Autism Science Foundation
The Autism Science Foundation (ASF) is a non-profit organization which supports research into autism, but opposes more research into the disproven and fraudulent "link" between autism and vaccinations. The organization was founded in April 2009 by Alison Tepper Singer, a former senior executive of Autism Speaks and a member of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), and Karen Margulis London, co-founder of the National Alliance for Autism Research. Both Singer and London are parents of children with autism.
ASF was created as a split from Autism Speaks, which assigns a high priority to research into whether immunization is associated with autism risk, and this high priority has raised concerns among parents and researchers.
Alison Singer, a senior executive of Autism Speaks, resigned in January 2009 rather than vote for committing money to new research studies into vaccination and autism. The U.S. Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, of which Singer was a member, voted against committing the research funds; this was contrary to the Autism Speaks policy on vaccine safety research. Singer said:
- "There isn't an unlimited pot of money, and every dollar spent looking where we know the answer isn't is one less dollar we have to spend where we might find new answers. The fact is that vaccines save lives; they don't cause autism."
She said that numerous scientific studies have disproved the link first suggested more than a decade ago and that Autism Speaks needs to "move on." Later that year, along with NAAR's cofounder Karen London, Singer launched the ASF as a nonprofit organization supporting autism research premised on the principles that autism has a strong genetic component, that vaccines do not cause autism, and that evidence-based early diagnosis and intervention are critical.
Eric London resigned from Autism Speaks's Scientific Affairs Committee in June 2009, saying that arguments that "there might be rare cases of 'biologically-plausible' vaccine involvement ... are misleading and disingenuous", and that Autism Speaks was "adversely impacting" autism research. London is a founding member of the ASF's Scientific Advisory Board.
On January 5, 2011, Brian Deer published the first part of his British Medical Journal series on Andrew Wakefield's "elaborate fraud" and his role in the dubious MMR vaccine controversy. On January 7, 2011, Alison Singer was interviewed by Kiran Chetry on CNN's American Morning. Singer discussed the repercussions of Deer's report, stating, "...we can finally put the question of autism and vaccines behind us."
While agreeing with their stance on the non-connection between autism and vaccinations, Lisa Jo Rudy has stated that their public stance against further research in that direction may be controversial among those who insist that there is such a connection.
ASF has been a sponsor of the "International Meeting for Autism Research" (IMFAR) since 2009, and has interviewed a number of researchers at the event. ASF offers travel grants to IMFAR, which are given to individuals and family members affected by autism to attend the conference.
Vaccinologist Dr. Paul Offit, a founding board member of the Autism Science Foundation, donates all royalties from his most recent book Deadly Choices to the ASF. The Autism Science Foundation also receives royalties from paperback sales of Dr. Paul Offit's previous book, Autism's False Prophets.
GuideStar named ASF a top nonprofit startup in disabilities category in 2011, calling it "a shining star to those interested in real science and evidence based interventions".
Scientific Advisory Board
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