Children's Hospital Colorado, CU part of autism study seeking thousands of participants

Posted at 8:08 PM, Apr 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-17 22:09:38-04

AURORA, Colo. – Children’s Hospital Colorado and the University of Colorado are among nearly two dozen institutions nationwide taking part in a massive online study that aims to shed some light on the causes of autism.

The study is called SPARK and its goal is to recruit 50,000 people diagnosed with autism and their families so that scientists can gain a better understanding of how genetics contribute to the condition.

Children’s Hospital Colorado has teamed up with JFK Partners at the University of Colorado School of Medicine to recruit participants for SPARK and they’ve already enrolled more than 1,168 people in the study, 400 of whom are on the autism spectrum.

Scientists know that genetics play a role in autism but to date, they’ve only identified about 50 genes that are involved. Researchers believe that an additional 300 or so may play a role and they hope this study will help them identify those genes.

"Statistically, if we succeed in working with 50,000 participants on the autism spectrum, we will be able to identify at least 250 genes that contribute to autism that can be used to better understand how the brain is different in individuals with autism and potentially identify targets to develop medications that can be used to support individuals with autism,” said Dr. Wendy Chung, the principal investigator on the SPARK study.

So far, SPARK has nearly 18,000 people on the autism spectrum enrolled in the study, but they need more. If you’re interested in learning how to participate, log on to

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