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HHS Secretary Leavitt Announces Members of the New Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee
Date:11/27/2007

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt announced today the members appointed to the Department of Health and Human Services' new Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. This committee coordinates efforts within the department to combat autism spectrum disorder through research, screening, intervention, and education. The committee will facilitate the efficient and effective exchange of information on autism activities among member agencies, and coordinate autism-related programs and initiatives.

"This important committee will play a key role in coordinating autism research, services, and education related to autism spectrum disorder," Secretary Leavitt said. "I'm pleased that its members bring to the committee a wide range and great depth of expertise, including research and program administration, advocacy and personal experience with the condition."

Authorized under the Combating Autism Act of 2006, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee advises the HHS Secretary and the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Secretary Leavitt delegated the authority to establish the committee to the NIH, which designated its National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to lead this activity.

The committee chair is Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of NIMH.

"The committee's first priority will be to develop a strategic plan for autism research that can guide public and private investments to make the greatest difference for families struggling with autism," Dr. Insel said.

HHS is active in fostering research and making the results available to aid people with autism.

Among the activities:

NIH funding and expertise support the Autism Centers of Excellence program, which the agency launched after the Combating Autism Act was passed, to seek the causes of autism and new treatments for the disorder.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) s
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SOURCE U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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