What is the preferred method to submit an application?

Applications will only be accepted through the online grants portal located on the DSA Application Info & Requirements page. No paper applications will be accepted. 

If I applied in a previous year but was not funded, can I apply again?

Yes, re-applications will be accepted from candidates who applied previously if their first faculty appointment was not received before 3/1/2014. The application must be for a different research project. For applicants who applied in 2018, they would be eligible to apply in the 2020 grant application cycle. 

To inquire, contact Shandra Koler, Senior Program Officer at skoler@sontagfoundation.org.

The research I propose in this application is my first brain tumor project. May I apply without a background in neuro-oncology research?

Yes. There is great value in bringing other perspectives to bear on the complex questions relating to brain cancer. View the DSA Recipients on the website to see the diverse backgrounds and projects of our previous award winners.

Does the proposed research project have to demonstrate new knowledge relating to causes, cure, or treatment of primary brain tumors?

Yes, the proposed research project must demonstrate relevance to primary brain tumors; the Foundation does not fund projects focusing on metastatic brain cancer. 

Do I have to be a citizen of the United States to apply for this award?

No. There is no citizenship requirement, however, applicants must hold a faculty position at a non-profit academic or research institution in the United States or Canada.

My faculty appointment will become effective soon after the application deadline. May I still apply?

No. If your first faculty appointment was not effective on or before January 1 of the application year, you are considered ineligible and your application will not be considered.

I have held my first faculty appointment for just over three years. May I still apply?

Yes. In 2018, eligibility requirements were extended from three to five years of the applicant receiving their initial faculty appointment. You can apply if you received your first faculty appointment no earlier than 3/1/2014 and no later than 1/1/2019.

What should be included in the “Statement of Personal and Career Goals”?

The Distinguished Scientist Award is probably best characterized as a career development award, as opposed to a research award. For this reason, The Sontag Foundation is very interested in learning more about you, the applicant. Please read the questions posed in the Personal Statement portion of the application very carefully and be sure to address each question in your statement. This statement should share insights beyond information which can be gleaned from your CV. Provide us with a deeper insight into your character, career path, and long term goals.

What should be included in the “Project Summary”?

The project summary should provide a brief description of your research project in lay terms (language that is easy to understand by individuals who do not have a medical or scientific background). Provide a brief overview of the research and why it is important to the field of brain cancer. Please do not just repeat the opening paragraph of your research proposal.

How important are the reference letters and who should we ask to provide a letter?

The letters of reference are a key component of your application and each letter is read thoroughly by every member of the review committee.

We are looking for varied insights into you as an individual and your accomplishments at each stage of your career. A reference letter should be solicited from 1. Department Chair/Program Leader/Center Director, 2. Advisor during Postdoc/Mentor during training, and 3. Professional reference (can be provided by a collaborator, colleague, or mentor) who you feel would be able to share additional insights that would strengthen your application for this grant. 

How are indirect costs calculated on the proposed budget?

Indirect costs are calculated as $19,500 per year, as the maximum payout for each year of the grant is $150,000.


Is this a peer-reviewed award?

Yes. The selection process incorporates a review by a Scientific Advisory Board appointed by The Sontag Foundation. In addition to the scientific review, applications undergo a review by the Foundation lay committee; this committee looks closely at the individual applicant as opposed to the specific merits of the proposed research. Input from both committees are factored into final funding decisions.

How many Distinguished Scientist Awards are granted each year?

Since 2003, the number of applicants funded each year has ranged from two to five.

May I change institutions during the course of this award?

The Distinguished Scientist Award may follow an awardee to another institution, but The Sontag Foundation retains sole discretion to determine portability of the Award. Considerations include, in part, the grantee’s plans to continue the funded research project at another institution designated as tax exempt by the IRS and that institution’s willingness to agree to the terms and conditions of the award.

Is there someone I can talk to at the Foundation if I have additional questions?

Yes. If you have any additional questions, please contact Senior Program Officer, Shandra Koler, at 904-273-8755 or via email, skoler@sontagfoundation.org.