Simons Foundation: Linking Early Neurodevelopment to Neural Circuit Outcomes RFA


 Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI)

For More Information

For additional information, please visit the SFARI website for:

  • Program guidelines
  • Application forms
  • Evaluation criteria

To answer questions about this Request for Application (RFA), SFARI will hold an informational Zoom meeting on June 25, 2024 at 12 p.m. EDT. Interested applicants can register here.


The Linking Early Neurodevelopment to Neural Circuit Outcomes RFA will support research that aims to directly connect neurodevelopmental changes to ASD-relevant circuit phenotypes in order to advance the understanding of how ASD risk genes contribute to the neurobiology of autism. SFARI invites proposals that will elucidate the impact of well-defined developmental alterations on the structure, function and/or output of neural circuits relevant to ASD phenotypes. To this end, experimental endpoints need not be behavioral readouts, but should be phenotypes that would reasonably be expected to drive alterations in function at the organism level (e.g., changes in synaptic connectivity or plasticity, or altered local or mesoscale neural dynamics and/or coding, ideally assessed with cell-type specificity). To facilitate rigorous assessments of causality, SFARI imagines that successful applications will connect phenotypes at adjacent biological scales (e.g., from neuronal migration defect to aberrant connectivity or from aberrant connectivity to altered neural dynamics), linking across as many levels of analysis as possible within the time and budget provided by the grant. Because the goal of this RFA is to establish causal links between temporally distant phenotypes, SFARI encourages dense and/or longitudinal sampling whenever appropriate, in order to rigorously characterize the relative timing and stability of the phenotypes of interest.


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.

SFARI recognizes the importance of diverse viewpoints for scientific advancement. As such, SFARI encourages the inclusion of researchers who span career stages and of groups historically underrepresented in science.

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.

Maximum Project Value

Due to the multidisciplinary focus of this RFA, SFARI strongly encourages collaborative applications involving multiple principal investigators (PIs); single PI applications will also be accepted. Each lab may request a maximum of $300,000, inclusive of 20 percent indirect costs, for each year of funding over a period of three (3) to four (4) years, up to an annual maximum of $900,000.

Indirect Costs


Allowable indirect costs to the primary institution for subcontracts are not included in the total budget threshold (see grant policies). Investigators are encouraged to take advantage of the flexibility in budget and duration, tailoring the scope of the award as appropriate for their specific aims. As with all SFARI-funded projects, it is at Simons Foundation’s discretion to modify final budgets as needed.

Project Duration

Three to four years

Special Notes

Please review the SFARI Grant Policies and Procedures.


If College-level review is required, your College will communicate its earlier internal deadlines.

Internal Deadline
Applicant is to submit a copy of the application and a complete OR5 form to
External Deadline

Applications must be submitted via the Simons Award Manager (SAM). Please click on the Funding Opportunities icon and navigate to the Autism Research – “Development to Circuits” call. Click the Create Application button to begin. Applications should be started and submitted under the applicant’s own account in SAM.

How to Apply

Please refer to the application submission instructions.

Application templates will be available in SAM beginning on Tuesday, June 11, 2024. Applications will include a Specific Aims page and a 6-page Proposal Narrative. Up to 10 figures may be included separately and do not count towards the page limit.

For Questions, please contact

Office of Research

Laurie Gallinger, Awards & Agreements Officer
Research Services Office

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