Our Mission

The mission of the Simons Foundation division of Life Sciences is to advance basic research in the life sciences.

In Spring 2013, the foundation’s Life Sciences division launched its first multi-institutional interdisciplinary program, the Simons Collaboration on the Origins of Life. Its goal is to advance our understanding of the processes that led to the emergence of life in the universe. This collaboration supports innovative research on the astrophysical and planetary context of the origins of life, the development of prebiotic chemistry, the assembly of the first cells, the advent of Darwinian evolution and early signs of life on Earth.

The Life Sciences division also launched the Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain in Spring 2014. The collaboration supports projects that use new technologies to record the activity of large neural populations at single-cell resolution, in combination with mathematical analyses, to investigate how neural coding and dynamics represent and process information relevant to internal cognitive states and behavior. This collaboration encourages work between experimentalists and theorists.

The Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology, based at the University of Hawaii, will advance our understanding of the biology, ecology, and biogeochemistry of microbial processes that dominate Earth’s largest biome, the global ocean. Ocean microbes capture solar energy, catalyze key biogeochemical transformations of important elements, produce and consume greenhouse gases, and compose the base of the marine food web. This collaborative effort will focus on a model ecosystem site that is representative of a large portion of the North Pacific Ocean.

In addition to its collaborations, the division of Life Sciences from time to time grants project awards, which vary in focus from study of the social brain to understanding human genetic diversity.

The Life Sciences division also supports the Klingenstein-Simons Fellowship Awards in the Neurosciences and postdoctoral fellowships in partnership with the Life Sciences Research Foundation, the Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund for Medical Research, and the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation.