Government News
Govt. Acts on Commitment to Find Cause, Treatment of Autism
Psychiatric News
Volume 43 Number 1 page 14-14

The national drive to combat autism is gaining momentum.

In 2003 the National Institutes of Health awarded almost $10 million in grants to six new research centers to study the biological basis of autism and to advance treatments for those with autism (Psychiatric News, August 1, 2003).

In 2005 the National Institutes of Health spearheaded an international coalition of public and private health agencies and advocacy organizations to identify genes associated with the disorder (Psychiatric News, January 21, 2005).

In 2006 President Bush signed the Combating Autism Act of 2006 into law. Its mission is to increase public awareness of autism, lead to early identification and treatment of autism, and provide enhanced federal support for autism research and treatment.

And now, as designated under the new law, an Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee has been formed. It will be part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Its chair is Thomas Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

"This important committee will play a key role in coordinating autism education, services, and research," HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said in a prepared statement. "I'm pleased that its members bring to the committee a wide range and great depth of expertise, including research and program administration, advocacy, and personal experience with the condition."

Insel said in the same statement, "The committee's first priority will be to develop a strategic plan for autism research that can guide public and private investments to make the greatest difference for families struggling with autism." The committee's strategic plan for research should be in place by May 2008, according to the committee's Web site.

More information about the committee and its activities is posted at<www.nimh.nih.gov/research-funding/scientific-meetings/recurring-meetings/iacc/index.shtml>.

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