NEW YORK, N.Y. (October 25, 2012) - Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization, today announced the formation of Delivering Scientific Innovation for Autism (DELSIA) an independent not-for-profit affiliate of Autism Speaks that will work directly with for-profit sector partners to stimulate the conversion of scientific research from the lab into products needed by both the autism and medical communities, more rapidly and effectively.
"There is an urgent need for autism therapies, medications and devices now, and we are committed to leading both the research and the developments that will benefit the thousands of people who struggle with autism every day," stated Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., who will chair DELSIA's independent board of managers. "Autism Speaks has funded important research that holds great promise for delivering more effective ways to diagnose and treat autism and it's crucial that we apply what we are learning in the lab to real world solutions that can improve the lives of people living with autism today."
DELSIA will help to advance Autism Speaks' mission by accelerating the development of medicines, treatments, diagnostic tools, therapeutic technologies and devices, and other products that originate from breakthroughs in autism research. DELSIA provides a model of venture philanthropy to take ground-breaking research being done in the lab and facilitate development of those products. While Autism Speaks already invests in scientific research that produces papers for publication or for presentation at professional conferences, this next generation philanthropy will produce medical and non-medical treatments, products and devices to be directly used by the community.
"It's necessary to engage partners from the for-profit sector in order to realize the real-world value promised in the scientific breakthroughs we read about in papers every day," explained DELSIA President Robert H. Ring, Ph.D. Dr. Ring also serves as Autism Speaks Vice President for Translational Research. "With the formation of DELSIA, we have created a model for funding to ensure that development activity by DELSIA's commercial partners is squarely aligned to address unmet needs of our community."
DELSIA will utilize scientific, legal, regulatory and business expertise to identify and fund only the most promising development opportunities. As an affiliate of Autism Speaks, DELSIA will operate with separate governance and accounting, but will operate exclusively on funding provided through awards from Autism Speaks and will not be involved in its own fundraising. The DELSIA board of managers, however, will include some individuals familiar with the operations and mission of Autism Speaks, Gary Goldstein and Adrian Jones, who will also remain on the Autism Speaks board of directors.
DELSIA's partnerships with entrepreneurial organizations will include terms for sharing a portion of positive outcomes, such as royalties. The goal of DELSIA is to create better products that will make a difference, not to create profits. Any positive returns will be converted directly into new awards aimed at creating additional products that can be of immediate benefit to people with autism.
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders - autism spectrum disorders - caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated 1 in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum - a 78 percent increase in six years that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed over $180 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 95 cities across North America. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships and related activities in over 40 countries on 5 continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit AutismSpeaks.org.