Autism Speaks has a long history of launching highly successful careers in autism research through its pre- and postdoctoral fellowship programs. We have seen how powerfully these fellowships can expand, deepen and direct the field of autism research in ways that can improve lives today and deliver a spectrum of innovative solutions in the years ahead.
Early career investigators bring vibrant new approaches to the field, ensuring that research pushes past limiting paradigms. Our fellowship programs maximize this transformative effect by training the best and brightest new scientists in cutting-edge methods and technologies under the mentorship of senior investigators known for their own ground-breaking work.
The following signature fellowship programs were made possible by the generosity of major donors.
Dennis Weatherstone Predoctoral Fellowships
Two-year fellowships for predoctoral students launching careers in autism research
Autism Speaks established the Dennis Weatherstone Predoctoral Fellowship program in 2008 with a generous grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Its goal is to transform the future of autism research by launching the careers of highly promising graduate students.
The name of this fellowship program honors the late financier Sir Dennis Weatherstone and his commitment to the education of young scientists beginning careers in autism research. His widow, Lady Marion Weatherstone, continues to take an active interest in the program and its fellows.
Following a highly competitive application and selection process, each fellow pursues a two-year research project under the mentorship of leading investigators in the field of autism research. Already, many of our Weatherstone fellows have risen to prominence with their discoveries. (See highlights at the bottom of this page.)
Weatherstone Fellows at the International Meeting for Autism Research
Meixner Postdoctoral Fellowships in Translational Research
Two- and three-year fellowships for postdoctoral scientists pursuing autism research, with mentorship in both basic and clinical research
The Meixner Postdoctoral Fellowships in Translational Research support postdoctoral researchers pursuing projects that bridge laboratory science and clinical studies enrolling people affected by autism. Each fellow works under the guidance of mentors who rank among the field's pioneers in basic and clinical research. The goal is to train a new generation of autism researchers while translating basic science into new and effective ways of diagnosing, treating and supporting individuals living with autism.
The estate of Charles Meixner established the program with a generous gift to Autism Speaks in 2013. Charles and his wife, Maria Teresa, were profoundly affected by autism when their 5-year-old daughter Caroline was diagnosed with what was then termed infantile schizophrenia.
Royal Arch Masons Research Fellowships in central processing disorder, autism and related conditions
Two-year predoctoral fellowships for research into auditory processing issues among children who have autism or related developmental issues
Since the 1970s, the Royal Arch Masons International have ranked among the world’s leading philanthropies helping children with central auditory processing disorders. Many children with autism have difficulty processing sound. This can include difficulty using and comprehending speech and/or paying attention to and remembering spoken information.
In 2016, Autism Speaks announced its first Royal Arch Masons Predoctoral Fellowship. Royal Arch Masons Fellow Sophie Schwartz, of Boston University, is investigating how differences in the way the brain processes sound may interfere with language development in minimally verbal children who have autism. Ms. Schwartz’s findings have the potential to guide the development of new interventions to support language development and other forms of communication in non-verbal and minimally verbal people who have autism.
In 2018, Autism Speaks announced a second Royal Arch Masons fellowship opportunity, with a call for research proposals focused on improving understanding, evaluation and treatment of challenges in how the brain processes sound.
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