Largest Autism Research Study


We got an email from the FIND Network about a research study that sounds promising. CEA believes in participating in research that increases our understanding of autism. After looking closely at this study and the Simons Foundation that is the national funder of the study, we think families should participate according to their comfort level. The following is from the FIND Network announcement:

An online autism research initiative called SPARK, designed to become the largest autism study ever undertaken in the United States, was launched recently. Participating institutions, like the University of MN, will collect information and DNA for genetic analysis from 50,000 individuals with autism — and their families — to advance our understanding of autism.

Led by Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics Suma Jacob, M.D., Ph.D., the U of M will serve as a regional hub for this study. 

“While autism is common in the United States, many of the details are still unclear. There’s a lot we don’t know,” Jacob said. “The SPARK initiative, which is the biggest study of its kind, will help us better understand causes and inform how we go about improving the lives of people who are living with autism.”

Autism is known to have a strong genetic component. To date, approximately 50 genes have been identified that almost certainly play a role in autism, and scientists estimate that an additional 300 or more are involved.

Registering for this first-of-its-kind initiative can be done entirely online and at no cost. DNA will be collected via saliva kits shipped directly to participants. Once the SPARK participant’s family has returned their saliva samples and provided some medical and family history information, the SPARK participant will receive a $50 gift card. SPARK will provide access to online resources and the latest research in autism, which may provide participants and families with valuable information to help address daily challenges. SPARK is entirely funded by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI)

To learn more about SPARK at University of Minnesota, visit, or contact us at or 612-624-0116.

Author: Editorial Team

A select group of our board members who have something to say, but want to say it together. We also use this byline for those who wish to write anonymously.

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