Boston University of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers heading a project to expand services to families affected by autism spectrum disorders won an “Impact Award” from Genetic Alliance, a national non-profit health advocacy group. The ASD Gene-Link program – led by Dr. Catharine Wang and Dr. Emily Feinberg, associate professors of community health sciences – was one of seven national award winners. The awards are administered by the National Genetics Education and Consumer Network (NGECN), a three-year program led by Genetic Alliance and funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
ASD Gene-Link will expand an existing family support program offered through the Autism Consortium, a collaboration of five local hospitals (Boston Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital/Lurie Family Autism Center, Tufts Medical Center, UMASS Memorial Hospital).
The program, which began in May, aims to improve patient and provider knowledge, awareness, and understanding of genetic testing for autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and to improve access to genetic services (including genetic tests and genetic counselors).
Researchers and program staff are coordinating the expansion with the Autism Consortium, a collaboration of more than 100 scientists and 16 sites in the greater Boston area serving families affected by with ASDs. The program will train specialists to help guide ASD patients’ families and their primary physicians through the potential options of available genetic services.