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Huge gift to MIT furthers autism research


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has received an amazing gift for furthering research with autism: $26.5 million. The money will build the Simons Center for the Social Brain and contribute to a plan that aims to catalyze new research and translate that research into enhanced diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

The center will work with existing centers in Boston and Cambridge bringing together several prestigious institutions for collaborative work. “Through visionary gifts to MIT, Jim and Marilyn Simons, together with the Simons Foundation, have created powerful momentum in the drive to understand and, ultimately treat autism. In launching the Simons Center for the Social Brain, the Simons Foundation advances our boldest ambitions to define new routes to understanding the brain and mind, and to lift the burden of ASD for individuals and their families,” said MIT President Susan Hockfield.

ASD affects about 1 in 110 children in the United States. ASD refers to a complicated neurodevelopmental disorders that cause impairments in children and adults. The social impact is hard to quantify, but the medical cost for a single child over a lifetime is in excess of three million dollars.

“The goal of the Simons Center for the Social Brain at MIT is to understand the neural mechanisms underlying social cognition and behavior, and to translate this knowledge into better diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. Neural correlates of social cognition and behavior exist in diverse species, and the underlying mechanisms will be studied in both humans and relevant model organisms and systems,” explained Gerald D. Fischbach, scientific director of the Simons Foundation.

Source: MIT, MedicalNewsToday

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