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Archive for the ‘Grants’ Category

By Melissa Shimek
Melissa Shimek, selected by Autism Science Foundation as a 2012 IMFAR Travel Grantee, is a  self-identified individual with autism.
Since attending IMFAR, I have concentrated on some ongoing activities and have taken on some new projects. Firstly, I  continue writing in my blog (as time allows) which I began before the 2012 conference. My writing has benefited from the additional information gained at IMFAR. My viewpoint is enriched and my knowledge base is expanded. I also discovered new topics for exploration. As before the conference, I am still considering continuing my education in the field of neuropsychology at a local university.
This past summer, I had the privilege of addressing a group of college-age individuals on the autism spectrum by participating in the AIM program at Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA. During the session, I was able to elaborate on many of my own experiences with newly acquired insight. Also, using what I learned at IMFAR 2012 as a resource, I kept many in attendance engaged and inquisitive. I have since been approached to be involved with the group annually and to begin work with other currently enrolled AS students at the university.
Recently, I was contacted by a local private non-profit, KaleidAScope, to assist with high school aged support group meetings. The extent of which my services will be utilized is still becoming clear and will undergo continuous change. Eventually, it may encompass more activities with individuals of all ages affiliated with this group.
Seeing a need in my community for more available supports to women on the autism spectrum, I have begun working with another local woman towards structuring reoccurring group meetings. These meetings would be open to women teenage years through adulthood looking for disclosure and understanding not available within the general public or within mixed gender meetings. We have secured a location. We are currently looking for an agreeable time and framework. By reaching out to service providers within the community, a small population of potential participants with interest/need has been expressed.
I have communicated interest as a potential participant in ongoing autism spectrum research at the University of Pittsburgh. I have submitted the initially requested documentation. Also, my family and I have completed preliminary interviews. I am hoping I will be able to volunteer my time to this project, adding an underrepresented (adult) female component to autism research. My time at IMFAR definitely energized my perception of current research in this field.
Finally and most importantly, my acquired knowledge from attending IMFAR 2012 has given me added confidence while advocating for my daughter during the drafting and implementing of her first 504 plan. I was able to clearly express my concerns and actively aid in constructing necessary accommodations and additional instructions.
The opportunity the Autism Science Foundation provided to me with a travel grant to IMFAR 2012 has unending possibilities. It was a once in a life-time experience which I am so grateful to have witnessed.
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By Dr. Meghan Swanson
Meghan Swanson is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Communication & Play Laboratory at Hunter College, City University of New York

Of all the scientific/academic conferences that I’ve attended, the International Meeting for Autism Research is by far my favorite. So I was thrilled when the Autism Science Foundation selected me as an IMFAR Travel Grantee. With ASF’s generous support I traveled to IMFAR 2012 in Toronto from May 17th to 19th and these are my experiences:

The weeks and months prior to IMFAR I had my nose in the books and fingers on the keyboard preparing for my dissertation defense. On April 18th I defended my dissertation and my degree was officially awarded on April 26th. So for many reasons this year’s IMFAR meeting was different for me.  This year I attended as a newly minted Ph.D., attempting to make the transition from student to colleague.

Since I was presenting my own research on Thursday, much of the day was spent preparing and standing by my poster. Presenting posters can be such a valuable learning experience. Every year I have the “why didn’t I think of that?” moment and am so appreciative of everyone’s thoughts and enthusiasm. Recently, the study I presented at IMFAR was accepted for publication in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Delays. Click here if you’d like to read it (email mswanson@gc.cuny.edu if you would like me to email you a PDF): .

On Friday, I found myself inspired by Bernie Devlin’s talk on gene discovery. He masterfully put into picture how far we have come as a field and what the future has in store for us. Friday morning I was also able to catch a talk by the prolific Charles Nelson (Bucharest Early Intervention Project). In his talk he discussed the difficulties of doing research with baby siblings of children with autism. On average 1 in 5 of these baby siblings go on to have ASD, so if we look for endophenotypes (subclinical traits associated with autism) in these populations we may be identifying endophenotypes for “risk” of autism rather than endophenotypes for autism itself. He also spoke about a research study where he showed infants pictures of their mothers and strangers. He found that high risk infants (baby siblings) and low risk infants didn’t show the same brain patterns in response to the pictures.

In the Friday afternoon oral presentations on early developmental processes and trajectories I attended what I think was the “coolest” talk of the conference. This talk by J.D. Jones, Ami Klin, and Warren Jones introduced a new approach to analyzing eye-tracking data. The approach quantifies allocation of visual resources and used “kernel density analysis at each moment in time in TD children to create a continuously changing map of normative salience in relation to movie-content” (from abstract). As an eye-tracking researcher myself, I was fascinated by this new approach and taken aback by the ingenuity and creativity on the part of this research group.

On Saturday I saw a talk by James McPartland during the Electrophysiology oral presentations. He presented a study where he cleverly collected ERP and EEG data in a single paradigm. Participants also completed the Autism Quotient and the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Task (both are measures of the broad autism phenotype). His data analysis utilized Bayesian structural equation modeling and linked traits to behavior to brain!

On Saturday afternoon I found myself in an Educational Symposium presentation by Dr. Cathy Lord. Dr. Lord presented research that highlighted the disparity is services found across different ethnic groups. She noted that a study from 20 years ago found that African American families were receiving 10 times fewer services when compared to white families. There was also an interaction with maternal education, with low-educated African American families receiving fewer services than African American families’ higher education attainment. On a sobering note, she indicated that this gap in services was at its greatest 7 years ago, but then the gap shrank for 2 years, only to remain stable for the last 5 years. For me this talk was the perfect way to wrap up my IMFAR 2012 experience. It served as a worthy reminder that as an autism researcher my number one priority has to be the families that I serve!

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Today we opened our applications process for the 2013 Pre- and Post-doctoral Training Awards for graduate students, medical students and postdoctoral fellows interested in pursuing careers in basic and clinical research relevant to autism spectrum disorders. In the past three years, ASF has funded over $700,000 in pre- and post-doctoral grants.

“Pre- and post-doctoral fellowships not only build our knowledge about what causes autism and how best to treat it, but also build our future by encouraging outstanding young investigators to dedicate their careers to autism research,” said Alison Singer, president of ASF.

“We are so grateful to all our donors and volunteers who have come together to support autism research and who make these grants possible,” said Karen London, co-founder of ASF.

The proposed training must be scientifically linked to autism. ASF will consider for training purposes all areas of related basic and clinical research including but not limited to:

  • Human behavior across the lifespan (language, learning, communication, social function, epilepsy, sleep, repetitive disorders)
  • Neurobiology (anatomy, development, neuro-imaging)
  • Pharmacology
  • Neuropathology
  • Human genetics/genomics
  • Immunology
  • Molecular and cellular mechanisms
  • Studies employing model organisms and systems
  • Studies of treatment and service delivery

Applications must be received by November 16, 2012. Additional information about the RFA can be found at www.autismsciencefoundation.org/ApplyForaGrant.html.

Grant applications will be reviewed by members of ASF’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) and other highly qualified reviewers. Current SAB members include Dr. Joseph Buxbaum (Mt. Sinai School of Medicine); Dr. Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom (UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School); Dr. Sharon Humiston (University of Rochester); Dr. Bryan King (University of Washington, Seattle); Dr. Ami Klin (Emory University); Dr. Harold Koplewicz (The Child Mind Institute); Dr. Eric London (New York Institute for Basic Research); Dr. Catherine Lord (New York Center for Autism and the Developing Brain); Dr. David Mandell (University of Pennsylvania/CHOP); Dr. Kevin Pelphrey (Yale Child Study Center) and Dr. Matthew State (Yale Medical School).

To learn more about the ASF’s grant programs, and to read about projects funded through this mechanism in prior years, visit www.autismsciencefoundation.org

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Nine new projects to be funded

Today we announced the recipients of our annual pre- and postdoctoral fellowships.  Six postdoctoral and three predoctoral grants will be awarded to student/mentor teams conducting research in autism interventions, treatment targets, early diagnosis, biomarkers, and animal models. This represents a 50% increase over last year’s six pre- & postdoctoral grants.

“Last week, when the CDC announced a 23% increase in autism prevalence, the autism community demanded more research to understand what is causing autism and to develop better treatments for individuals with autism,” said ASF Co-Founder Karen London. “We are proud to be able to increase our research funding in response to this national health crisis and we are so grateful to all our donors and volunteers who have come together to support autism research and make this funding increase possible.

This year, ASF will fund $330,000 in fellowship grants. In three years of operations, we have funded $790,000 in pre- and postdoctoral grants.

“ASF attracts excellent applicants across the board, and the top choices are exceptional people representing a broad set of perspectives on autism science,” said Dr. Matthew State, Chair of the ASF Scientific Advisory Board and the Donald J. Cohen Professor of Genetics and of Psychiatry at the Yale Child Study Center & Co-Director, Yale Program on Neurogenetics.

Two projects are co-funded by the FRAXA Research Foundation and the Phelan-McDermid Syndrome Foundation. Additional direct funding for ASF’s pre- and postdoctoral grant program was provided by Bailey’s Team and the Rural India Supporting Trust.

The following projects were selected for 2012 funding:

Postdoctoral Fellowships:

  • Inna Fishman/Ralph-Axel Muller: San Diego State University
    Multimodal Imaging of Social Brain Networks in ASD
  • Karyn Heavner/Craig Newschaffer: Drexel University
    Evaluating Epidemiological and Biostatistical Challenges in the EARLI Investigation
  • Haruki Higashimori/Yongjie Yang: Tufts University
    Role of Astrocytic Glutamate Transporter GLT1 in Fragile X
    Co-funded by: FRAXA Research Foundation
  • April Levin/Charles Nelson: Children’s Hospital Boston
    Identifying Early Biomarkers for Autism Using EEG Connectivity
  • Klaus Libertus/Rebecca Landa: Kennedy Krieger Institute
    Effects of Active Motor & Social Training on Developmental Trajectories in Infants at High Risk for ASD
  • Oleksandr Shcheglovitov/Ricardo Dolmetsch: Stanford University School of Medicine
    Using Induced-Pluripotent Stem Cells to Study Phelan McDermid Syndrome
    Co-funded by: Phelan McDermid Syndrome Foundation

Predoctoral Fellowships:

  • Nina Leezenbaum/Jana Iverson: University of Pittsburgh
    Postural and Vocal Development during the First Year of Life in Infants at HeightenedBiological Risk for ASD
  • Jennifer Moriuchi/Ami Klin: Emory University Marcus Autism Center
    Gender and Cognitive Profile as Predictors of Functional Outcomes in School-Aged Children with ASD 
  • Rebecca Simon/Karen Bales: University of California, Davis  MIND Institute
    The Role of Serotonin in Social Bonding in Animal Models

Learn more about the projects selected for funding here – http://www.autismsciencefoundation.org/current-grantees.

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IMFAR Stakeholder Travel Awards Will Support Parents, Siblings, Individuals with Autism & Graduate Students

We are delighted to announce the recipients of the 2012 IMFAR Travel Grants.   ASF will make 12 awards to autism stakeholders to cover expenses related to attending the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) in Toronto, Canada in May 2012. After the conference, grant recipients will share what they have learned with families in their local communities or online.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Catherine Blackwell – Sibling
  • Debra Dunn – Parent, Center for Autism Research at CHOP
  • Eric Hogan Self Identified Individual with Autism
  • Eshan Hoque – PhD Candidate, MIT
  • Kadi Lichsinger – Parent
  • Marjorie Madfis – Parent
  • Jon Shestack – Parent, Founder of Cure Autism Now
  • Mark Shen – PhD Candidate, UC Davis MIND Institute
  • Melissa Shimek Self Identified Individual with Autism
  • Meghan Swanson – PhD Candidate, Hunter College/City University of New York (CUNY)
  • Meagan Thompson – PhD Candidate, Boston University
  • Emily Willingham – Parent , Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism Blog

IMFAR is an annual scientific meeting, convened each spring, to share the latest scientific findings in autism research and to stimulate research progress in understanding the nature, causes, and treatments for autism spectrum disorders. IMFAR is the annual meeting of the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR).

“We are delighted to bring so many autism stakeholders to IMFAR so they can share their real world  experience with scientists,” said Alison Singer, President of the Autism Science Foundation. “Our travel grant program has become more and more popular over the past three years and we are thrilled to be able to increase the number of awards offered this year.”

The International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) is a scientific and professional organization devoted to advancing knowledge about autism spectrum disorders. Founded in 2001, INSAR runs the annual scientific meeting – the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR)– and publishes the research journal “Autism Research.”

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How often have you wished for an extra hour or extra day to get everything you need done? In 2012, we get a WHOLE DAY! At ASF, we want to make the most of this special leap day by using it to help autism science leap forward.

Thanks to your support, for the last two years we have provided funding for autism stakeholders (parents, individuals with autism, teachers, students, etc) to attend the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR).

All donations made today, February 29, 2012, will go directly to our IMFAR Travel Grants program, helping us provide more scholarships to IMFAR 2012 in Toronto where they will share their real world autism experience with scientists. These stakeholders will then bring the latest autism science back into our communities helping the science take a giant leap forward.

After attending IMFAR, past grant recipients have:

  • Organized a five day autism science seminar at Barnard College
  • Presented critical autism research information to nurses in Philadelphia
  • Produced multiple blog posts that reached thousands of readers around the world
  • Organized an autism awareness club and speaker series at Yale University

And thanks to a generous donor, all donations made today (February 29, 2012) will be matched dollar for dollar for an extra big leap.

Do something special with this extra day of 2012 and help leap science forward. Please make a donation today!

BTW – It’s no coincidence that applications for our IMFAR travel grants are due today. Thinking of applying? Click here to learn more.

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(August 18, 2011—New York, NY)–The Autism Science Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting and funding autism research, today announced that it had issued a new request for scientific proposals. ASF is inviting applications for Pre- and Postdoctoral Training Awards from graduate students, medical students and postdoctoral fellows interested in pursuing careers in basic and clinical research relevant to autism spectrum disorders. In the past two years, ASF has funded over $400,000 in pre- and postdoctoral grants.

“This is one of our most important funding mechanisms” said Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation. “The pre- and postdoctoral fellowships not only build our knowledge about what causes autism and how best to treat it, but also build our future by encouraging outstanding young investigators to dedicate their careers to autism research.”

“Outstanding research is the greatest gift we can offer our families” said Karen London, ASF co-founder. “We are so grateful to all our donors and volunteers who have come together to support autism research and who make these grants possible.”

The proposed training must be scientifically linked to autism. Autism Science Foundation will consider for training purposes all areas of related basic and clinical research including but not limited to: human behavior across the lifespan (language, learning, communication, social function, epilepsy, sleep, repetitive disorders), neurobiology (anatomy, development, neuro-imaging), pharmacology, neuropathology, human genetics/genomics, immunology, molecular and cellular mechanisms, studies employing model organisms and systems, and studies of treatment and service delivery. Applications must be received by November 18, 2011.

Additional information about the RFA can be found at www.autismsciencefoundation.org/ApplyForaGrant.html

The Autism Science Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity. Its mission is to support autism research by providing funding to scientists and organizations conducting, facilitating, publicizing and disseminating autism research. The organization 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.

Grant applications will be reviewed by members of ASF’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) and other highly qualified reviewers. Current SAB members include Dr. Joseph Buxbaum (Mt. Sinai School of Medicine); Dr. Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom (UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School); Dr. Sharon Humiston (University of Rochester); Dr. Bryan King (University of Washington, Seattle); Dr. Ami Klin (Emory University); Dr. Harold Koplewicz (The Child Mind Institute); Dr. Eric London (New York Institute for Basic Research); Dr. Catherine Lord (New York Institute for Brain Development); Dr. David Mandell (University of Pennsylvania/CHOP); and Dr. Matthew State (Yale Medical School).

To learn more about the Autism Science Foundation’s grant programs, and to read about projects funded through this mechanism in prior years, visit www.autismsciencefoundation.org/ApplyForaGrant.html

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Media Contact Info:

Dawn Crawford
Autism Science Foundation
dcrawford@autismsciencefoundation.org

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