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Autism Speaks Fellowship Programs

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.)

Read more about our Weatherstone classes:

2009 Class                                        2012 Class                              2015 Class

2010 Class                                        2013 Class                              2016 Class

2011 Class                                        2014 Class                              2017 Class


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.

Read more about our Meixner Classes:

2014 Class

2015 Class

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. 

To learn more about our research fellows and their projects, also see:

Girls, genes and autism
An Autism Speaks fellowship launched this young scientist’s groundbreaking research on the genetics of autism in girls and women – with implications that extend across the spectrum. More...

How does sensory processing affect communication in kids with autism?
Meixner Fellow Sarah Baum describes how insights from her sensory-processing studies could help people with autism interact with the world. More...

Can brain scans help personalize autism therapies and supports?

This Autism Speaks research fellow has developed a test that helps predict who will respond best to certain behavioral therapies and coaching programs. More...

Wired differently: Exploring brain connectivity in autism
This Autism Speaks fellow is studying brain connections to deepen understanding of autism’s challenges and strengths. More...

Why study what causes of autism?
This Autism Speaks fellow is exploring the genetic subtypes of autism to guide the development of personalized interventions. More...

Autism Speaks Science@Work: Stopping dangerous behavior
This Autism Speaks Weatherstone fellow is evaluating the best ways to safely stop violent behavior in someone who has autism. More...

Easing anxiety in kids with autism and limited verbal skills
Weatherstone fellow John Danial describes his inspiration to help an underserved group of children with autism. More...

Weatherstone Fellows at the International Meeting for Autism Research