Autism Science Foundation: a Research based org

30 Apr

We need more quality research in autism, no doubt about that. Private organizations can fund/manage this. But, there are Research Organizations and ‘research’ organizations.

I was interested to see the new autism organization emerge–the Autism Science Foundation. Kev has already discussed introduction of the ASF.

When I saw ASF’s webpage, I was immediately drawn to the paragraph on their scientific advisory board:

ASF’s Scientific Advisory Board, still in formation, includes Dr. Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom (UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; past program chair of the International Society for Autism Research); Dr. Ami Klin (Yale Child Study Center); Dr. Harold Koplewicz (NYU Child Study Center); Dr. Sharon Humiston (University of Rochester); Dr. Eric London (NYS Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities and co-founder of NAAR); Dr. Catherine Lord (University of Michigan); and Dr. Matthew State (Yale Medical School).

There are some well-known names in there. Dr. Catherine Lord, for one, is a real heavy hitter in the autism world. There are some other names that were new to me, so I decided to do a quick check on them. One measure I use is how many papers a person has in Autism. To measure this, I used the ISI Web of Knowledge database. I searched for papers with the person in question as author and with topic=autism. I checked number of papers and number of highly cited papers. Keep in mind that not all papers get listed by ISI. But, it is one way to measure how active someone is in autism.


Dr. Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom

Six papers found in the ISI database under the topic “autism”. This out of 58 papers total, many very well cited. He is also past chair of INSAR.

Dr. Ami Klin

32 papers on autism. Six of which have been cited over 50 times. That is impressive. He has six autism papers published in 2008–so he’s currently active in research.

Dr. Harold Koplewicz

He’s at the NYU child study center. I don’t get any hits for him as an author with the subject=autism in the ISI database. He does have a long publication record, though.

You may recall his name. Dr. Koplewicz and the NYU Child Study Center was behind the “Ransom Notes” advertisement campaign that didn’t go so well.

Dr. Sharon Humiston

She is affiliated with the University of Rochester.

I don’t get any autism publications from her in my search. What I do get in a Google search is that she testified with Jeffrey Bradstreet and others in Senator Dan Burton’s hearings on vaccines and autism. She welcomed the call for research into whether MMR or thimerosal were causing autism–so claims that she doesn’t have an “open mind” don’t apply here. However, she has been very clear on the idea that there is no evidence linking vaccines to autism. She does have a number of papers on immunization, as well as a book Vaccinating Your Child: Questions and Answers for the Concerned Parent.

Dr. Eric London

I get four autism papers for Dr. London in the ISI database. One of which, The environment as an etiologic factor in autism: a new direction for research shows that this is also someone who has demonstrated an “open mind” to the the idea that environmental causes could be important in autism etiology. But, I expect he doesn’t get much credit for that in the vaccines-cause-autism world since he doesn’t like the “correct” version of environmental etiology.

Dr. Catherine Lord

46 papers on autism, with 17 papers cited over 50 times. Wow, 1/3 of her papers are very highly cited! That is impressive.

Her bio includes this statement of awards:

Lord is Chair of the Early Intervention in Autism Committee, National Academy of Science. She received the Irving B. Harris Early Childhood Lecture Award in 2004 and was a Finalist for the New York University Child Study Center Scientific Achievement Award in 2005.


Dr. Matthew State

Dr. State is from Yale. I only get 3 papers from him in my search. One of which, though, is in Nature Genetics and has been cited 178 times. If you aren’t familiar with the Nature journals, I’ll point out that these are highly prestigious journals. Suffice it to say, nothing in the “vaccines-cause-autism” research world has even come close to a journal of this caliber.

This is a pretty good group for a brand new organization–one that is still growing. We will have to wait to see what the Autism Science Foundation does, but for now it appears that, yes, there is a new research based autism organization in town.

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