Autism Science Foundation Co-Founder Karen London and Autism Science Foundation Scientific Advisory Board Member Dr. Eric London today received the International Society of Autism Research (INSAR) Advocate Award. The inaugural award was presented at the 10th Anniversary International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) in San Diego, CA.
The Londons, who founded the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR), were cited for their pivotal role in creating the field of parent advocacy in the autism community and for co-founding IMFAR in 2001. Portia Iverson and Jon Shestak, founders of Cure Autism Now (CAN), also received lifetime achievement awards at this year’s IMFAR.
In accepting the award, Karen London said “We founded NAAR in 1994 at a time when ‘autism research’ was considered an oxymoron and autism was still called a ‘rare’ disorder. Sixteen years later, although our understanding of autism has advanced, the need for breakthroughs, given recent prevalence numbers, is even more urgent. Like NAAR, the Autism Science Foundation has and will continue to maintain a laser-like focus on accelerating research into causes, treatments and cures.”
Following the diagnosis of their son, Zachary, Karen and Eric London co-founded NAAR in 1994. Karen served as NAAR’s President for seven years and as a trustee for 11 years, and took the lead in NAAR’s fundraising and chapter creation. As “volunteer director” of NAAR’s thousands of volunteers, she traveled the country – often with Zachary by her side – to “Walk FAR for NAAR” with the tens of thousands who walked to raise money for autism research. In 2009, Karen joined with former Autism Speaks Senior Vice President & former NAAR Walk Chair Alison Singer to launch the Autism Science Foundation, which continues NAAR’s commitment to research funding and scientific excellence, and is a proud sponsor of the IMFAR conference. NAAR was the first organization in the US dedicated to funding and accelerating biomedical research and science-based approaches in autism.
Dr. Eric London set the direction of NAAR’s research portfolio, planned multi-disciplinary scientific conferences, created the Autism Tissue Program & the Baby Siblings Research Consortium, and wrote and lectured extensively. Before IMFAR, he regularly attended meetings in various disciplines to encourage scientists to consider the relevancy of their work to autism and changed the trajectory of more than a few careers. Following the merger of NAAR and Autism Speaks, Dr. London served for three years on the Executive Board and Science Advisory Committee. In his years as a psychiatrist, he has treated thousands of children and adults on the autism spectrum. He is currently Director of Autism Treatment Research at the NYS Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities. He is a founding member of the Autism Science Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board.
“Karen and Eric have truly left a lasting imprint on the autism advocacy community,” said Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation and mother of a daughter with autism. “Our goal at the Autism Science Foundation is to build on NAAR’s unwavering dedication to autism research and science, fund critically-needed autism research and deliver the answers our families need.” Earlier this month, the Autism Science Foundation announced that in its first two years of operations, it had already awarded almost half a million dollars in autism research grant funding.
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 an online donation visit www.autismsciencefoundation.org.