Funding Opportunities

SFARI offers grant programs to support bold, imaginative and rigorous research, relevant to the SFARI mission. Our standing Request for Application (RFA) programs include Pilot Awards, Bridge to Independence Awards and the newly launched Human Cognitive and Behavioral Science. We also feature ad-hoc targeted and Collaboration RFAs, and SEED Awards on a rolling basis.

Please read our blog post for more information about SFARI's 2021 funding initiatives.

Current RFAs

Award Type
Budget and Duration

SPARK Research Match Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity – Request for applications

The SPARK Research Match Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity RFA aims to address historic disparities in research participation by Black or African American individuals by soliciting studies on autism that recruit Black or African American participants. Funding will provide per-person participant incentive (e-gift cards) for participation in projects that utilize SPARK Research Match to recruit participants into new research studies.

The maximum budget is $20,000 in per-person incentive funding per study.

SFARI Supplement to Enhance Equity and Diversity (SEED) — Request for Applications


The SFARI Supplement to Enhance Equity and Diversity (SEED) is a new program that provides supplements to existing grants for the recruitment of new lab members from American underrepresented minority groups at the postdoctoral level. For the purposes of this supplement, eligible groups include the following: African American/Black; Latin American/Hispanic; Native American/Alaskan Native; Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander (including Filipino).

The goal of this award is to increase diversity and fight inequity. SFARI Principal Investigators (PIs) are encouraged to recruit candidates for this supplement not only at their home institution, but also at historically Black colleges and universities and other institutions with high minority enrollment.

The budget is up to $100,000 per year for up to three years.

Past RFAs

Award Type
Past Awards
Light drawing with a silhouette of two rats

Autism Rat Models Consortium – Request for Applications

Grants awarded through this RFA are intended to capitalize on the rat as a model system to advance our understanding of the behavioral and circuit neuroscience mechanisms driving autism. This RFA will support a consortium of investigators to collaboratively use SFARI autism rat models to examine the biological basis of complex behaviors and the underlying neural circuits relevant for autism. We welcome applications from individual labs, as well as collaborative applications of up to three (3) principal investigators.

Each lab may request a maximum of $300,000, inclusive of 20 percent indirect costs, for each year of funding over a period of two (2) to three (3) years.

2021 Genomics of ASD: Pathways to Genetic Therapies – Request for Applications

Grants awarded through this RFA are intended to advance our understanding of the genetic basis of ASD and the molecular and cellular consequences of genetic risk, and to provide a foundation for the development of treatments for select genetically defined forms of the condition. Special emphasis is placed on the use of scalable methods, especially as applied to genes that are suitable targets for genetic therapies.

The annual budget is between $200,000 and $400,000, inclusive of 20 percent indirect costs, for a period of two or three years.

2021 Pilot Award – Request for Applications


Grants awarded through this RFA are intended to provide early support for exploratory ideas, particularly those with novel hypotheses for autism. Appropriate projects for this mechanism include those considered higher risk with less assurance of ultimate impact, but with the potential for transformative results.

Investigators new to the field of autism are encouraged to apply for these awards. The total budget of a Pilot Award is $300,000 or less, including 20 percent indirect costs, over a period of up to two (2) years.

2021 Human Cognitive and Behavioral Science – Request for Applications


Grants awarded through this RFA are intended to produce foundational knowledge about the neurobehavioral differences associated with ASD, which will directly inform the development or 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 triangulate phenotypic and neurobiological variability within and across individuals with ASD.

The maximum budget is $750,000 or less, inclusive of 20 percent indirect costs, over a period of up to three years.

Bridge to Independence Award Program


SFARI is invested in supporting the next generation of top autism researchers. The Bridge to Independence Award program engages talented early-career scientists in autism research by facilitating their transition to research independence and providing grant funding at the start of their professorships at a U.S. or Canadian research institution.

Applications from groups that have been historically underrepresented or excluded in the biomedical workforce, including but not limited to racial and ethnic groups, sexual orientation and gender identities, individuals with mental/physical disabilities and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, are especially encouraged.

Request for applications (RFA) open each year and are aimed at Ph.D. and M.D.–holding scientists who are currently in training positions but intend to seek tenure-track research faculty positions during the upcoming academic year. Fellows receive a commitment of $495,000 over three years, activated upon assumption of a tenure-track professorship.

Test tubes

Maternal COVID-19 as a potential risk for autism: Supplemental funding for ongoing pregnancy cohorts – Request for applications

Grants awarded through this RFA will supplement funding from other agencies for ongoing pregnancy cohorts to broaden biospecimen collection and to extend post-natal family tracking. These cohorts and biospecimen collections can be leveraged in future research to understand the effects of gestational infection and inflammation on autism risk in children.

The maximum budget is $250,000 for projects recruiting at a single site, and $400,000 for projects recruiting at two or more sites.

2020 SFARI Collaboration on Sex Differences in Autism — Request for Applications


SFARI Collaborations are a new funding mechanism that will provide substantive and stable funding support to multidisciplinary teams of investigators tackling critical issues in the autism research field. Collaborations will be led by a director who oversees interdisciplinary, synergistic research efforts across multiple laboratories. Investigative groups within a Collaboration will focus on the same conceptually unified topic but will incorporate different scientific disciplines, multiple levels of analysis, and will include a robust data-sharing infrastructure.
SFARI Collaborations have a maximum budget of up to $8,000,000, including 20 percent indirect costs, over an initial period of four years, with a possible three-year extension.
For our first Collaboration RFA, SFARI solicits applications to investigate sex differences in autism.

2020 Research Award – Request for Applications


Grants awarded through this RFA are intended to provide support for the investigation of key unresolved research questions in autism, particularly those that connect etiology to brain function and behavior. SFARI welcomes risk and novelty in Research Award proposals, but potential impact on the autism research field will be the most important criterion. Competitive applications will have preliminary data or other relevant groundwork that justifies substantial investment on the proposed topic.

The maximum budget is $1,300,000, including indirect costs, over a period of up to four years.

2019 Novel Outcome Measures in ASD Request for Applications


Grants awarded through this request for applications are intended to develop and validate outcome measures that are suitable for use in intervention studies that target the core symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. Such measures should provide objective data with strong psychometric properties, be scalable for use in large, multisite studies, not be unduly burdensome to participants and families, and have evident clinical relevance. They would ideally capture naturalistic rather than laboratory behavior and be applicable to subjects across a wide range of ages and levels of functioning.

We expect to fund several awards through this mechanism. The maximum budget is $300,000 per year, including indirect costs, for up to three years. Higher budgets will be considered, but such budgets must be strongly justified.

2019 SPARK Clinical Site Network Request for Applications


SPARK is a SFARI initiative intended to recruit, engage and retain a community of 50,000 individuals with autism, and their family members, in the United States. This research cohort includes children and adults who span the full autism spectrum and individuals of all socio-demographic backgrounds.

Through this RFA, SFARI will add additional clinical sites to its existing clinical site network for the purposes of recruiting SPARK participants. Selected clinical sites will receive funding of up to $200,000/year, including indirect costs, for a maximum of three years.

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