Program Overview

The Mark Foundation Emerging Leader Awards support innovative research from the next generation of leaders in cancer research. These grants are awarded to outstanding early career investigators to support high-impact, high-risk projects that are distinct from their current research portfolio.


  • An MD, PhD, or equivalent is required.
  • Applicants need not be U.S. citizens but must be employed by a U.S. non-profit academic institution.
  • Applicant must be three to eight years from the start of an independent faculty research appointment as of December 31, 2021 (i.e., the official start date of the appointment must fall within the calendar years 2012-2017). Exceptions due to prolonged medical or family leave will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • This award is not intended to be the main source of funding for the applicant’s laboratory. Applicants must therefore demonstrate multi-year independent funding that sustains the central activities of the laboratory (e.g., at least one or two grants such as NIH/R01, NSF/CAREER, or equivalently substantial multi-year awards). Individual eligibility will be determined during the review stage.
  • Projects for this award must be centered on evidence-based laboratory, data, and/or medical science.
  • Proposed projects must not be supported by other sources of funding. Finalists will be asked to discuss any potential overlap with other current or pending awards during the in-person interviews.
  • Only one submission per applicant is permitted.
  • If selected, finalists must be available for virtual interviews in October 2021.
  • The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability or any other legally protected characteristics.

Award Terms

  • $250,000 per year for three (3) years totaling $750,000
  • Indirect costs are not to exceed $25,000 per year and are included in total
  • In Year 3, at The Mark Foundation’s discretion, select Awardees may be invited to apply for up to two (2) years of additional funding depending on project progress.
  • Award start date will be January 1, 2022.
  • The Mark Foundation’s Emerging Leader Awards Policies will apply to all awards.

Submission Process

The submission window for Letters of Intent will open in March 2021.

  • The Letter of Intent will include:
    • Project Title
    • Project Summary: description of the proposed project, including a concise discussion of the rationale, experimental approach, innovation, and potential impact (350 words).
    • Statement of Project Distinction: brief paragraph describing how the proposed project is unique from the main focus of the lab and prior research activities.
  • Applicants will also be requested to provide an NIH biosketch and a list of current grants and other funding supporting the lab.
  • The initial review process of the Letters of Intent will conceal the applicant’s name and institution. Please avoid citations and references to the applicant name in the letter.