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How to Apply

Application materials for the McKnight Scholar Awards are available in September each year. Applicants must demonstrate interest in solving important problems in relevant areas of neuroscience.

The first step is to download the application and guidelines. Then, the principle investigator will be required to:

  • Set up a username and password (please retain your username and password as you will need it throughout the process)
  • Complete an online face sheet
  • Upload the entire application as ONE PDF, including
  1. Completed face sheet.
  2. Biographical sketch in NIH format.
  3. Description of the proposed research project. Applicants should propose experiments based on their best work. The proposal should be introduced with an abstract of 200 words or less, followed by a detailed statement of plans for the three-year research program. The proposed research does not need to present a totally new line of research, but it should not be identical to projects supported by other funders. The proposal (narrative and figures, but not bibliography) should not exceed six numbered, single-spaced pages, in 12-point font with one-inch margins.
  4. Proposed budget. The applicant should indicate how he or she proposes to use the McKnight Scholar Award funds ($225,000 paid in equal installments of $75,000 in 2019, 2020, and 2021). Allowable budget items include salaries and fringe benefits, equipment, supplies, animal costs, costs for technical services, etc. The application should include itemized budgets for each year, in a tabulated column/dollar amount format; narrative budgets are not acceptable. Funds cannot be used for overhead or indirect costs.
  5. Statement from responsible financial officer at sponsoring institution (see guidelines)
  6. Supporting information from applicant’s chairperson at sponsoring institution (see guidelines)
  7. Five recent publications.
  • Four references from former teachers, supervisors, or senior colleagues familiar with the applicant’s work. Letters of reference must be sent separately and in confidence by the four individuals listed as references on the face sheet of the application (see guidelines for instructions).

Selection Process

The McKnight Scholar Awards Review committee will evaluate the applications and select a limited number of applicants to be interviewed. Applicants will be notified in March and interviews are scheduled for Friday, April 5, 2019, in San Francisco.

The committee recommends candidates to the Board of Directors of the Endowment Fund for final decision. Awards will be announced in mid-May 2019.


In this competition, up to six McKnight Scholars will be selected to receive three years of support, beginning July 1, 2019.

Candidates for the McKnight Scholar Awards must:

  • An M.D., Ph.D., or other suitable doctorate.
  • Have demonstrated an interest in solving important problems in relevant areas of neuroscience, including the translation of basic research to clinical neuroscience.
  • Be in the early stages of establishing an independent laboratory and research career.
  • Full-time appointment at the rank of assistant professor, and must have served at that rank for less than four years at the application deadline. Scientists holding other titles such as Research Assistant Professor, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Assistant Professor Research Track, Visiting Professor or Instructor are not eligible, and time spent in service in those ranks does not count against the four years of service for determining eligibility.
  • Show evidence of a commitment to a career in neuroscience.
  • No more than four years of experience in an independent faculty position (exceptions may be made to allow for parental leave).
  • Have a U.S.-based sponsoring institution, to which awards will be paid.

Applicants may not:

  • Be employees of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute or scientists within the intramural program of the National Institutes of Health.
  • Apply in more than two rounds of competition.
  • Apply for continued postdoctoral support.
  • Have been awarded tenure.
  • Hold another McKnight award that would overlap with the Scholar award.

Amount and Purpose of Support

Each McKnight Scholar will receive $75,000 annually in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Funds may be used in any way that will facilitate development of the Scholar’s research program, but not for indirect costs.

Application & Guidelines


Online Instructions

The application process is completely online. Click below to access the application form.

Start Application


Application due January 7, 2019

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