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Portfolio Analysis Cover 2017-2018

Portfolio Analysis Report

IACC Autism Spectrum Disorder Research


Summary and Conclusion

The 2017-2018 IACC ASD Research Portfolio Analysis Report represents the tenth and eleventh years of data collected and the eighth comprehensive report of U.S. ASD research funding across both the federal and private sectors. It is the second analysis to measure research funding progress against the 23 Objectives from the 2016-2017 IACC Strategic Plan. Project information was collected from 23 federal and private funders; the diverse missions of the different funders are reflected in the ASD research portfolio across the seven Questions of the Strategic Plan. Comparable to previous years, federal agencies funded approximately 80% of ASD research while private organizations contributed approximately 20% of funding. Among the participating funders, the National Institutes of Health continued to contribute the largest amount of federal funding toward autism research, and the Simons Foundation was the largest private funder.

Overall, funding for ASD research among both federal and private funders totaled $381.9 million and spanned 1,508 projects in 2017 and totaled $394.2 million and spanned 1,543 projects in 2018. In 2017 and 2018, five new funders contributed to the portfolio analysis, providing an updated and more comprehensive view of the ASD research funding landscape. With eleven years of ASD research funding data available, it was possible to continue analyzing funding trends, enabling meaningful observations about the long-term progress in ASD research funding over the period from 2008-2018. Over these eleven years, autism research showed an overall upward trend in funding, increasing by 77.4% since 2008. New funders added breadth to the portfolio but did not have a large impact on overall funding trends.

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. Every Objective in the 2016-2017 Strategic Plan had associated projects and funding in 2017 and 2018, indicating that the vast majority of priority areas identified by the IACC in the Strategic Plan Objectives were also identified as priority areas by federal and private research funders. Each Strategic Plan Question has sustained similar proportions of funding throughout the years. In 2017 and 2018, funding toward Question 2 (Biology) continued to be the largest research area funded. Question 3 (Risk Factors) and Question 4 (Treatments and Interventions) had the next largest amounts of funding, as in previous years. Question 7 (Surveillance and Infrastructure) and Question 1 (Screening and Diagnosis) maintained consistent funding levels as years prior. Lastly, Question 5 (Services) and Question 6 (Lifespan Issues) continued to have the smallest amounts of funding, although Question 6 funding grew considerably in 2017 and 2018. This prompted the development of new Question 6 subcategories to describe in more detail the nature of research within this area and enabled the inclusion of subcategory analyses of Question 6 projects in the report for the first time. Also new to the 2017-2018 IACC ASD Research Portfolio Analysis Report is a comprehensive analysis of the Cross-Cutting Objective on ASD in girls/women. Lastly, the present report introduces a new examination of projects focused on addressing racial, ethnic, geographic, and socioeconomic disparities in ASD, which has been an area of growing interest in ASD research. Each of these new analyses will be tracked in future reports in an effort to understand current trends, highlight potential gaps in research, and identify areas in need of increased research investment.

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