ASF Announces Recipients of the 2023 Suzanne Wright Memorial Research Accelerator Grants
NEW YORK — September 5, 2023 — The Autism Science Foundation (ASF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding innovative autism research and supporting families facing autism, today announced two additional recipients of Suzanne Wright Memorial Research Accelerator Grants. These grants are designed to expand the scope, speed the progress, and increase the efficiency of active autism research grants.
The new grantees are:
Dr. Jason Griffin of Yale University, who will test a mobile biomarker measuring device that enables participants to be studied in real world settings and will increase the diversity of research participants.
Dr. Esther Lindstrom of Lehigh University, who will expand a reading strategies project to include people with autism and teachers of autistic students.
ASF renamed its Accelerator Grants in 2022 to honor pioneering autism advocate Suzanne Wright. Suzanne, who died in 2016, co-founded Autism Speaks in 2005 after her grandson was diagnosed with autism. She raised millions of dollars to fund autism research and help families impacted by autism.
“The Accelerator Grants are exactly the kind of funding mechanism that Suzanne would have loved because she was all about urgency, efficiency and breaking down barriers to research,” said ASF Co-Founder and President Alison Singer. “We are proud to fund these grants, which are poised to make a positive difference in the lives of many people with autism.”
The following projects were selected for 2023 funding:
Jason W Griffin, PhD and James C. McPartland, PhD
Expanding the Utility of Biological Markers in ASD
Development of biomarkers to improve clinical research in autism is an important goal for the field that is a common topic of study. Because many autistic individuals cannot sit still in a clinical setting, and because people normally don’t encounter the world in front of a computer, it is not known whether most biomarkers under study are valid in real-life settings. This ASF accelerator grant introduces a novel mobile biomarker-measuring device that allows participants to move freely rather than be tethered to a computer. In this project, this approach will be applied at Yale after participants have completed participation in the Autism Biomarkers Consortium for Clinical Trials (ABC-CT) study. The ABC-CT is a multicenter biomarker development study based at Yale that also includes Duke University, Boston Children’s Hospital, the University of Washington/Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. The aim of the consortium is to develop reliable and objective measurements of social function and communication in people with autism, based on underlying neurobiological signals rather than on behavior. This accelerator grant will enable comparison of this novel “real world” biomarker approach to the laboratory measures collected in the ABC-CT. The reduced constraints on participation will also offer access to a broader diversity of participants, including those with profound autism.
Esther Lindstrom, PhD
Improving Reading Skills in the Autism Community
Project RISE, based at Lehigh University, is designed to develop new reading instruction strategies for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The ASF accelerator grant will expand the focus of Project RISE by targeting a subset of the students who also have autism to investigate the unique needs of these students, as well as the knowledge, perception, and expectations of their teachers. This study will identify gaps in approaches designed to help autistic people learn to read, including how teachers deliver information to students. It will also identify specific gaps in teacher training regarding working with autistic students.
Additional support for this grant was provided by the Solving the Mystery of Autism Foundation.
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About the Autism Science Foundation
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.
Autism Science Foundation