Autism Speaks opens grant applications for autistic researchers

April 22, 2024
Autism Speaks 2024 Predoctoral Fellowship Program for Autistic Scientists Cover

As part of our mission to be a catalyst for life-enhancing research breakthroughs, Autism Speaks is proud to announce a new round of our Predoctoral Fellowship Program for Autistic Scientists. Through this fellowship program, we hope to increase autistic representation in the field of autism research and empower a greater number of autistic scientists to pursue long-lasting research careers.  

The Predoctoral Fellowship Awards for Autistic Scientists will be granted to qualified predoctoral students who have at least two years remaining before completing their program. Researchers will be awarded $40,000 USD per year for two years. This includes a stipend of $28,000 USD plus a $12,000 annual allowance. The fellowship awards are available to current graduate students or researchers, both in the U.S. and internationally.  

By championing autistic representation within the field of autism research, we hope to cultivate a research landscape that truly reflects and serves the diverse needs of the autism community.

- Andy Shih, chief science officer at Autism Speaks

“For a second year, we’re thrilled to give early-career autistic scientists the opportunity to design and implement cutting-edge research studies that are informed by their lived experience. By championing autistic representation within the field of autism research, we hope to cultivate a research landscape that truly reflects and serves the diverse needs of the autism community,” says Andy Shih, chief science officer at Autism Speaks. 

The fellowship program will place high priority on research related to topics including:  

  • Adult transition and life course outcomes (including aging and older adulthood)  
  • Behavior dangerous to self and others, including certain self-injurious behaviors, and innovative, person-centered supports and interventions (e.g., addressing social or environmental triggers of behaviors) to promote physical and emotional well-being 
  • Co-occurring medical and mental health conditions (particularly seizures and GI problems/microbiome), with an emphasis on intervention studies and can also include immunology/inflammation  
  • Development and validation of measures: 
  • Examining outcomes important to community members (e.g., well-being) 
  • Including novel or non-traditional modalities (e.g., machine learning, biological measures) 
  • Gender, sexual health and/or reproductive health 
  • Innovative implementation of technology to enhance reach and impact of services, with an emphasis on diagnosis and intervention in low resource settings 
  • Pre-clinical studies aimed at helping to ameliorate the most disabling challenges associated with autism 
  • Research addressing interactions with service systems that can inform systematic policy changes 
  • Research that benefits communities who experience compounded marginalization (for research that involves human participants, Autism Speaks will prioritize study designs that include and benefit the diversity of the community that we serve)  
  • Studies addressing the mental health and well-being of autistic people (as defined by them) 
  • Studies that focus on individuals who experience autism with intellectual disability, who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), or those for whom communication solutions are unavailable 

Last year’s grant recipients designed studies aiming to understand the neural causes of sensory over-responsivity in autistic youth and develop a comprehensive measure of autistic burnout. 

Letters of Intent are due on or before June 26, 2024 at 8:00 p.m. ET.  

Please view the Request for Applications (RFA) to find complete information about the grant opportunity and detailed application instructions.   

A webinar explaining the application process and answering questions will be offered Monday, May 6, 2024 at 4:00 p.m. ET. Register here.