Upgraded autism research center opens in Beersheba

Ben-Gurion University and Soroka Medical Center’s facility aims to be nation’s top source of information for scientists and clinicians

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Illustrative image of autism (KatarzynaBialasiewicz; iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative image of autism (KatarzynaBialasiewicz; iStock by Getty Images)

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba announced Sunday they have opened a National Autism Research Center at the university.

The center, funded partly by the ministries of Health and of Science and Technology and headed by Prof. Ilan Dinstein, Dr. Gal Meiri, Dr. Idan Menashe and Dr. Hava Golan, aims to be “Israel’s leading information and research center on the subject of autism and will be the coordinating body to assemble national studies on autism,” the institutes said in a statement.

The new research center will be an upgrade of an existing regional autism center that was set up in 2015. It will provide access to research for scholars seeking new methods of treatment and will create shared national databases and distribute information to decision makers, healthcare professionals and the general public.

The ministries selected BGU to host the national center last summer.

“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 in the statement.

The existing regional center has already encouraged scientists and clinicians from a variety of fields including pediatrics, neurology, psychiatry, genetics, neuroscience, developmental psychology, molecular biology and biomedical engineering to share their research, he said.

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

“The new Center is an important benchmark for the study and treatment of the range of conditions that fall under the ‘autism’ rubric,” said the president of the Ben-Gurion University, Prof. Daniel Chamovitz, in the statement. “It will serve academic researchers and healthcare professionals alike with a wealth of up-to-date research, detailed case studies, treatment methods and more, making the National Center for the Study of Autism an invaluable warehouse of data and information.”

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