On January 10, 2022 SFARI hosted an informational session on the 2022 Bridge to Independence Award (BTI) request for applications (RFA).
The 2022 BTI Award RFA opened on December 6, 2021. The program is designed to help early-career scientists with an interest in autism research achieve research independence by providing grant funding at the start of their professorships as well as opportunities for professional development. Since 2015, SFARI has funded 37 fellows with projects in a wide array of topics that bear on autism and related neurodevelopmental conditions and that use diverse model systems.
The session provided a brief overview of the BTI program and its objectives from SFARI senior scientist Alice Luo Clayton and an open Q&A panel and breakout room discussions with current BTI fellows Gabriella Boulting, Marino Pagan, and Stephanie Rudolph. Prospective applicants were encouraged to join to discover more about the scientific scope of the BTI program and the application process and learn about the experience of being a BTI fellow.
Alice Luo Clayton is a senior scientist at SFARI. Her role involves managing programs related to neural circuits and behavior in animal models and human cohorts. She contributes to the development and availability of rodent models of autism, and oversees the Bridge to Independence Award program.
Gabriella Boulting is an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and a 2021 SFARI Bridge to Independence fellow. She earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry in the laboratory of Kevin Eggan in the Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Department at Harvard University, where Boulting focused on the application of human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) to study neurogenerative disease. She developed methods to produce human spinal motor neurons in vitro, generated a vetted panel of human PSC lines for in vitro amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) disease modeling and uncovered disease phenotypes in motor neurons derived from induced PSCs from individuals with ALS.
Marino Pagan is a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University and a 2021 SFARI Bridge to Independence fellow. He received his B.S. in computer engineering and his M.S. in control engineering from Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna and University of Pisa in Italy. He completed his Ph.D. in neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania in the laboratory of Nicole Rust, where he studied the neural circuits of visual object search in macaque monkeys using electrophysiology and computational modeling.
Stephanie Rudolph is an assistant professor in the Department of Neuroscience and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a 2017 SFARI Bridge to Independence fellow. She completed her doctoral training with Jacques Wadiche at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Peter Jonas at the University of Freiburg, Germany. Rudolph used electrophysiology to investigate the impact of neuronal activity patterns on the kinetics of neurotransmitter release. She then shifted her focus to the inhibitory circuits that shape cerebellar output. In Wade Regehr’s laboratory at Harvard Medical School, Rudolph began using a combination of two-photon imaging and electrophysiology to study the intrinsic and synaptic properties of interneurons that control the integration of multisensory input in the cerebellum.
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