of the leading organizations engaged in the battle against autism, it was announced today by Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks and Glenn Tringali, chief executive officer of NAAR. The two organizations expect to conclude all due diligence and final board approvals by January 31, 2006 and will collectively be known as Autism Speaks, Inc.
The consolidation of the two charities is based on their joint 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 families. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 166 children, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.
“Autism Speaks and NAAR share a vision that collaboration and cooperation among the best minds and impassioned advocates within the autism community will provide the most effective, cohesive realization of our common mission,” said Roithmayr and Tringali in a joint statement. “Research, treatment and awareness are, and will continue to be, the priorities as we move forward.”
Under the proposed terms of the transaction, the consolidated organization will maintain NAAR's nationwide walk program and international affiliates, as well as integrate the current NAAR scientific research processes and protocols. The professional staffs of both organizations are also expected to be integrated over the next year.
The boards of both Autism Speaks and NAAR, together with their founders, were unanimous in their decision to move forward with the consolidation. It is expected that under the new structure, the funds dedicated to autism biomedical research will increase significantly.
Autism Speaks, Inc.
Autism Speaks was co-founded by Suzanne and Bob Wright in February, 2005 in response to the diagnosis of their grandson. Bob Wright is Chairman and CEO of NBC Universal and is Vice Chair of General Electric. The organization's guiding principles have been to raise public awareness about autism and its devastating effects on individuals, families, and society, and to raise funds to support effective biomedical research in autism. Since its launch 9 months ago, Autism Speaks has raised over $30 million.
National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR)
Founded in 1994, NAAR was the first national nonprofit organization in the country dedicated to funding and accelerating biomedical research exclusively for autism spectrum disorders. In 1997, NAAR put biomedical research on the map when it awarded five grants, each totaling approximately $30,000, to pioneering autism researchers. Three of those initial five researchers have attracted larger, multi-million dollar grants from the National Institutes of Health based on their autism pilot studies initially funded by NAAR, exactly as NAAR hoped would occur. To date, NAAR has committed almost $30 million to fund more than 270 autism research projects, fellowships and collaborative programs worldwide - more than any other non-governmental organization. NAAR's ongoing funding of pilot studies and collaborative research projects, as well as its advocacy for increased government funding, have played a key role in the increased funding for autism research at the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.