The 2011-2012 ASD Research Funding Portfolio Analysis Report is the fourth comprehensive annual review of ASDresearch funding across both the Federal and private sectors and provides a valuable snapshot of the current funding landscape in the U.S. Data were collected from 20 Federal and private funders, including several which were new to the Portfolio Analysis. As indicated in the Introduction, the ASD research portfolio reflects the diverse missions of different funders, and each funder contributes uniquely to the body of research represented by the seven questions of the Strategic Plan.
The current report differs from previous Portfolio Analyses in that it includes detailed data from two years, rather than just one. In 2011, funding for ASD research totaled $299,879,145 and spanned 1,227 projects. In 2012, research funding totaled $331,949,933 and spanned 1,312 projects. Now that five years of ASD research funding data are available, it was possible to conduct a trend analysis, enabling meaningful observations about the long-term progress of the field of ASD research over the period from 2008-2012. Over the five years, autism research showed a general upward trend in funding.
One of the key aims of the Portfolio Analysis Report is to evaluate the progress made in addressing the research priorities as outlined in the Strategic Plan objectives. In 2011 and 2012, significant progress was made toward completing the objectives in the 2011 Strategic Plan, with 87% (68 objectives) and 90% (70 objectives) of the 78 objectives either partially or fully completed in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Considering the period from 2008-2012, only 6% (5 objectives) of the 2011 Strategic Plan objectives were not active at any point across this five-year window, indicating that the vast majority of priority areas identified in the Strategic Plan objectives were also deemed by government and private research funders to be worthy of investment and were implemented either partially or fully.
In addition to analysis of progress made on completing the specific research objectives outlined in the Strategic Plan, the subcategory classification system, introduced in the 2010 Portfolio Analysis, provides an alternative perspective on the content of the autism research portfolio, dividing it into broad research areas. Over time, even with possible changes in Strategic Plan objectives over time, the subcategory analysis will allow tracking of growth and change in general research areas, including emergence of new fields that attract investment from research funders.
The IACC/OARC will continue to conduct annual portfolio analyses to assist the Committee with carrying out its charge to monitor autism activities and to inform the process of updating the IACC Strategic Plan for ASD Research. Trends identified via the analysis can be used by the Committee and other Federal, private, and State funders to address gap areas, identify emerging trends and new research opportunities, and guide future research directions. By tracking new developments in autism research and inviting regular input from the community, the Committee will be well-equipped to continue charting the course toward encouraging investment in research that meets the most pressing needs of families and individuals affected by ASD.