PRINCETON, NJ - The National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) has recently committed over $4 million to fund more than 36 research grants and fellowships focusing on a wide range of disciplines, including the neurosciences, behavioral sciences, genetics, epidemiology, immunology, molecular biology, and language and communication.
The NAAR Board of Trustees approved its 2002 funding commitment following the sixth annual meeting of the NAAR Scientific Advisory Board. NAAR's 2002 awards include 22 research projects that account for $2.3 million as well as three larger, collaborative programs that account for more than $700,000. In addition, NAAR is investing $1 million to fund at least 12 mentor-based fellowships in autism research.
"We received many high-caliber requests for funding, which made the grant review process particularly challenging but exciting," said Andy Shih, Ph.D., NAAR's director of Research & Programs. "It is encouraging to see that the science is improving and that more young researchers and prominent investigators are showing an interest in focusing their talents on autism, but our work is far from finished."
This year, NAAR significantly expanded its Fellowship Program by investing an unprecedented $1 million in mentor-based fellowships for both pre- and post-doctoral candidates with the goal of attracting the best and brightest young investigators to the field of autism research.
"One refrain we consistently hear all around the country from both parents and researchers is the difficulty in finding experts in autism," said Eric London, M.D., NAAR's co-founder and vice president of Medical Affairs. "The situation is stark. There are currently not enough specialists in autism. NAAR hopes to dramatically change this situation."
NAAR's Fellowship Program provides the necessary resources to support and encourage the development of young scientists who benefit from the mentorship of prominent researchers.
"We believe our investment in autism research training will grow exponentially as many of our fellows later assume teaching roles and join departments around the country and the world, which currently have no representation in autism research," said Dr. London.
NAAR's 2002 funding represents an increase of approximately $1 million over last year's groundbreaking research commitment. NAAR has been able to again increase its funding commitment to autism research due to the remarkable support of its donors and the amazing success of its WALK F.A.R. for NAAR walkathons and the dedicated volunteers who bring the events to life.
"We are honored and excited to announce our 2002 research awards and are grateful to the ever-growing number of supporters who dedicate their talents and resources to our organization," said NAAR President Prisca Chen Marvin. "We are committed to funding and elevating excellence in science as it represents the best hope for our children and future generations."
Including the2002 research awards NAAR has now committed more than $10 million to directly fund 117 research grants worldwide - more than any other non-governmental organization in the U.S.