The US National Institutes of Health has awarded nine research grants totalling nearly $100m over the next five years for the(ACE), a program that supports large research projects aimed at understanding and developing interventions for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
The ACE program was created in 2007 from the consolidation of previous programs. Grants have been awarded every five years, and 2017 marks the third cycle of ACE grants.
Autism spectrum disorder has myriad environmental, genetic, neurological and behavioral components. These awards will allow us to understand how autism differs in girls versus boys, to develop earlier methods of screening, and to improve treatments based on specific symptoms.
Said Diana W. Bianchi, MD, director of NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), one of five institutes funding the ACE program. The ACE awards seek to build on discoveries of the last 10 years by supporting innovative, multi-disciplinary research that promises to yield interventions and services for people with ASD.
According to the, about 1 in 68 children in the US has been diagnosed with ASD. The awards will support research at individual centers or at research networks (which involve multiple institutions) dedicated to the study of ASD.
The 2017 grant beneficiaries are:
University of California, Davis — Improving ASD treatments based on symptoms, features.
University of California, Los Angeles — Tracing ASD symptoms to their origins.
Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut — Examining development of functional brain connections.
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina — Understanding and potentially treating ASD-ADHD combination.
Emory University, Atlanta — Studying social interaction to identify the early signs of ASD.
George Washington University, Washington, DC — Investigating how ASD differs between boys and girls.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill — Tracking brain development, behavior as ASD progresses.
Drexel University, Philadelphia — Evaluating autism screening for all toddlers.
Florida State University, Tallahassee — Testing parent coaching, home intervention for toddlers.
In addition to NICHD, the NIH institutes that support ACE are the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.