The Simons Foundation has partnered with IMI through the Associated Partner mechanism. Paul Wang, SFARI’s Deputy Director of Clinical Research, spoke to the IMI programme office about the collaboration.
The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) is a research programme whose mission is 'to improve the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders by funding innovative research of the highest quality and relevance.' The Simons Foundation has partnered with IMI in two autism research projects through IMI's Associated Partner mechanism. Paul Wang, SFARI’s Deputy Director of Clinical Research, spoke to the IMI programme office about the benefits of the collaboration.
Q. What is the benefit of your partnership with IMI?
Paul Wang: SFARI is delighted to be working with outstanding academic and industry researchers through IMI projects. Autism is enormously complex, and we believe that collaborative efforts spanning academia, industry, and the non-profit sectors, are invaluable for advancing autism science. Indeed, we strive to have representation from all of these sectors in many of our own workshops and other initiatives.
Like us, IMI autism research projects take a two-pronged strategy for advancing autism science: supporting cutting-edge research projects directly, and then establishing resources from those projects that can be shared broadly with the scientific community.
Q. Which projects have you specifically been involved in? What is the nature of your contribution?
Paul Wang: We have been involved in EU-AIMS, and its successor, AIMS-2-Trials. In addition to expanding and sharing our SPARK cohort — which will be a community of over 50,000 individuals with autism, and their families, for a majority of whom we will have genomic data — we have provided supplies of an experimental medication that is being tested in a clinical trial run by AIMS-2-Trials.
Q. What do you think is the benefit of a public-private partnerships in health, as compared to other funding programmes?
Paul Wang: The development of new treatments by industry is built on the basic research that emerges from academia. We also know that industry brings both scientific and financial resources that are critical for new treatment development. We believe that collaboration across these sectors is invaluable.
Q. Based on your experience, do you hope to partner with IMI’s successor, IHI?
Paul Wang: Certainly, we believe that there is an important synergy that is born from collaborative science — and that collaboration as a method must continue — in order to advance autism science as quickly as possible.
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