ASF Announces First Round of COVID-19 Pivot Grant Recipients, Opens Applications for Second Round
NEW YORK — June 3, 2020 — The Autism Science Foundation (ASF), a not-for-profit organization
dedicated to supporting and funding innovative autism research, today announced its first round of
COVID-19 Pivot Grant recipients. The grantees are Dr. Lonnie Zwaigenbaum of the University of
Alberta and Dr. Sandra B. Vanegas of Texas State University.
Announced in April, the COVID-19 Pivot Grants are meant to help scientists cover new costs
encountered due to adaptations or modifications of an original research plan as a result of the
current shutdown across research institutions. They are intended to be a fast-turn around
mechanism to accommodate an unprecedented and unpredictable situation for the research
“As their name indicates, the Pivot Grants were not part of our initial plan for this year, but just like
the scientists we support, we have adapted and are making the most of a difficult situation,” said
Alison Singer, Co-Founder and President of ASF. “Dr. Zwaigenbaum and Dr. Vanegas can now
continue their respective projects and in the process will set the tone for one of the most important
giving programs we’ve ever launched. We are grateful for their dedication to autism research amid
these daunting circumstances and very pleased to give our support.”
Dr. Zwaigenbaum’s work involves longitudinal studies that track the same children from birth through
adolescence. His studies have revolutionized understanding of early detection and intervention
delivery and improved long-term outcomes of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Due
to the pandemic, Dr. Zwaigenbaum was forced to adapt certain assessments to accommodate
social distancing protocols. The Pivot Grant will allow for the continued collection of data from a
cohort of children who have long been involved with the project and provide additional funding to
families to compensate them for their increased effort.
Dr. Vanegas’ work focuses on the unique needs of culturally diverse families in low-resource
households, an area that has historically been overlooked in autism research. Dr. Vanegas works on
the ASD Screening and Parent ENgagement (ASPEN) intervention program, which was developed
to help parents develop skills to address challenges in communication, socialization and difficult
behavior. Due to social distancing measures and closure of access centers for families, this
intervention must now be delivered remotely. The Pivot Grant will provide equipment and technology
to disadvantaged families with limited access to technology to ensure continued participation. It will
also enable researchers to evaluate the effectiveness of this telehealth intervention.
ASF also announced today a request for applications for a second round of COVID-19 Pivot Grants.
This tranche will be targeted at early career investigators (scientists currently pursuing a doctoral degree to those up to seven years post-doctorate). Interested scientists must submit a proposal
including a cover page, a summary of how the grant will be used, a list of references and the
project’s original grant proposal and budget. The application period begins today, June 3, and will
close on July 15.
“This is a challenging time for autism scientists, but while many aspects of life may be on hold, the
issues they seek to address in their research are as critical as ever,” said Alycia Halladay, Chief
Science Officer at ASF. “The response to our first round of Pivot Grants was overwhelming, and we
look forward to providing even more support as we continue to carry out our mission and adjust our
tactics to best meet the needs of researchers during the pandemic.”
About the Autism Science Foundation
The Autism Science Foundation (ASF) is a 501(c) (3) public charity. Its mission is to support autism
research by providing funding to scientists and organizations conducting autism research. ASF also
provides information about autism to the general public and serves to increase awareness of autism
spectrum disorders and the needs of individuals and families affected by autism. To learn more
about the Autism Science Foundation or to make a donation visit www.autismsciencefoundation.org.
Forefront Communications for Autism Science Foundation