Skip navigation

Calls to Action

Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., Named a Scientific Hero and “Rock Star of Science” by Geoffrey Beene Gives Back® and

GQ Magazine

NEW YORK, N.Y. (Nov. 17, 2010) – Autism Speaks, the nation's leading autism science and advocacy organization, is pleased to announce that Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., its chief science officer, has been named a “Rock Star of Science” by Geoffrey Beene Gives Back® and GQ Magazine who have joined forces, along with the Entertainment Industry Foundation/SU2C, to bring together eight celebrity musicians--rock icon Debbie Harry (Blondie), Bret Michaels, Timbaland, Keri Hilson, Heart (Anne and Nancy Wilson), Jay Sean and B.o.B -- and seventeen of the nation's top medical researchers, including Dr. Dawson as well as two Nobel Laureates.

Geraldine Dawson, far left, with other "Rock Stars of Science" “The RSOS™ campaign shines the spotlight on this critical national issue,” says G. Thompson Hutton, CEO and Trustee of the Geoffrey Beene Foundation, supported by the designer menswear brand Geoffrey Beene, LLC, which dedicates 100 percent of net profits to philanthropic causes. “If we invest in research, we will save lives now and trillions of dollars later.”

Such comments are confirmed by Harris Interactive and Research!America surveys, which report that the public is out of touch with the scientific community. Nearly half of those polled couldn't name a single living scientist.

“It's an honor to be named a Rock Star of Science!” stated Dr. Dawson. “This campaign helps to shine a light on autism and extraordinary research underway that aims to discover the causes and effective treatments for autism. The science Autism Speaks is funding equals hope for better lives for people with autism and their families. ”

“Scientists like to tell ourselves that we are too busy to worry about image,” explains Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and one of the 2009 Rock Stars of Science™. “But the reality is that our work only has a chance of making a difference if we build a much broader base of popular support for medical research than currently exists in this country.” Earlier this year, the NIH appointed Dr. Dawson to the International Autism Coordinating Committee which explores critical concerns for those affected by ASD including, diagnosis, biology, risk factors, treatment, services and outcomes for the future.

Dr. Dawson is captured in a photo set with Jay Sean in a tribute to “scientific heroes” in fields like autism, translational cancer research, Alzheimer's/neuro-imaging/prevention trials, heart disease/integrative medicine, rare diseases, stem cell research, global health and space age research. The Rock Stars of Science™ (ROCK S.O.S™) public service campaign appears in GQ's December “Men of the Year”edition, available nationally on November 23. Prior to his music career, Jay Sean (@jaysean) studied medicine, and commented, “I was halfway through my degree when my first record deal presented itself. But I'll always be a fan of science.”

“We need to tap into the psyche of a younger generation that is turning away from careers in science,” says RSOS™ Executive Producer, Meryl Comer. “If it takes music and rock stars to connect kids to the ‘cool' in science, and make researchers the new ‘heroes' to emulate, then that's how Geoffrey Beene will design it.”

“We are so pleased to have the work of Dr. Dawson recognized in this well-earned opportunity to promote the vast array of science conducted under her leadership and the auspices of Autism Speaks,” said Autism Speaks Co-Founder Bob Wright. “The recent CDC prevalence study demonstrated that autism continues to grow as a public health crisis, and more than ever, the effective science and research is critical to focus resources and attention for the greatest impact on a community that grows every day.”

Dr. Dawson has served as the scientific leader of Autism Speaks since January 2007. As Chief Science Officer at Autism Speaks, Dr. Dawson works with its Scientific Affairs Committee, Scientific Advisory Board, and the science staff to expand and communicate the organization's scientific vision and strategy, as well as oversees the work of the Autism Genome Resource Exchange, the world's largest database of autism genetic data, and the Autism Tissue Program which provides brain tissue to researchers around the world. Dr. Dawson oversees Autism Speaks annual research portfolio which has committed over $142 million thus far to research.

Dr. Dawson is Research Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology, University of Washington, and Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University. Dr. Dawson served on the Scientific Advisory Board for Cure Autism Now from 1996-2007. She is a former Director of the UW Autism Center of Excellence, National Institutes of Health Autism Centers of Excellence program (2007-2008), Founding Director, UW Autism Center, University of Washington (2000-2007), and from 2003 -2008, served as Director, UW Center of Excellence in Autism Research, National Institutes of Health STAART (Studies to Advance Autism Research and Treatment) Network. She holds a B.S. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology/Child Clinical Psychology, both from the University of Washington.

Dr. Dawson has been widely published in academic journals, including her most recent study, “Randomized, Controlled Trial of an Intervention or Toddlers With Autism: The Early Start Denver Model” which appeared in Pediatrics, November 30, 2009. Two of Dr. Dawson's articles in Archives of General Psychiatry presented evidence for autistic regression in about 25 percent of autism cases in the United States. Dr. Dawson has edited or authored several books about autism spectrum disorder which have been translated into multiple languages, including Early Start Denver Model for Young Children with Autism,Promoting Language, Learning, and Engagement, co-authored withSally J. Rogers, PhD., as well as Autism: Nature, Diagnosis, and Treatment; Human Behavior, Learning, and the Developing Brain; and A Parent's Guide to Asperger's Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism.Dr. Dawson has testified twice on behalf of families of individuals with ASD at the US Senate and played a key role in the Washington State Autism Task Force.

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 $142.5 million to research through 2014 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 also supports the Autism Treatment Network, 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 and an award-winning “Learn the Signs” campaign with the Ad Council which has received over $249 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 23 states thus far, with bills pending in an additional 14 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 www.autismspeaks.org.

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, Chairman and CEO of the Palm Beach Civic Association and served as vice chairman, General Electric, and 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, RAND Corporation and the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Suzanne Wright has an extensive history of active involvement in community and philanthropic endeavors, mostly directed toward helping children. She serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations and is also Trustee Emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater. Suzanne has received numerous awards such as 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 Weizmann Institute of Science. In 2008, the Wrights were named to the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world for their commitment to global autism advocacy.

ROCK S.O.S™ is a trademark of the Geoffrey Beene Foundation, supported by the designer menswear brand, GEOFFREY BEENE (www.geoffreybeene.com). 100% of net profits from GEOFFREY BEENE, LLC fund philanthropic causes. More than $145 million in value has been funded by Geoffrey Beene entities toward a variety of causes like Cancer, Alzheimer, Heart, Veteran's support, welfare of women and children, protection of animals, and other critical causes.

GQ is the leading men's general-interest magazine, with a monthly readership of 7 million readers. It is available in print, online at GQ.com, and as an app at iTunes.com. The magazine is published by Condé Nast, a division of Advance Publications. Condé Nast operates in twenty-five countries and is the world leader in exceptional content creation.

The Entertainment Industry Foundation
Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) is a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that serves as the collective philanthropy for the television and film businesses. EIF has distributed hundreds of millions of dollars to support programs addressing critical health, education and social issues. The SU2C movement raises funds to hasten the pace of groundbreaking translational research that can get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives.