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.

The award provides up to $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 and annual alumni conference.

Interested applicants should carefully read the following information about the award and application process before applying, as reapplications are not considered.

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

Application Deadline

The application deadline for 2017 has passed, the 2017 DSA Recipient(s) will be announced in the fall of 2017.

The application deadline for 2018 is March 14, 2018. The application portal will open in January, 2018. The information below is based on the 2017 grant application and will be updated in the fall.


  • The funding period for 2017 grants will begin on or about October 15, 2017 and end on September 30, 2021.
  • The DSA award provides up to $600,000 spread over a four-year period. The total amount of the award is determined based on an approved budget request and is disbursed to the institution in quarterly payments.
  • Progress reports must be received and approved prior to second, third and fourth year of funding.
  • The Sontag Foundation will allow up to 15% of the award to support institutional overhead. Indirect costs are calculated based on the direct costs for a maximum annual payout of $150,000.


  • Applicants must hold a doctoral degree in a discipline which can be brought to bear on the intractable disease, brain cancer.
  • At the time of application, applicants must hold their first independent full-time faculty appointment at the level of assistant professor, independent researcher or equivalent position at a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) academic, research or medical institution within the United States or an equivalent institution in Canada, appointment must have been made no earlier than March 1, 2014.
  • 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.
  • Reapplications in subsequent years of eligibility will be accepted by invitation only.


  • Acknowledgment of support from The Sontag Foundation should be made when findings from sponsored research are reported.
  • Should the recipient wish to discontinue or substantially change the proposed project, leave the current institution or otherwise modify any terms of the award, he or she must seek approval of The Sontag Foundation in advance.
  • Four-year support is contingent upon continued evidence of satisfactory progress.

Progress Report Requirements

Recipients must submit a written progress report by September 1 during each of the first three years of the award. Report should include the following:

  • Two-page summary of scientific progress to date
  • Financial report detailing expenditures to date
  • Itemized budget for the next year of funding
  • Bibliography listing papers published or in press relating to Sontag project; include copies of published papers and accepted manuscripts
  • Short (less than one-page) update of research progress to date in layman's terms
  • Informal progress reports are encouraged, and representatives of the Foundation may make periodic site visits at pre-arranged times.
  • A final written report with copies of all publications relevant to awardee's research will be required within ninety days of completion of funding. Final fiscal report will also be required at that time. 

To Apply

The 2017 grant application cycle is closed. The application forms are for reference purposes only and may be modified for the 2018 application cycle.


Additional Statement of Support

Application Checklist

For any questions about the application process, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page before contacting the Foundation.

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.
  • 2017 Awards will be announced in mid-October, 2017.