With some $1.5 billion in investment, a new federal report finds that the number of autism research studies has doubled.
More than 11,000 studies on autism have been published since 2009, twice the number issued in the preceding five years, the report released this week by the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee found.
Findings from the research are shedding light on everything from the best treatment approaches to the biology behind autism, the IACC indicated.
“The state of the science has dramatically changed in the ASD field over the last five years,” said Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health and chair of the IACC, a federal advisory committee comprised of government officials and members of the autism community.
The report issued this week serves as an update to the IACC’s strategic plan, which is intended to outline priorities for federal research on the developmental disorder.
Despite the increase in studies looking at autism, the IACC indicated that much work remains, particularly as it relates to understanding the needs of adults, those on the more severe end of the spectrum, individuals with co-occurring conditions and people in traditionally underserved communities.
An investigation last year by the U.S. Government Accountability Office suggested that federal spending on autism research may not stretch as far as it could. Most studies conducted on the government’s dime are “potentially duplicative,” the GAO found, adding that oversight and coordination between federal agencies is often lacking.
“Relative to many other areas of biomedical research, ASD science is still a young field,” the IACC said in its report. “While the past five years have seen rapid growth and substantial scientific progress, the committee recognizes the large gap that still remains between advances made in research settings and practical benefits that are ready to be delivered to individuals and families living with ASD today.”