Launch Award

Female scientist and her female mentor conducting research in a lab

Nearly 10 million people worldwide live with Parkinson's Disease (PD).  In the US alone, 1M people live with PD, and this number is expected to increase by 20% by 2030.  With an estimated cost of $52B a year, the impact to society and families affected by Parkinson's is tremendous.  The need to solve PD is acute and requires a continued influx of talented scientists dedicated to PD research. The Parkinson's Foundation identifies and supports talented postdoctoral fellows who have demonstrated a vision to help us solve, treat, and end PD to ensure the PD community has the ideas and people necessary to address the causes, symptom progression, consequences, and treatments of this disease. The Foundation aims to help these young scientists transition and succeed in independent careers to maximize their impact in PD research.

Program Overview

The Launch Award will cultivate a strong cohort of new and talented independent investigators dedicated to PD research. The award will provide research support to outstanding postdoctoral researchers that will enable them to complete needed mentored training and transition promptly to independent research careers in the PD field. This award is a two-stage program consisting of a Mentored Stage (1-2 years) and an Independent Stage (up to 2 years). The strongest applicants will propose a well-conceived plan for 1-2 years of mentored research training and career development to help them become competitive candidates for independent faculty positions, preparing them to launch robust, separate research programs studying PD. The Launch Award seeks to attract the best and brightest individuals conducting research in the US or internationally. At the end of the funding period, it is expected that awardees will become independent research leaders with their own research space and research team.  

Level of Support

The Launch Award is a two-stage program that tracks the awardee's career stage, providing a total of $400,000 for up to 4 years. The support during the two stages is as follows:

1. Mentored Stage. The Mentored Stage is intended to last a minimum of 12 months and no more than 2 years. The funds available for this stage are capped at $80,000 per year, including approximately $20,000 per year for research support. During the Mentored Stage, salary support will be commensurate with the institution's pay scale of up to $60,000. An expected 75% of the applicant's time is to be dedicated to research. The remaining 25% effort is for additional training, postdoctoral projects, and publishing of results. There is no provision for the fringe benefits or deduction of indirect cost during the Mentored Stage of the award. Funds are awarded for two years, subject to annual review of progress.

2. Independent Stage. The Independent Stage provides up to 2 years of support contingent upon securing an independent research position at an independent academic or research institution and follows directly after the Mentored Stage of the award. The Independent Stage phase of the award has a total cost limit of $120,000 per year. Applicant salary support is permitted up to 40% of awarded funds, including fringe benefits. Deduction of indirect costs, not exceeding 10 percent of direct costs, from the total is allowed. As in the Mentored Stage, funds are awarded for two years — subject to annual progress reviews. Applicants may not hold concurrent research awards from the Foundation but are encouraged to leverage Launch Award funding for additional grant support. Ideally, the applicant will be ready to submit an NIH R01 or equivalent grant by the conclusion of a Launch Award.

Eligibility & Restrictions

Applicant must possess a Ph.D., MD, or equivalent degree and be within 18 months to 6 years of completing that degree or clinical training at the time of application, including resubmission. Applicant must currently be in a postdoctoral or other mentored position and must name and provide a letter of support from an established investigator who will serve as the mentor and supervisor. Applicants requiring less than 12 months of mentored research training and career development are not eligible for this award. Applicants may not have their own lab or equivalent. US citizenship or permanent resident status are not required – international applicants are welcome.

Transition to the Independent Stage of the award is not automatic and will be subject to progress review. The successful transition depends upon the applicant obtaining a full-time independent researcher position at the US or international institution, as recognized by their respective institutions. This position would make the awardee eligible to apply for an NIH R01 or equivalent grant as a PI and lead an independent research team. The Foundation will evaluate the evidence of independence and institutional support based on individual institution’s regulations.

Applicants from groups that have been historically underrepresented or excluded in the scientific workforce, including but not limited to racial and ethnic groups, sexual orientation and gender identities, individuals with mental/physical disabilities, and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, are especially encouraged.

Applying and Deadlines

We encourage Launch Award applications in all areas of Parkinson's Disease research. The Parkinson's Foundation application process is highly competitive. To make the process more efficient for both applicants and reviewers, we require a two-step application. Initially, we ask applicants to send a Letter of Intent (LOI). The Parkinson's Foundation will only consider applicants who submit complete LOIs by the specified deadline. If selected, the applicant will be invited to submit a full-length proposal. All components of the application must be submitted online through ProposalCentral, the Foundation’s grant portal. Click on Apply Now to enter ProposalCentral, where you will find additional documents and details regarding the application process, the LOI guideline and the list of required components. Please, see the Foundation’s Grant Deadlines webpage for current application dates.

Apply Now

Review & Decisions

Proposals are subject to peer-review and are competitively ranked based upon the candidate's accomplishments, scientific merit, the impact of proposed research upon Parkinson's disease, and alignment with the Foundation's mission. Final decisions are expected by late May. The Foundation's funding year typically begins July 1 and ends June 30 the following year.

Questions and Additional Information

Please contact grants@parkinson.org with any questions regarding this award.

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