GGC and Project Hope Foundation Establish 'Helix & Hope' Autism Collaboration

The Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC) and Project Hope Foundation announce the creation of ‘Helix and Hope,’ a collaborative program providing an integrated approach to delivering services, support, and research to individuals and families impacted by an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

GGC has been involved in ASD research since 1995, and recent discoveries are showing promise in the development of a diagnostic blood test and possible treatment for ASD. Project Hope Foundation, co-founded and led by executive directors Lisa Lane and Susan Sachs, has a 20 year history of providing services such as ABA therapy, educational resources, and outreach to families impacted by ASDs in the Upstate of SC. They began serving children with ASDs in Greenwood last month in the former Merrywood Elementary school building.

Project Hope Foundation is currently providing blood samples to GGC to help validate the GGC’s blood test development, and the organizations are working together to improve medical care, therapy services and research.

“’Helix and Hope’ was born out of a desire to provide individuals with access to proven therapeutic services and educational opportunities alongside the latest in scientific discoveries and potential treatments,” said Steve Skinner, Director of GGC and one of the organizers of ‘Helix and Hope’. “By combining our expertise and resources with that of Project Hope Foundation, we hope to better understand the biology of ASDs, deliver needed services, expand opportunities for inclusion, and formulate medical treatment strategies.”

“This collaboration is truly innovative in the world of autism, bringing two important components together – science and services,” said Sachs. “Greenwood Genetic Center’s research in developing new diagnostic options is a game-changer for our families, who often waste critical years waiting for a diagnosis before they can access services.”

An ad hoc Autism Advocacy Council comprised of physicians, scientists, family members, and other autism champions from across the US has been organized to provide advice to ‘Helix and Hope’, assist in fundraising, and monitor the progress of the collaborative. The Council recently held their inaugural meeting at GGC where they learned about the programs of both organizations and discussed how their involvement can help the collaborative succeed.

Tim Newman, Charlotte businessman and the father of twin boys on the autism spectrum, leads the Advocacy Council. “With goals to unlock the genetic puzzle of autism at the GGC and provide better life outcomes for those on the spectrum with Project Hope, the Advocacy Council can help engage more partners in the work of this collaborative and move the needle for both science and services for those affected with autism and their families,” said Newman. “This is life changing work. “

We are excited about input from a national Advocacy Council that will support our ability to work together as we develop profiles that include both blood metabolites and behavioral interventions,” said Lane. “This partnership opens up possibilities that have not been tapped into before, directly connecting scientific research with life changing services.”

Support ‘Helix and Hope,’ with a designated contribution through the GGC Foundation.

Photo Caption: Helix & Hope Advocacy Council following their first meeting at GGC Back row (L-R) Anand Srivastava, PhD (GGC); Roger Stevenson, MD (GGC); Skip Garner, PhD (VCOM); David Atchley; John Rocovich (VCOM); Chris Ratchford, MD (Physician, GA); Tom Farthing; Susan Sachs (PHF); Tim Newman; Charles Schwartz, PhD (GGC); and Joe Lesesne, PhD (former President of Wofford College). Front row (L-R) Lisa Lane (PHF); Steve Skinner, MD (GGC); Annabel Barber, MD (University of Nevada School of Medicine); Laura Beth Dehority, MA (Family Therapist, VA); Sue Ellen Rocovich, DO, PhD (VCOM); and Kelli Embler (Executive Director of Autism Speaks – Carolinas chapter)