SPARK (Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge)

The MUSC SPARK team.
The MUSC SPARK Team (left to right): Dr. Gwynette, Mary Johnson, Dr. Bradley, Dr. Carpenter, Jessie Montezuma

What is SPARK? 

SPARK is an online study with the goal of moving autism research forward and improving lives. SPARK has several components: you will be asked to share background and medical information about your family and provide saliva samples for genetic analyses. SPARK needs tens of thousands of people with autism and their families to join and provide data that will help power research aimed at identifying specific genes and / or causes of autism, and translate those findings into treatments and therapies.

Who can Join?

Individuals of all ages with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), PDD-NOS, Asperger's Disorder, or Autism, and their families, are welcome to join.

How do you Participate?

You can participate in the study from home or in-person with the MUSC SPARK research team! Participants will receive a $50 Amazon gift card code once all saliva samples have been returned.

Join SPARK to participate with us from home or visit us at one of our events!

Complete the MUSC SPARK Interest Form below and a team member will reach out to you with more information.

SPARK Interest Form

With area code. No dashes.


How are SPARK and MUSC connected?

MUSC is partnered with SPARK through a grant from the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative. We help to recruit and enroll participants in SPARK. If you are affiliated with us during registration, you are able to receive one-on-one support with a SPARK team member. A SPARK team member can help you with any issues that may arise during registration; help with saliva collection; as well as support you and your family in setting up an appointment with a SPARK geneticist or one of our genetic counselors if you receive a genetic report through the study. The research is led by Laura Carpenter, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics and SC Lend Training Director, and Catherine Bradley, PhD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics.

Dr. Laura Carpenter talks with Bobbi Connor on South Carolina Public Radio about SPARK. Listen to the podcast.

WBTW News covers a SPARK Enrollment Event in Myrtle Beach. Watch the story.

How Does SPARK Connect you with Other Autism Research Studies?

When you join SPARK, you agree to be contacted about other autism research studies that are relevant to you and your family. This is called SPARK Research Match. In addition to the SPARK research that you participate in by submitting your saliva sample and completing tasks on your SPARK dashboard, SPARK provides our research participants with the opportunity to participate in studies led by researchers throughout the U.S. and elsewhere. A wide variety of research projects use SPARK Research Match to find potential participants for their studies.

SPARK’s Research Match speeds up autism research by ensuring that researchers can find the participants needed to successfully complete their studies, and participants get the chance to be represented in research and hear about studies that are appropriate for them.

Help Spread the Word about SPARK

Does your organization work with families that may be interested in joining SPARK?

If so, we'd be happy to provide you with SPARK recruitment materials such as posters, brochures, and registration flyers. Just contact Jessie Montezuma at SPARKautism@musc.edu or 843-714-1352.