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Eagles Autism Foundation contributes $6.2 million to fund 34 research and community projects

The Eagles Autism Foundation's scientific review panel
The Eagles Autism Foundation's scientific review panel

The Eagles Autism Foundation has announced that 34 projects specializing in cutting-edge autism research and care will receive $6.2 million in funding. The grants are a direct result of the proceeds raised by participants from the 2023 Eagles Autism Challenge, in addition to other foundation-related fundraising initiatives throughout the year.

A total of 70 letters of intent were submitted for research grant funding. The projects were narrowed down to 40 full proposals that went through a comprehensive evaluation process. Each project was carefully reviewed by an independent team of scientists who have demonstrated a clear and steadfast commitment to autism research, services, and programs. It was then determined that 14 research projects would be awarded to Bar Ilan University, Brown University, Child Mind Institute, Drexel University, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Seattle Children's Research Institute, UC Davis, UCLA, University of Iowa, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Washington University School of Medicine, and the Yale Child Study Center.

"The purpose of going through this rigorous process each year is to fund the most progressive forms of autism research and care," said Jeffrey Lurie, Chairman and CEO, Philadelphia Eagles. "A scientific review panel made up of some of the world's brightest minds and thought leaders, led once again by Dr. (Emanuel) DiCicco-Bloom, carefully vetted each proposal with tremendous detail and precision. We congratulate the institutions and community-based organizations that were selected this year and hope their innovation inspires others to continue supporting the autism community in transformational ways."

In addition to the funded research projects, the proceeds will also be spread across 20 organizations that are actively enhancing the lives of those affected by autism through a variety of services and resources. The community grants have been awarded to A Step Up Academy, Center for Autism, Center for Autism Research at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Ken's Krew, Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support, KultureCity, Neurodiversity Employment Network, Pathway School, Philadelphia Charter School, Philadelphia Orchestra, Popcorn for the People, Raise the Bar, Shore Medical Center, So Much to Give Inclusive Café, Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, Special Olympics PA – Cities of Inclusion, Theatre Horizon, Valley Forge Education Services, Variety – The Children's Charity, and Woods Services.

Pilot grants were considered for applicants who completed their doctoral or medical degrees and have a full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty appointment, or equivalent full-time non-tenure track appointment at an accredited academic, medical, or research institution. As part of the research projects, a post-doctoral fellowship was granted to Drexel University to provide opportunities for young investigators in related disciplines to continue their work under the mentorship of experienced scientists in Philadelphia.

Table inside Article
Eagles Autism Foundation Funded Research Projects
Institution Pilot Studies
Bar Ilan University Mechanisms and treatment of autism-associated microbiome dysbiosis
Brown University Translational studies in ASH1L-related disorders
Child Mind Institute Delineating a path toward brain connectome biomarkers of treatment in autism
Perelman School of Medicine (UPENN) Endocrine disrupting chemical effects on the brain epigenome
Seattle Children’s Research Institute Pilot randomized trial of the RUBI program for families of autistic adults
UC Davis Identifying a novel neuro-immune protein interactome central to models of autism spectrum disorder
UCLA Enhancer-targeted correction of haploinsufficient gene expression in mouse models of autism
University of Iowa Characterizing the functional impact of mutations in Nr4a2-related neurodevelopmental syndrome
UNC Chapel Hill Linking cortical hypoconnectivity and reduced sensory habituation in autism mouse models
University of Wisconsin-Madison Identifying common genetic variants that affect molecular & cellular traits in ASD macrocephaly
University of Wisconsin-Madison Epigenetic regulation of neuronal maturation and autism
Washington U. School of Medicine Establishing specificity of motor imitation as a biomarker for autism
Yale Child Study Center Biomarker development in preschool children with autism and intellectual disability
Drexel Autism-adapted criteria for manic episode (Post-Doctoral Fellowship)

The research proposals were assessed by Dr. Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom, the lead scientific advisor from the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and 20 nationally recognized researchers who were individually selected based on the areas represented in the research proposals. The following criteria were closely considered in weighing the merit of each application: significance, investigator(s), innovation, approach, and environment. All research proposals were evaluated for measurable outcomes and transformational impact in the field of autism.

The approved research projects spanned the range of building on current ongoing and effective programs to topics and approaches that were novel, exploratory, and innovative. The community grants were distributed to projects that proved to be evidence-based, were aligned with the Eagles Autism Foundation mission, and provided an immediate impact on the community.

Table inside Article
Eagles Autism Foundation Scientific Review Panel
Peer Reviewer Institution
Dr. Emmanuel DiCicco-Bloom Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center
Dr. Anita Bhattacharyya University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dr. Martin J. Blaser Rutgers Center for Biotechnology and Medicine
Dr. Eric Butter Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Dr. Silvia De Rubeis Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Dr. Susan Hyman University of Rochester Medical Center
Dr. Suzannah Iadarola University of Rochester Medical Center
Dr. Paul Jenkins University of Michigan
Dr. Eric Levine University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Dr. Chiara Manzini Child Health Institute of NJ (Rutgers)
Dr. Eric Morrow Brown University
Dr. Tomasz Nowakowski University of California San Francisco
Dr. Damon Page Seattle Children’s Research Institute
Dr. Tim Roberts Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Dr. Celine Saulnier Neurodevelopmental Assessment & Consulting Services
Dr. Jill Silverman UC Davis
Dr. Catherine Stoodley American University
Dr. Peter Tsai UT Southwestern Medical Center
Dr. Sara Jane Webb Seattle Children’s Research Institute
Dr. Benjamin Yerys Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Dr. Lonnie Zwaigenbaum University of Alberta, Canada

"The ability to fund millions of dollars' worth of research and community grants would not be possible without those who generously support our mission throughout the year," said Ryan Hammond, Executive Director, Eagles Autism Foundation. "Since launching the Eagles Autism Challenge in 2018, we have been fortunate to fund 116 research projects and community grants across the globe. We are seeing breakthroughs in autism research every day and that inspires us to keep moving forward so that generations of families have the resources needed to lead fulfilling lives."

The 7th annual Eagles Autism Challenge presented by Lincoln Financial Group will take place on Saturday, May 18, 2024. To register for the event, visit The Eagles Autism Foundation is offering a 50% discount on registration using promo code: Fans24.

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