Young Investigator Award from Children’s Tumor Foundation

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Young Investigator Award from Children’s Tumor Foundation Application Guidelines

The Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF), established in 1978 as the National Neurofibromatosis Foundation, is a non-profit organization committed to promoting research and identifying effective therapies for neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) and schwannomatosis, and to improving the lives of those living with these disorders.

Together, these conditions affect ~1:3,000 individuals (around 100,000 people in the US and over 2 million worldwide). Since its inception, CTF has committed over $50 million to research grants and initiatives, supporting scientists around the world to conduct groundbreaking NF research.

The Young Investigator Award (YIA), CTF’s longest-running competitive award program from the mid 1980s, has traditionally provided two years of funding to early-career NF researchers.

The goal is to enable these trainees to become established independent investigators in NF-related fields. The YIA program provides seed funding to attract researchers to the field and to produce data to secure larger grants, such as from the NIH and CDMRP NFRP.

Several former YIAs are now leaders in the NF research and clinical communities. In fact, CTF’s ‘seeding’ of the NF field with new talent has been hailed as one of the key reasons for rapid advancements in NF research in recent years.

Young Investigator Award from Children’s Tumor Foundation Program Focus

The YIA mechanism supports basic and translational research towards –

  • Understanding cellular, genetic, and molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of NF1, NF2, and schwannomatosis phenotypes
  • Identifying and/or testing novel therapeutic targets*
  • Testing candidate therapeutics*
  • Analysis of natural history of NF

* Applicants with proposals focused mainly on validating and testing therapeutic targets and agents are advised to apply to CTF’s Drug Discovery Initiative program.

The focus of YIA research includes but is not limited to – NF1, NF2, and schwannomatosis Manifestations such as –

  • Neurofibromas, schwannomas, malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors, other brain and nervous system tumors
  • Bone abnormalities
  • Cardiovascular abnormalities
  • Learning disorders
  • Pain

Young Investigator Award from Children’s Tumor Foundation Criteria

The YIA program is open to applicants from outside the NF field as long as their proposed research is relevant to NF and will advance the understanding of NF. We recommend such applicants to identify a NF researcher to support their application and to guide their research.

Applicant must be: A postdoctoral fellow (MD, Ph.D., or equivalent) with no more than 7 years past completion of their first doctoral degree at start of award, OR

A graduate student pursuing an MD, Ph.D., or equivalent degree.

NOTE: This mechanism is NOT for individuals holding an independent faculty position.

Applicant must be affiliated with the laboratory of a senior researcher who is the applicant’s research sponsor. The sponsor must offer a training environment that is conducive for the growth and education of an early-career NF researcher. As part of the application, the mentor will be asked to describe the intended training plan.

Applicants selected for the YIA must commit to the following minimum effort requirements –

  • Predoctoral YIA awardees are expected to spend 100% of research time on the proposed project, encompassing a minimum 90% effort overall each year.
  • For Ph.D. postdoctoral applicants, it is expected that the YIA awardee will spend at least 80% of his/her effort on the proposed project.
  • MD postdoctoral applicants must provide overall anticipated effort in research, clinical duties, and any teaching, in the Activities Planned section. It is expected that all or the majority of the research effort will be put toward the proposed project.

NOTE: Data provided in the “Activities Planned” section of the application will describe the level of effort that will be dedicated to each activity, with a timeline reflecting plans to accomplish the specific Aims in the allotted time.

In a given year, more than one member from a laboratory can apply for a YIA. However, only one application per laboratory per year will be funded.

An individual may not receive more than one postdoctoral YIA in his/her career. Having had a prior CTF predoctoral YIA award does NOT preclude receiving a postdoctoral YIA award.

There are no citizenship requirements for this program. CTF seeks and welcomes applications from all qualified individuals worldwide.

Young Investigator Award from Children’s Tumor Foundation Funding


Predoctoral awardees receive a total of $64,000 for the TWO years of the YIA program ($32,000 each year including 10% indirect costs).

Postdoctoral awards

Postdoctoral YIA funding amounts are commensurate with experience as listed in the table below. Postdoctoral YIA recipients who were awarded the YIA in 2021 or later may receive an additional year of funding after completing the original two-year award duration.

Eligibility for third year YIA funding

To be eligible for the third year of funding, the awardee must submit a detailed progress report of their YIA-funded research and meet with the YIA program co-chairs for an interview during which they must also make a brief presentation of their research. Approval of the third year of funding will be contingent on satisfactory research progress as well as a plan for future directions/funding of the work and career objectives.


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