SFARI 2016 Pilot and Research awardees announced

The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) is pleased to announce that it has awarded 27 grants (21 Pilot Awards and 6 Research Awards) in response to the 2016 Pilot and Research Awards request for applications (RFA).

These grants will support investigator-driven research projects that aim to improve our understanding of autism spectrum disorders and to gain insight that will ultimately lead to novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. The funded projects cover a range of research areas, including genetic, molecular and cellular mechanisms; circuit and behavioral analyses; and clinical studies.

SFARI will provide more than $15 million in funding over the next three years to 39 investigators as part of this award program.

“SFARI is pleased to be funding these grants, which represent rigorous science of high relevance to autism spectrum disorders,” says SFARI Director Louis Reichardt.

Adds John Spiro, SFARI deputy scientific director: “Once again, we want to thank the diverse group of outside scientists who advised the SFARI science staff on the selection of these proposals from among a large number of competitive applications. We’re excited to see these projects get underway and look forward to the data that will advance our understanding of autism spectrum disorders.”

This is the ninth consecutive year that SFARI has awarded grants in response to this call for proposals. Applicants who have submitted a letter of intent for the 2017 Pilot and Research Awards RFA will receive a notification about whether they are invited to submit a full proposal by 15 February 2017.

A complete list of the grants awarded in the 2016 cycle is shown below:


Dora Angelaki, Ph.D. (Baylor College of Medicine)
Canonical computations in autism

Jun Huh, Ph.D. (University of Massachusetts Medical School), Dan Littman, M.D., Ph.D. (New York University School of Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute)
Exploring the role of Th17-inducing maternal intestinal bacteria in autism

Joel Richter, Ph.D. (University of Massachusetts Medical School), Kimberly Huber, Ph.D. (University of Texas Southwestern)
Defining the translational landscape in mouse models of autism

Stelios Smirnakis, M.D., Ph.D. (Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School)
Dissecting primary motor cortex circuit dysfunction in a mouse model of MeCP2 duplication syndrome

Matthew State, M.D., Ph.D., Stephan Sanders, B.M.B.S., Ph.D. (University of California, San Francisco), Bernie J. Devlin, Ph.D. (University of Pittsburgh), Kathryn Roeder, Ph.D. (Carnegie Mellon University)
Spatiotemporal and cell-type convergence to reveal autism neurobiology

Flora Vaccarino, M.D. (Yale University), Alexej Abyzov, Ph.D. (Mayo Clinic)
Somatic mosaicism in autism spectrum disorders


David J. Anderson, Ph.D. (California Institute of Technology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute)
Novel technology for behavioral phenotyping of autism mouse models

Chinfei Chen, M.D., Ph.D. (Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School)
Development of corticothalamic circuits of prefrontal cortex in mouse models of autism

Barry Connors, Ph.D., Brian Theyel, M.D., Ph.D. (Brown University)
Assessing thalamocortical circuit function in TSC1 and NHE6 mouse models

Sandeep Robert Datta, M.D., Ph.D. (Harvard Medical School)
Probing perception and sensorimotor coupling in mouse models of autism

Graeme Davis, Ph.D. (University of California, San Francisco)
Mechanisms that connect autism with homeostatic synaptic plasticity

Yves De Koninck, Ph.D. (Laval University), Melanie A. Woodin, Ph.D. (University of Toronto)
Regulation of KCC2 as a target for the treatment of autism

Cagla Eroglu, Ph.D. (Duke University)
Does astrocyte dysfunction contribute to synaptic pathologies in autism?

Daniel Geschwind, M.D., Ph.D. (University of California, Los Angeles)
Neural circuitry linking oxytocin deficiency and social impairment in autism

Jay Gibson, Ph.D., Genevieve Konopka, Ph.D. (University of Texas Southwestern)
FOXP1 orchestration of neuronal function in the striatum

Santhosh Girirajan, M.B.B.S., Ph.D. (Pennsylvania State University)
Dissecting phenotypic heterogeneity associated with 16p12.1 deletion

Alessandro Gozzi, Ph.D. (Italian Institute of Technology)
Neurobiological basis of connectivity deficits in autism

Kristopher T. Kahle, M.D., Ph.D. (Yale University)
Restoring GABA inhibition in a Rett syndrome mouse model by tuning a kinase-regulated Cl- rheostat

Kenneth Kwan, Ph.D. (University of Michigan)
A somatic mechanism for autism phenotypic heterogeneity

Maria Lehtinen, Ph.D. (Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School)
Amniotic and cerebrospinal fluid-based signaling in a mouse model of autism

Margaret McCarthy, Ph.D. (University of Maryland)
Exploring sex differences in autism via the NRXN1 knockout rat

Guo-Li Ming, M.D., Ph.D. (Johns Hopkins University), Fulai Jin, Ph.D. (Case Western Reserve University)
Mapping 3D genomic architecture in human developing neurons to assess the contribution of noncoding risk variants for autism

Alex Nord, Ph.D. (University of California, Davis)
Assessing the functional effects of enhancer mutations identified in the Simons Simplex Collection via mouse models

Gaia Novarino, Ph.D. (Institute of Science and Technology)
Probing the development and reversibility of autism-related phenotypes in SETD5 conditional knockout mice

Ethan Scott, Ph.D. (The University of Queensland)
Functional and behavioral analysis of zebrafish models of autism

Vikaas Sohal, M.D., Ph.D. (University of California, San Francisco)
Do VIP interneurons drive abnormal prefrontal circuit function in autism?

Guomei Tang, Ph.D., David Sulzer, Ph.D., Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele, M.D. (Columbia University Medical Center)
Autophagy pathway alterations in lymphocytes: Potential biomarkers for autism?

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