Thrasher Research Fund - Medical research grants to improve the lives of children

Early Career Awards


Award Focus

The purpose of this program is to encourage the development of researchers in child health by awarding small grants to new researchers, helping them gain a foothold in this important area. The goal is to fund applicants who will go on to be independent investigators. The Fund will make up to 32 awards total with two funding cycles (16 awards each).

Research Interests

The Fund is open to a wide variety of research topics. We do not focus on a particular ​disease, but all our funded projects deal directly with children's health.

In the Early Career Award Program, the Fund is particularly interested in applicants that show great potential to impact that field of children's health through medical research. Both an applicant's aptitude and inclination toward research are considered. The quality of the mentor and the mentoring relationship are also considered to be important predictors of success.


Those eligible to apply include:

1. Physicians who are in a residency/fellowship training program, or who completed that program no more than one year before the Concept Paper deadline.

2. Post-doctoral researchers who received the doctoral level degree no more than three years before the Concept Paper deadline.

We calculate eligibility by the year, ie. if you finished fellowship in July 2024 you are eligible to apply through all of 2025.

Extensions may be granted for parental, family, or medical leave. Please contact the fund to discuss your specific case.

While the award is open to all who are eligible, we especially hope to encourage applications from those in the United States who are part of underrepresented minority groups in research. More information can be found at

There are no restrictions with regard to citizenship. The Fund is open to applications from institutions both inside and outside the United States. These eligibility guidelines were developed from the prospective of a US training system, we are happy to discuss eligibility under different training systems and encourage applicants from outside the US to apply.

An applicant who is supported, or has been supported in the past, by a National Institutes of Health (NIH) K award (including a K12 award) or a Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) is not eligible to apply for the Early Career Award. An Investigator with an application pending for one of the above may apply to the Early Career Award Program, but if an award is received before the Thrasher full proposal submission deadline the application will be removed from consideration. If the award is received after the full proposal submission deadline you may keep both awards. 

Each project needs to be under the guidance of a mentor. The qualifications and experience of the mentor will be considered in the evaluation of the application. A mentor may have only one Thrasher Research Fund Early Career Awardee at a time.

Selection Criteria


Applicants who excel in this category have demonstrated commitment to a research career that will find solutions to children’s health problems. These applicants should demonstrate the potential to eventually become independent principal investigators.

This is judged in part by

  1. Publication record relative to where the applicant is in training
  2. The applicant’s role in developing the research project
  3. Prior funding, grants, and recognitions


This is judged in part by

  1. History of successful funding
  2. Publication record
  3. Expertise in the topical area
  4. Mentoring track-record
  5. History of working with the applicant

Research Question

All applications are expected to have a novel, scientifically sound, hypothesis-driven approach. Projects should be feasibly accomplished between 1-2 years.
Distance to Applicability

In the Discovery/Development/Delivery paradigm, most of our grants fall into the Development category, though excellent applicants in the Discovery and Delivery categories are occasionally funded.

Discovery: Mechanis​ms and pathways, biomarker target identification, gene identification, descriptive ‘-omics

Development: Therapeutics, interventions, diagnostics, clinically relevant biomarker validation

Delivery: Implementation science, operations research, health services, quality improvement.

Medical Problem

Both the incidence and severity of the children’s health problem are considered, including the resources and treatments already available to the problem.

Potential Impact

The line of research ultimately h​as the potential to meaningfully advance the field. Positive results will significantly improve child health, address an important research gap, and be widely translatable.

Should I Apply

While no applicants are perfect in all areas, successful applicants typically excel in most of the selection criteria listed above. Unsuccessful applications are usually weak in multiple areas. An audit of our previous concept paper submissions shows that the primary reasons for rejection were a combination of a longer distance to clinical applicability and either a weaker applicant or an unclear pathway to impact.

We do fund a limited number of proposals with a longer distance to impact, but the applicants and mentors are excellent and the research has a clear pathway to impact child health.

Application Deadlines

There​ will be two cycles each year with up to 16 applications awarded in each cycle. Cycles follow the same general timelines every year. If awarded, please note that projects must receive IRB approval within six months of the award notification date, listed below. 


CONCEPT SUBMISSION DE​ADLINE:September 5, 2024 (Noon Mountain Time)
PROPOSAL SUBMISSION DEADLINE:October 29, 2024 (Noon Mountain Time)


CONCEPT SUBMISSION DE​ADLINE:March 18, 2025 (Noon Mountain Time)
PROPOSAL SUBMISSION DEADLINE:May 8, 2025 (Noon Mountain Time)


CONCEPT SUBMISSION DE​ADLINE:September 2, 2025 (Noon Mountain Time)
PROPOSAL SUBMISSION DEADLINE:October 23, 2025 (Noon Mountain Time)


Budge​t Guidelines

The grant amount is based on the actual budgetary needs of the project, with a maximum of $25,000 in direct costs for the entire grant. The duration of the project can be up to two years. Indirect costs of no more than 7% of direct costs will be paid on Early Career Award Program grants, for a maximum total budget of $26,750.

Up to $12,500 in total of the proposed budget may be used for salary (including fringe) of the new researcher. Funds not needed for salary are to be used for research supplies or other research-related expenses.

The cost of attending conferences are allowed for the applicant to report findings resulting from Thrasher-supported research. Such travel costs may not exceed $2,000.

Publication costs are allowed with a cap of $2,500.

Tuition is allowed on a case by case basis for high level, specific courses or training programs pertaining to the grant aims. Requests need approval from the fund and require justification.

Requests for purchase of major equipment (single items >$4,000) are discouraged and rarely funded.


A Thrasher Early Career Award project does not need to be fully encapsulated within the $25,000 award provided by Thrasher. It is common for other sources of funding to contribute to the successful completion of a research project, such as funds from the mentor's lab. Demonstration of sufficient funds to complete the project is a consideration for the Fund's Advisory Committee.

Application Process

Early Career Award applications are submitted using two-step process. First, complete and submit the Concept Paper through our online portal​. Applicants whose concepts generally fit with the current priorities of the Fund are invited to submit a full proposal. Full proposals are reviewed by the Fund's Advisory Committee.


  • See above for links

Please see below for Cycle Deadlines

You can contact the Fund's Research Managers to discuss project ideas before submission