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Autism Speaks Appoints Joseph Horrigan, M.D., Assistant Vice President, Head of Medical Research

Horrigan Will Oversee the Organization’s Growing Agenda in Medicine Development, Medical Research and Training, and Clinical Trials Research to Address the Core and Associated Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders

New York, N.Y. (October 13, 2011) – Autism Speaks, North America’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, has named Joseph Patrick Horrigan, M.D., FAACAP to the newly created position of assistant vice president, head of medical research. He will be responsible for overseeing the organization’s expanding medical research and training portfolio, which is focused on medical treatments and clinical trials research with the goal of improving outcomes for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Dr. Horrigan has served as a member of the Autism Speaks Translational Medicine working groups that are identifying and developing gold standard outcome measures to be used in clinical studies for autism behavioral and medical treatments. The outcome measures will assess the effect of current and new treatments on the core symptoms of ASD including repetitive behaviors, social behaviors and communication.

“Dr. Horrigan is a highly respected pediatric neuropsychiatrist and researcher with exceptional knowledge and experience in early as well as late-stage clinical development, across a variety of therapeutic areas.” said Autism Speaks’ Chief Science Officer Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D."As Autism Speaks increases its focus on translational research, his expertise will be invaluable with respect to our clinical portfolio which has tremendous potential to provide new and more effective treatments for individuals whose lives are impacted by autism.”

“I am extremely excited to join Autism Speaks, which is the driving force in innovative autism research,” said Dr. Horrigan. “Our understanding of the biological basis of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism has accelerated dramatically over the past several years.  Joining Autism Speaks is a truly exceptional opportunity to play a meaningful role in facilitating development of novel treatments that will benefit people with autism.”

Since 2002, Dr. Horrigan has coordinated pediatric drug development within the Neurosciences Medicines Development Center at GlaxoSmithKline. In addition, he co-founded and directed GlaxoSmithKline’s Medicines for Children Advisory Network, which consults with all therapeutic areas at the company concerning pediatric drug development issues. In the areas of neurology and psychiatry, he has served in leadership roles in clinical development programs involving medicines for conditions such as child and adolescent bipolar disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, insomnia, pediatric epilepsy, and neurodevelopmental disorders, across Phases 1 through 4 of clinical development. In addition, he has authored novel measures used in pediatric clinical trials that are oriented towards improving the safety of children in drug research. Externally, he has worked with agencies such as the World Health Organization and StaR Child Health in efforts to improve the quality and ethics of pediatric clinical research and to improve the availability of child-friendly medicines to patients in all parts of the world.

"Dr. Horrigan has an established track record with medicines development, and his unique expertise adds enormous strength and depth to our Translational Research Team at Autism Speaks," added Robert Ring, Ph.D., Autism Speaks vice president for translational research.

In the clinical realm, since 1992 Dr. Horrigan has been a consulting psychiatrist at a residential facility serving school-aged children, including children with ASD or significant learning and behavioral deficits. Prior to joining GlaxoSmithKline in 2002, Dr. Horrigan was an attending physician and principal investigator in the Developmental Neuropharmacology Clinic at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he also directed the Pediatric Psychopharmacology Clinic at the university’s Clinical Center for the Study of Development and Learning. In this capacity, he served as the primary clinician caring for many children, adolescents and adults with ASDs and related neurodevelopmental disorders.

Dr. Horrigan earned his M.D. from University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in Rochester, New York.  His Sc. B. in Psychology was received, magna cum laude from Brown University in Providence Rhode Island. Dr. Horrigan is a Diplomate of General Psychiatry and a Diplomate in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, both from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and is licensed to practice medicine in North Carolina, Massachusetts and California.

Dr. Horrigan is widely published in peer reviewed journals. He is a Scientific Advisor for the FRAXA Research Foundation seeking a cure for Fragile X Syndrome, and has served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and as a Journal Peer Reviewer for the Psychiatric Services, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, Psychopharmacology Bulletin, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences.

About Autism
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated 1 in 110 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 600 percent increase in the past two decades that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is North America’s largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception in 2005, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $160 million to research and developing innovative new resources for families. The organization is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. In addition to funding research, Autism Speaks has created resources and programs including the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, Autism Speaks Autism Genetic Resource Exchange and several other scientific and clinical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include the establishment of the annual United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, which Autism Speaks celebrates through its Light It Up Blue initiative. Also, Autism Speaks’ award-winning “Learn the Signs” campaign with the Ad Council has received over $272 million in donated media. Autism Speaks’ family resources include the Autism Video Glossary, a 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families, a School Community Tool Kit and a community grant program. Autism Speaks has played a critical role in securing federal legislation to advance the government’s response to autism, and has successfully advocated for insurance reform to cover behavioral treatments in 27 states thus far, with bills pending in an additional 12 states. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 80 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit

About the Co-Founders
Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Senior Advisor at Lee Equity Partners and Chairman and CEO of the Palm Beach Civic Association. He served as Vice Chairman of General Electric; and as the Chief Executive Officer of NBC and NBC Universal for more than twenty years. He also serves on the boards of the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, Mission Product, LLC, EMI Group Global Ltd and the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Suzanne Wright is a Trustee Emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater. Suzanne has received numerous awards, the Women of Distinction Award from Palm Beach Atlantic University, the CHILD Magazine Children’s Champions Award, Luella Bennack Volunteer Award, Spirit of Achievement award by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's National Women’s Division and The Women of Vision Award from the Weizmann Institute of Science. In 2008, the Wrights were named to the Time 100 Heroes and Pioneers category, a list of the most influential people in the world, for their commitment to global autism advocacy. They have also received the first ever Double Helix Award for Corporate Leadership, the NYU Child Advocacy Award, the Castle Connolly National Health Leadership Award and the American Ireland Fund Humanitarian Award.  In the past couple of years the Wrights have received honorary doctorate degrees from St. John’s University, St. Joseph’s University and UMass Medical School – they delivered respective commencement addresses at the first two of these schools. The Wrights are the first married couple to be bestowed such an honor in St. John’s history.