|Founded||March 24, 2009|
|Founders||Alison Tepper Singer,|
Karen Margulis London
|Legal status||501(c)(3) non-profit organization|
|Headquarters||New York City|
Scientific Advisory Board Chair
|James McPartland, PhD|
The Autism Science Foundation (ASF) is a non-profit organization that funds evidence-based autism research and supports autism families. The organization was founded in April 2009 by Alison Tepper Singer, a former senior executive of Autism Speaks and the longest-serving public 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 autistic children.
The Autism Science Foundation was created as a split from Autism Speaks, which assigned a high priority to investigating the debunked claim that vaccination is associated with autism risk. This focus 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 (IACC), 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."
Singer noted that numerous scientific studies already 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 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 early diagnosis and intervention are critical.[third-party source needed]
Eric London resigned from Autism Speaks' 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" which started 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."
Since 2014, ASF has hosted annual Days of Learning, TED-style science conferences.
ASF offers numerous funding opportunities for scientists, and has been nationally recognized for its support of early career researchers. The organization currently offers pre- and postdoctoral fellowships, two-year post undergraduate fellowships, medical school gap year fellowships, and undergraduate summer research awards.
ASF has been a sponsor of the "International Society for Autism Research" (INSAR) since 2009, and has interviewed numerous researchers at the event.
In 2019, Alison Singer, the president of the ASF, announced that she had joined the National Council on Severe Autism.
In 2020, ASF partnered with Els for Autism to form Sam's Sibs Stick Together, which aims to offer extra support for autism siblings, present findings of research that focus on siblings and discuss resources available for siblings of all ages.
Vaccinologist Dr. Paul Offit, a founding board member of the Autism Science Foundation, donates all royalties from his book Deadly Choices to the ASF. The Autism Science Foundation also receives royalties from paperback sales of Dr. Offit's previous book, Autism's False Prophets.
ASF is also the recipient of funds raised through Wall Street Rides FAR, the annual cycling and walking event that originated in White Plains and has since expanded to include satellite rides in Baltimore and Toronto.
GuideStar named the Autism Science Foundation a top nonprofit startup in disabilities category in 2011, calling it "a shining star to those interested in real science and evidence based interventions".
In 2021, ASF earned top-rated status from GreatNonProfits for the ninth consecutive year.
Scientific advisory board
- "AUTISM SCIENCE Foundation[permanent dead link]". Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. Government of the District of Columbia. Accessed on February 25, 2016.
- "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". Autism Science Foundation. Guidestar. December 31, 2016.
- "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". Autism Science Foundation. Guidestar. December 31, 2013.
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- "The mystery of autism". CNN. Archived from the original on January 10, 2011. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
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- "Autism Science Foundation's interviews with IMFAR researchers: David Mandell - Wellsphere". Archived from the original on 2011-10-05. Retrieved 2010-12-29.
- Lutz, Amy S.F. "National Council on Severe Autism (NCSA) Launches". Psychology Today. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
- "Behind the Vaccine Science: An Interview with Dr. Paul Offit, Author of Deadly Choices, How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All". Archived from the original on 2011-01-07. Retrieved 2011-01-12.
- "Dr. Paul Offit's book, Autism's False Prophets". Archived from the original on 2012-04-03.
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- Autism's fight for facts: A voice for science, Nature Magazine