The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) has issued an RFP for its 2020 SFARI Collaboration on Sex Differences in Autism program.
According to SFARI, although females may be underdiagnosed because of differences in presentation and/or diagnostic bias, there appears to be a substantial and consistent male bias in ASD prevalence that reflects differences between the sexes in susceptibility. Among many potential explanations, female resilience could reflect a genetic buffering effect and/or differences in hormone exposure. Either of these possibilities could result in differences in cellular and/or circuit function between the sexes. Considering the rapidly expanding knowledge of genetic and other risk factors in ASD, the stage seems set for significant advances in enhancing our understanding of the impact of sex on ASD risk and manifestations.
To that end, SFARI welcomes proposals that rely on an array of modern technologies to examine sex differences in brain function within and across species, including humans, to identify key differences in gene, cell, and circuit function that account for the observed differential sensitivities of the two sexes to ASD. The funding stream is intended specifically for multidisciplinary teams of investigators tackling critical issues in the autism research field. A successful collaboration must enhance the understanding of the biological bases for sex-specific differences in ASD and set the stage for development of novel interventions. Collaborations also must be led by a director (CD) who oversees interdisciplinary, synergistic research efforts across multiple laboratories, and investigative groups within collaborations must focus on the same conceptually unified topic but incorporate different scientific disciplines, multiple levels of analysis, and a robust data-sharing infrastructure.
Collaborations with a budget of up to $8 million (including 20 percent indirect costs) over an initial period of four years will be awarded, with the possibility of a three-year extension.
To be eligible, prospective CDs and PIs must hold a PhD, MD, or equivalent degree and have a faculty position or the equivalent at a college, university, medical school, or other research facility. Applications may be submitted by domestic and foreign nonprofit organizations; public and private institutions, such as colleges, universities, hospitals, laboratories, units of state and local government; and eligible agencies of the federal government. There are no citizenship or country requirements.
See the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative website for complete program guidelines and application instructions.