About the Award

The Distinguished Scientist Award (DSA) seeks to provide career and research support to early career scientists who demonstrate outstanding promise for making scientific and medical breakthroughs in the field of brain cancer research.

Recipients of the award are inspired individuals with projects that show potential to generate new knowledge relating to causes, cure or treatment of primary brain tumors/brain cancer. Applicants are carefully considered and selected by The Sontag Foundation and its independent Scientific Advisory Board based on the scientific merit of the proposed project, career trajectory, peer and mentor references and an onsite research facility visit. In determining the overall scientific merit of an application, the Scientific Advisory Board scores applications based on the NIH review criteria of: significance, investigator, innovation, approach, and environment.

The award provides $600,000 in funding over a four-year period. Over that time, recipients also receive additional support from the Foundation through its vast network of scientists in the field primarily through the Foundation's annual Scientific Retreat.

Interested applicants should carefully read the following information about the award and application process before applying.

For answers to specific questions, please see the Frequently Asked Questions.

Application Deadline: 3/16/20


  • The funding period for 2020 grants will begin on or about October 15, 2020 and end on September 30, 2024.
  • The DSA award provides $600,000 spread over a four-year period. The total amount of the award is based on an approved budget outlined on the Foundation's budget template (works best if open template in Google Chrome, must SAVE PDF prior to entering data). Disbursements to the Institution are made quarterly. 
  • The Sontag Foundation will allow up to $19,500 to support institutional overhead with the maximum annual grant payout remaining at $150,000.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Applicants must hold a doctoral degree in a discipline which can be brought to bear on the intractable disease, brain cancer.
  • Applicants must have received their first independent faculty appointment no earlier than March 1, 2015 and no later than January 1, 2020 at a tax-exempt academic, research, or medical institution within the United States or an equivalent institution in Canada.
  • If the institution grants tenure, the qualifying appointment must be on the tenure track.
  • Research proposal submitted for funding must be a primary focus of applicant.
  • Applicant's career track and proposed research should demonstrate potential to generate new knowledge relating to causes, cure or treatment of primary brain tumors/brain cancer.
  • More than one individual from the same institution may apply for this award.
  • Applicants who applied in 2018 may apply with a different research project in the 2020 grant application cycle. 

Selection Procedures

  • Selection procedures have been designed to identify scientists who show the most outstanding promise of making fundamental/crucial contributions to new knowledge regarding primary brain tumors. In addition to scientific merit and the theme of the proposed research, consideration is also given to the individual's past performance and promise as evidenced by the documentation submitted.
  • Applications are evaluated by an independent Scientific Advisory Board comprised of established scientists; The Sontag Foundation's internal selection committee will also evaluate applications. Candidates will be notified of their application status in mid-August.
  • Once finalists have been identified, site visits by a lay committee of The Sontag Foundation will be scheduled.
  • Final recommendations will be made by the committee and submitted to the Board of Directors of The Sontag Foundation for approval.

Final Selections

  • The number of awards given is dependent upon receipt of applications of high scientific merit.
  • 2020 Awards will be announced in mid-October, 2020.