Launched in 2006, SFARI is a scientific initiative within the Simons Foundation's suite of programs. SFARI’s mission is to improve the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders by funding innovative research of the highest quality and relevance.

In 2007, SFARI issued its first request for applications, its goal being to attract top researchers to the field of autism research. Today, with a budget of approximately $90 million per year, SFARI supports over 300 investigators. Since 2003, the Simons Foundation has provided or committed more than $570 million in external research support to more than 600 investigators in the U.S. and abroad.

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John Spiro, Ph.D.

Interim Director, SFARI, Simons Foundation

John Spiro joined the foundation in 2007 and until 2020 was deputy scientific director, where he worked with the SFARI director to oversee all aspects of the foundation’s autism research initiatives, including managing a team of scientists and administrative staff involved in launching requests for applications, evaluating proposals and other projects, organizing scientific workshops and meetings and overseeing SFARI.org. He helped launch the Simons Variation in Individuals Project (now Simons Searchlight) and has spearheaded the foundation’s efforts to promote the use of preprints in the life sciences as well as other initiatives aimed at more open data sharing.


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