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Summer Snow Cone Social!

We invite the autism community to our Snow Cone Social, held Saturday, August 28th from 11AM- 4PM at the Autism Center of Excellence. 

Families are invited to be a part of the SPARK study. At the event, families will provide a small saliva sample from individual with ASD and both parents. Our staff can help families register, collect samples, and provide childcare at the event. 

Afterwards families can enjoy a day filled with fun games, activities, prizes, and a free snow cone or Dole Whip! We are just blocks away from the beach so we encourage families to make a day out of it!

Interested families can sign up for the event by clicking or scanning the QR code on the flyer below .

NFAR 2021: 2021 Race for Autism SUPERHERO Challenge! 

Welcome to this years NFAR 2021 event from April 1st- April 10th! We are so excited to show Voices of Opportunity by Dr. Karen Pierce, Co-Director of the Autism Center of Excellence. During the video,  Dr. Pierce shares the latest autism research opportunities from our Center! 


Live Webinar Event: Thursday Sept. 24th 12-12:30pm

Dr. Karen Pierce, Professor of Neurosciences and Co-Director of the UCSD ACE, will be hosting a webinar on Thursday Sept. 24th at 12:00 to help generate excitement and engagement in the nation's largest genetic study of autism - "SPARK".

During the 30-minute webinar, Dr. Pierce will review the step-by-step process to sign up for SPARK, benefits (e.g., $50 gift card for families; free genetic counseling if a gene mutation is found), as well as a brief summary of the new genes that have been associated with autism. 

To learn more, sign up for the webinar by clicking on the image below! Over 35,000 families nationwise have already signed up for SPARK, so join this important movement by signing up today!

NFAR Virtual Resource Fair: April 16th - April 30th

The UCSD Autism Center of Excellence is a proud member of SPARK's national clinical site network. SPARK stands for ‘Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research,’ and the mission is simple: we want to speed up research and advance our understanding of autism to help improve lives.

Our aim is to collect DNA through saliva collection and information through surveys from 50,000 people with autism and both of their parents nationwide. Data collected by the project will be de-identified and shared with qualified researchers who together will make breakthroughs that were never before possible.

To date over 2,000 families that have a child with autism in San Diego have joined. For more information on how to join SPARK reach out to your local clinical site at UCSD. The best way to reach us is via phone at 858-761-4734 or via email at

Please click the top right arrow if you have trouble viewing the video.


Spring Into SPARK: Live-Registration Event


Please reach out to 858-761-4734 or with any questions

Saturday, March 14th  from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
(Families are allocated 1 hour time slots with a SPARK team member)


UC San Diego Autism Center of Excellence
8110 La Jolla Shores Drive, Suite 201/202
La Jolla, CA 92037
(wheelchair accessible)


Families who have a child diagnosed with autism are invited to join SPARK - the largest study of autism ever. SPARK is committed to transforming our understanding of autism and helping to improve the lives of individuals affected by autism through research. The UC San Diego Autism Center of Excellence (ACE) is hosting another event at our center to assist families with the SPARK enrollment process. Over 22,000 families nationwide are already participating in SPARK! There is no cost to participate. Enrollment consists of completing a 20-30 minute registration process as well as providing a saliva sample for DNA analysis. Enjoy free food, drinks, games, activities, and a surprise guest appearance from a beloved childhood mascot!

Registrants to the event will receive:

  • Free ticket vouchers to the San Diego Children's Discovery Museum (limit 2 per family). The Museum hosts Sensory Friendly Mornings every Sunday from 8:30am-9:30am before it opens to the public.
  • gift card code valued at up to $50 (after the SPARK study confirms receipt of adequate saliva samples from all participating family members). This code will be sent via email after receipt of the saliva samples
  • Access to dozens of resources on the SPARK website


  • Any individual diagnosed with autism and their immediate family members (i.e., parents and siblings).
  • Current SPARK participants who would like assistance collecting saliva samples or completing their registration. 

***NOTE: As this is a genetic study, we ask that BOTH biological parents, the individual diagnosed with autism, and any siblings willing to participate attend the event. Families must be able to complete the registration and consent forms in English. ***


Contact us via phone (858-534-6906) or via email ( to learn more and reserve your spot! 

More about SPARK:

Today we simply don't know enough about autism. SPARK—which stands for 'Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge'—aims to make important progress possible with a simple mission: we want to speed up research and advance our understanding of autism to help improve lives. As autism is a spectrum, researchers need many people with autism to participate in all types of research. Until now, only a small number of individuals and families affected by autism have ever participated in research. SPARK wants to invite the entire autism community to dramatically expand its participation. Over 30 of the nation's leading medical schools are part of this effort! 

If you are unable to attend any of the event dates, you can still register for the study by visiting or by making an appointment at the UCSD ACE clinic by calling the number above.

You can learn more about SPARK here and at our Frequently Asked Questions page. 

See the flyer below for additional details! Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Spring Into SPARK Event Flyer

Past Events

2019 Believe Benefit Concert: Musicians for Autism

Beleive Benefit Concert 2019

Come see exceptionally talented San Diego musicians perform in the 2019 Believe Benefit Concert, "Musicians for Autism," in support of the UC San Diego Autism Center for Excellence (ACE).  Proceeds and donations from the concert will support the Center as we continue our efforts as an international leader in research, clinical discoveries, advancements to help children with autism achieve their full potential.

The Musicians for Autism concert will be on Saturday, September 14, 2019 at 10 AM at the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center on 7600 Fay Avenue in La Jolla.

The concert will showcase musicians who have won local, national and international awards and recognition. One young violinist will be performing at Carnegie Hall next year. The works of Mozart, Bach, Vivaldi, Paganini, Saint Saens and many others will be performed. Performances will include chamber group and solo performances by several musicians from the San Diego Youth Symphony:

Archimedes Li, Ovation, 1st violin Assistant Principal
Ivan Li, Ovation, 1st violin
Elliott Park, Ovation, 1st violin
Lea Parseghian, Ovation, 2nd violin Assistant Principal
Dasha Zerboni, Ovation, 2nd violin
Darren Jiang, Ovation cello, Assistant Principal
Ellie Lee, Sinfonia, 1st violin Concertmaster
Caden Jiang, 1st violin, Assistant Principal

The public is welcome! Make reservations and donations at:

Please feel free to contact us with any questions! Email: | Phone: 858-534-6906

We look forward to seeing you there!