The estate of Charles Meixner has donated $3 million to support Autism Speaks’ Translational Research Initiative with the goal of accelerating the delivery of treatments for autism. An initial distribution of $1.75 million will fund Autism Speaks’ translational postdoctoral fellowships. The fellowships, which invest in rising talent in the autism research community, will be renamed the Meixner Translational Postdoctoral Fellowships.
“We are very grateful to the estate of Charles Meixner for this significant gift and support of the autism community,” says Autism Speaks President Liz Feld. “Through the generosity of Charles Meixner, Autism Speaks will continue to invest in promising young scientists by funding research that will contribute to our understanding of autism and the development of new treatments for the millions of individuals and families affected by the disorder.”
The estate’s initial distribution will support five fellows over a three year period. Successful applicants have projects that bridge laboratory research to real-life applications with the potential to directly benefit individuals and families affected by autism. Each project’s training plan includes mentoring by leading autism experts in basic and clinical research.
“The applicants selected for this prestigious program represent the brightest young investigators in autism research,” says Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Robert Ring. “This gift from the Meixner estate serves as an investment in their work and development as scientists.”
The lives of Charles Meixner and his wife, Maria Teresa nee’ Albear, were profoundly affected by autism when their five-year-old daughter Caroline was diagnosed with what was then termed “infantile schizophrenia.”
“Little was known about the disorder at that time and even less was available with respect to intervention and treatment,” says family spokesperson Hector de Marchena. “For this reason, Uncle Charles made clear his desire to bequeath this gift to the Autism Speaks Translational Research Initiative. It is our hope that this important initiative will help to further our knowledge of autism spectrum disorder and will positively and directly impact affected families in the coming years.”
Autism Speaks’ Translational Research Initiative brings together industry, government, researchers and the nonprofit sector to advance the search for autism treatments. By supporting multidisciplinary training and research, the Meixner estate’s gift will contribute to the pace at which basic scientific discoveries become new and effective ways of diagnosing, preventing and treating autism, Dr. Ring adds.
Earlier this year, a panel of experts reviewed 47 prospective applicants for the translational postdoctoral fellowships. Recipients were selected for their projects’ distinctive relevance to the needs of the autism community. Read more about the selected fellows and their projects here.
You can explore all the research Autism Speaks is funding using this website’s grant search. Subscribe to Autism Speaks Science Digest for more autism research news, blogs and more, delivered biweekly to your inbox.