Open main menu

Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative

The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, or SFARI for short, is a research program established in 2005 by the Simons Foundation, which focuses on all aspects of autism research. Its director is Louis Reichardt.[1] The organization has funded more than $200 million in autism research to 150 different investigators since 2007.[2] Marilyn Simons, the Simons Foundation's president, is on the board of directors, as are David Eisenbud and James H. Simons.[3] The awards they give out include Pilot Awards (for innovative high-impact proposals for experiments still in the preliminary stages), Research Awards (for research into a topic which has already been investigated at least preliminarily), and Explorer Awards (which provides grants for focused experiments on a one-time basis).[4] One specific type of research they specialize in is mouse models of autism, which they are trying to make more available in cooperation with the Jackson Laboratory.[5]

Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
SFARI Logo 2.jpg
FoundersJames Simons, Marilyn Simons
Legal statusprivate organization
HeadquartersNew York City
Louis Reichardt

SFARI Gene is an integrative model with a publicly available web portal for the ongoing collection, curation and visualization of genes linked to autism disorders. The content originates entirely from the published scientific literature. SFARI Gene also provides a comprehensive collection of animal models linked to autism.[6] The Simons Simplex Collection is a sample gathered by SFARI from over 2000 families for identifying de novo genetic variants that contribute to the overall risk of autism.[7]

In 2016, SFARI launched Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge (SPARK), an online research initiative designed to become the largest autism study ever undertaken in the United States. For researchers, SPARK provides a large, well-characterized cohort of genetic, medical and behavioral data, and will result in cost-savings for researchers by reducing start-up costs for individual studies.[8]


  1. ^ "Director's Letter". Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  2. ^ About SFARI
  3. ^ "Board of Directors". SFARI. Simons Foundation. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  4. ^ "Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative Invites Letters of Intent for Pilot and Research Awards". Philanthropy News Digest. Foundation Center. 4 November 2012. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  5. ^ Autism mouse models
  6. ^ Banerjee-Basu, S.; Packer, A. (8 March 2010). "SFARI Gene: an evolving database for the autism research community". Disease Models & Mechanisms. 3 (3–4): 133–135. doi:10.1242/dmm.005439. PMID 20212079.
  7. ^ Fischbach, Gerald D.; Lord, Catherine (October 2010). "The Simons Simplex Collection: A Resource for Identification of Autism Genetic Risk Factors". Neuron. 68 (2): 192–195. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2010.10.006. PMID 20955926.
  8. ^ Shumaker, Laura (21 April 2016). "SFARI Launches SPARK, Nation's Largest Research Initiative for Parents, Children and Adults with Autism". San Francisco Gate. Retrieved 9 May 2016.