Simons Foundation: Grants for Brain Research and Treatment

OVERVIEW: The Simons Foundation awards brain research grants through its Autism Research Initiative (SFARI), which supports research into the causes and treatment of autism spectrum disorder.

IP TAKE: The Simons Foundation is willing to take risks in its grantmaking by funding dynamic research that pushes boundaries in autism disorder and neuroscience research.  The foundation accepts unsolicited proposals for its Pilot Awards twice a year, and for Research Awards once a year.

PROFILE: The Simons Foundation was established in 1994 with a simple mission: “to advance the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences.” It offers a vast array of funding opportunities in pure mathematics, as well as physical and life sciences. The majority of its funding for brain-related research comes from the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative. The overall goal of this program is to improve the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders in the main research areas of cognition and behavior, gene discovery, and molecular mechanisms. SFARI has recently restructured its grantmaking strategy and now offers three types of funding opportunities.

  • Pilot Awards are intended to “provide early support for exploratory ideas, particularly those with novel hypotheses.” SFARI prioritizes projects that are “higher risk, with less assurance of ultimate impact, but with the potential for transformative results.” These grants award a maximum of $300,000 total for up to two years.

  • Research Awards “provide support for high-priority topics in autism, with a lower requirement for conceptual novelty.” SFARI is currently prioritizing pressing questions in autism research such as “biological convergence,” “developmentally sensitive periods,” and “mechanistic links from gene to biology to behavior.” These grants award a maximum of $1.3 million total for up to four years.

  • Targeted Awards address specific in autism research, such as “Genomic Analysis for Autism Risk Variants,” “Novel Outcome Measures for ASD Clinical Trials,” and “Innate Immune System Impact.” Note that these grants are not recurring.

SFARI’s autism research grants generally range from $100,000 to $500,000. Grantseekers should check SFARI’s Funding Opportunities regularly for new offerings.

The foundation accepts unsolicited proposals for its Pilot Awards twice a year, and for Research Awards once a year. Deadlines for Targeted Grants may vary.

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