Emerging Leader Award

Program Overview

The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research funds groundbreaking research integrating discoveries in biology with innovative technology to deliver breakthroughs to patients.

The Mark Foundation Emerging Leader Awards provide grant support to early career investigators conducting high-impact, high-risk cancer research. This award is intended to support projects for which other sources of funding are not readily available or for a separate innovative endeavor that will enhance the Principal Investigator’s current research portfolio.


  • Principal Investigator must hold an MD, PhD, or equivalent
  • Principal Investigator must be three to eight years from the start of their independent research appointment by December 31, 2019 (i.e., PI must have been appointed at any point in the calendar years between 2011-2016).
  • Institutional nomination is not required, and more than one application per institution may be submitted.
  • The Mark Foundation expects that candidates will have a demonstrated ability to obtain independent funding for their lab (e.g., one or two grants such as NIH/R01, NSF/CAREER, or equivalent substantial multi-year awards).
  • Applicants need not be U.S. citizens but must be employed by a U.S. non-profit academic institution. Citizens from countries other than the U.S. must have the appropriate visa or permanent resident status for such employment.
  • Applicants must be available to travel to New York City for final-round in-person interviews; date to be determined, 2019.
  • 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.

Terms of Award

  • $250,000 per year for three (3) years totaling $750,000
  • Indirect costs not to exceed $25,000 per year
  • In Year 3, at The Mark Foundation’s discretion, awardees may be invited to apply for up to two (2) years of additional funding depending on project progress. All such requests will be reviewed by The Mark Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Committee.
  • Award start date will be January 1, 2020.

Letter of Intent

  • Key dates for the next award cycle will be determined in early 2019.
  • Letter of Intent must include:
    • Principal Investigator Name, Institution, Project Title, Project Summary/Abstract (≤ 350 words)
    • Principal Investigator’s NIH Biographical Sketch
    • Other Support: Briefly list all current grant funding secured for your lab and pending grant submissions (e.g., NIH/R01, NSF/CAREER Award, or equivalent multi-year awards)
    • Key Words: Submit three to five keywords that are most relevant to the project

Application Process

  • Full applications will be accepted by invitation-only after review of LOIs submitted during the 2019 submission period.
  • Applications must be submitted through The Mark Foundation’s online portal. No paper submissions will be accepted.
  • Award Finalists must attend an in-person Scientific Advisory Committee review; date to be determined, 2019.
  • Award Finalists will be required to submit the following additional information:
    • Biohazard Statement
    • If the proposed research involves the use of human subjects, applicant must provide an explanation of IRB Approval & Human Subject Assurance Number.
    • If the proposed research uses vertebrate animals, applicant must provide IACUC & Animal Welfare Assurance Number and documentation.


All Letters of Intent and Grant Applications must be submitted through The Mark Foundation’s online portal no later than 5 PM Eastern Time on the respective due date. No paper submissions will be accepted.


The Mark Foundation will not consider projects that focus on the following topics:

  • Psycho-social aspects of cancer
  • Social support programs for cancer patients
  • Projects not centered on evidence-based laboratory, data and medical science
  • Clinical trials focused solely on demonstrating the safety and/or efficacy of a therapeutic modality that do not address a critical scientific question. Funding of a clinical trial or an aspect of a clinical trial that aims to substantially advance the understanding of cancer biology or validate new hypotheses may be considered.

Key Dates

  • Dates To Be Announced early 2019

Sample Application

All Letters of Intent and Grant Applications must be submitted through The Mark Foundation’s online portal no later than 5 PM Eastern Time on the respective due date. No paper submissions will be accepted, and Grant Applications will be accepted by invitation only.  The following sections will be included in the Grant Application:

  • Project Title
  • Project Summary/Abstract (≤ 350 words)
  • Project Narrative (≤ 100 words)
  • Project Description (≤ 2500 words [approximately five pages]; maximum four figure uploads).  Please address the following questions in the project description:
    • What is the broad scientific question or challenge in cancer research that will be addressed and why is this important? Describe in broad terms the research vision, strategies and potential outcomes over the next three years. Describe how your goals build on your existing program and past contributions or the current state-of-the-science. Please include only preliminary data that are critical for assessing the feasibility of the proposed research.
    • If the planned research differs from your past or current work, explain your rationale for the new direction, such as the development of new strategies or platforms and/or the posing of new hypotheses, and describe how your laboratory is well positioned to undertake this project successfully.
    • Discuss the reasons and the likelihood that your project will make novel and important contributions to cancer research as well as its potential to change paradigms for the prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment or long-term care of cancer patients.
    • Because the research strategy is expected to evolve over time, rather than a detailed experimental plan, please provide a description of the broad research questions to be addressed and the general experimental approaches to be taken as well as the rationale for these approaches.
  • Budget Justification: Provide a short paragraph on how this award will be used to extend your research in new directions. Please do not provide a detailed budget or specific spending plan
  • Letters of support from key collaborators (optional).