SFARI 2017 Explorer awardees announced

Georgia Panagiotakos/University of California, San Francisco

The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) is pleased to announce that it has awarded 13 grants in response to the Explorer Awards request for applications (RFA) this year.

These grants will support exploratory experiments that aim to strengthen hypotheses and lead to the formulation of competitive applications for subsequent larger-scale funding by SFARI or other organizations. SFARI will provide close to $1 million in funding to 13 investigators as part of this award program.

“The Explorer Award program is a key component of SFARI’s grants portfolio,” says SFARI Director Louis Reichardt. “It provides researchers with a unique opportunity to fund ideas that are often too preliminary or too high-risk for consideration by other grant programs. It also supports SFARI’s goal of encouraging talented investigators from other fields to apply their skills and expertise to autism research.”

Awardee Ilan Dinstein, associate professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Israel) adds: “Studying brain activity using EEG during sleep in 2- to 3-year-old toddlers with autism is an ambitious goal. The SFARI Explorer Award was essential for driving such high-risk research that we hope will reveal critical information about early brain development in autism.”

SFARI has funded 117 Explorer Awards since the inception of this program in 2011. Applications for Explorer Awards are accepted on a rolling basis, and funding decisions are made within one to two months by SFARI staff. Researchers interested in applying for an Explorer Award can find more information here.

A list of the 2017 Explorer Awards is shown below:

Moses Chao, Ph.D. (New York University School of Medicine)
Oxytocin receptor signaling

Charles Craik, Ph.D. (University of California, San Francisco)
Expression and characterization of the neuron-specific potassium chloride cotransporter, KCC2

Ilan Dinstein, Ph.D. (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)
Sleep EEG abnormalities in toddlers with regressive or classical autism

Melissa Gymrek, Ph.D. (University of California, San Diego)
Interpreting de novo tandem repeat variants in ASD using genetic constraint

Rebecca Jones, Ph.D. (Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University)
Eliminating MRI motion with personalized head restraints

Chun-Hay Alex Kwan, Ph.D. (Yale University)
Learning-related activity in autism

Devanand Manoli, M.D.,Ph.D. (University of California, San Francisco)
Understanding the neurobiology of attachment deficits in ASD

Robi Mitra, Ph.D. (Washington University in St. Louis)
A novel method for revealing the shared molecular pathways of autism genes

Tse Nga Ng, Ph.D. (University of California, San Diego)
Objective assessment of repetitive behaviors in children with autism

Georgia Panagiotakos, Ph.D. (University of California, San Francisco)
Exploring calcium signaling defects in a mouse model of 16p11.2 deletion

Michael Piper, Ph.D. (University of Queensland)
USP9X: A master gene for neural development and autism

Renato Polimanti, Ph.D. (Yale University)
Assessing links between autism spectrum disorder risk alleles with evidence of positive selection and increased cognitive abilities

Guillermo Sapiro, Ph.D. (Duke University)
Quantitative video analysis for online behavioral analysis in ASD


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