Rita Allen Scholars

Since 1976, the Rita Allen Foundation has awarded millions of dollars in grants to early-career biomedical scholars. These grants allow them to establish labs and pursue research directions with above-average risk and promise.

Rita Allen Foundation Scholars have gone on to make transformative contributions to their fields of study, and have won recognition including the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, the National Medal of Science, the Wolf Prize in Medicine, and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. Today, Rita Allen Foundation Scholars receive up to $110,000 per year for a maximum of five years.

The Rita Allen Foundation Scholars program funds basic biomedical research in the fields of cancer, immunology and neuroscience. The Foundation also supports an award for scholars in pain research, who are selected in collaboration with the American Pain Society.

Rita Allen Foundation Scholars are distinguished by their bold approaches to basic scientific questions that address problems of global concern, as well as their potential for learning, leadership and collaboration. For application information, see our FAQs.

About the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars Program

  • What is the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars program? What are its funding priorities?
    • The Rita Allen Foundation Scholars program funds basic biomedical research in the fields of cancer, immunology and neuroscience. The Foundation also supports an award for scholars in pain research, who are selected in collaboration with the American Pain Society. Learn more about the Rita Allen Foundation Award in Pain here. The Rita Allen Foundation Scholars program has supported more than 150 scientists since 1976. The program embraces innovative research with above-average risk and groundbreaking possibilities. Scholars have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, the National Medal of Science, the Wolf Prize in Medicine and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.
  • What size of grants are available to Rita Allen Foundation Scholars?
    • Scholars can receive up to $110,000 per year for a maximum of five years. Scholars in Pain Research can be granted $50,000 per year for up to three years.
  • What can the grant funds be used for?
    • Rita Allen Foundation Scholar grant funds may only be used for direct project expenses, including up to 50 percent of the Scholar’s compensation.
  • Who is eligible to apply for the Scholars program?
    • Only invited institutions are eligible to submit a nomination for consideration for the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars program. The Rita Allen Foundation Scientific Advisory Committee reviews and recommends eligible institutions, which are confirmed by the Rita Allen Foundation Board of Directors. The Scientific Advisory Committee reviews and selects finalists from the eligible institutions for the Scholars program. Only one nominated candidate per eligible institution is accepted per year.
  • If an institution is not on the eligible list, how can it be considered for inclusion?
    • Institutions not currently eligible but interested should write to Elizabeth Good Christopherson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Rita Allen Foundation, 92 Nassau Street, Third Floor, Princeton, New Jersey 08542. The Rita Allen Foundation will notify institutions deemed eligible to nominate. The Scientific Advisory Committee typically reviews the eligibility list in the spring of each year, with invitation letters released in the summer or early fall.
  • Who is eligible to become a Rita Allen Foundation Scholar?
    • To be eligible for a Rita Allen Foundation Scholars Award, candidates must be nominated by an invited institution and have completed their training and provided persuasive evidence of distinguished achievement or extraordinary promise in research in one of the relevant fields (cancer, immunology, neuroscience or pain). United States citizenship is not a requirement; however, awardees must be legally employed at a U.S. degree-granting or research institution that is an invited participant in the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars Program. Awards are made to the 501(c)(3) organization; awards are not made to an individual. Scholars must perform research at a non-profit institution in the U.S. during the entire period of Rita Allen Foundation support.
  • Who should be nominated for the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars program?
    • Institutions should consider the following when considering whom to nominate for the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars program:
      • Candidates should be independent investigators in the early stages of their careers and research.
      • The caliber of early-stage investigators suggests nominees would be appointed to tenure-track positions at their respective institutions.
      • It is preferable that candidates be in the first three years of their tenure track. (This is taken into consideration in the rating of applications by the Scientific Advisory Committee.)
      • A senior postdoc should not be a candidate; wait until s/he is in a tenure-track position, as described.
      • Associate professors should not be candidates.
      • Candidates must have received committed startup funds from their respective institutions.
      • Candidates must have lab space from their institutions.

      Applicants with committed awards that overlap the first two years of the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars Program from the Beckman Young Investigator Program, Kimmel Scholar Award, Pew Scholars Program in Biomedical Sciences and Searle Scholars Program are not eligible. Other sources of funding may influence selection.

      Nominating institutions should consider the highly competitive nature of the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars program and submit their strongest nominee for consideration. The Rita Allen Foundation requests that eligible institutions share with us a description of the process they follow to nominate candidates.

      Further questions regarding the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars program should be directed to those responsible for the internal nominating process within a given eligible institution.

  • What are the key dates and deadlines for the 2017 program?
    • October 31, 2016, through January 20, 2017 Application period
      December 9, 2016 Letter of Inquiry (LOI) deadline
      January 20, 2017 Proposal deadline
      February and March 2017 Review period
      April 28, 2017 Finalist interviews – New York City
      May 2017 Grant awards announced
      June 2017 Grant contracts due
      June 2017 Press announcement
      September 2017 – August 2022 Grant period
      August 31, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Interim reports due
      December 1, 2022 Final report due
  • What is the nomination and application process?
    • The nomination must be completed by a senior official at the nominating institution and must be completed online through Fluxx, a Web-based grant application system. Nominations should include the following required support materials:
      • Identification of the candidate and an official letter of nomination;
      • An assessment of the candidate; and
      • A description of the procedure used by the institution to identify the nominee.

      Institutions are limited to submitting one nomination per review cycle.

      Once the nomination is complete and has been approved by the Foundation, candidates are required to complete the grant application in Fluxx and provide application support materials.

  • What reports are required of Rita Allen Foundation Scholars?
    • Successful grant recipients are required to provide complete narrative and financial reports detailing their expenditure of the grant funds and progress made toward the goal(s) of the grants. Grant reports also must be submitted online through Fluxx.