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ASF Expands Scientific Advisory Board: Dr. Joseph Buxbaum and Dr. Bryan King join board

Date Published: 
September 27, 2011

(September 27, 2011—New York, NY)--The Autism Science Foundation (ASF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and funding autism research, today announced that two additional autism scientists had joined its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB).  The new members are Dr. Joseph Buxbaum, Director of the Seaver Autism Center and Professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Dr. Bryan King, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington and a Research Affiliate at the Center on Human Development and Disability (CHDD).

ASF’s SAB is responsible for guiding the organization’s scientific direction. SAB members also serve on the review committee for ASF’s research grants. Since its founding two years ago, ASF has distributed almost $500,000 in autism research grants and fellowships.

“Dr. Buxbaum and Dr. King are highly respected members of the autism research community and have been active in our grant review process and other science activities,” said Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation.  “We are thrilled to formally welcome them as members of our Scientific Advisory Board.”  

Current ASF Scientific Advisory Board members are: Dr. Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom (UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School); Dr. Ami Klin (Emory University); Dr. Sharon Humiston (University of Rochester); Dr. Harold Koplewicz (The Child Mind Institute); Dr. Eric London (New York Institute for Basic Research); Dr. Catherine Lord (New York Institute for Brain Development); Dr. David Mandell (University of Pennsylvania/Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) and Dr. Matthew State (Yale Medical School).

Joseph Buxbaum, PhD is a molecular neuroscientist and Director of the Seaver Autism Center and Professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Dr. Buxbaum heads the Laboratory of Molecular Neuropsychiatry, which has identified genes in autism and translated them into animal models so that therapeutic approaches can be evaluated. In this context, Dr. Buxbaum and his group make use of multiple experimental systems to ultimately develop and evaluate novel therapeutics in autism spectrum conditions. Dr. Buxbaum is a lead investigator in the Autism Genome Project and is a part of the Psychiatric Genetics Consortium. Most recently, six lead investigators, including Dr. Buxbaum, initiated a large-scale next-generation sequencing project to identify additional genetic causes of autism. In addition, Dr. Buxbaum, together with fellow Autism Science Foundation SAB member Dr Matthew State, recently created the Autism Sequencing Consortium with 15 member groups to date dedicated to sharing and jointly analyzing large-scale next-generation sequencing data in autism. Dr. Buxbaum has received numerous awards for his research including recognition from the New York University Child Study Center (2004), from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (2005 and 2010), and from the Eden Institute Foundation for his "commitment and dedication to improving the quality of life in individuals with autism" (2008).

Bryan King, MD is a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington and Director of the Seattle Children's Autism Center. Dr. King studies psychopathology in persons with developmental disabilities, and potential treatments for persons with these conditions. His primary focus is repetitive self-injurious behavior (SIB). He has explored animal models of self-biting with the aim of better understanding the causes of SIB in persons with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. Dr. King is currently involved in studies of the safety and effectiveness of medications to treat behavioral disturbances in persons with ASD. He is also interested in exploring better ways to collect data and to predict treatment response in clinical trials involving this population.

The Autism Science Foundation (ASF) is a 501(c) (3) public charity. Its mission is to support autism research by providing funding to scientists and organizations conducting autism research. ASF also provides information about autism to the general public and serves to increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders and the needs of individuals and families affected by autism. To learn more about the Autism Science Foundation or to make a donation visit www.autismsciencefoundation.org

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Contact Info:    

Dawn Crawford
Autism Science Foundation
dcrawford@autismsciencefoundation.org

Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA) Passes in Senate; heads to President Obama's desk.

The Senate has passed the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA) and has sent it to President Barack Obama. The bill passed after Sen. Bob Menendez reached an agreement with a Republican senator who had been blocking the measure.President Obama has already made public his intention to sign the bill into law.

The passage of a three-year extension of the 2006 Combating Autism Act authorizes $231 million in funding each year for research, education and services. Without an extension, Menendez, D-N.J., said there would have been no guarantee that autism research funded by the National Institutes of Health would have continued.

Menendez said he had been trying since last week to address concerns raised by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who blocked passage of a bill that had cleared the Republican-led House unanimously.

In the final deal, Menendez and Coburn agreed to jointly request a Government Accountability Office report on whether there was any redundancy in federal spending on autism.

“This original legislation was a centerpiece of coordination of programs,” Menendez said after the Senate unanimously approved the bill. “It’s a big victory. I’m not fearful of a GAO report and neither is the autism community.”

If the bill had not passed, the programs authorized by the 2006 law, including a coordinating council that brings together NIH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other groups, would have expired.

“Services that families depend upon could have been disrupted, and some might have lapsed,” Menendez said.

On Monday Sept 26 ASF will live tweet the NIH Workshop: Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) of Autism Research. Our twitter feed is the next best thing to being there! Click to follow ASF on twitter.

Follow the ASF Twitter feed.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) and the NIH Autism Coordinating Committee (ACC) are pleased to be sponsoring the upcoming workshop: Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of Autism Research. Leading community stakeholders, bioethicists, and scientific researchers will address topics such as ethical implications of genetic and environmental risk factor research, ethical issues in genetic testing, risk communication, ethical issues in childhood and adult diagnosis, and effective partnering with families and the self advocacy community to advance treatment/intervention and services research. The goal of the workshop will be to define possible approaches for conducting future studies of ethical, legal, and social implications of ASD research, taking into consideration how these types of issues have been approached in related medical conditions.

View the workshop agenda

The Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA) was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill must now be passed by the Senate.

 

The House of Representatives has approved the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA). Video is available at http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/HouseSessionPart274.  The bill still needs to be approved by the Senate and signed by the President.

The original Combating Autism Act (CAA) of 2006 authorized nearly $1 billion of federal spending through 2011 on autism research, surveillance and treatment. It will sunset on September 30, 2011 unless reauthorized.  CARA will continue funding at current levels, authorizing $693 million over the next three years. The CAA also required the federal government to create an Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) and to develop a strategic plan to expand and coordinate the nation’s support for people with autism and their families. This will also continue under CARA. 

Congress is also currently working on a Continuing Resolution (C.R.) - H.J.Res. 79 - that contains a provision relevant to the Combating Autism Act, inserted in case the reauthorizing bill is not signed by September 30.  Although the main purpose of a C.R is to keep the government running after the end of the fiscal year on September 30, (so it is considered “must-pass” legislation) this particular C.R. also contains a provision that would extend the sunset provisions of the Combating Autism Act until the expiration of the C.R. on November 18.  Of course, if the CAA itself is signed into law, this would not be necessary; its purpose is to provide a temporary reprieve so that the IACC and other CAA programs continue beyond September 30 in the event the CAA is not signed into law by that time.   At this time, the C.R. has not been passed in either House or the Senate.  However, if it is enacted with the Combating Autism Act provision in place, the current IACC will be extended until November 18 or until the separate reauthorization becomes law. 

 

 

ASF Named #1 Nonprofit Start-Up By Philanthropedia/Guidestar: “A shining star to those interested in real science and evidence based interventions”

Date Published: 
August 30, 2011
Abstract: 

ASF has been named the number one startup nonprofit in the “Disabilities” category by Philanthropedia/Guidestar. GuideStar is a nonprofit organization working to help donors make smarter donations by connecting them with some of the highest impact nonprofits in a cause. The rankings are based on the recommendations of over six dozen experts in the field.

The Autism Science Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting and funding autism research, has been named the number one startup nonprofit in the “Disabilities” category by Philanthropedia/Guidestar.

GuideStar is a nonprofit organization working to help donors make smarter donations by connecting them with some of the highest impact nonprofits in a cause. The rankings are based on the recommendations of over six dozen experts in the field.

“We are thrilled to be recognized as one of the nation’s most promising nonprofits” said Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation. “We are committed to funding critically needed autism research and to using our resources where they will have the greatest impact.”

The Autism Science Foundation began funding research grants in its first year of operations and has increased its funding levels each year. Since 2009, it has funded nearly half a million dollars in research grants.

Guidestar reports the following about the Autism Science Foundation on its website:

  • ASF has made a great contribution to empirically valid information on autism spectrum disorders.
  • This group funds outstanding autism research that is totally science based. They are a shining star to those interested in real science and evidence based interventions.
  • We find this group to operate with the highest level of integrity. They also have extremely low overhead. Every dollar possible is put toward autism research.

All the information collected and research used by Guidestar to compile the rankings are available at http://www.myphilanthropedia.org/startups/national/people-with-disabilities/autism-science-foundation.

This month, the Autism Science Foundation issued a Request for Applications for 2012 Pre- and PostDoctoral Fellowships. www.autismsciencefoundation.org/applyforagrant.html.  In September, ASF will co-sponsor the KIDA Autism Summit in Irvine, California. Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter will give the keynote address. In October, ASF will sponsor the Rockland County Autism Symposium in Pearl River, New York.  Dr. Temple Grandin is the featured speaker at this annual event.

The Autism Science Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity. Its mission is to support autism research by providing funding to scientists and organizations conducting, facilitating, publicizing and disseminating autism research. The organization also provides information about autism to the general public and serves to increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders and the needs of individuals and families affected by autism.

To learn more about the Autism Science Foundation’s programs visit www.autismsciencefoundation.org

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Contact Info:    

Dawn Crawford
Autism Science Foundation
dcrawford@autismsciencefoundation.org

Vaccines largely safe, U.S. expert panel finds

Source: 
Reuters
Date Published: 
August 25, 2011
Abstract: 

After a close review of more than 1,000 research studies, a federal panel of experts has concluded that vaccines cause very few side effects, and found no evidence that vaccines cause autism or type 1 diabetes.

The report, issued on Thursday by the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academies of Sciences, is the first comprehensive report on vaccine side effects since 1994.

Autism Risk for Siblings Higher Than Expected

Source: 
New York Times - Well Blog
Date Published: 
August 16, 2011
Abstract: 

According to a recent study published in the journal of Pediatrics, the younger sibling of a child with autism has nearly 20 times greater risk of developing autism than a child in the general population.

A Systematic Review of Medical Treatments for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Source: 
Pediatrics, McPheeters et al.
Date Published: 
April 2011
Year Published: 
2011

Researchers at Vanderbilt University reviewed evidence regarding medical treatment of children 12 years old and younger with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It was found that risperidone and aripiprazole for treatment of challenging and repetitive behaviors in children with ASDs. However, there are significant adverse effects of these medicines, including severe impairment or risk of injury, preventing their wider use. There is currently little evidence present to evaluate the use of other medical treatments for ASDs—neither their positive nor their negative effects.