The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) has decided to include vaccine research studies in the objectives of the updated Strategic Plan for Autism Research.
The new language, approved unanimously, calls for studies to determine if there are sub-populations that are more susceptible to environmental exposures such as immune challenges related to naturally occurring infections, vaccines or underlying immune problems. "This revised plan is an important step toward a more comprehensive approach to exploring the wide range of risk factors that may be contributing to autism," said Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., Autism Speaks chief science officer.
IACC met yesterday at the NIMH in Rockville, Md., to discuss the Strategic Plan. As mandated by the Combating Autism Act (CAA), the IACC must develop and annually update a strategic plan for the conduct of, and support for, autism spectrum disorder research, including proposed budgetary requirements. In gathering Congressional support for the CAA, members of Congress specified that all possible causes of autism - including vaccines - be studied. The plan, which is intended to represent a collaborative effort between federal officials and public members who represent the autism community, has been under revision following passage of the first iteration in February.
Anita Miller Sostek, Ph.D., Autism Speaks' vice president of scientific review and operations, provided a detailed statement to the IACC in advance of today's meeting outlining key concerns, focusing on the need to comply with CAA's legislative intent; support rigorous, evidence-based scientific research into all aspects of autism from potential causes, to diagnosis and treatments; and through rigorous and evidence-based science, engender the trust of the scientific, medical and entire autism community. The full statement is attached.