The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) is committed to promoting equality and inclusion and believes that a diverse scientific community will accelerate a deeper understanding of the key challenges of our times.
The senseless killings of George Floyd and many other Black people have dramatically illuminated the inadequacies of American efforts to eliminate racial and ethnic inequality. SFARI is determined to find ways to promote inclusion of underrepresented minorities in autism research and the larger scientific community.
To this end, we are now developing several new initiatives, including a program to enable SFARI-funded Investigators to recruit underrepresented postdoctoral scholars to work on SFARI projects; modification of our summer undergraduate research fellowship program to focus more specifically on underrepresented minority students; and purposeful diversification of SFARI’s advisory and review boards, as well as of SFARI-supported workshops, meetings and conferences.
SFARI’s major cohort recruitment initiative, SPARK, will also be expanding its efforts to increase inclusion of underrepresented minority families in its study and plans to launch these activities in early 2021.
In the past, SFARI has made financial support for meetings, such as Gordon Research Conferences, contingent on increasing diversity of attendees, but we clearly need to do more.
Moving forward, SFARI will also make a greater effort to identify candidates from underrepresented minorities for its staff and provide all SFARI staff with anti-bias professional and scientific training.
These new and revised programs will be announced on SFARI.org as well as in the SFARI Newsletter.
We hope that these initiatives will bring greater opportunities to diversify the scientific community and contribute to building new generations of scientists from all backgrounds. We strongly encourage SFARI Investigators to join us in these efforts in their own laboratories.
We can and must move forward together.
The SFARI science team