Simons Foundation Independence Awards

The Simons Foundation recognizes that one of the most salient milestones in a scientific career is the transition from mentored fellowship to an independent position. Unfortunately, numerous factors within the modern biomedical ecosystem have also made this transition one of the most vulnerable attrition points in the academic career pipeline.1.

Simons Foundation independence award programs are currently offered through three divisions of the foundation: the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) Bridge to Independence Award; the Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain (SCGB) Transition to Independence Award; and the Simons Collaboration on Plasticity and the Aging Brain (SCPAB) Transition to Independence Award. They share the common goal of supporting early career scientists as they transition from mentored training to their independent research positions.

The three award programs emphasize different scientific missions and have different eligibility criteria. Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with the information below and to refer to each program’s respective award webpages for more details.

Please note that prospective applicants may apply to more than one Independence Award program during the same request for applications (RFA) cycle. However, each application will be reviewed individually based on the program’s own selection process and criteria. As such, it is expected that applicants will tailor each research narrative to align with the respective Simons Foundation program to which they are applying. If you have questions regarding the suitability of your research narrative for a particular RFA, please reach out to the respective program’s contacts in the table below. The foundation may also suggest that a submitted application be directed to another program area based on scientific or other suitability.

Organizational Structure:

Key Differences

SFARI BTI SCGB TTI SCPAB TTI
Scientific Focus The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) is dedicated to improving the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders by funding innovative research of the highest quality and relevance.

The SFARI BTI Award program welcomes applications that span the breadth of autism science that SFARI normally supports, including genetics, molecular mechanisms, circuits and systems, and clinical science.

We encourage applications from scientists who are currently working in the autism field, as well as those who are new to autism.
The Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain (SCGB) is dedicated to supporting advances in systems and computational neuroscience with the goal of expanding our understanding of the brain’s internal states.

Through this effort, we seek to fund scientists doing work consistent with SCGB’s scientific mission, ideally investigating large-scale circuits at single-cell resolution to understand neural dynamics and coding.
The Simons Collaboration on Plasticity and the Aging Brain (SCPAB) aims to discover mechanisms of resilience and functional maintenance in the non-diseased aging brain.

Through this effort, we seek to fund scientists doing work consistent with SCPAB’s scientific mission. A previous background in aging research is not required; candidates with backgrounds in fields including neuroscience, molecular biology, genetics, immunology, cell biology, and the physical and information sciences are encouraged to apply.
Eligibility No demographic restrictions on applicant eligibility, although individuals from historically underrepresented or excluded groups are encouraged to apply.

Applicants must hold a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent degree, and must be currently recognized by their institutions as holding a non-independent, mentored training position.

No limit on length of mentored training.
The program application is open to individuals who are from gender, racial, ethnic, and other groups underrepresented in systems and computational neuroscience, including individuals with disabilities and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. This includes, but is not limited to, women of any ethnic or racial group as well as any individual identifying as Hispanic/Latinx, Black/African American, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, or American Indian/Alaska Native.

Applicants must hold a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent degree, and must be currently recognized by their institutions as holding a non-independent, mentored training position.

No limit on length of mentored training.
The program application is open to individuals who are from gender, racial, ethnic, and other groups underrepresented in cognitive aging, including individuals with disabilities and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. This includes, but is not limited to, any individual identifying as Hispanic/Latinx, Black/African American, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, or American Indian/Alaska Native.

Applicants must hold a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent degree, and must be currently recognized by their institutions as holding a non-independent, mentored training position.

No limit on length of mentored training.
Fellow Selection Process Internal review by the SFARI science team.

External review by a scientific panel.

No interviews.
Internal review by SCGB scientific staff.

External review by a scientific panel that may include members of the SCGB Executive Committee.

Finalists invited for virtual interviews.
Internal review by SCPAB scientific staff.

External review by a scientific panel that may include members of the SCPAB Executive Committee.

Finalists invited for virtual interviews.
Tenure-Track Locations Supported Faculty position at a U.S. or Canadian academic institution. No country restriction on job location. No country restriction on job location.
RFA Timeline Open: December 6, 2021

Info session: January 10, 2022

Due: February 28, 2022

Fellows notified: June 2022
Open: January 10, 2022

Due: April 11, 2022

Fellows notified: June 2022
Open: January 10, 2022

Due: April 11, 2022

Fellows notified: June 2022
Program Contacts Scientific inquiries: 
sciencerfa@simonsfoundation.org

Administrative inquiries: 
sfarigrants@simonsfoundation.org
Scientific inquiries: 
globalbrain@simonsfoundation.org

Administrative inquiries: 
neurogrants@simonsfoundation.org
Scientific inquiries: 
agingbrain@simonsfoundation.org

Administrative inquiries: 
neurogrants@simonsfoundation.org

​​References

  1. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The Next Generation of Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences Researchers: Breaking Through. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press (2018) Report
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