SFARI 2020 Director Awards announced

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The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) is pleased to announce that eight Director Awards were awarded in 2020.

These projects include, but are not limited to, studies that aim to enhance existing SFARI-sponsored cohorts and collections, generate novel resources (e.g., animal models) and studies whose goals are beyond the focus of existing SFARI request for applications (RFAs).

Some of these projects were SFARI- or investigator-initiated, while others were originally submitted through SFARI RFAs but were funded as Director Awards following review of their objectives, topic and merit.

“These Director Awards will help to fund research that is relevant to a number of core areas that SFARI supports, including studies of SCN2A mutations and other genetic variants associated with autism, the development and characterization of rat models of autism, as well as the validation of diagnostic assessments for autism,” says SFARI interim director John Spiro. “We look forward to hearing the findings from these projects in the coming years and how they can be applied more broadly to improving outcomes for individuals with autism and their families.”

The new Director Awards include:

Omer Bayraktar, Ph.D. (Wellcome Sanger Institute)
A spatiotemporal atlas of autism gene expression in the developing and adult human cerebral cortex

Charles Craik, Ph.D. (University of California, San Francisco)
Structural and functional characterization of KCC2, an important potassium chloride co-transporter involved in ASD

Evan Eichler, Ph.D. (Howard Hughes Medical Institute; University of Washington)
Copy number variation and pathogenic variant analyses of SPARK exomes

Alfred L. George Jr., M.D. (Northwestern University)
Functional evaluation and curation of SCN2A variants associated with autism

David Hirsh, Ph.D. (Columbia University)
Structural studies of the cytoplasmic domain of KCC2

Peter Kind, Ph.D. (The University of Edinburgh)
Behavioral phenotyping of rat models of autism

Abba Krieger, Ph.D. (University of Pennsylvania)
Statistical analysis of autism phenotypic and genotypic data

Catherine Lord, Ph.D. (University of California, Los Angeles)
The initial standardization of the Brief Observation of Symptoms of Autism (BOSA)

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