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DANVILLE, Pa. – Geisinger’s Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute (ADMI) has been awarded a one-year, $150,000 grant by the Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge (SPARK) to help advance research into autism.

ADMI will be a center for recruitment and sample collection for a new genetic study that aims to enroll 50,000 individuals with autism and their families nationwide, making it the most ambitious study of the condition’s genetics to date. 

The one-year grant to ADMI is renewable for a full, three-year term. SPARK is supported by the Simons Foundation’s Autism Research Initiative.

Approximately 50 genes have been identified that almost certainly play a role in autism, and researchers estimate that at least an additional 300 are involved. But to identify all the genes at play, many more genetic samples are needed from those with autism and their immediate families.  

The national autism research project aims to make important progress possible by pooling together tens of thousands of participants for research. 

As autism is a spectrum, researchers need many people with autism to participate in all types of research. Until now, only a small number of individuals and families affected by autism have ever participated in research. SPARK wants to invite the entire autism community to dramatically expand its participation.

The medical and genetic data generated from the program will power important new research that aims to advance the understanding of autism and equally provides meaningful information and resources to participants.

As a SPARK site, Geisinger’s ADMI joins other renowned national autism centers collaborating on this important project, including, for example, Boston Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and the UCLA Center for Autism. 

If you, or a family member, are affected by autism and want to participate in this vital national research, you may contact Kate Dent at 570-522-9402 or email kadent1@geisinger.edu

Geisinger’s ADMI is led by nationally known expert Christa Lese Martin, Ph.D., and includes many staff working on the cutting edge of research in developmental disorders. In addition, ADMI has a team of physicians, psychologists, genetic counselors, and speech language pathologists to help fulfill its clinical mission.

ADMI works to integrate the diagnosis of children with autism and other developmental disorders with evidence-based interventions, research and training. 
For more information on SPARK, see https://sparkforautism.org

About Geisinger
Geisinger is among the nation’s leading providers of value-based care, serving 1.2 million people in urban and rural communities across Pennsylvania. Founded in 1915 by philanthropist Abigail Geisinger, the nonprofit system generates $10 billion in annual revenues across 126 care sites — including 10 hospital campuses — and Geisinger Health Plan, with more than half a million members in commercial and government plans. Geisinger College of Health Sciences educates more than 5,000 medical professionals annually and conducts more than 1,400 clinical research studies. With 26,000 employees, including 1,700 employed physicians, Geisinger is among Pennsylvania’s largest employers with an estimated economic impact of $15 billion to the state’s economy. On March 31, 2024, Geisinger became the first member of Risant Health, a new nonprofit charitable organization created to expand and accelerate value-based care across the country. Learn more at geisinger.org or follow on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and X.

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