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Rutgers geneticist to battle autism with $3.7 million NIH grant

NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. Linda Brzustowicz, an associate professor in Rutgers' department of genetics, has been awarded a five-year, $3.7 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to investigate the genetic basis of autism. The disorder, which has no known cure, is tied to a child's early brain development and is usually diagnosed in the first three years of life. The grant was made available through NIH's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Rep. Chris Smith (R-4) provided encouragement and support in Brzustowicz' pursuit of the funds for this research. "This significant infusion of federal resources will help Dr. Brzustowicz and her team expand the research they have been doing to help identify the cause of autism," said Smith, who co-founded and co-chairs the Congressional Autism Caucus. "It complements millions in federal dollars that we have secured for autism research in our state and will, I hope, help us better understand, treat and ultimately prevent and cure autism."

"With this new federal funding, Linda Brzustowicz will lead the charge in our battle with a disorder that tragically affects so many individuals and their families," said Philip Furmanski, executive vice president for academic affairs at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. "We hope that this research, and the new knowledge it provides, will pave the way to new therapies for this terrible affliction."

Autistic children typically have difficulties with behavior, social interaction and communications skills, but there is a wide spectrum of symptoms and characteristics, expressed in combinations from extremely mild to quite severe. Researchers generally agree that multiple genes interact with each other to produce this range. An assortment of environmental factors is thought to be operating as well, conspiring with autism's genetics to produce the disorder in its many forms.

According to the American Medical Association, autism
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Contact: Joseph Blumberg
blumberg@ur.rutgers.edu
732-932-7084 x652
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
15-Oct-2003


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