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, we solicit applications from scientific teams who will conduct bold and rigorous research.
There is growing recognition that synergistic efforts across scientific disciplines will contribute to addressing the most critical questions in ASD research and accelerate progress on the development of therapeutics. SFARI Collaborations are a new funding mechanism that will provide substantive and stable funding support to multidisciplinary teams of investigators tackling critical issues in the autism research field. A proposal must address how the impact of a given Collaboration will be greater than the sum of what would be possible through awards to individual laboratories.
Collaborations will be led by a director who oversees interdisciplinary, synergistic research efforts across multiple laboratories. Investigative groups within a Collaboration will focus on the same conceptually unified topic but will incorporate different scientific disciplines and multiple levels of analysis, and will include a robust data-sharing infrastructure.
For our first Collaboration RFA, SFARI solicits applications to investigate sex differences in autism. SFARI expects to announce additional Collaboration RFAs in the future.
Although females may be underdiagnosed because of differences in presentation and/or diagnostic bias, there appears to be a substantial and consistent male bias in ASD prevalence that reflects differences between the sexes in susceptibility1–4. Among many potential explanations, female resilience could reflect a genetic buffering effect2, 5–7, or differences in hormone exposure8. Either of these possibilities could result in differences in cellular and/or circuit function between the sexes9–12. Considering the rapidly expanding knowledge of genetic and other risk factors in ASD, the stage seems set for significant advances in enhancing our understanding of the impact of sex on ASD risk and manifestations.
For this SFARI Collaboration, we welcome proposals that will use an array of modern technologies to examine sex differences in brain function, within and across species, including humans, to identify key differences in gene, cell and circuit function that account for the observed differential sensitivities of the two sexes to ASD. A successful Collaboration must enhance our understanding of the biological bases for sex-specific differences in ASD and set the stage for development of novel interventions.
Level and Duration of Funding
SFARI Collaborations have a maximum budget of $8,000,000, including 20 percent indirect costs, over an initial period of four years, with a possible three-year extension. We also welcome applications from groups of investigators whose combined efforts do not require the maximum budget.
The financial structure is intended to accelerate progress by providing substantial flexibility in funding. Recognizing that different stages of a Collaboration may have different personnel and financial requirements, a Collaboration director may adjust principal investigator (PI) membership and funding levels to reflect scientific needs.
The Collaboration director is expected to determine the scientific agenda, coordinate the scientific activities of the other members, and manage the overall functioning of the Collaboration through administrative and data…
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