NYSCF – Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Awards

Register & Apply View the 2023 RFA

The 2023 RFA is now closed.
Candidates will be notified by July.
For questions, please email investigators@nyscf.org.

Program Details

NYSCF is soliciting applications from early career investigators for awards to support translational stem cell research. The aim of this initiative is to support highly innovative, emerging scientists whose pioneering approaches have the potential to transform the field of stem cell research, and that leverage stem cells to advance the understanding and treatment of human disease.

NYSCF is eager to support scientists who have just started their independent laboratories, and we strongly encourage applicants looking to secure their first major grant funding as an independent investigator. That being said, applicants will be evaluated first and foremost on scientific merit and the transformative potential and translational impact of their research for the stem cell field.

This career development award provides up to $1.5 million in flexible funding over 5 years. No institutional overhead is provided. NYSCF will accept applications from researchers based at domestic and international accredited non-profit research and academic institutions.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible, candidates must:

• Have completed one or more of the following degrees: MD, PhD, DPhil
• Be within 6 years of starting a faculty (professorship) or comparable position on June 1, 2023 (Note: an additional year of eligibility was added as a result of the COVID-19 crisis)
• Independently supervise a research team as head of group/laboratory
• Have a publication record containing articles that are innovative and high impact

All applications MUST be submitted through the online grant management system by February 15, 2023 at 5pm Eastern.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

NYSCF is committed to fostering diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in STEM. Overcoming the impact of systematic racism, sexism, and other discrimination that has systematically marginalized certain groups from STEM research is critical for a productive, innovative scientific community. NYSCF strongly encourages applications from scientists of all ethnicities, cultures, religions, nationalities, abilities and disabilities, sexes, gender identities, sexual orientations, geographic locations, and socioeconomic statuses. We invite and encourage applicants to (optionally) self-identify as part of any systematically marginalized groups in STEM (including, but not limited to, groups on the basis of gender (including identity / expression), race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and ability), and to describe how this identity may have impacted their scientific career. We request this information to help us stay true to our commitment to increasing diversity in applicants and awardees and to account for any undue adversity they may have faced due to their identity. We also require applicants to demonstrate their commitment to DEIB by describing any efforts or activities they are involved in that support DEIB in their own labs, institutes, or the broader STEM field.

Additionally, to help benchmark the state of gender equity in research institutions worldwide, we require all applicants to our grant programs to complete the Institutional Report Card for Gender Equity. The data submitted will not impact how your application is evaluated, but the report card must be submitted for the application to be considered complete. Details can be found under Report Card in the FAQ.


Eligibility  Program  Report Card

Application & Proposal

Does the 7-page limit include references and figures?
Figures are included in the 7-page limit, references are not. Figures should be placed throughout your proposal. Any pages after the 7-page mark (before references) will be deleted from your application.

Please note: figures must be embedded within the main proposal.

What size margins and font should I use?
No less than ½ inch and no less than 11pt font.

Do I need to include a budget?
No, you do not need to include a budget in your application.

Is there a minimum percent effort?
No percent effort needs to be declared, since this is a career development award given to a person, and underwrites all the activities in a lab, rather than a project.

How much information do you need for “details of other support”?
Please refer to the template in the application portal.

How should the letter of reference be submitted?
You should use the online grants management system to input names and contact information for your reference. You will be asked to enter the reference’s email address into the “Request letter of reference – enter reference email” box in the system. Once you have done this, you will be prompted to send him or her an email through the system requesting the letter of reference by clicking the “compose email” button. In addition to the email sent by you, a second auto-generated email will also be sent through the system to your reference with instructions and a link to upload his/her letter of reference.

Please note: The auto-generated emails to your reference will be sent from administrator@grantinterface.com. We strongly suggest that you email your reference in advance to describe the process, and to ask them to add administrator@grantinterface.com to their email “safe lists”. As soon as you send your email request through the system, the auto-generated email will be sent immediately. There should be no delay in your references receiving the email, so if they do not receive the email, please have them check their junk email filters. If there are additional problems or one of your references misplace the email, use the same “Compose Email” button to resend the two emails to your reference.

Does the letter need to be received by the closing date?
Yes, to guarantee the reference letter is included in your application, you will need to make sure your referee submits their letter through the online system by the RFA closing date and time.


If unsuccessful, can I reapply in subsequent years?
Yes. Many candidates have been successful after reapplying.

I have been awarded R01 grants and other NIH awards. Am I still eligible?
Yes, this award is meant to be a career development award to supplement funding in your laboratory and accelerate the pace of the research.

What makes a position equivalent to a tenure track faculty position?
If selected for the award, you will need to be able to provide documentation from your department head detailing independent status and institutional commitment, both financially and in the form of dedicated laboratory space.

My faculty appointment will not begin until _____. Am I eligible to apply?
As long as your faculty appointment will begin by the funding start date, January 1 of the year following your award, you are eligible to apply.

My faculty appointment began _________. Am I eligibly to apply?
You must be within 6 years of starting your independent faculty position on June 1, 2023.

Does NYSCF recognize and exclude eligible career breaks from the 6 years from independence rule?
Yes, NYSCF permits eligible career breaks such as: maternity/paternity leave, military service, etc. You should simply indicate the career break on the cover sheet where you list your faculty appointment dates.

Can more than one investigator at a given institution hold an Early Career Investigator Award?
Yes. There have been, and are currently several examples of more than one awardee being hosted by a given institution. We do note that it would be unusual to grant more than one Stem Cell Investigator Award or more than one Neuroscience Investigator Award to a single institution in a given year. However, the outcome of the Neuroscience Investigator Award and the Stem Cell Investigator Award are independent, and each will be evaluated as a separate program.


Will the RFAs be released again next year?
Yes, we plan to release the RFAs again next year.

Can I apply to both the stem cell investigator awards and the neuroscience investigator awards programs?
Yes, but only one of the applications can be funded.

What is the funding start date?
January 1

What is the funding rate?
At this time, it is NYSCF’s policy to not disclose funding rates for this award.

Report Card

Where did the idea come from?
The idea was generated from the Working Group of NYSCF’s Initiative on Women in Science and Engineering (IWISE). It was one of the seven actionable strategies the Working Group recommended for promoting gender equality in science following the inaugural IWISE meeting in February 2014. The conclusions and strategies from this meeting were published in March 2015 in Cell Stem Cell.

Can I read the IWISE Working Group’s paper?
Yes, you can read the paper here. We encourage you to share it widely with your colleagues.

Who is part of the IWISE Working Group?
The IWISE Working Group is made of a diverse coalition of international scientists, who span a variety of careers stages as well as leaders, politicians, journal editors, biomedical research funders and others who are committed to advocating for gender equality in science.

What have you done with the data you’ve collected?
Over the course of 4 years, we collected 1200+ report cards from 500+ institutions in 38 countries. An analysis of the data collected from the Report Card appears in the 2019 Cell Stem Cell paper “Institutional Report Cards for Gender Equality: Lessons Learned from Benchmarking Efforts for Women in STEM.” To read more about the initiative, read our press release, and see other press coverage on the study, please visit this page.

Do I have to complete the report card?
Yes. All applicants must complete the report card as part of their applications to NYSCF’s award programs. Applications without completed report cards will be considered incomplete.

Who should complete the report card?
The report card should be completed by, or on behalf of, your department chair.

Will the data reported in the report card affect my application?
No. The only way that the report card will affect your application is if it is not completed.

Will the data reported increase or decrease my chances of receiving an award?
No. The data reported by your department chair will not affect your grant application.

Meet the Investigators