2023 SFARI Human Cognitive and Behavioral Science Awardees Announced

We are pleased to announce that three collaborative projects will be awarded grants in response to the 2023 Human Cognitive and Behavioral Science request for applications (RFA). These grants will be funded by Simons Foundation and Simons Foundation International and administered by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI).

The Human Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences RFA prioritizes research that produces foundational knowledge about the neurobehavioral differences associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These projects are expected to inform or relate to the development and refinement of tools needed for translational efforts, such as biomarkers and outcome measures. Special emphasis is placed on objective, quantitative measures that may be used in conjunction with standardized clinical measures and genomic information to better characterize phenotypic and neurobiological variability within and across individuals with ASD.

SFARI intends to provide approximately $5.7 million in funding over the next three years to 9 investigators as part of this RFA.

“On behalf of SFARI, I congratulate the investigators who have received these awards,” says Kelsey Martin, Executive Vice President of SFARI and the Simons Foundation Neuroscience Collaborations. “We believe that these studies will yield transformative insights into the cognitive and behavioral aspects of autism, and we’re eager to see how these investigators’ findings will influence clinical practice in the future.”

This year SFARI intends to fund two grants through the Collaboration track intended for multi-lab, cross-institutional collaborative projects built around transdisciplinary teams tackling a critical issue in the neurobehavioral differences of autism, with clear translational implications. One grant is awarded through the Explorer track appropriate for early-stage projects in which establishing feasibility and proof-of-concept are the most relevant outcomes. The projects are:

Genetics-first analysis of cognition and neural activity at scale
Carrie Bearden, Ph.D. (University of California, Los Angeles), Guillaume Dumas, Ph.D. (Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Centre), Raquel Gur, M.D., Ph.D. (University of Pennsylvania), Sébastien Jacquemont, Ph.D. (Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Centre), Sarah Lippé, Ph.D. (Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Centre), Donna McDonald-McGinn, MS, CGC (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia), Jonathan Sebat, Ph.D. (University of California, San Diego) and Jacob Vorstman, M.D., Ph.D. (SickKids Hospital/University of Toronto)

Multimodal, objective assessment of the ASD phenotype: Longitudinal stability and change across contexts
Catherine Lord, Ph.D. (University of California, Los Angeles), Daniel Messinger, Ph.D. (University of Miami) and Shrikanth Narayanan, Ph.D. (University of Southern California)

Neural tracking of acoustic-prosodic content in speech in adults with high-functioning ASD
Yulia Oganian, Ph.D. (University of Tübingen)

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