SFARI 2017 Pilot and Research awardees announced

The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) is pleased to announce that it has awarded 32 grants (19 Pilot Awards and 13 Research Awards) in response to the 2017 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 $16 million in funding over the next three years to 41 investigators as part of this award program.

“SFARI is pleased to be funding these grants, which will help advance our understanding of autism spectrum disorders with rigorous and innovative research,” says SFARI Director Louis Reichardt.

Adds John Spiro, SFARI deputy scientific director: “The SFARI science team would like to thank all the researchers who applied and the scientists who advised us on the selection of these proposals from among a large number of highly competitive applications. We’re excited to see how these projects will develop and contribute novel data to shed light on autism spectrum disorders.”

This is the tenth consecutive year that SFARI has awarded grants in response to this call for proposals. Applicants who have submitted a letter of intent for the 2018 Pilot and Research Awards RFA will receive a notification about whether they are invited to submit a full proposal by January 23, 2018.

A complete list of the grants awarded in the 2017 cycle is shown below:

Research Awards

Helen Bateup, Ph.D. (University of California, Berkeley)
The influence of ASD-risk genes on synaptic function in the basal ganglia

Rui Costa, Ph.D. (Columbia University Medical Center)
Biased spatiotemporal dynamics of striatal circuits impact behavior in autism

Hilary Coon, Ph.D. (University of Utah), Anna Docherty, Ph.D. (University of Utah), Gabor Marth, M.D., Ph.D. (University of Utah), Aaron Quinlan, Ph.D. (University of Utah)
Interactions between WGS variation and polygenic risk in ASD

Gerald Crabtree, M.D. (Stanford University)
BAF53b (Actl6b) in autism and neurodevelopmental disorders

James Ellis, Ph.D. (Hospital for Sick Children)
Network activity and translational regulation in SHANK2 ASD neurons

David Ginty, Ph.D. (Harvard University)
Understanding somatosensation deficits in autism spectrum disorder

Antonio Giraldez, Ph.D. (Yale University), Smita Krishnaswamy, Ph.D. (Yale University)
Effect of autism risk genes on neural cell specification

Kasper Lage, Ph.D. (Harvard Medical School)
Brain protein networks perturbed by autism risk genes

James Noonan, Ph.D. (Yale University)
Mapping ASD regulatory networks at cellular resolution in neurodevelopment

John Rubenstein, M.D., Ph.D. (University of California, San Francisco)
Understanding how ASD-risk mutations in the chromatin regulators Pogz and Suv420h1 affect cortical development

Pam Ventola, Ph.D. (Yale Child Study Center), Kevin Pelphrey, Ph.D. (George Washington University)
Measuring selectivity of oxytocin to enhance response to Pivotal Response Treatment in individuals with autism

Marius Wernig, M.D., Ph.D. (Stanford University), Thomas Südhof, Ph.D. (Stanford University)
The neuronal reprogramming factor and autism-associated gene Myt1l

Mingjie Zhang, Ph.D. (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)
Mechanistic studies of the interaction between Shank3 and CaMKIIα

Pilot Awards

Kevin Bender, Ph.D. (University of California, San Francisco)
Cellular and circuit effects of SCN2A haploinsufficiency

Benjamin Blencowe, Ph.D. (University of Toronto)
Restoration of a splicing regulatory network commonly disrupted in autism

Gloria Choi, Ph.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Delineating neural circuits underlying maternal immune activated autism-like behaviors in mice

Andreas Frick, Ph.D. (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale-ADR-Bordeaux)
Assessing BKCa channel openers for the treatment of sensory hypersensitivity in ASD

Harrison Gabel, Ph.D. (Washington University in St. Louis)
Exploring disruption of DNA methylation in autism spectrum disorders

Zhenglong Gu, Ph.D. (Cornell University)
Mitochondrial DNA mutations in autism spectrum disorder

Bruce Herring, Ph.D. (University of Southern California)
Uncovering Trio’s role in autism spectrum disorder

Elizabeth Jonas, M.D. (Yale University)
Modulation of mitochondrial efficiency to treat fragile X syndrome

David Julius, Ph.D. (University of California, San Francisco)
Molecular mechanisms of sensory transduction in the gut

Arnold Kriegstein, M.D., Ph.D. (University of California, San Francisco)
Investigating cell type-specific molecular pathology in autistic brain

John Lukens, Ph.D. (University of Virginia School of Medicine), Eli Zunder, Ph.D. (University of Virginia School of Medicine)
Cellular and molecular mechanisms of sex bias in maternal immune activation-induced autism

Jeffrey Macklis, M.D. (Harvard University)
Associative circuitry in Bcl11a/Ctip1 ASD mice: Growth cone proteomes and RNA

Emma Meaburn, Ph.D. (Birkbeck University of London), Emily Jones, Ph.D. (Birkbeck University of London)
Delineating neurodevelopmental causal paths to autism symptoms in infancy

Philippe Mourrain, Ph.D. (Stanford University)
Uncovering convergent autism synaptic endophenotypes and candidate drug treatments

Cian O’Donnell, Ph.D. (University of Bristol), Carlos Portera-Cailliau, M.D., Ph.D. (University of California, Los Angeles)
Testing the stability of neural responses to tactile stimuli in fragile X syndrome mice

Kassandra Ori-McKenney, Ph.D. (University of California, Davis)
Elucidating the signaling pathways involved in autism spectrum disorder

David Sulzer, Ph.D. (Columbia University)
Misregulation of striatal neuronal development in autism

Peter Tsai, (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center)
Cerebello-cortical circuits in autism-related behavior

Timothy Yu, M.D., Ph.D. (Children’s Hospital Boston)
Contributions of rare biallelic recessive mutations in autism

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