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.
Packer earned his undergraduate degree in biology from Brandeis University and his doctorate in cell biology and genetics from the Weill Cornell University Graduate School of Medical Sciences in New York City. His graduate work, with Rosemary Bachvarova, focused on germ cell development using the mouse as a model system. With Debra Wolgemuth at Columbia University Medical Center, he carried out postdoctoral work on developmental control genes (Hox genes) and the mechanisms of their regulation in the mouse embryo. He then spent several years on the editorial staff of the journal Nature Genetics.