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How to Apply

The first step is to submit a two-page letter of intent describing how the McKnight award would permit new approaches and accomplishments toward the development of translational research.

The letter should address the following questions:

  1. What clinical problem are you addressing?
  2. What are your specific aims?
  3. How will the knowledge and experience you have gained in basic research be applied to improving the understanding of a brain disorder or disease?

The letter should clearly describe how the proposed research will uncover mechanisms of brain injury or diseases and how it will translate to diagnosis, prevention, treatment, or cure.

The letter of intent should include the email addresses of the principal investigators and a title for the project.

LOI Details

The application process is completely online. Please copy/paste the URL  to access the Stage One LOI form. One investigator (the primary contact for the proposal) will be required to set up a user name and password (please retain your username and password as you will need it throughout the process), complete an online face sheet, and upload a two-page project description with no more than two pages of references; any images must be within the two-page limit. Please single-space in 12-point font using one-inch margins. Project description, references, and NIH Biosketches for each PI should be uploaded as a single PDF.

Finalists will be invited via email to submit a full proposal, and a Stage Two URL will be provided. Competition is very intense; applicants are welcome to apply more than once.

If you do not receive email confirmation of receipt of your LOI within a week of submission, please contact Nan Jahnke at 612-333-4220 or

Selection Process

A review committee will evaluate the letters and will invite a few candidates to submit complete proposals.

Following review of the proposals, the committee will recommend up to four awards to the Board of Directors of the Endowment Fund. The board will make the final decision.

The Endowment Fund will fund up to four awards, each providing $100,000 per year for three years. Awards will be announced in December and begin on February 1 of the following year.

Selection Process

Candidates for Memory and Cognitive Disorders Awards:

  • Must be working at not-for-profit institutions within the United States.
  • Must hold full-time appointments at the rank of assistant professor or higher, e.g. associate professor or professor, at institutions within the United States. Scientists holding other titles such as research professor, adjunct professor, professor research track, visiting professor, or instructor are not eligible.
  • Must be addressing clinically relevant areas of neuroscience in new ways.
  • May not be intramural employees such as those at the Allen Institute, National Institutes of Health, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and similar institutions.
  • May not hold another McKnight award that would overlap with the Memory and Cognitive Disorders award.
  • We are interested in geographic, gender, and racial diversity and we encourage women and minorities, as well as scientists from all around the U.S., to apply.
  • Funds may be used toward a variety of research activities but not the recipient’s salary. The candidate’s other sources of funding will be considered when selecting awards.

Application Timeline

Application Deadline: March 25, 2019
Selection Committee Decision: Mid-June
Detailed Proposals: September 3, 2019
Board Decision & Announcements: December
Funding Begins: February 1, 2020