Dodger Stadium. Photo by John Schreiber.
Dodger Stadium. Photo by John Schreiber.

The Los Angeles Dodgers will conduct Autism Awareness Day at Saturday night’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium, part of an effort throughout Major League Baseball to raise awareness for the fastest growing serious developmental disorder.

The Dodgers offered discounted group tickets for the game, with a portion of the proceeds from each ticket sold going to Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since 2013, each major league team has annually held an Autism Awareness day or night.

Actress Holly Robinson Peete will sing the national anthem. After her oldest son RJ was diagnosed with autism, she expanded the scope of the foundation she co-founded with her husband, former USC and NFL quarterback Rodney Peete, to include support and resources for families affected by an autism diagnosis.

Autism Speaks has raised and invested more than $550 million for science and medical research, advocacy, awareness and family service programs since its founding in 2005.

In December, the organization began MSSNG, an awareness campaign to support the development of the world’s largest database of sequenced genomic information on people with autism spectrum disorder and their family members.

MSSNG, pronounced missing, aims to sequence and analyze the whole genomes of 10,000 individuals in families affected by autism in an effort to provide the worldwide autism research community with a platform to answer some of the most difficult questions about the disorder.

The data will be made available to researchers worldwide through the Google Cloud.

The MSSNG program has sequenced more than 1,000 genomes with nearly 2,000 additional samples in the sequencing queue. Results from the first 100 genomes were published in the American Journal of Human Genetics in July 2013. The study advanced understanding of autism subtypes and provided several families with information useful in guiding diagnosis and treatment.

The project’s name has the vowels deliberately omitted to represent the missing pieces of the autism puzzle and is symbolic of the missing information about autism the project is designed to find. More information about MSSNG can be found on its website, mss.ng.

“Millions of people living with autism today need answers,” Autism Speaks President Liz Feld said.

“The MSSNG project is the search for those answers and we’re going to find them. The best research minds in the world are going to mine this database of DNA so we can uncover and understand the various subtypes of autism.

“Then we can get to work developing customized treatments and therapies so we can improve the quality of life for so many people who need help.”

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