• Proposal: 01/10/2020


  • Amount: Up to $1.3M
  • Duration: 4 years


The mission of the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) is to improve the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) by funding innovative research of the highest quality and relevance. To this end, the foundation solicits applications for SFARI Research Awards from individuals who will conduct bold and rigorous research.

The goal of the Research Award is to provide support for investigation of key unresolved research questions in autism, particularly those that connect genetic etiologies to brain function and behavior. SFARI welcomes risk and novelty in Research Award proposals, but potential impact on the autism research field will be the most important criterion. Competitive applications will have preliminary data or other relevant groundwork that justifies substantial investment in the proposed topic.

While SFARI remains open to persuasive arguments for the relevance of any particular project, Research Awards should be aligned with SFARI’s scientific perspectives. Below are a few examples of types of research questions that address SFARI’s overarching goals:

  • Biological convergence: Given the ever-growing list of genetic risk factors for ASD, it will be important to explore whether biological convergence occurs at the molecular, cellular, circuit or behavioral levels. When convergence is observed, how does it relate to other levels of biological complexity and inform potential opportunities for intervention?
  • Developmental trajectories: How do risk factors for ASD affect biological systems across different stages of development? What are the critical time points, and do they differ by biological mechanism or genetic etiology? How does this inform efforts to develop interventions?
  • Major hypotheses: A number of intriguing hypotheses merit rigorous testing of their validity and generalizability, in addition to suitability for therapeutic follow-up. Examples include excitatory-inhibitory neural imbalance1; etiological roles for sensory dysfunction in the development of social phenotypes in autism2-4, and causative roles of certain cell types or brain areas, such as glutamatergic cortical neurons4-12; or the striatum12-14.

The above-mentioned topics are neither exhaustive nor exclusionary but are illustrative of key research issues in autism that may be appropriate for investigation through a Research Award.

For additional information, please review SFARI’s recent changes in grant award mechanisms. The foundation strongly advises applicants to familiarize themselves with SFARI’s currently funded projects and resources in order to think about how a proposal might complement ongoing efforts.

Eligibility & Submission Requirements

Indirect costs are capped at 20%.

Current recipients of SFARI Research Awards may apply for new funding, but please note that the foundation generally prioritizes new grant applications and provide only limited renewal funding, especially for projects considered to be appropriate for National Institutes of Health (NIH) R01 award funding.

Contact Information

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