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Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) Bridge to Independence Award

Grants to USA Postdoctoral Researchers to
Investigate the Diagnosis and Treatment of Autism

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Foundation / Corporation

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Simons Foundation

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Grants to USA postdoctoral researchers to support research related to the treatment and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. LOIs, as well as letters of recommendation on behalf of the candidate, must be submitted no later than August 6, 2018. The purpose of this program is to invest in the upcoming generation of autism investigators by identifying talented early-career scientists interested in autism research and facilitating their transition to independent research careers.

This request for applications (RFA) is aimed at senior postdoctoral fellows who intend to seek tenure-track faculty positions during the 2018-2019 academic year. Successful applicants will receive a funding commitment over three years, activated upon assumption of a tenure-track professorship.

SFARI Mission:

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

Background and Rationale:

The autism research community has expanded substantially in recent years and SFARI has contributed to this change by attracting outstanding established scientists to the field of autism. In order to sustain this level of scientific excellence in future years, SFARI is extending its support to promising early-career investigators. One of the most salient milestones in a scientific career is the transition from formal mentorship to an independent position. Unfortunately, making this transition has become increasingly difficult in recent years, in part because of the decreasing number of tenure-track faculty positions, compounded by the increasing number of Ph.D. graduates and postgraduate traineeships. SFARI created the Bridge to Independence Award program in 2015 to address this issue and to encourage continued excellence in the autism research field.

The Bridge to Independence (BTI) Award program invests in the next generation of top autism investigators by identifying talented early-career scientists interested in autism research and facilitating their transition to an independent research career. This request for applications (RFA) is aimed at senior postdoctoral fellows who intend to seek tenure-track faculty positions during the 2018–2019 academic year.

The BTI Award program welcomes applications that span the breadth of science that SFARI normally supports, including genetics, molecular mechanisms, circuits and systems, and clinical science. For reference, please see the listings of past BTI awardees and SFARI senior investigators, as well the postings on SFARI scientific priorities.

While SFARI encourages applications from postdoctoral fellows who are working on autism-related projects, SFARI would like to stress that this award is also open to researchers who are not currently working on autism but who are interested in starting research projects in this area and who have expertise that could be brought to bear on this complex disorder.

Funding Information:

The award is administered through the institution at which the PI has a tenure-track faculty appointment. Awardees may defer submission of their approval application for up to one year after receiving their finalist notification in order to secure their faculty position. Funds may not be used toward the PI’s salary but may provide salary support for other laboratory personnel. Institutional start-up packages may not be reduced because of SFARI funding.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 173042

Estimated Size of Grant:

The principal investigator (PI) will receive research support at a fixed rate of $495,000 over three (3) years, including 20 percent for indirect costs.

Term of Contract:

Grant funding will begin on a rolling basis between January 1, 2019 - December 1, 2020. The program period is three (3) years.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

-Applicants must hold a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent degree
-Applicants must have fewer than six (6) years of postdoctoral or otherwise mentored training.
-Applicants must be currently in non-independent, mentored, training positions, as recognized by their institution. The following guidelines should be used to distinguish independent from non-independent positions (modified from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) K99/R00 program announcement eligibility section):
Evidence for non-independence may include:
-The applicant’s research is entirely funded by another investigator’s grants.
-The applicant’s research is conducted entirely in another investigator’s assigned space.
-According to institutional policy, the applicant is not allowed to submit an application for an NIH research grant (e.g., R01) or SFARI grant (e.g, Pilot, Research, and Targeted awards) as the principal investigator (PI).

Conversely, evidence for independence, and therefore lack of eligibility, includes:
-The applicant has a full-time faculty position. Exception: A clinician who holds a faculty member position in order to fulfill their clinical responsibilities but who does not hold an independent research faculty position may still be eligible. Such individuals should contact the foundation to confirm their eligibility prior to submitting their applications.
-The applicant received a start-up package for support of his/her independent research
-The applicant has research space dedicated to his/her own research.
-The applicant is eligible to apply for independent research funding as the PI of an NIH research grant (e.g., R01) or SFARI grant (e.g, Pilot, Research, and Targeted awards).

-Applicants must be actively seeking a tenure-track position at a U.S. institution of higher education during the 2018-2019 academic year.
-Applicants are not eligible if they are recipients of other career development awards with similar budgetary scopes as the SFARI Bridge to Independence Award.

These include, but are not limited to:
-NIH K99/R00 (please note that other K awardees may be eligible, e.g., recipients of K01 and K08)
-Burroughs-Wellcome Fund Career Award for Medical Scientists
-American Academy of Neurology Career Development Award
-Howard Hughes Medical Institute Hanna H. Gray fellowship

You are strongly encouraged to contact SFARI before applying if you believe your career development award is comparable to the BTI Award but it is not listed above.

-Applicants must not have accepted a formal offer for a tenure-track faculty position.
-There are no citizenship requirements.

Pre-Application Information:

BTI grants are awarded through a multi-stage process. The first stage is a competitive process in which Letters of Intent (LOIs) are reviewed by the SFARI science team and an external scientific panel. BTI awardees are selected at the end of stage one.

Upon notification, awardees have one year to secure a tenure-track professorship at a U.S. academic institution and submit an approval application.

Review of the approval application is a non-competitive, internal process intended to confirm that the awardee has secured an academic research position and adequate institutional resources to accomplish the Bridge to Independence research proposal

After the Simons Foundation accepts the approval application, awardees will receive a commitment of funding awarded through their faculty appointment institution.

Letters of recommendation (separate, blind submission; deadline August 6, 2018). Three (3) letters of recommendation are required from current or former mentors, or other senior scientists who have substantial familiarity with your scientific career thus far. At least one letter of recommendation must be from a current or former scientific mentor. Confidential letters must be submitted through proposalCENTRAL.

Important Dates:
-June 15, 2018: proposalCENTRAL opens for LOIs
-August 6, 2018: Letters of recommendation and LOIs due
-November 20, 2018: Awardees notified
-December 1, 2018 – December 1, 2019: Approval application submission (rolling basis)
-January 1, 2019– December 1, 2020: Grant funding begins (rolling basis)

SFARI Funding Policies:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Submit LOIs through ProposalCENTRAL:

Scientific Inquiries:

Administrative Inquiries:

Simons Collections Inquiries:



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