The first stage of providing fair and expert review for grant applications submitted to Autism Speaks consists of scientific peer review by a group of highly esteemed basic and clinical scientists that form our Advisory Boards. Additional expertise may be provided by ad-hoc reviewers in order to ensure that the scientific coverage is thorough. The panel uses standard guidelines for scoring grant applications with an emphasis on innovation, scientific rigor, and relevance to the mission of Autism Speaks. All reviewer conflicts of interest must be revealed prior to the panel review meeting. Conflicts of interest include, but are not limited to, employment at the same sponsoring institution and collaboration on recent or current research projects. All discussions of scientific merit are conducted in the absence of any reviewers who have declared conflicts of interest.
The peer review panel recommendations are then reviewed by the Autism Speaks Scientific Review Panel (SRP), a group of eight scientific and medical experts that includes parents of children with autism. All recommendations for funding are made by the SRP to Autism Speaks Board of Directors. SRP funding recommendations are based on scientific merit (as evaluated by the peer review panel), budgetary considerations and discussions of relevancy and priority to the mission of Autism Speaks. Final approval is required by the Autism Speaks Board of Directors before funding may occur.