SFARI Winter 2020 Pilot awardees announced

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The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) is pleased to announce that it intends to fund 11 grants in response to the Winter 2020 Pilot Award request for applications (RFA).

Pilot Awards support novel, high-risk and exploratory projects that have the potential to yield transformative results in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research. The grants awarded in this cycle aim to advance knowledge of the molecular, cellular and circuit-levels mechanisms affected in the autism brain and promote the development of new gene-editing and antisense oligonucleotide therapies. These studies will employ diverse experimental approaches spanning from genetic analyses through animal models and in vitro (e.g., brain organoids) systems to neuroimaging.

SFARI intends to provide more than $3.3 million over the next two years to support the 12 investigators leading these projects.

“We were pleased to receive so many high-quality applications,” says SFARI director Louis Reichardt. “We look forward to learning more about their findings and impact on the autism research community.”

Applications for Pilot Awards are reviewed on a biannual basis. The deadline for the Summer 2020 Pilot RFA is April 24, 2020.

The projects that SFARI intends to fund in this cycle include:

Timothy Buschman, Ph.D. (Princeton University)
Understanding and manipulating cortex-wide neural dynamics across multiple mouse models of autism

Catherine Dulac, Ph.D. (Harvard University)
Molecular and functional characterization of circuits underlying social motivation in mouse models of autism

Daniel Geschwind, M.D., Ph.D. (University of California, Los Angeles)
Enhancer-targeted correction of haploinsufficient autism risk genes

Paul Jenkins, Ph.D. (University of Michigan)
Investigating a novel link between ANK2 and SCN2A to control dendritic excitability

Anthony Koleske, Ph.D. (Yale University)*
Assessing signaling pathway- and brain region-specific alterations in Trio mouse models of autism

Edmund Lalor, Ph.D. (University of Rochester Medical Center)
Assessing the role of predictive processing in autism using electrophysiological modeling of neural responses to natural speech

Jessica Lasky-Su, D.Sc. (Brigham and Women’s Hospital), Rachel Kelly, Ph.D. (Brigham and Women’s Hospital)
Integrative metabolomics of autism spectrum disorders

Bill Moody, Ph.D. (University of Washington)
Combining in vivo trans-skull imaging of neonatal brain activity with computational approaches to elucidate early abnormalities of brain activity in a mouse model of autism

Kavitha Sarma, Ph.D. (The Wistar Institute)
Elucidating the consequence of R-loop deregulation in autism spectrum disorders

Jonathan Sebat, Ph.D. (University of California, San Diego)
Antisense gene therapy for dominant haploinsufficiency

Gene Yeo, Ph.D., MBA (University of California, San Diego)
Inhibition of an RNA-binding protein as a treatment for fragile X syndrome

Xiaochang Zhang, Ph.D. (University of Chicago)
Alternative splicing of autism-associated genes in neural development

**This grant was funded in response to the SFARI Summer 2019 Pilot Award RFA.

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