The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded nine research grants worth around $100m over the next five years for the Autism Centres of Excellence (ACE).
The ACE programme supports large research projects that focus on understanding and developing interventions for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
ASD is a serious and complex neurological and developmental disorder that occurs early in life and affects the way a person acts, learns and interacts with others.
The grants will help support new research at individual centres or at research networks, which involve multiple institutions, focused on the study of ASD.
NIH Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) director Dr Diana Bianchi said: “Autism spectrum disorder has myriad environmental, genetic, neurological and behavioural components.
“These awards will allow us to understand how autism differs in girls versus boys, to develop earlier methods of screening, and to improve treatments based on specific symptoms.”
NICHD is one of the five institutes that provide funding for the ACE programme.
As well as NICHD, the other NIH institutes that support the programme are the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Established in 2007, the ACE programme receives grants every five years and the fund awarded this year marks the third cycle of ACE grants.