Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) Awards, USA

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SFARI mission
The mission of the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) is to improve the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders by funding, catalyzing and driving research of the greatest quality and relevance.

To this end, we solicit applications for SFARI Awards from individuals who will conduct bold, imaginative, rigorous and relevant research.

Objective of the SFARI Awards
We seek applications from independent investigators who can devote a substantial portion of time to this effort. While we will not require a minimum Principal Investigator (PI) effort, we expect the PI to commit to a level of effort that reflects a leading role in the project. We encourage applications from researchers who are not currently working on autism, but who have expertise that could be brought to bear on this complex disorder. We will also accept collaborative grants involving multiple investigators.

Applicants are strongly advised to familiarize themselves with the work that SFARI currently supports, and to think about how their proposals might complement existing grants.

We expect Simons Investigators to share renewable reagents and data developed with Simons Foundation funds with other qualified investigators. Access to the Simons Simplex Collection (SSC) and the Simons Variation in Individuals Project (Simons VIP), resources of rigorously characterized phenotypic data, genetic data and biomaterials, will be available to all approved scientists through SFARI Base. We encourage applicants to use these resources. Policies regarding acquisition of SSC biospecimens are available online.

Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative SFARI

In addition to the SFARI Awards described below, the SFARI Explorer Award program accepts applications at any time for rapid review and support through a rolling award program. The SFARI Explorer Award program provides timely resources on a one-time basis, not to exceed $60,000, including indirect costs, to support focused experiments highly relevant to our mission. Further information about this program is available online.

Types of applications
The following applications will be considered:

SFARI Pilot Award
Application type for innovative, high-impact proposals requesting support for small-scale projects or early-stage experiments that will build on preliminary data or a prior track record and lead to competitive applications for funding by SFARI or other organizations. Investigators new to the field of autism are encouraged to apply for Pilot Awards. The maximum budget is $125,000, including indirect costs, per year for up to two (2) years.

SFARI Research Award
Application type for investigators with demonstrated expertise, for proposals requesting support for compelling, high-impact research on an experimental hypothesis for which, in most cases, preliminary data have already been gathered. The foundation will also consider projects focusing on a central hypothesis where success depends on close collaboration between two or more labs. We expect to fund proposals for a maximum of $250,000, including indirect costs, per year for up to three (3) years, but under exceptional circumstances will consider proposals at higher levels. All budgets over $250,000 per year require pre-approval by SFARI science staff (

Indirect costs for all SFARI grant types are limited to 20 percent of the modified total direct costs (see SFARI policies).

The Simons Foundation’s salary support guidelines are typically identical to those set by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for faculty, fellows and students; however, personnel may request salary support greater than the current maximum NIH salary cap. The maximum salary for SFARI grants will remain at $199,700, prorated according to the personnel’s percent effort on the grant. There is no minimum percent effort required for Principal Investigators or other personnel on any SFARI award type, but it is expected that the PI will join the collaborative community of SFARI Investigators, and he or she will partake in some conferences, workshops and symposia that the foundation organizes. SFARI funds may only be used for personnel considered employees of the grantee institution who are eligible for benefits. Funds may not be used for stipend supplementation unless specifically authorized under the terms of the program from which funds are derived. The Simons Foundation reserves the right to modify budgets when an application has been selected for an award (see SFARI policy).

All applicants and key collaborators must hold a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent degree and have a faculty position or equivalent at a college, university, medical school or other research facility. Applications may be submitted by domestic and foreign nonprofit organizations; public and private institutions, such as colleges, universities, hospitals, laboratories, units of state and local government; and eligible agencies of the federal government. There are no citizenship or country requirements.

Instructions for submission
Applications must be completed electronically and submitted using forms provided at proposalCENTRAL. Please log in as an applicant, scroll to ”Simons Foundation” and click ”Apply Now” for the program. For assistance, please call 800-875-2562 or email

Deadline and notification schedule

  • 30 November 2012 – Letter of intent due
  • 8 February 2013 – Notification of approval of letters of intent
  • 8 March 2013 – Full proposal due
  • Early June 2013 – Notification of grant awards
  • 1 July 2013, 1 August 2013 and 1 September 2013 – Grant award funding begins

Letter of intent
Prospective applicants must submit a letter of intent (LOI) using the LOI template via proposalCENTRAL. The deadline for LOI submission is 30 November 2012, 5 p.m. EST. No extensions will be given. If you have any difficulties, please contact

The LOI should be no more than three (3) pages long (including references and figures) and should include:

  • Title
  • Name, affiliation and contact information of Principal Investigator and Key Personnel
  • Research project description, including significance, preliminary data (as applicable), experimental design, specific aims, potential impact on autism research, novelty, milestones and timeline.

Applicants are strongly encouraged not to devote too much space to the introduction; there is no need to provide a scholarly review of autism.

Please note that letters of intent exceeding the three (3)-page limit, including references and figures, will not be reviewed.

Successful LOI applicants will be notified by 8 February 2013, and will be invited to submit a full proposal. Only then will applicants have access to the full application on proposalCENTRAL.

Full proposal
The deadline for full proposal submission is 8 March 2013, 5 p.m. EDT. No extensions will be given. If you have any difficulties, please contact

Full proposals should include the following (for more details, see Instructions document available for download in the proposal attachments section of proposalCENTRAL):

  • Narrative, not exceeding six (6) pages for SFARI Pilot Awards and SFARI Research Awards, describing relevant background to the application, significance of the proposed studies, preliminary results, experimental design, pitfalls and alternative strategies, novelty, relevance to autism, timeline and milestones.
    • The page limit excludes references and figures. Additional pages may be added to accommodate those items.
  • Bio-sketch of Principal Investigator(s) and Key Personnel
  • Current and pending support for Principal Investigator(s) and Key Personnel
  • Budget
  • Research environment and resources
  • Data-sharing plan
  • Applicants with subcontracts are required to submit a signature page, a signed budget, and a budget justification for each subcontract (available for download in the proposal attachments section of proposalCENTRAL’s full application).

Please note that SFARI Pilot Award and SFARI Research Award proposals exceeding the six (6)-page limit (excluding references and figures), will not be reviewed.

Review of applications
A committee of peers will review applications and make recommendations to the SFARI science staff. The list of previous reviewers can be found online. Applications will be judged on the excellence of science, relevance to autism and appropriateness of budget. The Simons Foundation Board of Directors makes final funding decisions.

Proposals selected for SFARI Awards will be announced in early June 2013, and funding will begin on 1 July 2013, 1 August 2013 or 1 September 2013.


  • Administrative inquiries: 646-654-0066
  • Scientific inquiries: 646-654-0066
  • proposalCENTRAL: 800-875-2562

For more information, please visit official website:

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the above information is current and correct. However, applicants should contact the appropriate administering body before making an application, as details do change frequently.


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