Yonkers took Autism Awareness very seriously this year. This was a very visible display to increase awareness of what has become an epidemic. Having spent a good part of my life in biomedical research, I have to say that awareness is the first step. What is now needed is funding for laboratories conducting basic research. So much of the private sector gains in biotechnology particularly in autoimmune and neurological disorders and cancer, have come on the shoulders of the public sector research that plants the seed corn in basic research. The recent sequester has decimated the NIH budget – and this should be on everyone’s mind when the far -right clangs the deficit alarms and screams for more “austerity”. How does squeezing basic research promote future growth? It doesn’t. It does the opposite because the private sector can not profitably engage in the type of high-risk basic that may lead down many blind alleys before it hits pay dirt. So if we want R&D for disorders such as autism and the autism spectrum, we have to fund the labs to do the research.
Lighting up City Hall raises awareness. But that’s the easy part. Now as a nation, we have to put our money where our mouths (and gestures) are.
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