Trends in Autism Research Funding in the Arab World

Saturday, May 13, 2017: 12:00 PM-1:40 PM
Golden Gate Ballroom (Marriott Marquis Hotel)
F. Alnemary1 and F. Alnemary2, (1)Taif University, Taif, Saudi Arabia, (2)UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
Background: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) research in the Arab world is a young but rapidly growing field. Research funding will keep the cycle of this field’s growth going and shape the next wave of evidences that will enhance the recognition, understanding, and awareness of ASD in the region. Little information about who is funding ASD research and what type of research being funded.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to identify: a) the organizations that funded ASD research in the Arab countries, and 2) types of studies are being funded.

Methods: ASD research publications produced in the Arab countries from 1946 to 2014 were screened using four databases: Medline, PubMed, Web of Science and EMBASE. A total of 142 publications were identified, spanning a period from 1992 to January 2014.

Results: Over a third of all ASD articles (40.8%) from the Arab world included 58 funding acknowledgments representing 21 unique funders. The majority of funding sources were governmental agencies (n = 53), whereas little research was funded by private organizations (n = 9). A total of six studies were funded through collaborations between governmental, private, and international funding organizations. Three funders that were acknowledged on ten or more publications included: King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. The majority of funding acknowledgments were in publications that addressed basic science research

Conclusions: Funding organizations that were acknowledged the most are in two countries that actively engaged in ASD research: Saudi Arabia and Oman. Indicating that ASD research is a priority in such countries, this finding is consistent with existing literature from the US, showing that states that received most of Federal health-related research funds published most of ASD research (Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee 2012). Funding organizations in the Arab world need to invest in various research areas in order to improve and manage the ASD field effectively. Private organizations in the Arab world should do their fair share to fund ASD research, allowing many potential researchers to reach the required funds for research.