Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) -- Request for Applications -- Pilot Awards

Funding Agency:
Simons Foundation

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.

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. To get a better understanding of SFARI’s different RFAs and whether the Pilot Award may be the best mechanism to support your project, please read our blog post “SFARI RFA reboot: Why, what and how?

In particular, we encourage applications that propose research to link genetic or other ASD risk factors to molecular, cellular, circuit or behavioral mechanisms of ASD. Please read more about SFARI’s scientific perspectives here. 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.

Deadline: May 22, 2020 (was April 24); Sep. 13, 2019

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

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, and units of state and local government; and eligible agencies of the federal government. There are no citizenship or country requirements.

For the 2019–2020 academic year, we will have three requests for applications (RFAs): two for Pilot Awards (i.e., the current RFA and one to be released in Spring 2020) and one for Research Awards (released in November 2019). While Principal Investigators may submit multiple applications for funding during the 2019-2020 cycle, SFARI is exceedingly unlikely to award more than one grant to a given PI in a single year.



Amount Description

The total budget of a Pilot Award is $300,000 or less, including 20% indirect costs, over a period of up to two (2) years. 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. For projects that propose two years of research, progress will be critically evaluated at the end of year one before support for the remaining year will be approved. When provided with a compelling justification, we are willing to consider larger budgets for the Pilot Award. One example would be exceptional costs required for some human studies. We strongly encourage investigators considering budgets that exceed our guidelines to consult SFARI before submission (please contact

Funding Type





Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Clinical Science
Medical - Translational

External Deadline

May 22, 2020