(February 20, 2009) - As a result of the stimulus plan recently signed into law by President Obama, (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will receive more than $10 billion in new funding over the next two years. With the increased prevalence of autism and a history of insufficient federal funding for autism research, Autism Speaks the largest autism science and advocacy organization in the country calls on the NIH to commit $100 million in funding for autism-specific research in each of the next two years. The new funding should focus on research into the causes of autism, new and enhanced treatment options, and improved methods of early diagnosis and intervention.
A $200 million commitment to autism research would amount to just two percent of this unexpected, new windfall for medical research, an amount that is certainly reasonable and appropriate considering both the need and the scientific opportunity. For too long, autism research has been grossly under funded at the federal level, said Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer. This is a prime opportunity to help remedy that discrepancy by dedicating a significant amount of new NIH funding to truly innovative and promising autism research. There are many beaker-ready research initiatives that merit this funding and hold tremendous promise for improving our understanding of autism and how to more effectively help individuals living with autism today. A significant infusion of NIH support will greatly accelerate the search for answers.
"By allocating this significant amount of new research dollars to autism-related science, President Obama will be making an important down payment on fulfilling his campaign platform pledge to double research spending during his first term, and to increase the overall federal autism budget to $1 billion per year," said Bob Wright, Co-founder of Autism Speaks. "In light of the $35 billion annual public health cost of autism, this money would represent a relatively small investment that can potentially result in major long-term savings to our society."
Autism Speaks urges NIH to provide increased support for studies focused on identifying the genetic and environmental causes and development of effective treatments throughout the lifespan, as well as support for the creation of biorepositories, comparative effectiveness research, and fellowships.