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New initiatives help advance research in autism

A catalytic research fund and a new partnership with The Hartwell Foundation will bolster critical research in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) at the International Center for Autism Research and Education (ICARE) at Case Western Reserve University.

The Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation committed $100,000 to establish a Catalytic Autism Research Fund to support promising early-stage research projects that advance ICARE’s mission. The fund is expected to support five to 10 research projects, with awards ranging from $10,000 to $20,000, and will increase the ability of ICARE members to obtain funding from government, foundation, industry and philanthropic sources and establish Northeast Ohio as an innovative leader in autism research and treatment.

“These funds will immediately inject new ideas into ASD research through these pilot projects,” said Lynn Singer, Case Western Reserve’s deputy provost and vice president for academic affairs.

The new foundation partnership will join the ASD patient registry created by ICARE to the Hartwell Foundation’s Autism Research and Technology Initiative (iHART), a global centralized data repository to benefit biomedical research on autism and help children affected by the developmental disorder.

“Collaboration with ICARE will accelerate the addition of genomic data to the open-access iHART database, a centralized repository of bioinformatics data that has the potential to benefit autism biomedical research and, ultimately, those children affected with the disorder,” said Fred Dombrose, president of The Hartwell Foundation.

ICARE’s role

ICARE coordinates clinical, translational and interdisciplinary research at Case Western Reserve and its hospital affiliates, including University Hospitals, Cleveland Clinic and the MetroHealth System, with a goal to prevent, treat and, ultimately, cure ASD. ASD includes a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect behavior, communication and learning that impacts roughly 1 in 68 children nationally.

Each year, ICARE assesses and treats more than 600 patients with ASD, yielding tremendous opportunities for shared data collection and analysis. Since its inception, ICARE researchers have acquired grant awards totaling over $16 million.

“In partnership, ICARE and iHART can directly benefit one another and advance the study of ASD,” said Anthony Wynshaw-Boris, chair of the Department of Genetics at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and director of ICARE. “Retrospective data-sharing will enhance the iHART database and equip researchers around the world with additional information to advance their work.”

This article was originally published Oct. 25.