SFARI Bridge to Independence Award

Simons Foundation

Suggest an update

Grant amount: US $495,000

Anticipated deadline: Aug 8, 2019 (Letter of inquiry)

Applicant type: Research Scientist Postdoctoral Researcher

Funding uses: Research

Location of project: Anywhere in the world

Location of residency: United States

Degree requirements: Applicants must be within 6 years of receiving their PhD

View website    Save Need help writing this grant?


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.

Rationale and overview

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 our 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 our listings of past BTI awardees and SFARI senior investigators, as well our postings on SFARI scientific priorities.

While we encourage applications from postdoctoral fellows who are working on autism-related projects, we 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.

Level and Duration of Funding

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 (see SFARI policies). 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.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • 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 NIH’s 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.
  • Applicants must be actively seeking a tenure-track position at a U.S. institution of higher education during the 2018-2019 academic year.
  • Applicants must not have accepted a formal offer for a tenure-track faculty position.
  • There are no citizenship requirements.


  • 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 (Pilot, Research, and Targeted awards).
  • Applicants are not eligible if they are recipients of other career development awards with similar budgetary scope 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., 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 prior to grant submission if you believe your career development award is comparable to the BTI award but is not listed above.