Archive | e-Speaks: Autism Genes Discovered; Environmental Innovator Award Recipient Publishes New Data; Autism Speaks Visits the Middle East | Circa May 1, 2009

Autism Speaks e-Speaks via Apr 30, 2009, 11:18 PM
to Genevieve
e-Speaks || May 1, 2009

Autism Genes Implicated in Early Neural Development Discovered

Two recently published studies – the results of collaborative efforts of researchers from more than a dozen institutions, and led by Hakon Hakonarson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Applied Genomics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – have identified genes with important contributions to autism. One study pinpoints a gene region that may account for as many as 15 percent of autism cases, while another study identifies missing or duplicated stretches of DNA along two crucial gene pathways. Significantly, both studies detected genes implicated in the development of brain circuitry in early childhood. “Autism Speaks is pleased to have facilitated this critical research, having provided both funding and access to thousands of DNA samples through Autism Speaks’ Autism Genetic Research Exchange (AGRE),” said Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., chief science officer for Autism Speaks. Read more.

Environmental Innovator Award Recipient Publishes New Data on PCBs and Brain Development

In a series of manuscripts currently being published, Autism Speaks 2006 Environmental Innovator award recipient Isaac Pessah, Ph.D., reports the potential effects of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) on brain development. Using an animal model, Dr. Pessah focused on the impact of PCBs on a protein known as the ryanodine receptor.

This receptor regulates calcium signaling in the brain and plays a role in “turning on or off” the activity of nerve cells. These findings are important, as some of the genes associated with autism risk either regulate calcium signaling or are themselves regulated by calcium. Read more.

Autism Speaks Visits the Middle East

Autism Speaks Co-founders Suzanne and Bob Wright, along with Vice President of Scientific Affairs Andy Shih, Ph.D., recently traveled to the Middle East to meet with dignitaries, scientists and government officials in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as well as attend the Fourth Annual Shafallah Center International Forum on Achieving Independence, in Doha, Qatar. Read more.

Autism Speaks Board Members Ring NASDAQ Closing Bell

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, Autism Speaks Board Member Laura Slatkin, Harry Slatkin, president of Home Design for Limited Brands and of Slatkin & Co., and their nine-year-old son David, who has autism, rang the closing bell at the NASDAQ stock market on April 27, 2009. Read more.

Autism Speaks Hails Senator Arlen Specter’s Introduction of the Cures Acceleration Network Act

This week Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) introduced the Cures Acceleration Network (CAN) Act, groundbreaking legislation focused on accelerating the process of moving the most promising research discoveries from the lab bench to the bedside. The CAN Act would reauthorize the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at a new baseline funding level of $40 billion per year, in essence making recently added stimulus funds a permanent part of the NIH budget. The second major aspect of the bill is the creation of a new, independent federal agency, the Cures Acceleration Network, specifically tasked with more quickly translating research discoveries into practical medical applications. For more information on the CAN Act, visit

States Push Autism Insurance Bills Towards Passage

Momentum across the country is growing as several more autism insurance reform bills have passed halfway through their state legislatures! Missouri Senate Bill 167 has passed the State Senate and will now be reviewed by the members of the State House. Nevada Assembly Bill 162 has passed the State Assembly and moves on to the Senate.

The Minnesota House passed autism insurance reform as part of the Omnibus Health and Human Services Finance Bill (HF 1362). And the Colorado State Senate passed Senate Bill 244 and the effort now moves to the House. Autism Speaks will continue to push these bills towards passage, along with over twenty others that have been introduced in state legislatures this year, adding to the ten states that have already enacted comprehensive autism insurance reform.

Five Walk Now for Autism Events Raise Nearly $2 Million

The 2009 Walk Now for Autism spring season continues with five successful events in Broward County, Cumberland Tri-State, Lehigh Valley, Sonoma and Los Angeles. More than 35,000 people participated, raising nearly $2 million. Read more and view photos here.

Celebrities, Runners and Rockers Raise Funds at Community Events 

Four fundraising events – Autism SpeaksU First Annual “Fear the Turtle, Find a Cure 5K Race/3K Walk”, The Seventh Annual Bethesda Super-Sprint Triathlon, HEROES for Autism, and Rock ‘Til It Stops – took place from coast-to-coast, attracting television stars, musicians, walkers and tri-athletes and raising over $356,000. Read more and view photos here.  

Autism Speaks Files Amicus Brief with U.S. Supreme Court 

Autism Speaks, through its Federal Legal Appeals Project (FLAP), filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in Forest Grove School District v. T.A. (Forest Grove), a case that had originated in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The salient issue in Forest Grove is whether or not a parent has “standing” to challenge their child’s IEP and seek reimbursement relief if that parent has never before “tried out” the school district’s recommended program. The Ninth Circuit, consistent with the Second Circuit in the Tom F. case, held that a parent need not try out the district’s program to gain standing to challenge the IEP and seek reimbursement relief. Read more.

Innovative Video Glossary Upgraded and Re-Launched

The Autism Speaks video glossary, first introduced in late 2007, has been upgraded and re-launched to better serve the needs of users. The glossary is designed to help parents and professionals learn more about the early warning signs of autism spectrum disorders. More than one hundred side-by-side video clips illustrate typical development and behaviors that are red flags for autism, facilitating earlier diagnosis and intervention for children with autism. Visit the Autism Speaks video glossary here.

New Shared Heart Collection is a Gem for Autism Speaks

Zales Corporation, Autism Speaks’ newest corporate partner, will donate $5 for every piece of jewelry sold from the new, exclusive Shared Heart collection at Zales Jewelers, Zales Outlet and Gordon’s Jewelers stores. Zale has committed a minimum donation of $100,000 as a part of this partnership. Read more.

Honor Mom on Mother’s Day – May 10

In our next e-Speaks we will feature tributes from our readers to wives, moms, other female caregivers, or personal experiences from the mother of children on the spectrum, in honor of Mother’s Day. E-mail your paragraph to with a photo. Due to space constraints, not all submissons can be used. Surprise mom with a great gift for Mother’s Day – check out the limited edition Judith Ripka Autism Speaks Puzzle Pendant and other suggested gift items here

Celebrate the holiday by sending a Mother’s Day e-card, too!

In Their Own Words: I Beat Autism

In our latest “In Their Own Words” essay, a teenager shares his memories of growing up with autism. He details how rigid therapy helped him recover from autism, to the point that he is now a “typical” high school senior – one involved in sports and activities. 

Read more.

Coming Soon

May 2
Utah Walk Now for Autism (Orem, Utah.)

May 3
1st Annual “UWere, UAre, USpeak Autism SpeaksU 5K Race/3K Walk”(Amherst, Mass.)
Georgia Walk Now for Autism (Atlanta, Ga.)
Northern New Jersey Walk Now for Autism (Paramus, N.J.)

May 5
National Chamber Players Concert (Alexandria, Va.)

May 7-9
The 8th Annual International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) (Chicago, Ill.)

May 13
Cleveland and Northeast Ohio Walk Now for Autism Kick-off
(Mayfield Heights, Ohio)

May 14
New Jersey Shore Walk Now for Autism Kick-off (Long Branch, N.J.)

May 16
Chicago Walk Now for Autism (Chicago, Ill.)
Cincinnati Walk Now for Autism (Cincinnati, Ohio)

May 17
Laurel Highlands Walk Now for Autism (Ligonier, Penn.)Donate Now | Contact Us

One response to “Archive | e-Speaks: Autism Genes Discovered; Environmental Innovator Award Recipient Publishes New Data; Autism Speaks Visits the Middle East | Circa May 1, 2009”

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