Autism Research

Release of 2013 IACC Strategic Plan Update


The 2013 Strategic Plan Update provides an accounting and overview of the funding and scientific progress in the autism field since the release of the first IACC Strategic Plan in 2009. The 2013 Update describes recent advances in the scientific understanding of ASD, provides information on the progress of each of the 78 IACC Strategic Plan objectives, highlights areas of need and opportunity, and identifies overarching themes that will be important for future advancement of ASD research. In this final version, you will find a single, streamlined table for each Strategic Plan Question that displays both cumulative 5-year funding and notes regarding progress of each objective, which we thought would be helpful to readers.

The 2013 IACC Strategic Plan Update and related materials are available on the IACC website,

Convergence of Genes and Cellular Pathways Dysregulated in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Date Published: 
April 24, 2014

A substantial proportion of risk for developing autism spectrum disorders (ASD) resides in genes that are part of specific, interconnected biological pathways, according to researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who conducted a broad study of almost 2,500 families in the United States and throughout the world. The study was published in The American Journal of Human Genetics. The researchers reported numerous copy number variations (CNVS) affecting genes, and found that these genes are part of similar cellular pathways involved in brain development, synapse function and chromatin regulation. Individuals with ASD carried more of these CNVs than individuals in the control group, and some of them were inherited while others were only present in offspring with ASD.

SFARI's Wendy Chung at TED2014: What We Know About Autism

Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
April 28, 2014

Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative director of clinical research, Wendy Chung, addressed the TED2014 Conference in Vancouver, Canada, on March 18, delivering a speech called What We Know About Autism.

The speech, geared toward a lay audience during Autism Awareness Month, is clear, informative and highly accessible, and addresses a host of current questions and concerns in the mind of the public: Is autism an epidemic? Do vaccines cause autism? What is the state of autism science? Are treatments on the horizon?

What We Know About Autism ends with a call to action, urging families impacted by autism to join the Interactive Autism Network, an online community of families that provides them with current information on autism resources and scientific advances. IAN also provides families with the opportunity to contribute to research and clinical trials directed by qualified scientists.

FDA: Beware of False or Misleading Claims for Treating Autism

Date Published: 
April 25, 2014

The FDA issued a warning today that several companies are making false or misleading claims about products or therapies that claim to treat or cure autism. The so-called treatments, such as “chelation” therapy or mineral treatments, carry significant risks, FDA says. Please be aware of the FDA's warning and follow their tips to help you identify false or misleading claims.

Repeats in Human DNA may Aggravate Autism Symptoms

Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
April 21, 2014

Certain DNA repeats that increased exponentially during human evolution are directly related to the severity of autism symptoms, according to a preliminary study published in PLoS Genetics. The repeats each span 65 amino acids and are collectively referred to as DUF1220, for ‘domain of unknown function.’ There are six types of these repeats, each with a slightly different sequence and all of which diverged from a common ancestor.

Atypical Cross Talk Between Mentalizing and Mirror Neuron Networks in Autism Spectrum Disorder

JAMA Psychiatry
Date Published: 
April 16, 2014

Atypical brain connectivity in areas that affect social interactions have been found in people with autism spectrum disorders. This difference in connectivity is found in networks of the brain that help individuals understand what others are thinking, and to understand others' actions and emotions. Up until now, it was thought that these areas of the brain were under-connected in people with autism, but this study shows that more often than not, they are actually over-connected. The study also found that the greater the difference in neural connectivity, the more social interactions were impaired.

Request for Information (RFI): Impact of DSM-5 Changes to Diagnostic Criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) on Research and Services

National Institutes of Health
Date Published: 
April 14, 2014

The NIH is requesting additional input from the scientific community, health professionals, self-advocates and patient advocates about the research implications of recent changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Responses will be accepted through May 12, 2014.

ASF Video: Five Years of Autism Research


ASF celebrates its 5th anniversary! Watch to learn about our first five years of searching, solving, and sharing.

CDC Releases 2014 Community Report on Autism

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Date Published: 
April 11, 2014

The CDC has released its 2014 Community Report on Autism, which gives details behind the new 1 in 68 number, as well as additional state-by-state prevalence information.

Autism Science Foundation Announces Spring 2014 Pre- and Postdoctoral Grant Recipients

Date Published: 
April 10, 2014

Nine new projects to be funded.

(April 10, 2014 -- New York, NY)-- The Autism Science Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to funding autism research, today announced the recipients of its annual pre and post-doctoral fellowships.  5 postdoctoral and 4 predoctoral grants will be awarded to student/mentor teams conducting research in autism interventions, etiology, treatment targets, biomarkers, language development and animal models.

The autism community has demanded more research to understand what is causing autism and to develop better treatments” said ASF president Alison Singer. “We are proud to be able to increase our research funding in response to this national health crisis and we are especially grateful to all our donors and volunteers who have come together to support autism research and make these grants possible”.

In its five years of operations, the Autism Science Foundation has funded over $1.6 million in grants. 

“ASF attracts outstanding applicants across the board, representing a broad range of perspectives on autism science” said Dr. Matthew State, Chair of the ASF Scientific Advisory Board and Chairman of the Psychiatry Department at the University of California, San Francisco. “These projects show great potential to move the field forward.”

The following projects were selected for 2014 funding:

Postdoctoral Fellowships:

Dr. Boaz Barak/Dr. Guoping Feng: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Characterizing and Manipulating the Social Reward Dysfunction in a Novel Mouse Model for Autism
Goal:  Provide treatment-facilitating insight into the pathophysiology of autism

Dr. Shweta Ghai/Dr. Gordon Ramsey: Emory University, Marcus Center
Identifying Biomarkers for Early Diagnosis of Prosody Disorder in ASD using Electroglottography
Goal: Improve vocal and language development in children with ASD

Dr. Katherine Kuhl-Meltzoff Stavropoulos/ Dr. James McPartland: Yale University 
The Effects of Oxytocin on Social Learning in Individuals with ASD
Goal: Understand who may or may not benefit from oxytocin treatment

Dr. Julia Parish-Morris/Dr. Robert Schultz: University of Pennsylvania
Developing Automated Algorithms to Assess Linguistic Variation in Individuals with Autism
Goal: Design effective, personalized interventions for pragmatic language deficits

Dr. Aarthi Padmanabhan/Dr. Vinod Menon: Stanford University
Social Motivations and Striatal Circuit Development in Children and Adolescents with Autism
Goal: Determine windows of brain plasticity during which intervention may be especially successful


Predoctoral Fellowships:

Alexandra Bey/Dr. Yong-hui Jiang: Duke University
The Role of Shank3 in Neocortex Versus Striatum and the Pathophysiology of Autism
Goal: Determine whether and how specific brain regions control specific ASD-related behaviors

Nick Goeden/Dr. Alexandre Bonnin: University of Southern California
The Impact of Maternal Inflammation During Pregnancy on Placental Tryptophan Metabolism, and the Downstream Consequences on Fetal Brain Development
Goal: Understand the impact of prenatal inflammation and infection on fetal brain circuits and ASD development

Erin Li/Dr. Alexander Kolevzon: Seaver Autism Center, Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai 
Mapping the Neurobehavioral Phenotype in Autism and Phelan McDermid Syndrome
Goal: Characterize the clinical features of Phelan McDermid Syndrome compared to idiopathic autism; provide autism-intensive training to medical school students to build a pipeline of knowledgeable, autism-friendly physicians

Donghui Wei/Dr. Daniele Piomelli: University of California, Irvine
Endocannabinod Enhancement of Sociability in Autism-related Mouse Models 
Goal: Develop and test novel therapies for ASD


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


Contact Info:    
Casey Gold
Program Associate
Autism Science Foundation