Dame Stephanie donates £1m for autism research

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A BUSINESSWOMAN-turned-philanthropist has pledged £1 million to a Capital research centre dedicated to autism.

Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley, who founded a software firm in the 1960s, will give the donation to the Patrick Wild Centre at the University of Edinburgh.

Her late son, Giles, suffered from autism and epilepsy, and the donation will go towards creating a state-of-the-art imaging suite which will enable scientists to study autism in new ways. Dame Stephanie founded the software company FI Group, now known as Xansa/Steria, in the 1960s.

She adopted the name “Steve” to help her in the male-dominated business environment.

The Shirley Foundation is one of the top grant-giving foundations in the UK, with more than £50m worth of grants awarded.

Dame Stephanie said: “Research has moved beyond looking at its [autism’s] consequences to examine how biology, genetics and behaviour all link together.”