Autism Science Foundation Launches Operations; New Advocacy Group Will Focus on Non-vaccine-related Autism Research

The Autism Science Foundation, a new nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and funding autism research, launched its operations today, debuting its web site (http://www.autismsciencefoundation.org) and kicking off its "First 100 Days" fundraising drive. ASF's mission is to support autism research by providing funding and other assistance to scientists and organizations conducting, facilitating, publicizing and disseminating autism research. The organization is co-founded by Alison Singer, formerly Executive Vice President of Autism Speaks, and Karen London, co-founder of the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR). The Autism Science Foundation will focus on non-vaccine-related autism research.

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This organization will adhere to the rigorous scientific standards and values that defined NAAR during its 12 year, pre-merger history

Seattle, WA (PRWEB) April 18, 2009

The Autism Science Foundation, a new not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting and funding autism research, launched its operations today, debuting its web site (http://www.autismsciencefoundation.org) and kicking off its "First 100 Days" fundraising drive with an announcement at the Association of Healthcare Journalists' Annual Conference. The organization is co-founded by Alison Singer, formerly Executive Vice President of Autism Speaks, and Karen London, co-founder of the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR). Both Singer and London are parents of children with autism. Singer will serve as President of the new organization.

Singer resigned from Autism Speaks in January of this year, citing disagreement with the group's decision to continue to fund more vaccine research despite multiple scientific studies exonerating vaccines as a cause of autism. "After I left Autism Speaks, I heard over and over from parents who said they needed an organization they could trust to fund nothing but the very best science; science that would open new doors and ask questions that have not yet been answered. That's what we'll do at the Autism Science Foundation."

ASF's mission is to support autism research by providing funding and other assistance to scientists and organizations conducting, facilitating, publicizing and disseminating autism research. The organization will also provide information about autism to the general public and will serve to increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders and the needs of individuals and families affected by autism.

"This organization will adhere to the rigorous scientific standards and values that defined NAAR during its 12 year, pre-merger history," said London. "Outstanding research is the greatest gift we can offer our families. Every research dollar needs to count." Founded in 1994, NAAR was the first nonprofit organization in the world dedicated to advancing autism research. In 2006, NAAR merged with Autism Speaks.

The Autism Science Foundation's mission is premised on the following facts and principles:

  • Autism is known to have a strong genetic component. Research must aim to discover the mechanisms of action that trigger autism, as well as safe, effective and novel treatments to enhance the quality of life for children and adults currently affected.
  • Early diagnosis and early intervention are critical to helping people with autism reach their potential, but educational, vocational and support services must be applied across the lifespan. Science has a critical role to play in creating evidence-based, effective lifespan interventions.
  • Vaccines save lives; they do not cause autism. Numerous studies have failed to show a causal link between vaccines and autism. Vaccine safety research should continue to be conducted by the public health system in order to ensure vaccine safety and maintain confidence in our national vaccine program, but further investment of limited autism research dollars is not warranted at this time.

"We know more about autism than we did just a few years ago. For example, new discoveries in neuroscience, genetics, and epigenetics offer hope for improving the lives of people with autism," said Dr. Edwin Trevathan, Director of CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. "It is important that we apply these scientific advances to public health research to learn what causes autism spectrum disorders, how to treat autism, and eventually how to prevent autism-associated disability. As we all strive to follow where the science leads, the Autism Science Foundation will play an important role."

"We need the most rigorous science to understand autism and develop new treatments," said Dr. Tom Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health and Chair of the federal Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC). "I look forward to the Autism Science Foundation joining the public-private partnership described in the new strategic plan for autism research."

"As we attempt to understand the causes of autism, and to develop optimal treatment programs, it is critical that parents have access to information that is based upon the best medical evidence," said David T. Tayloe Jr., MD, FAAP, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, an organization of more than 60,000 pediatricians dedicated to the health, safety and well being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. "We welcome the chance to work closely with the Autism Science Foundation to improve the lives of children diagnosed with autism."

Joining London and Singer on the Autism Science Foundation Board of Directors are Dr. Paul Offit, Chief of Infectious Diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and author of the critically acclaimed Autism's False Prophets; Bad Science, Risky Medicine and the Search for a Cure, and Michael Lewis, attorney, mediator and grandfather of a child with autism. ASF's Scientific Advisory Board, still in formation, includes Dr. Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom (UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; past program chair of the International Society for Autism Research); Dr. Ami Klin (Yale Child Study Center); Dr. Harold Koplewicz (NYU Child Study Center); Dr. Sharon Humiston (University of Rochester); Dr. Eric London (NYS Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities and co-founder of NAAR); Dr. Catherine Lord (University of Michigan); and Dr. Matthew State (Yale Medical School).

To learn more about the Autism Science Foundation or to make a donation, visit http://www.autismsciencefoundation.org

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