By Katie Wright
Autism Speaks recently awarded two highly qualified, innovative and independent scientists $1.3 million towards a huge ASD/ gastrointestinal research project (HERE). Thank you Autism Speaks and Dr. Geri Dawson for making this project happen.
This grant is significant for a number of reasons. Children belonging to this ASD subset have been hugely underrepresented in autism research. Many of these children live with acute pain. If addressing acute pain isn’t a high priority what is? Hundreds of thousands of families caring for ASD children with debilitating GI disease want this research done. The days when parents have only the Internet as their main source of GI treatment information must end. It is time for environmentally induced regressions and GI disease to be a top research priority. Endless eye gazing and brain imaging research needs to move to the back of the line.
Rather than fund a few token GI grants for $60- $100k, AS made a real commitment to this issue by awarding Dr. Fasano and Dr. Ashwood $1.3 million towards a ground-breaking GI research project. From any perspective this is a tremendous amount of money.
Years and years of hammering home the importance of this research went on behind the scenes in order to make this project happen. Nothing comes easy with GI research. There are few really excellent researchers working on this problem and it is exceedingly difficult for them to receive funding and get published. Too many public and private research organizations are afraid of where this research will lead and therefore, avoid it all together. Too many academics are totally unfamiliar with these children, preferring to more safely focus on the behavioral, rather than medical and environmental aspects of autism. This is a shameful reality.
So thank you again to Bob and Suzanne Wright and Dr. Geri Dawson for getting this critically important work funded. I know it was not easy.
Now to Dr. Fasano and Dr. Ashwood, we want you working harder on this project than anything else you worked on in your life. We want you thinking about our kids every day as you try to produce the most perfect study imaginable. A million families are relying on you to deliver. We will not another chance like this anytime soon.
Those who read my posts know I am not shy to criticize those who funded and or executed subpar research. This biomedical project must set a new standard for excellence. So many dinosaurs in the field will be looking to discredit this work and we cannot give them any ammunition. So Dr. Fasano and Dr. Ashwood thank you again for bravely taking GI/ASD research on and now get to work.