Autism Speaks’ new strategic plan for science sets funding priorities

A letter from Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Thomas Frazier

Today, we’re pleased to release Autism Speaks’ new Strategic Plan for Science 2018-2020. It focuses our research funding for the next three years on areas that will best deliver on our commitment to “enhance lives today and accelerate a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow.”

In the announcement that follows this letter, we outline the plan’s seven objectives. You’ll also find a link to the full strategic science plan, with our invitation to dive deeper into the strategies we will use to achieve our goals.

Overall, I see the plan as taking a two-pronged approach to supporting research aimed at helping people who have autism achieve their highest potential.

First, we know that individuals and families affected by autism need solutions now. This includes greater access to effective behavioral therapies and adult support services. It likewise includes improving the comprehensive healthcare needed to address the many physical and mental health conditions that frequently accompany autism.

So, we’re building on the important work of our Autism Treatment Network and Global Autism Public Health, as well as other research focused on here-and-now solutions in both North America and around the world.

Second, we’re closer than ever to delivering truly personalized, life-enhancing solutions for each person on the autism spectrum. Central to this effort is the Autism Speaks MSSNG project (pronounced “missing”). Already, this open-access research database contains more than 7,200 fully sequenced genomes from people with autism and their family members. More than 100 researchers around the world are using MSSNG resources to deepen our understanding of the many causes and types of autism and their associated health conditions.

In the years ahead, we’ll be enlarging MSSNG’s genome database and investing in programs that can help researchers, physicians and genetic counselors use genomics to personalize treatments and other services.

In these and additional areas, Autism Speaks will continue in its signature role of funding innovative research – from basic research into autism’s causes to pilot studies of the most promising new interventions.

I invite you to join me for a Facebook Live Chat tomorrow, December 14, at 1 pm Eastern Time (noon Central, 11 am Mountain, 10 am Pacific) to discuss the research we fund and how it’s delivering life-enhancing solutions to the autism community today and in the years ahead.

With great thanks for your support,

Thomas Frazier
Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer

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