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Trends in US autism research funding: more money going to clinical and translational research

Posted May 11 2010 2:48pm

Where money is being spent on autism research is changing. Basic science, which still gets most of the money, is decreasing and clinical and translational research is increasing.

If you are like me, you have to look up “translational research”. From the link above, “To improve human health, scientific discoveries must be translated into practical applications.” I.e. this is research to “translate” basic findings into practical applications.

This was analyzed in a paper published last year by a team at Stanford University in California:

Trends in US autism research funding.

Singh J, Illes J, Lazzeroni L, Hallmayer J.

Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, Center for Integration of Research on Genetics and Ethics, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, USA.

This study shows that the number of autism research grants funded in the US from 1997 to 2006 significantly increased 15% per year. Although the majority of projects were concentrated in basic science (65%) compared to clinical (15%) and translational research (20%), there is a significant decrease in the proportion of basic research grants per year and a significant increase in the proportion of translational projects per year. The number of translational projects funded by the National Alliance for Autism Research and Cure Autism Now increased significantly, whereas the number of clinical projects significantly increased for the National Institutes of Health. In conclusion, this study demonstrates the shifting landscape of autism research from basic science to clinical and translational research.

The study analyzed grants up to 2006. This is before the increase in funding through the Combating Autism Act. The current budget for IACC proposes projects is about $220,000,000 per year, with a total for all years of over one billion dollars. Over $230 million are dedicated to “ Which treatments and interventions will help?

As noted here on LeftBrainRightBrain, funding levels for areas such as environmental causation have increased , overtaking genetic only causation research in funding levels.

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