Director’s message: Meet our partners

Autism BrainNet can accomplish its goal of advancing autism research through postmortem brain studies thanks to partners from many walks of life.

Nattakorn Maneerat / iStock

Our most important collaborators are the families in the United States, Great Britain and now Canada, who decided — or are considering — to make the most precious gift of a brain donation to speed up research into the causes and treatments of autism. Many of our donor families tell us that making a donation helped to bring hope back into their lives. We also partner with family organizations that foster research into forms of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders with genetic causes, including the Dup15q Alliance, Phelan-McDermid Syndrome Foundation and Foundation for Prader-Willi Research; several other partnerships are in the works. These organizations rely on Autism BrainNet to efficiently and sensitively receive brain donations from affiliated families.

Autism BrainNet also receives donations through the offices of medical examiners and coroners who are becoming aware that individuals with autism may die from accidental causes. Finally, we work with organ procurement organizations to make the autism community aware of the possibility of making a brain donation for research. Many families don’t realize that when they sign up for organ donation, the brain is not included, and they have to explicitly indicate that they would also like the brain to be donated for research. Autism spectrum disorder is very complex, and research into all of its complexities will require a very large number of brain donations.

We are grateful for all of the donations that have been made thus far and thank all of our partners, both families and organizations, who share Autism BrainNet’s mission. We look forward to the research breakthroughs made possible by all of these concerted efforts.

If you, or your organization, would like to partner with Autism BrainNet, please contact us at [email protected].

With best wishes,
David G. Amaral, Ph.D.
Director, Autism BrainNet