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Cure Autism Now and Autism Speaks Announce Plans to Combine Operations

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


(NEW YORK, NY – November 29, 2006) – Autism Speaks and Cure Autism Now (CAN) have signed a memorandum of understanding to combine operations, uniting the nation's two leading autism organizations and their cutting-edge programs for research, biomedical treatment and advocacy. The merger was announced today by Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks, and Peter Bell, president and chief executive officer of CAN. Due diligence and final board approvals are expected to be concluded by February 1, 2007. The consolidated organization will be known as Autism Speaks, Inc.

The consolidation of the two non-profit organizations will provide the scale necessary to respond to the crisis of autism, the nation's fastest-growing developmental disorder. Both groups share a commitment to accelerate and fund biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism spectrum disorders; to increase awareness of the disorder; and to improve the quality of life of affected individuals and their families.

“Autism Speaks and Cure Autism Now believe that a combined organization will attract more resources and facilitate large-scale research, while providing the funding necessary to launch planned clinical and quality-of-life programs. A single entity will foster collaboration among the best scientific minds and most dedicated advocates. This is how we will reach our common mission -- finding a cure for autism,” said Bell and Roithmayr in a joint statement.

“Since their founding, Autism Speaks and CAN have committed more than $80 million to autism research and education, established scientific resources, promoted awareness and led federal advocacy efforts,” said Bob Wright, co-founder and board chairman of Autism Speaks. “During the past year, we have worked closely with CAN on critical issues facing the autism community, and now we will truly be able to combine our efforts and passions toward our common goals.”

“When we started CAN ten years ago, they told us you can't hurry science,” said Jonathan Shestack, co-founder of Cure Autism Now. “But with an extraordinary group of committed families and scientists we created a field from scratch and proved that, indeed, you can hurry science. In this next chapter, with Autism Speaks, we intend to move further and faster.”

Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 166 children, with four times as many boys than girls affected. Autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis.

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 will be 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.

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 $35 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

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