The Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation: Grants for Brain Research and Treatment

OVERVIEW: This funder supports a variety of autism-related endeavors, including neuroimaging, genetics, conferences, treatments, advocacy, anatomy and physiology, communications, and cellular and molecular mechanisms.

IP TAKE: Try to get involved with one of the foundation’s symposia to connect with this funder. Collaboration is important here, and the foundation publishes upcoming events on its website pretty regularly.

PROFILE: The Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation was established to help people with autism lead fulfilling lives, taking a scientific perspective to provide them with services and educate the general public. It was founded in 1977, a time when autism received very little medical or public attention.

From a research standpoint, the foundation supports projects that aim for a deeper understanding of the biological basis of the condition, with focuses on genetics, neurobiology, systems biology, synaptic chemistry, and the physiology of movement. It regularly funds peer-reviewed research, investigator collaboration projects, and research fellowships.

These are the types of autism-related programs that the foundation supports:

  • Increase scientific understanding of autism through its roots in physiology and anatomy.
  • Improve communication and social skills among people with autism.
  • Increase advocacy for legal rights for people with autism.
  • Increase community understanding and openness about people with autism.
  • Training for clinicians and researchers focused on autism.
  • Workshops and conferences to build networks and services for autism.
  • Brain imaging technologies to elucidate areas of brain structure and activity to understand autism.
  • Genetic and animal model studies to understand cellular and molecular mechanisms.
  • Research to improve pharmacological, psychosocial and assistive technologies and treatments.
  • Research that leads to better diagnostic procedures for the segment of people with autism who have limited or no speech.

The foundation established the Lurie Family Autism Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. It likes to partner with other grantmakers that are working in the field, especially when it comes to challenging stereotypes about people who are on the austism spectrum. For example, the NLM Family Foundation teamed up with the Simons Foundation, Autism Speaks, the Autism Science Foundation, and Roche to sponsor the production of work in the journal, Nature, titled “Nature Outlook Autism.”

In addition to its primary focus on autism research and education, this funder also occasionally awards grants to civic, arts, educational and community causes. You can find a list of these types of grantees on the foundation’s General Grants page. Quite a few of these grantees are based in Boston, and the foundation has remained committed to the Boston area community. The foundation is based in Wellesley, Massachusetts. It has supported other biomedical research groups too, including the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. 

Unfortunately for grantseekers, the NLM Family Foundation does not accept unsolicited grant proposals. You can email the staff members to get in touch or call (781) 237-1311. Check out the Events page of the foundation website to get involved.


  • Search for staff contact info and bios in PeopleFinder (paid subscribers only.)