Our Award Programs
We offer four programs aimed at encouraging and advancing the work of early career cancer researchers with high promise. Each program is designed to address a need or fill a gap in cancer research funding.
Our grant-making process is rigorous and highly competitive. Each program is overseen by a separate committee of renowned scientists who select our award recipients.
Damon Runyon Fellowship Award
The Damon Runyon Fellowship Award is the Foundation’s oldest and most well recognized award. It is one of the highest accolades an early career scientist can receive. The grant is designed to give the nation's top minds the resources to further hone their cancer research skills and explore their own innovative ideas, while working with mentors in top universities and cancer research centers.
The Damon Runyon Fellowship Award is the scientist’s primary source of funding for four years—$208,000 for PhDs and $248,000 for MDs. Your support allows us to fund the cancer research projects of approximately 30 new Fellows each year.
Damon Runyon Dale F. Frey Award for Breakthrough Scientists
At the end of the Fellowship, there are often a select few Damon Runyon Fellows who have greatly exceeded the Foundation’s highest expectations. To catapult their research careers—and their impact on cancer—the Foundation will make an additional investment in these exceptional individuals by selecting them as recipients of the Damon Runyon Dale F. Frey Award for Breakthrough Scientists.
Damon Runyon-Sohn Pediatric Cancer Fellowship Award
Launched in 2012, the Damon Runyon-Sohn Pediatric Cancer Fellowship Award provides funding to basic scientists and clinicians who conduct research with the potential to significantly impact the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of one or more pediatric cancers.
The goal of this new Fellowship Award is to recruit the top young minds to research childhood cancers. It leverages the success of the internationally-renowned Damon Runyon Fellowship Award, which has an unparalleled track record for identifying future breakthrough scientists. After a national call for proposals, a selection committee chaired by William Carroll, MD, Director of the New York University Cancer Institute and comprised of leaders in pediatric cancer research, will select award recipients. The program is being launched as a pilot project with the potential for expansion if successful.
Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award
The Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award was launched in 2000 to help speed the process of moving laboratory discoveries to the patient bedside. It is designed to support and encourage physicians committed to translating cancer treatment research into cures, helping to address a national shortage of these specially trained scientists.
The Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award provides $450,000 over three years to each recipient for salary, research and staffing expenses. To address one reason for the decline of physician-scientists, the Foundation will also pay up to $100,000 of recipients’ medical school debt. Thanks to your support, Damon Runyon is currently funding 20 Clinical Investigators.
All third-year Damon Runyon Clinical Investigators are eligible to apply for the Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award Continuation Grant, which is designed to provide two additional years of support to Damon Runyon Clinical Investigators who are approaching the end of their awards and need extra time and funding to complete a promising avenue of research, or initiate/continue a clinical trial.
- Meet some of our Damon Runyon Clinical Investigators.
- View a listing of all current Clinical Investigators’ projects.
- See an interactive map showing where Clinical Investigators conduct their research.
- Scientists: Learn about Clinical Investigator Award applications and more in our 'For Scientists' section.
Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award
The new ideas and fresh perspectives of early career scientists often lead to breakthroughs. Yet the largest funder of biomedical research in this country, the federal government, is notoriously conservative, requiring that successful investigators show extensive preliminary data that essentially proves that their proposed research will succeed. As a result, bold, risky ideas remain on the shelf.
Recognizing this paradox, venture capitalist Andy Rachleff, with his wife Debbie, combined forces with the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation to create the Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award. The Award funds cancer research by exceptionally creative thinkers with “high-risk/high-reward” ideas—ideas that have the potential to significantly impact cancer, but lack sufficient preliminary data to obtain traditional funding.
The Innovation Award provides a total of $300,000 over a two-year period for salary and cancer research expenses with the opportunity for up to two additional years of funding (up to four years total for $600,000). In its first year, the Award attracted more than 400 applicants from top scientists across the US, highlighting the urgent need for this award.
Damon Runyon Physician-Scientist Training Award
In an effort to confront the crisis arising from a growing dearth of physician-scientists, Damon Runyon wishes to encourage more physicians to pursue research careers. To do so, the Foundation is establishing a pilot program designed to recruit outstanding physicians into cancer research careers by providing them with the opportunity for a protected research training experience under the mentorship of a highly qualified and gifted mentor.
The goals are to a) transform these individuals into the highest quality physician-scientists, capable of conducting research that has the potential to transform the diagnosis, treatment and/or prevention of cancer and b) to eliminate the financial disincentive to entering this career path.
This award will provide a total amount of $460,000 over four years. This funding source will enable these individuals to pursue research intensively while, if they wish to maintain their clinical skills, continuing to be clinically active. With the recognition that very few other funding sources (if any) exist to support these developing physician-scientists, this award is structured to provide recipients with significant salary support and necessary research expenses. In addition, the Foundation will retire up to $100,000 of any medical school debt still owed by an award recipient.