Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Soroka University Medical Center announced that they are expanding the Negev Autism Center, first opened in 2015, on a national level with significant additional resources.
The center will be renamed as the National Autism Research Center, and “will serve as Israel’s leading information and research center on the subject of autism,” BGU said in a statement. The center will also serve as the coordinating body to assemble national studies on autism, provide access to research for scholars seeking new treatment methods, create shared national databases, and distribute information to decision makers, healthcare professionals and the general public, the university said.
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The center is headed by Professor Ilan Dinstein, Dr. Gal Meiri, Dr. Idan Menashe, and Dr. Hava Golan , and is funded partly by the Ministries of Health and Science and Technology.
“The decision to upgrade the Negev Autism Center from a regional to a national body is a gratifying vote of confidence in the research we’ve done here, and especially in our multi-disciplinary approach to treating autism,” said Prof. Dinstein in the statement.
“Since we founded the Center in 2015 we’ve encouraged scientists and clinicians from a variety of different fields including pediatrics, neurology, psychiatry, genetics, neuroscience, developmental psychology, molecular biology and biomedical engineering to share their findings. The results of that collaboration form the basis of the first database of its kind in Israel with a variety of clinical, behavioral, and biological measurements, gathered from hundreds of children with autism and their families. The breadth and depth of the data we’ve collected is an invaluable tool both for theoretical research and treatment applications,” he added.
Ben-Gurion University President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz added: “The new Center is an important benchmark for the study and treatment of the range of conditions that fall under the ‘autism’ rubric. It will serve academic researchers and healthcare professionals alike with a wealth of up-to-date research, detailed case studies, treatment methods and more, making the [center] an invaluable warehouse of data and information.”
Technology Ministry Director-General Ran Bar said the “center will foster research collaboration on an international level.”