Board Members: Jonathan Shestack
Patient Advocate Mental Health
Appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly
Jonathan Shestack co-founded The Cure Autism Now Foundation (CAN) in 1995. Having invested over 25 million dollars in autism research, CAN is now the largest non-federal funder of biological research in autism. Over the years, CAN has been a key player responsible for building the autism research field from scratch and recruiting hundreds of scientists.
CAN, in an effort led by Shestack, was also responsible for quadrupling federal spending on autism through the passage of the Pediatric Health Care Act of 2000, the establishment of 8 new Centers of Excellence in Autism and a new 2 million dollar a year Patient and Physician Awareness program coordinated through the CDC.
CAN funds and operates AGRE, the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange, the only totally open gene bank for autism and the largest collection in the world. It has played an important part in setting NIMH standards on issues of broad data sharing and scientific collaboration.
In 2002, Shestack was appointed as one of three public members to the NIH Internal autism coordinating committee, which includes the heads of four NIH institutes, and he serves on the Subcommittee on Screening and Early Diagnosis.
Shestack also serves on two bio-ethics task forces, a Department of Energy group on issues of ethics and gene patenting, and the Stanford University Center on Integrating Ethics and Genetic Research.
Shestack has a particular interest in mental health issues, the rights and expectations of vulnerable populations, in particular children and the mentally ill. Beyond his involvement in autism, he has been active in promoting science in the public interest, scientific collaboration, research resource creation and broad data sharing.
- In his professional life Shestack is a movie producer currently based at Warner brothers. He was president of production of Artisan Entertainment and Executive Vice President of Beacon Entertainment where he produced AIR FORCE ONE, FAMILY MAN and BRING IT ON. He is married to Portia Iversen co-founder of Cure Autism Now and is the father of three children, one of whom is affected by autism.