Researchers at the University of Missouri’s Thompson Center for Autism & Neurodevelopment Disorders are recruiting children and adults to participate in the Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge (SPARK) project.

The study, sponsored by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, aims to collect information and DNA for genetic analysis from 50,000 individuals with autism—and their families—to help advance understanding of the causes of and treatments for autism.

More than 2,500 individuals with autism and their family members are already enrolled in the study. However, more participants are needed.

The Thomson Center is one of a select group of national research institutions chosen by the Simon Foundation to help recruit participants in the study.

“SPARK empowers researchers to make new discoveries that will lead to the development of new supports and treatments to improve lives,” says Thompson Center Executive Director Stephen Kanne, who is leading the SPARK effort at MU, in a media release from the university.

“The study is open to any individual with a professional diagnosis of autism. It’s important we have a diverse group of individuals for the study,” he adds.

SPARK will connect participants to researchers, offering opportunities for participants to join any of the multiple studies offered through SPARK. The initiative will catalyze research by creating large-scale access to study participants whose DNA may be analyzed for a specific scientific question. SPARK also will gather feedback from individuals and parents of children with autism to guide future research, the release states.

For more information or to inquire about participating, visit SPARK.

[Source: University of Missouri]