A National Autism Research Center is being formed this year at Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev to serve as Israel’s leading information and research center on autism and the coordinating body to assemble national studies on autism.

BGU and Soroka University Medical Center, both in Beersheva, announced that the center — funded partly by the ministries of Health and of Science and Technology – will provide access to research for scholars seeking new treatment methods, create shared national databases and distribute information to decision makers, healthcare professionals and the general public.

An upgrade of the existing Negev Autism Center, the center is to be headed by Prof. Ilan Dinstein, a founding partner of the regional center along with Dr. Gal Meiri, Dr. Idan Menashe and Dr. Hava Golan.

“The decision to upgrade the Negev Autism Center from a regional to a national body is a gratifying vote of confidence in the research we’ve done here, and especially in our multi-disciplinary approach to treating autism,” said Dinstein at Israel’s first national autism research conference, held in February at BGU.

“Since we founded the [regional] center in 2015 we’ve encouraged scientists and clinicians from a variety of different fields including pediatrics, neurology, psychiatry, genetics, neuroscience, developmental psychology, molecular biology and biomedical engineering to share their findings. The results of that collaboration form the basis of the first database of its kind in Israel with a variety of clinical, behavioral, and biological measurements, gathered from hundreds of children with autism and their families.

“The breadth and depth of the data we’ve collected is an invaluable tool both for theoretical research and treatment applications,” Dinstein added.