UCSD to Aid in Largest Autism Study to Date

Previous autism studies have been limited by small sample size.

One of the largest autism studies ever conducted in the United States will have a helping hand in San Diego.

University of California San Diego’s (UCSD) Autism Center of Excellence (ACE) will be one of 21 research institutions to contribute to the national study, which aims to collect information and DNA from 50,000 individuals between three and 100-years of age who have been diagnosed with autism.

The UCSD team will be responsible for finding 3,000 diagnosed participants and their families in the San Diego area as well as in and around Phoenix, Arizona.

To actually participate in the study takes less work than you would think.

All individuals must do is fill out an online form and return saliva samples to the scientists in a kit that will be mailed directly to them. Those that qualify to participate will receive a $50 gift card and access to online resources and research news in exchange for their participation.

The SPARK study, which stands for Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge, will be sponsored by Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative.

Karen Pierce, PhD, an associate professor of neuroscience and co-director of ACE is one of the UCSD SPARK researchers.

“One of the major challenges in autism genetics research is sample size,” Pierce explained in a previous statement. “Individual projects may fail to find genetic abnormalities, not because they aren’t there, but because the sample size is just too small.”

The giant pull of DNA hopes to overcome this obstacle and pave the way for future studies.

To learn more about the study or enroll, call (858) 534-6906 or email e1bower@ucsd.edu.

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