Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has announced the appointment of five new public members to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), a federal advisory committee created in an effort to accelerate progress in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research and services.
The committee is composed of a diverse group of federal officials from HHS agencies and the Department of Education, as well as public members that include people with ASD, parents of people with ASD, and leaders of national ASD advocacy and research organizations. Autism Science Foundation co-founder and president Alison Singer serves as a public member on the IACC.
In January 2009, the IACC released its first strategic plan for autism research. The IACC released a second edition of its strategic plan in January 2010.
“Today I am pleased to announce new members of the IACC, who will bring additional points of view and expertise to the committee,” Secretary Sebelius said. “I look forward to hearing from the committee members on important matters that affect people with autism and their families as we continue our efforts to address this urgent public health challenge.”
ASDs are a group of developmental disabilities that cause major social, communication and behavioral challenges with symptoms that present before age 3. ASDs affect each person in different ways and can range from very mild to severe. People with ASDs share some similar symptoms, such as problems with social interaction. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that an average of 1 in every 110 children in the United States has some form of ASD.
New Public Members of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee
Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D.
As chief science officer for Autism Speaks, Dr. Dawson works with the scientific community and stakeholders to shape and expand the foundation’s scientific vision. She also is a licensed clinical psychologist with a research focus on early detection and intervention, early patterns of brain dysfunction and the identification of biological markers for autism genetic studies. Dr. Dawson also serves as research professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, adjunct professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and professor emeritus of psychology at University of Washington.
Gerald D. Fischbach, M.D.
Dr. Fischbach is the scientific director for the Simons Foundation where he oversees the Autism Research Initiative. He has spent his career as a neuroscientist studying the formation and maintenance of synapses, the junctions between nerve cells which allow signals to be transmitted. Before joining the Simons Foundation, Dr. Fischbach served as the Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke from 1998 to 2001 and as the Executive Vice President of Columbia University Medical Center and Dean of the faculties of medicine from 2001 to 2006.
Mr. Ari Ne’eman is the founding president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, where he works to increase the representation of autistic people in public policy discussions. He is an adult on the autism spectrum and a leading advocate in the neurodiversity movement. Mr. Ne’eman has served on the New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force and the New Jersey Special Education Review Commission, where he authored a minority report advocating legislative action against the use of aversives, restraint and seclusion. He is a board member of TASH, an advocacy group for people with disabilities, and is involved with the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education.
Denise D. Resnik
Denise Resnik is the co-founder and board development chair of the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC). She is the mother of an 18-year-old son with autism. Ms. Resnik serves on the Autism Speaks Family Services Committee and Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism (AFAA) Steering Committee. She participated in the 2006 NIMH Autism Matrix Review and the IACC Scientific Workshops to develop the IACC Strategic Plan and subsequent updates.
Marjorie Solomon, Ph.D.
Assistant professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the University of California, Davis
Dr. Marjorie Solomon is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California, Davis. She serves on the Faculty of the Medical Investigation of Neurological Disorders (MIND) Institute and the Autism Research Training Program where she conducts research on a social skills training intervention for high-functioning children with ASD, incorporating parents and siblings in the research. In addition to her clinical research work, Dr. Solomon studies cognition and learning in high-functioning individuals with ASD.