Support from The Shirley Foundation has resulted in the creation of a pioneering new online community for researchers, public health individuals, therapists and families with an interest in autism and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Dame Stephanie Shirley, speaking at TED2015.

The GRAND website (Global Research in Autism and Neurodevelopment) enables interested individuals from across the world to come together and share knowledge, raise awareness, and develop innovative strategies and interventions. This is especially important in low and middle-income countries where there are huge resource and evidence gaps, a lack of awareness, and where stigma is particularly prevalent. Everyone is free to join, and all have full access to the published content.

The Foundation's generosity has also enabled the appointment of a dedicated Site Coordinator to help establish this unique online community. Dr Elizabeth Rapa, a Postdoctoral Researcher into autism at the University of Oxford, holds the post.

'By sharing results, successes and failures on this site, our hope is that we could tackle the problems faced by researchers and increase productivity and research,' explains Dr Rapa. 'Ultimately this could lead to effective treatment packages and strategies to support families and the wider community, improve child outcomes, and make changes to national guidelines.'

Dr Elizabeth Rapa, GRAND Site Coordinator

GRAND is part of The Global Health Network, an open access online platform that supports, accelerates and streamlines research by facilitating resource sharing and collaboration. With significant support from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a group of 31 leading research communities have developed a wide range of seminars, courses, training kits and tools to help guide the process of conducting healthcare research across the world. The Network is led by Professor Trudie Lang, Professor of Global Health Research at the University of Oxford.

Through The Shirley Foundation, entrepreneur Dame Stephanie Shirley has invested over £50million to facilitate and support various innovative projects in the field of autism spectrum disorders. She commented that it was 'wonderful to have GRAND piggyback on The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's work.'