Explorer Awards RFA

Application type for proposals requesting support of exploratory experiments that will strengthen hypotheses and lead to the formulation of competitive applications for subsequent larger-scale funding by SFARI or other organizations. Innovative, high-risk/high-impact proposals are encouraged. We especially encourage applications from investigators who are new to the field of autism, but who have expertise that could be brought to bear on this complex disorder. The maximum budget is $80,000, including indirect costs, for one (1) year, non-renewable.

Maximum Budget

Max. Budget $80,000

Important Dates
  • Applications are considered on a rolling basis
Contact Info

SFARI mission

The mission of the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) is to improve the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) by funding innovative research of the highest quality and relevance.

To this end, we solicit applications for SFARI Awards from individuals who will conduct bold, imaginative, rigorous and relevant research.

Objective of the SFARI Explorer Awards

This award program is designed to enhance our existing support of autism research by providing timely resources to enable high-risk/high-impact, exploratory experiments relevant to our mission. A deeper understanding of the mechanisms underlying autism spectrum disorders or potential therapeutic approaches will require investigation at multiple levels, including but not limited to studies focused on gene discovery, molecular mechanisms, circuits, anatomy, and cognition and behavior. We will consider proposals at all of these levels.

The maximum budget is $80,000, including indirect costs for one (1) year, non-renewable.

Explorer Awards are intended to provide resources to support exploratory experiments that will strengthen hypotheses and lead to the formulation of competitive applications for subsequent larger-scale funding by SFARI or other organizations. Innovative, high-risk/high-impact proposals are prioritized. We especially encourage applications from investigators who are new to the field of autism, but who have expertise that could be brought to bear on this complex disorder.

Receiving support for an exploratory grant does not guarantee future support from the Simons Foundation.

We strongly advise applicants to familiarize themselves with the research projects that SFARI currently supports and to think about how their proposals might complement existing grants. Considering SFARI’s significant efforts targeted at understanding the genetics of ASD, we encourage applications that propose research to link genetic or other ASD risk factors to molecular, cellular, circuit or behavioral mechanisms of ASD. See also the SFARI blog post “SFARI’s 2018 funding priorities,” where we discuss criteria for successful proposals.

Applicants are encouraged to use existing resources developed by SFARI. A number of mouse models of high-risk autism genes and copy number variants (CNVs) are available to the research community at minimal cost via a collaboration between SFARI and The Jackson Laboratory. Analogous to our mouse model efforts, SFARI is also generating and distributing genetic rat models through a collaboration with the Medical College of Wisconsin. Access to the Simons Simplex Collection (SSC), Simons Variation in Individuals Project (Simons VIP) and SPARK cohort — resources for phenotypic data, genetic data, biospecimens and recontacting participants — will be given to all approved scientists through SFARI Base. We encourage applicants to use these resources. Further information about data requests and the acquisition of biospecimens is available online. We expect Simons Investigators to share renewable reagents and data developed with SFARI funds with other qualified investigators.

Budget

SFARI will support applications for maximum of $80,000, including indirect costs, for one year, non-renewable. Indirect costs for all SFARI grant types are limited to 20 percent of the modified total direct costs (see SFARI policies). Indirect costs paid to a subcontractor may not exceed 20 percent of the direct costs paid to the subcontractor.

There is no salary cap for principal investigators (PIs) or other faculty on a Simons Foundation grant; however, the compensation is prorated according to the individual’s percent effort on the grant. There is no minimum percent effort required for PIs or other personnel on any SFARI award type, but it is expected that the PI will commit sufficient effort to this project to provide a leading intellectual and guiding role on the project. Additionally, the PI will be expected to join the collaborative community of SFARI Investigators through participation in conferences, workshops and symposia organized by the foundation. PIs committing less than 15 percent effort to their project should justify their effort level in detail.

SFARI funds may be used only for personnel considered employees of the grantee institution who are eligible for benefits. Funds may not be used for stipend or benefit supplementation unless specifically authorized under the terms of the program from which funds are derived. The Simons Foundation reserves the right to modify budgets when an application has been selected for an award (see Simons Foundation policies).

Eligibility

All applicants and key collaborators must hold a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent degree and have a faculty position or the equivalent at a college, university, medical school or other research facility. In addition, eligible applicants must have independent lab space at their institution. Applications may be submitted by domestic and foreign nonprofit organizations; public and private institutions, such as colleges, universities, hospitals, laboratories, units of state and local government; and eligible agencies of the federal government. There are no citizenship or country requirements.

SFARI policies

Policies have been adopted by the Simons Foundation and apply to all autism research grant awards. Investigators and their institutions must abide by all applicable laws and regulations, including those governing the conduct of research on humans or animals.

The Simons Foundation reserves the right to modify or amend its policies governing grants. You may view our policies here.

Instructions for submission

Applications must be completed electronically and submitted using forms provided at proposalCENTRAL. Please log in as an applicant, go to the “Grant Opportunities” tab, scroll to “Simons Foundation” and click “Apply Now” for the SFARI Explorer Award program. For assistance, please call 800-875-2562 or email pcsupport@altum.com.

Applicants must submit a three (3)-page application via proposalCENTRAL. Instructions for application submission as well as application requirements can be found in our instructions or on proposalCENTRAL.

Deadlines and notification schedule

Applications are considered on a rolling basis, with a response time as early as 30 days.

Review of applications

The SFARI scientific team will review applications, with external ad-hoc reviewers as needed. Reviewers will consider the excellence of science, the relevance to autism, and the appropriateness of budget.

Contacts

Administrative inquiries:
grants@simonsfoundation.org
646-654-0066

Scientific inquiries:
sciencerfa@simonsfoundation.org
646-654-0066

proposalCENTRAL:
pcsupport@altum.com
800-875-2562

SSC, Simons VIP and SPARK data and recruitment questions:
collections@sfari.org
646-654-0066

Read More
proposalCENTRAL Logo

The Simons Foundation uses an electronic grants submission process. All interested grant applicants must submit their applications online through proposalCENTRAL

Maximum Budget

Max. Budget $80,000

Important Dates
  • Applications are considered on a rolling basis
Contact Info

Applications are considered on a rolling basis, with a response time as early as 30 days.

Accessing the Letter of Intent Application in proposalCENTRAL:

Prospective applicants must submit an application via proposalCENTRAL (pC). To start an application in pC, users must first login to their pC account.

If You Need to Create a New Account in pC
To create a new account, go to https://proposalcentral.altum.com and click “Create One Now!” under “Application Login.” Fill in the required fields, check the boxes to agree to pC’s Terms of Service and Acceptable Use Policy and then click “Save.” For the next steps, see the If You Have an Existing Account in pC section below.If You Have an Existing Account in pC
For all users with a pC account, log in under “Application Login” at https://proposalcentral.altum.com and select “Create New Proposal” or click on the “Grant Opportunities” tab. Scroll down to “Simons Foundation” and then click “Apply Now” for the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative-Explorer Award program in order to start the proposal and access the templates. After all sections are completed, you will be able to click on the “Submit” button.

Application Requirements and Submission Instructions

To submit an Explorer Award Application, the following proposalCENTRAL sections must be completed:

  1. Title Page: Please provide the following information
    1. Project title
    2. Indicate use of SSC, Simons VIP or SPARK samples/phenotypic data
    3. Select a primary category. Please note a secondary category is not required.
  2. Download Templates & Instructions: The following templates are available for download:
    1. Explorer Application Instructions
    2. SFARI Policies
    3. RFA
    4. Explorer Narrative Template
    5. Key Personnel Biosketch
    6. Budget Justification
    7. Current and Pending Support
    8. Resources and Research Environment
    9. Renewable Reagents and Data Sharing Plan
    10. Detailed Budget for Subcontract
  3. Enable Other Users to Access This Proposal: Complete this section to give administrators or collaborators access and to allow other users to submit the LOI on your behalf.
  4. Applicant/PI: The Principal Investigator (PI) should be listed here. For grants with multiple PIs, the contact PI should be listed here.
  5. Organization/Institution: Enter the lead institution. Contact information for the signing official and financial/fiscal officer from your institution is required; select the correct person or enter new names in this section.
  6. Key Personnel: Indicate key personnel, including but not limited to: principal investigators, co-investigators, consultants, postdoctoral research associates and others. In rare circumstances, the applicant organization may designate multiple individuals as PIs who share the authority and responsibility for leading and directing the project, intellectually and logistically. For more information on the responsibilities of PIs, please refer to the personnel definitions in the Explorer RFA FAQ.
  7. Abstracts: Enter as text in this section.
  8. Budget Period Detail: The following information is required for the “Budget Period Detail” section.
    1. Award start date: If you are submitting an application in the first half of a month, a start date two months out is appropriate (this would be a month after selecting the application for award). If you submit in the second half of the month, the third month after that should be used. Projects must start on the first of the month. Please note that grants may not activate without current ethical approval documentation for human participants and/or animal research, unless given prior approval by SFARI staff.
    2. Indirect Costs (IDC): IDCs are limited to 20 percent of direct costs, with the following exceptions: equipment, tuition, pre- and postdoctoral fellow stipends and benefits (non-university personnel), SSC and Simons VIP biospecimens and any subcontracts with budgets including IDCs. IDCs paid to a subcontractor may not exceed 20 percent of the direct costs paid to the subcontractor. IDCs on equipment are not allowable; however, IDCs on small equipment (equipment up to $10,000) are permissible.
    3. Equipment: The Simons Foundation will own equipment purchased with foundation grant funds with a unit cost of $50,000 or more. At the end of the grant-funding period or in case of grant termination for any reason, the foundation reserves the right to retain ownership or cede ownership to the Principal Investigator’s institution. Equipment with a unit cost of $50,000 or less shall be the property of the institution.
    4. Biospecimens: If the proposal includes the use of SSC or Simons VIP biospecimens, the Simons Foundation will review the estimated cost based on the price list on our website. Biospecimen costs will be considered separately from other project costs. Enter the projected figure in the field marked “SSC [Simons VIP] Biospecimens (No IDC)” in the “Budget Period Detail” section, under “Other Expenses.” A description of use, including the number and type of biospecimens, should be included in the proposal narrative and budget justification (see the Proposal Attachments section below). Biospecimen costs must be excluded from the IDC cost calculation.
      1. Please do not use the field marked “For Internal Use Only-Estimated Cost for SSC Biospecimens” below the “Indirect Costs” section in the “Budget Period Detail”.
    5. Subcontracts:
      1. Applications with subcontracts (including PIs who will be paid directly by the contact PI’s institution) must submit:
        1. Subcontract Detailed Budget (available for download in the “Proposal Attachments” and “Download Templates & Instructions” sections) for each subcontract.
        2. Direct costs for all subcontract PIs, which must be given in section 8 (“Budget Period Detail”) in the “Consortium & Contractual Direct” section. Indirect costs for all subcontract PIs should be included in the “Indirect Costs” section. Please add a separate line for both direct costs and indirect costs for each subcontract PI.
  9. Budget Summary: The “Budget Summary” will populate from the saved “Budget Period Detail” section.
  10. Organization Assurances: Indicate use of human participants or vertebrate animals in this section and status of approval from the institutional review board or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Grants cannot activate without current human participant and/or animal research ethical approval.
  11. Proposal Attachments: The following documents are to be uploaded in the “Proposal Attachments” section, where they are also available for download.
  12. Explorer Narrative: The Explorer Narrative should not exceed three (3) pages of single-spaced, 11-point text and 0.5 margins, including figures and figure legends. The Narrative should provide a research project description, including specific aims, experimental design, significance, potential impact on autism research, novelty, milestones and preliminary data (if available; it is understood that preliminary results are not required). References are not included in the page limit and should be in Journal of Neuroscience format, including full author list, title, and link to PubMed.
    1. Key Personnel Biosketch: Please upload key personnel biosketches as separate attachments.
    2. Budget Justification
    3. Subcontract Budget Template: Applications with subcontracts must submit a detailed budget.
    4. Current and Pending Support: Please upload current and pending support for both Principal Investigator(s) and key personnel.
    5. Research Environment and Resources
    6. Renewable Reagents and Data-Sharing Plan
    7. 501 (c) (3) Equivalent Letter from the IRS (if applicable): For international institutions, upload a copy of the institution’s 501(c) (3) equivalency letter. The SF requires an equivalency determination letter from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stating exemption under 501(c)(3) and furthermore, either a 509(a)(1), (2) or (3) classification. If an international institution is selected for funding and does not have the aforementioned documentation, the foundation will require that the institution complete an equivalency determination with NGOsource (please refer to SFARI Policies).
  13. PI Data Sheet: Your professional profile will populate this section of the application. If revisions are required, please select “Edit Professional Profile” and go to section 4 (“Personal Data for Applications”). Please note that the contact PI’s ORCID identifier is required. Once the PI’s ORCID iD is provided, you will be able to sync a limited amount of data from your ORCID account with your pC account.
  14. Validate: You must click the “Validate” button below to check for any missing required information or files. All missing required information will be listed on the screen. Please correct any missing information before proceeding to the next step.
  15. Signature Page(s): The signed Signature Page is available for download in the Signature Page section and must be signed by the signing official, then re-uploaded in the “Proposal Attachments” Section.
  16. Submit: You will be unable to submit if you have not provided all the required information. Any missing information will be listed on the screen. If your submission is successful, you will receive a confirmation message on the screen and a confirmation email will be sent to the applicant.

Please note that narratives exceeding the 3-page limit will not be reviewed. Figures and figure legends are included in the page limit, but references (formatted as in the Journal of Neuroscience) are not.

Contacts:

Administrative inquiries:    
grants@simonsfoundation.org
646-654-0066

Scientific inquiries:
sciencerfa@simonsfoundation.org
646-654-0066

proposalCENTRAL:  
pcsupport@altum.com
800-875-2562

SSC, Simons VIP and SPARK data and recruitment questions: 
collections@sfari.org
646-654-0066

Read More

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