Individual Biomedical Research Award

Funding Agency:
Hartwell Foundation

The Hartwell Foundation seeks to inspire innovation and achievement by offering individual researchers an opportunity to realize their hopes and dreams. Through a unique funding process, we provide financial support to stimulate discovery in early-stage biomedical research that has not qualified for funding from traditional sources and that has the potential to benefit children in the United States. Our approach is to be unique, selective, thorough, and accountable. We want the research to make a difference.

Because this program is institutionally limited, there is an internal competition for selecting Duke's faculty nominees. Details below.


  • Duke Internal Deadline:  June 15, 2023
  • September 15, 2023: nominations for the Individual Biomedical Research Award are due at the Foundation office in Memphis, TN.


Hartwell Timeline

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

All Nominees must submit a detailed research proposal for early-stage, innovative and cutting-edge applied biomedical research that has the potential to benefit children in the United States. The Foundation seeks to fund research that addresses a specific and compelling unmet need to improve health outcomes for children, either by clinical translation of theory or application, or the strategic solution of a complex technical problem with the potential to advance translational biomedical research. The Foundation does not fund basic research (scientific inquiry motivated by a desire to extend fundamental knowledge with long delayed and unpredictable benefits); or provide financial support to those in pursuit of commercial ventures. The Foundation seeks proposals involving strategic research to address an unmet need in medicine or technology by targeting an enabling approach that can lead to essential advances and benefits that will make it possible for others to broaden the systematic examination of an uncharted area of applied science or facilitate focused development of innovation. Strategic research has the potential to reshape a complex technical problem that may accelerate clinical discovery and translational research.


The Hartwell Foundation does not fund research in public health epidemiology, social science, ecology, environmental impacts, botany, or anthropology. The Foundation will not fund “studies,” surveys, health services research or stand-alone clinical trials; and will not consider biomedical research in areas generally associated with adult health unless there is a readily apparent and particularly convincing benefit to children in the United States. In large measure, the selection process considers the extent to which funding will make a difference: the likelihood that success of the proposed research will benefit children in the United States and the extent to which funding will have a positive effect on the trajectory of the Nominee’s professional career. The selection process also considers whether the Nominee has appropriate expertise and research facilities to conduct the proposed research, as well as the extent and nature of collaboration by the Nominee and how such collaboration will facilitate success (If Nominee is not a Doctor of Medicine, at least one collaborator must be identified as actively engaged in practicing medicine, preferably in pediatrics). The Hartwell Foundation Individual Biomedical Research Award is not a training grant, a means for incremental extension of existing research, a solution to bridge funding, or a means to provide expansion to mature or well-funded laboratories. 

Eligibility Requirements

Participating Institutions agree to identify eligible Nominees by holding an internal, open competition from areas of discovery and applied science related to human health, including biomedical engineering. Participating Institutions agree to submit at least one Nominee that holds a Doctor of Medicine or equivalent professional degree or who have been admitted and passed coursework in the fields of medicine and/or surgery from an accredited medical school (e.g., MD, DO, DMD, DDS, MBBS, etc.).


Nominee: Only researchers nominated by a Participating Institution selected by The Hartwell Foundation are eligible to compete for the Individual Biomedical Research Award. All Nominees for the Award must hold U.S. citizenship; must maintain a full-time appointment within the Participating Institution; must have adequate committed laboratory and office space to conduct the proposed research; and agree to the terms and conditions set forth in the Application Process and Administrative Guidelines promulgated by the Foundation. Faculty at the level of Assistant Professor are preferred.  

Amount Description

Each Award is for three years at $100,000 direct cost per year.

Amount: $300,000 for Individual Biomedical Research Award

By accepting The Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Award, the participating institution agrees not to use any part of the funding for institutional overhead or other indirect costs and will not obligate or penalize the recipient of an award or a sponsoring research laboratory to pay by substitution such indirect costs by any other means. Except for health insurance, no portion of an award may be subject to deductions for discretionary fringe benefits by the Sponsoring Institution

Funding Type


Duke Awardees

NOTE: Prior winners:

2022: Anthony Filiano, PhD, Neurosurgery

2022: Pranam Chatterjee, PhD, Biomedical Engineering

2021: Andrew Landstrom, MD, PhD, Pediatrics

2020: Roarke Horstmeyer, PhD, Biomedical Engineering

2019: Neil K. Surana, MD, PhD, Pediatrics

2018 Eileen T. Chambers, MD, Pediatrics

2017 Nick Heaton, PhD, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

2016 Debra Silver, PhD, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

2015 Diego Bohorquez, PhD, Medicine - Gastroenterology

2014 Lawrence David, PhD, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

2012 Mary Hutson, PhD, Pediatrics-Neonatology

2011 Mary Louise Markert, MD, Ph.D., Departments of Pediatrics and Immunology

2010 Patrick C. Seed, MD, PhD, Pediatrics.

2009 Charles Gersbach, PhD, Biomedical Engineering

2008 Cynthia Toth, MD, Ophthalmology

2006 Guoping Feng, PhD, Neurobiology

2006 Jingdong Tian, PhD, Biomedical Engineering



Junior Faculty


Engineering and Physical Sciences
Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Translational

Internal Nomination

Owing to the sponsor’s restriction on the number of applications that may be submitted from Duke, anyone wishing to pursue nomination should submit the following materials as one PDF.

Text: 1-inch margins, single-column text, single line spacing and black 12-point Times Roman font. Do not indent paragraphs; separate paragraphs from each other by 6-point spacing. Use bold font only for section headings.

Lay Summary – provide in a single paragraph a description of the proposed research (450 words or less) suitable for a nontechnical audience:

  • Statement of Problem – description and magnitude of the problem in the United States; emphasize what makes the problem translationally important (e.g., prevalence, incidence, morbidity, and mortality rates) or strategic (focused development of innovation). Ignore economic considerations. 
  • Compelling Interest – identify what constitutes an unmet need and how addressing it successfully will benefit or improve health outcomes for children in the United States.
  • Innovation – identify the novel idea(s), discovery, or creative insight, including relevant model test systems, important experiments or a novel technologic approach that will be used to construct or test hypotheses, which may offer a unique translational benefit, inspire a distinctive shift in perspective, or provide a strategic advantage that may accelerate clinical discovery and translational research.
  • Justification for Funding – describe what will happen if the proposed research is successful (e.g., diagnosis, therapeutic intervention, prevention, clinical trials, etc.) and how successful outcomes will be deployed either translationally or strategically to benefit children.

Early-Stage, Innovative and Cutting-Edge Research – avoiding the use of any obscure technical terms, acronyms, abbreviations, or nuanced jargon that are unlikely to be understood by a lay reader, explain explicitly in three separate paragraphs how the research is: 

  • Early-Stage – the first sentence must begin “My research is early-stage because…”  Describe the early-stage nature of the proposed research, but not from the perspective that as a Nominee it represents a new area of interest. Justify how the research may be pioneering and is not simply an incremental advancement or extension of existing research by the Nominee or others; discuss the origin and timing of any discovery or first recognition of the innovation (e.g., the date of first disclosure of intellectual property) or the date of acquisition of any preliminary data.  Note:  Preliminary data is not a prerequisite for funding consideration but may provide an indication of the early-stage nature of the research.
  • Innovative – the first sentence must begin “My research is innovative because…” Characterize how your proposed research is fundamentally new and original or represents a different approach that overcomes limitations compared to known competing approaches; and how if you are successful the outcome will generate a dynamic tactical advantage or create paradigm-shifting strategic value. Describe how your innovation(s) when clinically translated will provide a benefit that addresses an unmet need or will lead to a heretofore unrecognized benefit.     
  • Cutting-Edge – the first sentence must begin “My research is cutting-edge because…” Describe how the proposed research will utilize state-of-the-art technology and/or a ground-breaking approach that will promote success of the proposed research (e.g., how the questions being posed reflect a particular importance and how they will have the greatest possibility of advancement using the specified technology).

A CV or biosketch – Please include current and pending sources of funding. Please include award amount.

Please submit internal materials through My Research Proposal. (Code: ILN)

Instructions for creating an account (if needed) and submitting your materials:


Internal Deadline

June 15, 2023

External Deadline

September 15, 2023