Skip to main content

Frist Center Membership

The Frist Center for Autism & Innovation invites applications for Affiliates and Fellows. Full information about the mission and scope of the Center, including current activities, can be found on the Center’s website at Primary areas of focus for the Center’s work include:

  • inventing and commercializing new technologies that enable people with autism and other neurodiverse people to gain employment, succeed at work, and achieve their full potential;
  • studying and understanding neurodiverse capabilities, and inventing and commercializing algorithms and systems that are inspired by those capabilities;
  • developing policies, tools, trainings, and workplace practices that support, recognize, enhance, and enlist neurodiverse people and talents in the workforce;
  • demonstrating, documenting, and disseminating a community-based approach—including employers, self-advocates, researchers, policy makers, agencies, and organizations—to simultaneously enhance the bottom line for business and the quality of life for autistic individuals.

There are two ways that faculty and staff can officially be affiliated with the Frist Center: 

  • Affiliate is open to any VU/VUMC faculty or staff member who has a relevant interest in the activities of the Center, including—but not limited to—developing a strengths-based understanding of neurodiverse abilities; studying novel employment arrangements and workplace practices that leverage these capabilities; inventing new technologies that enable individuals with autism to achieve their potential; and exploring innovative approaches inspired by neurodiversity. Affiliates are eligible for benefits such as access to resource staff, postdoctoral fellows, and the ability to apply for mini-grants.
  • Fellows are Affiliates who are willing to contribute time and effort toward the Center’s initiatives, ranging from participating on committees, mentoring students, mentoring postdocs, hosting speakers, planning symposia, leading white papers, conducting studies, etc. Fellow status will be eligible for additional benefits, such as administrative support for working groups, prioritized access to resource staff and Center workspace, and the ability to propose projects with significant Center support.

Affiliate and Fellow status will be renewable on an annual basis and based on mutual agreement. We plan to have annual calls for affiliation.


For Current Members:

Call for Pre-proposals: Projects, mini-grants, literature reviews, and symposia

Due: Nov 15, 2019

The Frist Center for Autism & Innovation announces its first call for proposals for members to request support for mini-grants, large research projects, literature reviews, and symposia. We are utilizing a two-step process: In this first step, members may first submit brief pre-proposals for consideration; in the second step, those determined to be of greatest interest and potential fit will be invited to submit more comprehensive information for further consideration.

Eligibility: Requests for Frist Center support may be submitted only by members (Affiliates and Fellows) of the Frist Center for Autism & Innovation. Proposals in the Large Project category may be submitted only by Fellows. A current list of Affiliates and Fellows may be found at this link.

Categories of Support: Pre-proposals may be submitted in the following categories:

  • Mini-grants: Funds of up to $10,000 for 1 year duration may be requested for projects with short-term, concrete deliverables, that require modest funds, and/or to explore ideas that could potentially become large projects in the future.
  • Large projects: Funds of up to $50,000 for 1-2 years duration may be requested for projects that advance this year’s theme of “inclusion engineering” in one or more of the following areas. Requests for in-kind support that leverage the graduate student traineeship funding through the newly established interdisciplinary graduate program in Neurodiversity Inspired Science & Engineering (NISE) are especially encouraged.
  • Supports for Social Competencies: intelligent tools and platforms for supporting social interactions critical for employment
  • Adaptive Independence: adaptive tools and platforms that support transition to independence and work
  • Optimized Skill Acquisition: interactive tools, systems and policies that better support individuals learning vocational skills
  • Workplace Innovation: tools, systems and policies to engage in meaningful employment and improve workplace environments.
  • Literature reviews: Funds of up to $10,000 for 1 year duration may be requested to develop reviews suitable for publication in any area of relevance to the Frist Center mission.
  • Symposia: Funds of up to $10,000 for 1 year duration may be requested to convene a meeting at Vanderbilt in any area of relevance to the Frist Center mission. Requests for in-kind support in the form of logistical support and/or meeting space are welcomed.

Information Requested: The online form at this link requests the following:

  • One-page abstract level summary, including goals, key activities and deliverables, relation to Frist Center mission, rough budget
  • CV of the PI, list of key collaborators