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Autism Speaks Announces More Than $2 Million in New Research Grants

Projects include genome sequencing, clarification of environmental risks, global outreach and fellowships in translational research
June 26, 2014

Today, Autism Speaks announced more than $2 million in new funding for research into the causes and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and the treatment and support of those living with ASD. The funded projects include three targeted research projects and six Meixner Postdoctoral Fellowships in Translational Research.

“We are very excited to announce this group of awards, which help target several of our key portfolio areas,” said Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Robert Ring. “Our award to University of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children is part of a unique cooperative funding effort that leverages an additional $9.2 million of funding from Canadian partners to support our expanding focus on whole genome sequencing and the activities of Dr. Scherer’s lab in leading our Autism Ten Thousand Genomes – Aut10K – program.”

Targeted Research Grants
"Our targeted projects are initiated by our science staff to tackle important issues in the autism research community," says Ed Clayton, Autism Speaks senior director for strategic funding and grants administration. "These awards address a number of Autism Speaks research priorities and programs, including our global public health and environmental risk initiatives." The titles of the following three projects are hyperlinked to more in-depth descriptions of their goals and methods.

Use of the Navigation Guide to Understand Environmental Exposures and ASD Risk. Tracey Woodruff, at the University of California-San Francisco, will implement a method for clarifying the scientific evidence that a given environmental exposure increases autism risk. The goal is to provide policy makers and consumers with clear information on the latest scientific information around environmental exposures of concern.

ASD “Genomes to Outcomes.” Stephen Scherer, of the University of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, will perform whole genome sequencing on 700 families affected by autism to advance understanding of autism subtypes and their personalized treatment. The results will become part of Autism Speaks Autism Ten Thousand Genomes program (AUT10K).

World Health Organization collaboration. Shekhar Saxena, the World Health Organization’s director of mental health, and his staff will advance work on actions proposed at the historic 2013 WHO Consultation on Autism, co-sponsored by Autism Speaks. This will include developing and delivering culturally appropriate, effective and practical programs for early diagnosis and intervention in underserved communities.

Meixner Postdoctoral Fellowships in Translational Research
Thanks to a generous gift from the estate of the late Charles Meixner, this fellowship program supports promising postdoctoral scientists as they pursue autism research that bridges basic laboratory science and clinical applications. Their clinical research directly involves - and promises to benefit - individuals affected by autism. The fellowships include mentoring in both basic and clinical research by leading scientists in diverse fields. The goal is to train a new generation of autism scientists while translating basic science into new and effective ways of diagnosing, treating and supporting those living with autism. Each fellowship spans two years. Learn more about this year's six new Meixner fellows and their projects here.

Explore all the research that Autism Speaks is funding using this website’s grant search. These projects are made possible by the passion and generosity of our families, donors and volunteers.

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