SFARI 2024 Linking Early Neurodevelopment to Neural Circuit Outcomes RFA: Informational Session

  • Informational Session
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Informational Session
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On June 25, 2024, SFARI held an informational session about the Linking Early Neurodevelopment to Neural Circuit Outcomes request for applications (RFA). Slides from the session can be downloaded here.

About the Session

The last decade has seen the discovery and functional annotation of numerous high-confidence autism spectrum disorder (ASD) risk genes. In the time since, much effort has been dedicated to understanding how these genes impact nervous system development. A consensus has emerged that many genes implicated in ASD susceptibility impact early steps in neurodevelopment, such as the timing and execution of neural differentiation, migration, and synaptogenesis, with such cellular phenotypes thought to be rooted in altered epigenomic and transcriptomic landscapes.

In parallel, SFARI has invested in efforts to characterize the impact of ASD risk gene mutation on the neural circuits underlying ASD-relevant phenotypes, with notable advances made in understanding the contribution of peripheral and central circuits to ASD-related sensory atypicalities, motor phenotypes, sleep disruptions, and social behavioral deficits, among other phenotypes.

While progress has been made toward understanding early development and mature functional outcomes in isolation, studies causally linking disruptions of early neurodevelopment to alterations in ASD-relevant neural circuits remain rare. The objective of this RFA is to bridge this critical gap in our understanding of how developmental events impact later processes of circuit formation and function in ASD.

We envision that this RFA will bring together scientists of diverse expertise, such as developmental neurobiologists and circuit neuroscientists, to collaboratively conduct thorough characterizations of how early developmental events result in alterations to ASD-relevant neural circuitry in carefully chosen models.

About the Speakers

Marta Benedetti joined the Simons Foundation in 2007 and works with the SFARI team to evaluate and manage the SFARI autism grant portfolio, with particular emphasis on grants in the area of molecular and cellular biology. She has been responsible for the generation and distribution of several SFARI resources designed to facilitate a better understanding of the underpinnings of autism.

Brigitta Gundersen joined the Simons Foundation in 2016 as a member of the team of scientists responsible for managing SFARI’s autism grant portfolio. In particular, she focuses on grants involving work in animal models employing behavioral, electrophysiological and molecular approaches. She is also responsible for overseeing the Autism Rat Consortium.

Amy Norovich joined the Simons Foundation in 2023 as part of the team of scientists that manages SFARI’s autism grant portfolio. She focuses on grants involving animal models in the fields of neurodevelopment, sensory and motor neurobiology, and social behavior. She is responsible for managing SFARI’s zebrafish models resource.

Alan Packer joined the Simons Foundation in 2009 to work with a team of scientists responsible for SFARI’s autism grant portfolio, with a particular emphasis on grants in the area of cell and developmental biology, and genetics. He has led a number of targeted award programs, including the Functional Screen of Autism-Associated Variants RFA. In the area of genetics, he has served as a liaison with the SFARI Gene curation team at MindSpec, helping to lead the development of the site’s Gene Scoring module. He has also participated in the administration of the Simons Simplex Collection exome- and genome-sequencing programs and closely follows efforts to build on these genetic insights in the service of a better understanding of the biology of autism. He currently oversees the SFARI Collaboration on Sex Differences in Autism.

Julia Sommer joined the Simons Foundation in 2011 to become a member of the team of scientists that manage SFARI’s grant portfolio and targeted projects. She mainly focuses on grants of cellular and molecular studies in autism, including many projects that make use of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). She also manages SFARI iPSC resources and, together with Brigitta Gundersen, oversees administration of SFARI annual request for Pilot and Research Award applications.

Questions? Email: [email protected]

Past Events

Headshot of SFARI Senior Scientist Brigitta Gunderson.Headshot of Paul Wang, SFARI Senior Clinical Research Scientist and Director of Clinical Research Associates.

2023 Cross-Species Studies of ASD RFA — Informational session

Brigitta Gundersen, Ph.D.Senior Scientist, SFARI, Scientific Lead Animal Models
Paul Wang, M.D.Director, Clinical Research Associates and Senior Clinical Research Scientist, SFARI

On January 23, 2023, SFARI hosted an informational session on the 2023 Cross-Species Studies of ASD request for applications (RFA).

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