Prize Application Guidelines


Prize Overview | Application Process | Deadlines | Key Criteria | Eligibility | Letter of Intent | Full Length Proposal | TemplatesReview Mechanisms | Prize Administration | Further Information

2017 Application Guidelines PDF


The Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research will provide scientists based in the New York area the freedom to take risks and pursue their boldest research at a stage when traditional funding is lacking. At least five prizes will be awarded annually, and the Prize winners will each receive $200,000 per year for up to three years. The Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance is dedicated to accelerating cures for cancer by advancing the pursuit of innovative cancer research and by facilitating collaborations between the science and business communities.

The Alliance will serve as a catalyst for collaboration among academic scientists and the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, as well as nonprofits and business investors. The Alliance seeks to guide philanthropic funds to feed critical scientific discoveries, attracting like-minded investors to the cause of fighting cancer and creating a pipeline for early-stage biomedical investments. In addition to receiving funding, the Prize winners will be invited to participate in a network involving an ongoing program to include:

  • Facilitated collaborations with other researchers within and across institutions
  • Mentoring program (including: collaborations between Prize winners and industry mentors and introductions to philanthropic and for profit investors in the business community)
  • Annual retreat and symposium
  • Ability to present the best ideas at conferences and events


The application process will be conducted in 3 stages:

Stage 1: Letter of intent (LOI) – opens on October 3, 2016, to all research organizations in the New York area. LOIs must be completed online. Please refer to the website.

Stage 2: Full-Length Proposal (FLP) – by invitation only, based on a review by PSSCRA of the LOI submission.

Stage 3: Presentation – Finalists will be invited to present their proposal to the Governing Board, Prize Advisory Board and Scientific Review Council at the 2017 Prize Board Meeting.


Please note that PSSCRA may adjust the notification dates without notice to applicants.

October 3, 2016: Application opens to receive Letters of Intent (LOI)

November 7, 2016: Deadline to submit LOI

December 21, 2016: Selected applicants invited to submit full length proposals

January 27, 2017: Deadline to submit full length proposals

April 13, 2017: Prize Board Meeting

Late April 2017: Prize winners notified

May 24, 2017: Prize Award Dinner

Summer 2017: Projects start


Innovative research: Truly novel approaches in cancer research with strong scientific rationale. Early stage and bold proposals are encouraged and will receive special consideration. The research areas include but are not limited to technology development and basic biology. The objective is to support projects that may be too innovative and speculative for traditional funding sources but still have a likelihood of producing important findings. It should be a unique project for scientists, who are encouraged to stretch their imagination into areas that can substantially change the area of research.

Scientific excellence: Scientific merit as determined by the Pershing Square Sohn Prize Scientific Advisory Council and the Prize Advisory Board.

Application to cancer: Proposals that articulate a clearly defined application to cancer will be favored. Goal is to advance research in new ways that will have an impact on understanding, diagnosis, prevention and/or treatment of cancer.


An MD, PhD, MD-PhD degree (or equivalent) is required. Applicants should have at least two (2) years of experience running their own laboratories and may have up to eight (8) years of experience. Principal Investigators (PIs) must hold faculty appointments at academic research institutions in the New York area at the level of Assistant or Associate Professor (or equivalent). The New York area includes New York City, Long Island and Northern and Central New Jersey.

An applicant who is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, by submitting an application for this funding, assures that his/her visa status will provide sufficient time to complete the project and grant term within the United States.  Investigators need not be specifically trained in cancer research; however, they should be working in an environment capable of conducting high quality, high impact cancer research.


LOIs are due Monday, November 7, 2016 at 5pm EST. Applicants must fill out and submit the LOI online. The LOI is a one page document, Times New Roman 11-point font and single-spaced (figures are accepted), that must include the following elements:

  1. A description of the applicant’s scientific accomplishments to date;
  2. A description of the proposed research project – must include scientific background, aims and research plan;
  3. A description of why the project is innovative within the specific research focus area;
  4. A description of how the Prize funding will impact his/her research.
    Note: The full-length proposal guidelines will be available in December


  • Full Length Proposals are due no later than Friday, January 27th, 2017 at 5pm EST.  Proposals submitted after the deadline will not be considered.
  • Applicants must fill out the 2017 Pershing Square Sohn Prize proposal application template and submit the proposal by accessing the submission website. The link to the submission website can be found at FluidReview.
  • Content should be single spaced; Times New Roman, 12-point font.
  • The Applicant’s name should be on every page.  Please include page numbers.
  • Figures can be in a smaller font as long as the information is legible.
  • Each section should be indicated with a section number and heading.
  • The Full Length Proposal application template, with detailed information on each section, can be found at
  • Complete 2017 Prize proposals will include the following components:
    • Cover Page (Project title, Principal Investigation contact info, abstract)
    • Lay Abstract
    • Scientific Abstract
    • Rationale & Significance
    • Specific Aims
    • Project Description
    • Statement of How the Proposed Research is Innovative
    • Statement of How the Expertise of the Applicant is Suited for the Research Proposed
    • Collaboration Description (if applicable)
    • Statement of What Can Be Accomplished
    • Timetable and Milestones
    • References (sent separately)
    • Budget
    • Budget Justification
    • Biographical Sketch
    • Other Support
    • Signed Submission Agreement


You may download the full-length proposal and prize budget templates to use in planning and organizing your application.

Remember, applications are accepted online ONLY.

2017 Prize Full-Length Proposal Template

2017 Prize Budget Template


  • After submission of the LOI, the Alliance will invite the selected applicants to submit full-length proposals as well as an interview.
  • Finalists will be invited to present their proposal at the 2017 Prize Board Meeting.
  • All proposals will undergo peer review by the PSSCRA Scientific Review Council and the Prize Advisory Board.
  • Applicants will be selected from a group of qualified individuals based on their credentials, the merits of their proposals and the connection of their proposals to the goals of the PSSCRA.
  • The final selection will be contingent upon ratification by the PSSCRA Governing Board.
  • PSSCRA will not provide reviewer critiques or evaluations to applicants.


Award letter
Upon acceptance of the Prize, the PI and his/her employing institution will be required to sign an Award Letter indicating acceptance of the PSSCRA Terms and Conditions. Among other requirements, PSSCRA must be notified in advance and approve of any significant changes in research objectives, key personnel or budget.

PSSCRA will allow no more than 10% of the award amount to be allocated to indirect costs.  Full term funding will be contingent upon review of annual progress reports and other oversight activities conducted by PSSCRA.  PSSCRA will determine future funding at its sole discretion.

Multi-year support is not automatic and is conditioned on meeting certain milestones and deliverables defined in the full length proposal and agreed with the PSSCRA, including submission of complete and accurate progress reports indicating that the research project is meeting measurable objectives.

Requirement for Acceptance of the Award
Industry Mentors: The Pershing Square Sohn Research Alliance will facilitate the relationship between Prize Winners and industry mentors whose involvement is beneficial to the project. In addition, the Alliance will facilitate introductions to philanthropic and for profit investors in the business community.

Scientific Meeting
Prize winners, academic and industry, Scientific Review Council members and Prize Advisory Board members, for profit and not for profit investors will be invited to attend the annual Pershing Square Sohn Meeting.

Reporting Requirements
All projects are required to provide an annual written progress report in accordance with applicable IRS requirements. The reports will be reviewed to ensure that the purposes of the grants are being fulfilled. Funded PIs are required to attend and present at the annual Pershing Square Sohn Meeting as well as by invitation the Sohn Investment Conference in New York City.

The procedures outlined above are in accordance with the procedure for making grants to individuals approved by the IRS for the Pershing Square Foundation.


Olivia Tournay Flatto, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance

Christy Barrow
Program Associate
Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance