McGovern Institute for Brain Research announces new autism center

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The McGovern Institute for Brain Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has announced the establishment of a new center dedicated to autism research. The center will launch with initial funding of $20 million from MIT alumnus and current Broadcom CEO Hock Tan and retired investment banker Lisa Yang.

MIT News says Tan and Yang hope their initial investment will stimulate additional support and help foster collaborative research efforts to erase ‘the devastating effects of this disorder on individuals, their families, and the broader autism community’.

MIT President L. Rafael Reif said:

With the Tan-Yang Center for Autism Research, we can imagine a world free from the burdens of autism — and we can focus MIT’s distinctive strengths on making that dream a reality. Lisa and Hock’s gift reminds us of the impact we envision for the MIT Campaign for a Better World. I am grateful for their leadership and generosity, and inspired by the possibilities ahead.

Tan said:

I am thrilled to be investing in an institution that values a multidisciplinary collaborative approach to solving complex problems such as autism. We expect that successful research originating from our center will have a significant impact on the autism community.

The Hock E. Tan and K. Lisa Yang Center for Autism Research will focus on four major lines of investigation: genetics, neural circuits, novel autism models, and the translation of basic research to the clinical setting. By focusing its research efforts on the origins of autism it aims to develop methods to better detect and potentially prevent autism spectrum disorders entirely. To help meet this challenge, it will support collaborations across multiple disciplines — from genes to neural circuits — both within and beyond MIT.

McGovern Institute Director Robert Desimone said:

MIT has some of the world’s leading scientists studying autism. Support from the Tan-Yang Center will enable us to pursue exciting new directions that could not be funded by traditional sources. We will exploit revolutionary new tools, such as CRISPR and optogenetics, that are transforming research in neuroscience. We hope to not only identify new targets for medicines, but also develop novel treatments that are not based on standard pharmacological approaches. By supporting cutting-edge autism research here at MIT as well as our collaborative institutions, the center holds great promise to accelerate our basic understanding of this complex disorder.

Yang said:

Millions of families have been impacted by autism. I am profoundly hopeful that the discoveries made at the Tan-Yang Center will have a long-term impact on the field of autism research and will provide fresh answers and potential new treatments for individuals affected by this disorder.

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