PhD. Trainee and Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Myotonic Dystrophy

Funding Agency:
Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation

The Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation (MDF) solicits applications, conducts peer review, and makes fellowship and research grant awards to advance disease understanding and therapy development for myotonic dystrophy. As a part of this effort, the Foundation annually funds doctoral and postdoctoral research fellowships (similar to a U.S. National Institutes of Health F31 or F32 award). Fellowships may be awarded for projects with qualified sponsors in appropriate academic, research institute, or pharmaceutical/biotechnology company environments. Projects may focus on basic, translational and/or clinical research or care projects in myotonic dystrophy.

Applications are due by September 10, 2021

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

Myotonic dystrophy (DM) is a chronic disease with multiple dimensions that affects the lives of DM patients and their families every day. There are two major types of myotonic dystrophy: type 1 (DM1) and type 2 (DM2). Both types of myotonic dystrophy are inherited autosomal dominant disorders affecting all areas of the body. The primary clinical physical manifestation is characterized by progressive muscle wasting and weakness affecting the lower legs, hips, hands, shoulders, neck, and face in DM1 and progressive muscle wasting and weakness affecting the proximal leg muscles, hips, shoulders and neck in DM2. Population-based prevalence in DM1 is 1:2100 (Johnson 2021).

People with this disorder may have prolonged muscle contractions (myotonia) and may not be able to relax certain muscles after use, affecting grip and speech for example. They may also develop cataracts, cardiac conduction defects, and infertility. Many patients also experience CNS effects that sometimes manifest as white matter lesions and patient-reported symptoms including central fatigue, excessive daytime sleepiness and difficulty in executive function. A variation of DM1 called congenital myotonic dystrophy includes weak muscle tone (hypotonia), breathing problems, CNS involvement, delayed development, and intellectual disability.

Recognizing that the symptoms and the severity of the condition vary widely among affected people and often severely impact activities of daily living and functioning, the MDF is expanding the scientific research endeavors eligible for Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowship awards to include research focused on improving treatment, care, and support of the DM patient and his/her family, as well as molecular biology and basic science. In 2022 MDF will prioritize funding at least one project focused on DM2 and will accept and consider proposals for both DM1 and DM2.

Eligibility Requirements

Doctoral applicants must be enrolled and in good standing in a Ph.D. program at an accredited academic medical center or research institute. By the time of award, the applicant must have completed two years of a doctoral program, including formal coursework and any qualifying examination requirements, and have selected a sponsor who focuses a major portion of his or her lab’s activities on DM.

Postdoctoral applicants must have a Ph.D., M.D., D.O. or equivalent degree from an accredited institution. Degree must have been received within no more than three years of the time of the award. The sponsor of the applicant must focus a major portion of his or her lab’s activities on DM.

Amount Description

Doctoral: $55,000 (includes funding for required travel)

Postdoctoral: $105,000 (includes funding for required travel)

Funding Type



Grad/Prof Students
Medical Fellow/Resident
Post Doctoral Fellows


Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Clinical Science
Medical - Translational

External Deadline

September 10, 2021