Proposed HHS budget has $16M more funding for autism research

21 Feb

The United States Department of Health and Human Services is proposing an increase in autism research funding of $16 million, or about 8% over the 2010 budget:

Addressing Autism Spectrum Disorders: The Budget includes $222 million, an increase of $16 million, for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). NIH research will pursue comprehensive and innovative approaches to defining the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to ASD, investigate epigenomic changes in the brain, and accelerate clinical trials of novel pharmacological and behavioral interventions. CDC will expand autism monitoring and surveillance and support an autism awareness campaign. HRSA will increase resources to support children and families affected by ASD through screening programs and evidence-based interventions.

The Obama administration had originally projected $210M by 2011, so if this gets approved they will be ahead of the original plan.

Last year the Obama administration proposed $211 million:

Supports Americans with Autism Spectrum disorders (ASd). The President is committed to expanding support for individuals, families, and communities affected by ASD. The Budget includes $211 million in HHS for research into the causes of and treatments for ASD, screenings, public awareness, and support services.

If I do my sums correctly, congress actually funded $206 million. Don’t be surprised if the amount funded for 2011 is less than the $222 million proposed. Then again, according to Jocelyn Kaiser at Science:

And in any case, the president’s budget proposal doesn’t mean much because Congress usually ends up giving NIH more than the president requests.

The budget mentions autism in other places:

Exploring Scientific Opportunities in Biomedical Research:

The Budget includes $32.2 billion for NIH, an increase of $1 billion, to support innovative projects from basic to clinical research. This effort will be guided by NIH’s five areas of exceptional research opportunities: supporting genomics and other high-throughput technologies; translating basic science into new and better treatments; reinvigorating the biomedical research community; using science to enable health care reform; and focusing on global health. The Administration interest for the high-priority areas of cancer and autism fits well into these five NIH theme areas. In FY 2011, NIH estimates it will support a total of 37,001 research project grants, including 9,052 new and competing awards.

Emphasis added.


Autism and Other Developmental Disorders: The Budget requests $55 million, an increase of $7 million, as part of the President’s Initiative to support children with autism spectrum disorders and their families. This funding will continue to expand Federal and State programs authorized in the Combating Autism Act to research, and support screening and vidence-based interventions when a diagnosis is confirmed.


National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: The Budget requests $7 million for the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to prepare for projected increases in claims and continue reviews of over 5,100 claims from autism proceedings.


In FY 2011, for autism spectrum disorders, again building on significant Recovery Act investments, NIH will undertake complete genome sequencing and comprehensive DNA analyses of 300 autism spectrum disorder cases, and will launch the first epigenomic studies of brain samples from individuals with and without autism. NIH will also use a network of health maintenance organizations to identify patterns of environmental exposure during pregnancy and perinatal life that may contribute to autism.


In FY 2011, NIH will also accelerate Phase 3 clinical trials of a promising mGluR5 antagonist, begin a clinical trial of the drug rapamycin, and create a translational pipeline for advancing additional small molecule drugs for autism.

Would I like to see more funding applied to autism? Heck yeah. But, this is twice the commitment that the previous administration made in autism research.

The proposed budget continues the NIH commitment to research on environmental and gene-environment causation of autism.

12 Responses to “Proposed HHS budget has $16M more funding for autism research”

  1. _Arthur February 21, 2010 at 06:03 #

    “The Budget requests $7 million for the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program” …

    Since the costs of the Autism Omnibus proceedings happened to be around $7M, does that mean that the government is picking up the tab for that ?

  2. Robert February 21, 2010 at 06:39 #

    This is good news for everyone.

    Don’t forget that before his election President Obama expressed concern over the possibility that vaccines were implicated in the shocking rise in ASD cases. He promised that this would be investigated and funding provided. Looks like he’s keeping that promise.

  3. Clay February 21, 2010 at 06:43 #

    I wish they would put a larger percentage into “support services”, which would mean (among other things), that they would provide for personal aides and health aides to visit autistic adults in their homes, and provide whatever is needed (which is determined by an assessment performed by a Nurse). There are many of us who need such a thing.

  4. Sullivan February 21, 2010 at 07:29 #


    Mr. Obama didn’t promise to fund vaccine research.

    At present, the IACC’s Strategic Plan has no proposed research specifically on vaccines.

    Given that there are basically 3 routes

    1) MMR causes autism (basically dead scientifically)
    2) Thimerosal causes autism (never had much real evidence, now basically dead)
    3) “Too many too soon”. Should add “too vague”.

    If a well crafted vaccine-autism study were proposed, I would have no problem with it being funded. I’ve seen few well crafted proposals. The one I’ve seen was by someone who I doubt groups like Generation Rescue would accept as a principal investigator. Not that that really should have any bearing on what research gets done.

  5. Clay February 21, 2010 at 07:50 #

    Sullivan said:

    “3) “Too many too soon”. Should add “too vague”.”

    Also, “Too Jenny”. 😉

  6. Sullivan February 21, 2010 at 08:22 #

    Exactly, Clay.

    “Too many too soon” isn’t a theory. It’s a slogan.

  7. Robert February 21, 2010 at 16:10 #

    I believe that Wakefield’s monkey research that had produced autism like symptoms in primates treated with the usual children’s vaccines is now to be funded by a friendly scientific organisation. We may soon be reading more about this.

    Also a team of investigative journalists is trying to dig out any truth in the Brian Deer/Sunday Times/pharmaceutical company conspiracy allegations. Read Brian Deer’s other website and it is clear that he knows about this. Could be interesting!

  8. Tom February 21, 2010 at 17:11 #


    The MMR story is dead. Neither monkeys nor conspiracy theories are going to bring it back to life.

  9. Robert February 21, 2010 at 17:24 #

    Let’s just agree to differ….

    • Sullivan February 21, 2010 at 18:06 #


      it isn’t something to agree about, it is a fact: we differ in our views.
      Just as it isn’t something to agree about: your point of view has as its main proponent a man who has been found to be unethical and dishonest. Your point of view is not supported by credible science. Your point of view was resoundly rejected by no fewer than three judges (special masters) after a lengthy and expensive set of hearings.

      And, now, the proponents of your point of view appear to bent on revenge against the man who uncovered the unethical/dishonest/callous behavior of the researcher who created this myth.

      So, yes, we differ.

  10. Do'C February 21, 2010 at 19:05 #

    I believe that Wakefield’s monkey research that had produced autism like symptoms in primates treated with the usual children’s vaccines is now to be funded by a friendly scientific organisation.

    The withdrawn paper did not even mention “autism”. The study treated primates with an obsolete (since 2001 in the U.S.) vaccine – not “the usual children’s vaccines”. Perhaps you could tell us what you think is the likely reason for that.

  11. David N. Brown February 21, 2010 at 20:11 #

    “The withdrawn paper did not even mention “autism”.”
    It also didn’t describe anything like autism.

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