Regence Foundation awards $450,000 to University of Utah in support of new program

SALT LAKE CITY – In its largest grant to date, The Regence Foundation announced today that it has awarded $450,000 to the University of Utah Health Sciences to launch a statewide autism resource partnership. The new partnership will support people with autism and their families by bringing together the best research, clinical care and autism resources from across the state, with links to national and international web resources.

For families, the partnership will provide a “one stop shop” for information regarding autism, including information about diagnosis, evidence-based treatments, research, and community support. A website will connect both the U of U and community resources into one portal.

For providers, the partnership will be an association of doctors, researchers, teachers, and community experts who will work together to help families receive the best information, care, and support.

According to the Utah Registry of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, the rate of autism diagnosed in Utah’s children doubled from 2002 to 2008. In 2008, 1 in 77 eight-year-old children in Utah had an autism spectrum disorder.

“The University of Utah is already doing world-class research on autism spectrum disorders,” said Jennifer Cannaday, Regence Foundation board member. “Our goal in funding the Autism Resource Partnership is to leverage that research to improve care and help patients and families more easily access the autism information and resources they need.”

The University of Utah’s Department of Psychiatry will use the grant to support start-up over the next three years. The funds will be used to hire staff, develop training materials and resources, and support community outreach efforts. The Center will begin serving the community with a lecture scheduled for early November.

“We see this Partnership as a bridge connecting research, clinical services, health care providers, educators, patients and the community,” said William McMahon, M.D., chair of the U of U Department of Psychiatry. “Our vision is that it will improve the quality of life for individuals with autism and their families by giving them a resource that will tie together all the parts. In addition, it will serve as a reliable resource of information for families.”

About The Regence Foundation

The Regence Foundation is the corporate foundation of Regence, the largest health insurer in the Northwest/Intermountain region and a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. A 501(c)3 grant making organization, the Foundation partners with organizations driving significant change in health care delivery and accessibility in Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Through its Sojourns program, the Foundation also supports organizations advancing quality palliative and end-of-life care. For more information, visit or

About University of Utah Health Sciences

The University of Utah Health Sciences programs are internationally regarded for their research and clinical expertise in medicine, pharmacy, nursing, and health. Through the School of Medicine and Colleges of Pharmacy, Health, and Nursing, the University of Utah health sciences faculty conduct pioneering research in the genetics of disease, regenerative medicine, drug compounds, cancer, nutrition, and other areas. In addition, the Health Sciences programs also train many Utah physicians, pharmacists, nurses, therapists, and other health-care professionals.