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Autism Speaks Executive to Chair Defense Department's Autism Spectrum Disorder Research Program Integration Panel

(April 10, 2007 - Washington, DC) Autism Speaks' Executive Vice President Peter Bell will serve as Chair of the Integration Panel of the Department of Defense FY07 Autism Spectrum Disorder Research Program. The announcement was made at the first meeting of the panel last week.

The Integration Panel was constituted to assist in implementing the Autism Spectrum Disorder Research Program (ASDRP), which is administered as one of the Department of Defense's Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs. The ASDRP has been created as a result of a direct appropriation of $7.5 million for autism research in the Fiscal 2007 Department of Defense Appropriation bill.

The Integration Panel plays a critical role in the implementation of the ASDRP. The IP recommends the program focus, assists in the program's policy development, recommends a research investment strategy, programmatically evaluates submitted research proposals, and provides input for dissemination of information on the program.

"What's unique about the ASDRP is that it will actively include the consumer advocates to make its funding decisions" said Bell. "Our goal is to fund innovative research that will provide hope and lead to a cure for autism as rapidly as possible."

Other members of the panel include Dr. Gary Goldstein, Kennedy Krieger Institute - Alternate Chair; Dr. Linda Brzustowicz, Rutgers University; Dr. Stephen Dagar, University of Washington; Dr. Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom, UMDNJ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; Mr. Lee Grossman, Autism Society of America; Dr. Susan Hyman, University of Rochester; Dr. Alice Kau, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; Ms. Lyn Redwood, NAA/SafeMinds; Ms. Shelley Hendrix Reynolds, Unlocking Autism; and Dr. Carole Samango-Sprouse, George Washington University.

Peter Bell is Executive Vice President for programs and services at Autism Speaks. He oversees the foundation's research, government affairs and family services activities. Prior to his role at Autism Speaks, Bell was president and CEO of Cure Autism Now, which merged with Autism Speaks in February 2007. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University and holds an MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University. Bell and his wife, Liz, reside in Los Angeles, Calif. with their three children. Their eldest son, Tyler, has autism.


ABOUT AUTISM

Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism Spectrum Disorders are diagnosed in one in 150 children in the United States, 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.


ABOUT AUTISM SPEAKS

Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism, and to advocating for the needs of affected families. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Vice Chairman and Executive Officer, General Electric, and Chairman, NBC Universal. Autism Speaks has merged with both the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and Cure Autism Now (CAN), bringing together the nation's three leading autism advocacy organizations. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.