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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Autism Speaks, Google, and a Genetic Database

Julie Bort writes at Business Insider
Autism Speaks has teamed up with Google for a project called MSSNG to create the world’s largest database of genetic information on people with autism. The director of MSSNG is a famous geneticist, Stephen Scherer.

Google has actually been working with Autism Speaks on this project since the summer. The news on Tuesday is that the database will now be freely shared to other scientists.
Many news organizations have reported this development.  What sets this report apart is the characterization of Autism Speaks:
Not everyone "on the spectrum" suffers from some of the developmental problems associated with autism, nor views autism as something that needs to be "cured."
And because of that, Autism Speaks and this project in particular is controversial in the autistic community. A blogger on the Autism Women's Network went so far as to call Autism Speaks a "hate group."
Autism Speaks said this project is for people who do want more information and more treatment options.