On 4th December 2017, the Autism Research Trust hosted a VIP Reception in partnership with Edmission UK at Pushkin House, in London.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen presented an overview of the Autism Centre of Excellence (ACE) to a room full of guests, most of whom were new to ART and have since become friends of our cause. A beautiful piano and viola recital followed before networking and canapés commenced.

The news about the ACE was well received; the audience was largely made up of autistic individuals and their families.

The ACE, which will combine excellence in both clinical practice and research in one place, is the first centre of its kind for autism here in the UK and is an ambitious and exciting project. Currently autism research and clinical practice are not joined up, and the benefits of research are slow to flow into clinical practice. There is too little funding for autism research and an appalling lack of support services for autistic people and their families.

In response to this, the ACE will integrate scientific innovation, for which the University of Cambridge is world-renowned, with the best quality lifelong support and interventions for autistic people, both within the Cambridgeshire region and via national referrals.

ART is raising money to attract the very best researchers and clinicians to this centre, and to fund the building. The ACE will be located on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, which is now the largest concentration of medical researchers in Europe.

This is an extraordinary opportunity; our chance to transform the quality of life for autistic people across the spectrum and to accelerate autism research in the UK.

ART trustee Lewis Owens is MD of EdmissionUK, a leading International Higher Education and Cultural Consultancy advising students on all aspects of Higher Education and Culture within the UK and Europe, who kindly joint-hosted the event. Thanks also to musicians Tanya Ursova and Katya Lazareva.