Establishing Interactive Autism Network to Accelerate Autism Research in China

Paul Lipkin, MD; Tao Wang, MD, PhD; Paul Law, MD, MPH


Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a serious global public health concern that necessitates a close international collaboration. The Interactive Autism Network (IAN), based at Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI), a research affiliate of the Johns Hopkins University (JHU), is an innovative and highly successful online database and research registry for ASDs. By connecting families with affected individuals to qualified ASDs researchers, IAN generates extensive longitudinal and cross-sectional data sets, offers crucial assistance in research subject recruitment, establishes study protocols, distributes educational materials, and conducts internet-based clinical research projects. To promote clinical and translational research studies on ASDs in China and establish collaborations with autism research team from Sun Yat-sen University (SYSU), we propose a pilot project leading to establishment of Interactive Autism Network in China (IAN-China). The incoming SYSU scholar will participate in all IAN research activities and a project to investigate environmental causes to autism under the mentorship of IAN director, Dr. Paul Law. In addition, this scholar will have an opportunity to participate in a clinical research project to identify genetic risk factors to autism using a family-based genetic approach that is supervised by Dr. Tao Wang. Upon completion of this project, the scholar is expected to acquire all necessary knowledge, skills, and expertise in order to secure funding in China to develop and successfully operate IAN-China. This scholar and his/her research team at SYSU should be able to collect and analyze data from IAN-China to design and perform clinical research projects on ASDs. IAN research team will continue to provide operational guidance and technical supports for the development of IAN-China and related autism clinical research projects at SYSU. We anticipate that success of this project shall encourage the development of further clinical and translational research collaborations between SYSU and JHU and promote international partnership on research to improve the life of millions of people who struggle with ASDs.