Funding Agency:
McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience

The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience supports innovative research designed to bring science closer to the day when diseases of the brain and behavior can be accurately diagnosed, prevented, and treated.

The Endowment Fund, an independent charitable organization established by The McKnight Foundation, carries out one of the intentions of William L. McKnight (1887-1979), who created the Foundation. His personal interest in memory and its diseases led him to set aside part of his legacy to bring hope to those suffering from brain injury or disease and cognitive impairment. In 1986, after 10 years of supporting investigators at different levels of neuroscience research, the Foundation made a permanent commitment to supporting fundamental research in neuroscience by establishing The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience.

The McKnight Scholar Award program gives promising young investigators in the early stages of an independent research career the opportunity to develop their work on critical problems in brain science. The intent of the program is to support the commitment by young scientists to a research career that will have an important influence on the study of the brain. Applicants for the McKnight Scholar Awards must demonstrate their ability to solve significant problems in neuroscience, which may include the translation of basic research to clinical practice.

Deadline: Jan. 4, 2021

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants must have:

  • An M.D., Ph.D., or other suitable doctorate
  • A record of meritorious research
  • Evidence of a commitment to a career in neuroscience
  • Full-time appointment at the rank of assistant professor, and must have served at that rank for less than four years at the application deadline (exceptions may be made to allow for parental leave).  Scientists holding other titles such as Research Assistant Professor, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Assistant Professor Research Track, Visiting Professor or Instructor are not eligible, and time spent in service in those ranks does not count against the four years of service for determining eligibility.
  • Documentation that the sponsoring institution has government approval for the applicant to work in the U.S.



Amount Description

Each McKnight Scholar will receive $75,000 annually in 2020, 2021, and 2022. Funds may be used in any way that will facilitate development of the Scholar's research program, but not for indirect costs.

Funding Type


Duke Awardees


Jeremy Kay, Duke University
Assembly of Retinal Direction-Selective Circuitry


Seok-Yong Lee, Ph.D., Duke University Medical Center 
Structure and pharmacology of sodium channel voltage sensors


Fan Wang, Ph.D., Duke University Medical Center
Molecular and Genetic Analyses of Mammalian Touch Sensation


Michael Ehlers
Molecular Regulation of NMDA Receptors



Junior Faculty


Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Clinical Science
Medical - Translational

External Deadline

January 4, 2021