Pamela Feliciano, Ph.D.

Scientific Director, SPARK, and Senior Scientist, SFARI, Simons Foundation


Pamela Feliciano joined the Simons Foundation in 2013 and serves as the scientific director of SPARK (Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research through Knowledge) and is a senior scientist at SFARI. SPARK is a SFARI initiative that seeks to accelerate autism research through a vibrant and informative online platform ( that meaningfully engages individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families and connects them to interested researchers. As scientific director of SPARK, Feliciano oversees the recruitment and retention of participants and the research priorities of the program. She also oversees several autism genetics and clinical grants in SFARI’s portfolio, with a particular emphasis on the development of objective, quantitative methods of measuring clinically relevant autism behaviors.

Previously, Feliciano worked as a senior editor at Nature Genetics, where she was responsible for managing the peer review process of research publications in all areas of genetics. While at Nature Genetics, Feliciano was engaged with the scientific community, attending conferences and giving talks and workshops on editorial decision-making at academic institutes worldwide.

Feliciano holds a B.S. from Cornell University, an M.S. from New York University and a Ph.D. in developmental biology from Stanford University. The journal Science named her Ph.D. thesis work with David Kingsley on the parallel evolution of wild populations of three-spine stickleback fish part of the “Breakthrough of the Year” in 2005. Later, Feliciano completed her postdoctoral work with Nicholas Tolwinski, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, studying the establishment of planar cell polarity in epithelial sheets.

Feliciano is also the mother of an adolescent boy with autism spectrum disorder.

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