The nation’s largest autism advocacy group has a new executive tasked with bringing research to the real world and he comes straight from a pharmaceutical giant.

Autism Speaks said it has appointed Robert Ring — who’s served as the head of Pfizer’s autism research unit since 2009 — to the newly-created position of vice president of translational research where he will help usher research findings into the clinical trial stage.

The hire gives the advocacy group a direct link to the pharmaceutical industry just as drug companies are paying increased attention to the market potential for autism spectrum disorders.

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The Pfizer unit that Ring headed was the first research and development team at a major pharmaceutical company to focus exclusively on developing treatments for autism.

To date, only a handful of drugs are federally approved to treat autism symptoms, though many individuals with the developmental disorder are known to be prescribed a host of antipsychotics and other medications off-label.

“Rob is a highly respected neuroscientist whose knowledge and experience in drug discovery will help accelerate and target the translational research we fund and ensure that those research dollars will have maximum impact,” Autism Speaks’ Chief Science Officer Geraldine Dawson said of the appointment.

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