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The Autism Speaks Research Program

Dedicated to enhancing lives today and accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow

The Autism Speaks research program is dedicating to enhancing lives today and accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow. We do this by supporting pioneering research with real-world benefits, including specialized health care through our Autism Treatment Network and innovative approaches for delivering autism services to underserved regions through our Global Autism Public Health initiative.

Below is an overview of our priority research programs – work made possible through the passion and generosity of our donors and volunteers.


MSSNG

What we know about autism isn’t enough. MSSNG (pronounced “missing”) is accelerating the search for answers. Through MSSNG, we have already sequenced more than 7,000 whole genomes from families affected by autism – making it the world’s largest open-access genomic database on autism. To date, we have uploaded and released more than 5,000 of these sequences, together with a toolbox of cutting-edge analytic tools. More than 100 pre-approved investigators are now analyzing this data at 40 leading research institutions in nine countries.

MSSNG is also launching a community portal that will allow participating families to learn more about the genetic variations that affect them and connect with other families affected by the same or similar genetic subtypes of autism. Learn more about MSSNG…


Global Autism Public Health

Through its Global Autism Public Health initiative (GAPH), Autism Speaks is helping underserved communities meet the needs of the world’s growing population of children and adults affected by autism. We do this through research and partnerships with families, researchers, advocacy groups and governments in more than 70 countries. Their participation in GAPH contributes to our understanding of autism’s reach and provides insight into new and more effective means of delivering autism services.

A signature GAPH program is the Parent Skills Training program that the World Health Organization developed in consultation with Autism Speaks. The program is being tested and refined in a broad range of underserved communities in Asia, Latin America, Southeastern Europe, Africa and the United States. Learn more about GAPH …


The Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network

The Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (ATN) includes some of the finest children’s hospitals and academic institutions in North America – united in their commitment to deliver specialized multi-disciplinary medical care for children with autism. Together, our ATN centers are developing evidence-based protocols and standards of care for many of the challenging medical conditions associated with autism. The ATN shares these best practices with physicians and medical facilities nationwide to improve outcomes for all children with autism.

Through its federally funded role as the Autism Research Network for Physical Health (AIR-P), the ATN also conducts research and develops resources to meet the health care needs of the autism community. These resources include more than a dozen ATN/AIR-P tool kits for families and medical professionals, available for free download from the Autism Speaks website. Learn more about the ATN …


Predoctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships

Autism Speaks established the Dennis Weatherstone Predoctoral Fellowship Program in 2008 with a generous grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Already, many of our Weatherstone fellows have risen to prominence with their discoveries. Our Meixner Postdoctoral Fellowships in Translational Research support postdoctoral researchers pursuing projects that bridge laboratory science and clinical studies that enroll children, teens and adults affected by autism. The goal of both programs is to train a new generation of autism researchers through the support of innovative research projects conducted under the mentorship of leading scientists in the field. Learn more about Autism Speaks research fellowships …


The Preclinical Autism Consortium for Therapeutics

In 2013, Autism Speaks established its Preclinical Autism Consortium for Therapeutics (PACT) to address the bottleneck preventing promising autism medicines from moving into the clinical trials needed to demonstrate safety and efficacy. This hurdle was the lack of high-quality animal models for early drug testing.

With its first grants, PACT engaged pioneering autism researchers to develop precedent-setting animal models of six genetic subtypes of autism. Thanks to extensive behavioral and genetic characterization, each of these rat and mouse models is a reliable testing platform for compounds that can address the core symptoms associated with one of these genetic causes of autism (Shank3, Grin2, Pten, Fmr1, Cntnap2 and Gabrb3). Several pharmaceutical companies have already approached us with interest in using these animal models to screen their libraries of proprietary compounds for potential therapeutic benefits for autism. Learn more about PACT …