2023 Winter 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.

Application Deadline:
Maximum Budget

Over Two Years
$300,000

Important Dates
  • Application Available:
  • Application Deadline:
  • Award Notification:
  • Award Start Date:
    Awards may begin as early as July 1, 2023, but we encourage PIs to select a project start date that best accommodates the needs of their project. Funds are expected to be expended as requested during each annual budget period. Projects must begin on the first of the month.
Maximum Budget

Over Two Years
$300,000

Important Dates
  • Application Available:
  • Application Deadline:
  • Award Notification:
  • Award Start Date:
    Awards may begin as early as July 1, 2023, but we encourage PIs to select a project start date that best accommodates the needs of their project. Funds are expected to be expended as requested during each annual budget period. Projects must begin on the first of the month.
Contact Info
Read More
Maximum Budget

Over Two Years
$300,000

Important Dates
  • Application Available:
  • Application Deadline:
  • Award Notification:
  • Award Start Date:
    Awards may begin as early as July 1, 2023, but we encourage PIs to select a project start date that best accommodates the needs of their project. Funds are expected to be expended as requested during each annual budget period. Projects must begin on the first of the month.
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 Pilot Awards from individuals who will conduct bold, imaginative, rigorous and relevant research.

Objective of the Pilot Award

The goal of the Pilot Award is to provide early support for exploratory ideas, particularly those with novel hypotheses. Appropriate projects for this mechanism include those considered higher risk but with the potential for transformative results. Projects that represent continuations of ongoing work (whether funded by SFARI or other funders) are not appropriate for this mechanism.

This funding mechanism is particularly suitable for investigators who are new to the autism field, though we encourage those new to the field to consult with experts in autism research to ensure their projects are relevant to the human condition.

In particular, we encourage applications that propose research to link genetic or other ASD risk factors to molecular, cellular, circuit or behavioral mechanisms and set the stage for development of novel interventions. Please read more about SFARI’s scientific perspectives. We also strongly advise applicants to familiarize themselves with the current projects and other resources that SFARI supports and to think about how their proposals might complement existing efforts.

Scope of Pilot RFA and Other 2023 RFAs

SFARI will offer two calls for Pilot Award applications in 2023 — the 2023 Winter Pilot and the 2023 Summer Pilot. The 2023 Summer Pilot will open in June. As in previous years, SFARI will also be offering a separate call for Human Cognitive & Behavioral Science projects, which will open in February 2023. Projects involving behavioral and/or cognitive assessments of human participants should be submitted to that request for applications (RFA) rather than the Pilot Award RFA. Projects proposing behavioral and/or cognitive assessments in both humans and a non-human species should be submitted, if within scope, to a new Cross-Species Studies of ASD RFA that will be open in 2023. In addition, SFARI will launch a third iteration of the Genomics of ASD RFA. Projects that are a better fit for this RFA, e.g., those involving preclinical and/or clinical studies of gene-targeting therapeutic approaches, should be submitted when the 2023 Genomics of ASD RFA opens in the summer of 2023. The Pilot Award RFA is appropriate for exploratory projects that are not otherwise better suited for the Human Cognitive & Behavioral Science, Cross-Species Studies of Autism or Genomics of ASD RFAs.

To get a better understanding of SFARI’s various funding initiatives in 2023 and whether the Pilot Award may be the best mechanism to support your project, please read our blog post, “Updates to SFARI’s 2023 requests for grant applications.” Investigators who are unsure of which of the RFAs planned in 2023 would be the best fit for their project can also contact sciencerfa@simonsfoundation.org for further information.

Level and Duration of Funding

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. Allowable Indirect costs to the primary institution for subcontracts are not included in the $300,000 total budget threshold (see grant policies). We encourage investigators to take advantage of the flexibility in budget and duration, tailoring the scope of the award as appropriate for their specific aims. Funds are expected to be expended as requested during each annual budget period. When provided with a compelling justification, we are willing to consider larger budgets for the Pilot Award. We strongly encourage investigators considering budgets that exceed our guidelines to consult SFARI before submission (please contact sfarigrants@simonsfoundation.org).

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.

Applications may be submitted by domestic and foreign nonprofit organizations; public and private institutions, such as colleges, universities, hospitals, laboratories, and units of state and local government; and eligible agencies of the federal government. There are no citizenship or country requirements.

Multiple Applications, Resubmissions and Renewals

Unsuccessful applications submitted to previous SFARI RFAs may be resubmitted to this RFA, if relevant. For all resubmissions, we ask principal investigators (PIs) to submit a statement of changes describing substantive changes to the application since the previous submission. If the previous application was externally reviewed, this document should include point-by-point responses to the reviewers’ critiques. If the revised application does not include substantive changes, it is unlikely that the outcome will change. This is especially true for applications that were not externally reviewed, as this decision is often based on the relevance of the project to SFARI’s mission. We also will not accept applications that have previously been considered three or more times (regardless of which RFA they were previously submitted to).

Investigators may submit multiple applications on different topics. However, it is highly unlikely that two awards will be made to the same PI within one RFA cycle.

Given the focus of this RFA on bold, imaginative new ideas, it is unlikely that a renewal of a currently funded project (either from SFARI or elsewhere) will be a good fit for this RFA. We encourage investigators to seek continuation support from outside funding sources. In exceptional cases where progress has been stellar, SFARI may provide continuation funding for projects of particularly high impact via a separate funding mechanism, at the discretion of the science team. Decisions on new proposals from current SFARI Investigators will include the evaluation of progress on previous or ongoing SFARI grants.

Instructions for Submission

Applications must be submitted via the Simons Award Manager (SAM). Please click on the Funding Opportunities icon and navigate to the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative – Pilot call. Click the Create Application button to begin. Applications should be started and submitted under the applicant’s own account in SAM.

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Many of the greatest ideas and discoveries come from a diverse mix of minds, backgrounds and experiences. The Simons Foundation is committed to grantmaking that inspires and supports greater diversity and inclusiveness by cultivating a funding environment that ensures representation of all identities and differences and equitable access to information and resources for all applicants and grantees.

The Simons Foundation provides equal opportunities to all applicants for funding without regard to race, religion, color, age, sex, pregnancy, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic disposition, neurodiversity, disability, veteran status or any other protected category under federal, state and local law. The foundation also funds programs directed at supporting scientists from disadvantaged backgrounds or underrepresented groups, often working closely with professional societies and other funding agencies.

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Maximum Budget

Over Two Years
$300,000

Important Dates
  • Application Available:
  • Application Deadline:
  • Award Notification:
  • Award Start Date:
    Awards may begin as early as July 1, 2023, but we encourage PIs to select a project start date that best accommodates the needs of their project. Funds are expected to be expended as requested during each annual budget period. Projects must begin on the first of the month.
Contact Info

The submission deadline is Thursday, January 12, 2023, 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Applications must be submitted via the Simons Award Manager (SAM). Please click on the Funding Opportunities icon and navigate to the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative — Pilot Award call. Click the Create Application button to begin. Applications should be started and submitted under the applicant’s own account in SAM.

Please note that anyone submitting an application will be added to the SFARI newsletter mailing list.

Informational Sessions for Potential Applicants

For instructions on how to submit an application through our new grants management system SAM, the Simons Foundation will hold an informational session on Tuesday, December 6 – Click here to register.

Additionally, informational videos on submitting applications in SAM can be found here.

Application Submission Instructions:

To submit an application, the following sections must be completed:

  1. Proposal Tab:
    1. Applicant Details & Personal Data: Enter required fields. The contact PI may edit information via the Edit Profile button as needed.
    2. Academic Degrees: Click the Add/Modify Degree(s) button to provide this information.
    3. Application Details: Provide the required information. Hovering over the question mark icons will provide additional information on required fields.
    4. Proposal – The following information/upload must be provided:
      1. Simons Collections Data and/or Biospecimens: indicate accordingly.
      2. Specific Aims: Upload via template provided.
      3. Proposal Narrative: Upload via template provided.
      4. Personnel Biosketches: Provide biosketches for all key personnel on the project. Should be uploaded using template provided and/or NIH format.
      5. Resources and Research Environment: Upload via template provided.
      6. Progress Report: Only required for investigators currently receiving SFARI funding on science relevant for current proposal. If required, upload via template provided.
      7. Investigational Compound Information Sheet: Only required for investigators proposing to use investigational compounds or chemicals for which public information is not yet available. If required, upload via template provided.
      8. Other: Upload any application materials that were specifically requested. Additionally, in-press papers can be included, as well as any papers that you consider essential for the work of the review committee. Include no more than three (3) papers. Any other material should be included, if possible, in the narrative.
    5. Data & Renewable Reagents: Upload your plan for sharing data and renewable reagents using the template provided.
  2. Contacts and Personnel Tab:
    1. Institution Administrative Contacts: At least one institution signing official and financial officer must be added to the Institution Administrative Contacts section before you will be able to submit your application.
    2. Project Personnel: Please indicate all key personnel on the proposed project. Key personnel include the PI and other individuals who contribute to the scientific development or execution of a project in a substantive, measurable way, whether or not they request salaries or compensation. This may include co-investigators, collaborators, postdoctoral research associates or equivalent employee positions.
      1. Project personnel who will be named in the budget must be added to the Project Personnel section on this tab before they will display as available options in the budget module. This does not apply to TBD personnel.
  3. Budget Tab: Click the Edit/Modify button to add a detailed budget.
  4. Abstract & Keywords Tab: Provide an abstract for the proposed project in the Technical Abstract text box.
  5. Publications & Other Support Tab:
    1. Publications: Follow instructions for providing publications for all key personnel on the project. Publications can be added as a batch from a Pubmed search by selecting Select publication from profile and then clicking the Assign Publications for this Proposal button. Note that publications will be used to determine conflicts of interest (COIs) for the review of your proposal; including a complete list of your publications over the last 7 years using this function, rather than the PDF upload option, will expedite the review process.
    2. Other Support: Follow instructions for providing other support information for all key personnel on the project.
      1. If using PDF upload, use NIH format.
  6. Organization Assurances: Indicate if the application has organizational assurances.
  7. Check Application Progress: Click the Check Application Progress button to check for any missing required information or files. All missing required information will be listed at the top of the screen and must be corrected before the application can be submitted.
  8. Send for sign-off: When the application is complete, click on the Send for sign-off button to send to your signing official for signature. You will receive a notification when the application is signed.
  9. Submit Application: When the full proposal application is complete and signed, click on the Submit Application button. A confirmation page will appear once the application is successfully submitted. It will appear in the Submitted tab of the Applications in Progress table. Please note that you will not be able to submit an application if the deadline has passed.

Please note that narratives exceeding the three (3)-page limit will not be reviewed. Figures (up to 10, each fitting on one page), figure legends and references (formatted in the Journal of Neuroscience style) are not included in the page limit.

Read More
Maximum Budget

Over Two Years
$300,000

Important Dates
  • Application Available:
  • Application Deadline:
  • Award Notification:
  • Award Start Date:
    Awards may begin as early as July 1, 2023, but we encourage PIs to select a project start date that best accommodates the needs of their project. Funds are expected to be expended as requested during each annual budget period. Projects must begin on the first of the month.
Contact Info

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