The National Institutes of Health is awarding nearly $100 million in grants — the most ever — to research the causes of autism and look for treatments.

The funding is part of $5 billion that’s being awarded by the NIH to study autism, cancer and heart disease, among other conditions. The grants represent half of the NIH funding allotment from the federal economic stimulus package enacted earlier this year.

Collectively, the grants are “the single largest boost to biomedical research in history,” President Barack Obama said at the NIH Wednesday.

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The grants also represent the largest single amount of money allotted for autism research.

The funding for autism research will go toward studying the DNA of people with autism and their parents and establishing better diagnostic screening tools. Researchers will also look at prenatal and early life risk factors for autism, test early interventions and adapt treatments known to work with young children so that they can be effective with older kids and adults.

“What we learn will hopefully lead to greater understanding, early interventions, more effective treatments and therapies to help these children live their lives and achieve their fullest potential, which is extraordinary,” Obama said.

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