The UNC Autism Research Center is setting a goal to raise $50k to fund interdisciplinary postdoctoral research.

The fundraising campaign was launched on April 2, which is World Autism Day.

UNC Autism Research Center project manager Allison Zoller says in addition to funding the position, she believes the fundraiser will boost awareness for the center.

“We feel that there’s a lot of awareness around the Autism Research Center that can come from this specific fundraising campaign,” said Zoller. “It’s going to be relatively short in duration, but we think that if we’re able to reach our goal…there’s a lot of awareness that can come from that, and we’re hoping that will lead to increased support for the center.”

As a parent of a child with autism and someone who works in the research field, Zoller has a unique perspective on the disease.

She says that one area UNC’s already top-tier Autism Research Center is looking to improve upon is dealing with the needs of adults with autism.

“There’s just not a lot that’s known about what adults with autism need,” said Zoller. “So the impact on that not only on individuals with autism and their families, but also on the amount of money that we spend in this country on services for adults, could potentially be huge.”

UNC Neuroscience Center associate director Dr. Ben Philpot says that one of the focuses of the center is to break down the barrier between clinical and basic scientific research of autism and bring them together under one umbrella.

“We’re learning more and more about the genetic identity of autism and that there are many types of autism that seem to have different genetic causes,” said Philpot. “From a basic science perspective, we’re able to start separating these out and develop more individualized therapies. From a clinical perspective, this will eventually play out to better behavioral and pharmacological interventions to help individuals with autism the way they need and want to be helped.”

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