Prize Application Guidelines


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

2024 Application Guidelines PDF 


The Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research provides greater New York City area-based early career scientists the freedom to take risks and pursue their boldest research at a stage when traditional funding is lacking. As of 2023, Prize winners each receive $250,000 a year for three years, totaling $750,000. At least six prizes are awarded annually.

The Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance (PSSCRA) 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. PSSCRA 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, Prize winners are given access to a unique network and are invited to participate in select programs, including:

  • Facilitated partnerships with other researchers within and across institutions
  • Networking programs (including: collaborations/discussions between Prize winners and industry mentors, introductions to philanthropic and for-profit investors in the business community, and invitations to special industry networking and entrepreneurship events)
  • Annual retreat and symposium
  • Ability to present the best ideas at conferences and events (hosted by PSSCRA and other organizations)


The application process will be conducted in three stages:

Stage 1: Letter of Intent (LOI) – Opens on Monday, September 25, 2023, to all eligible research organizations. LOIs must be submitted online through our application submission 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 2024 Prize Review Board Meeting.


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

September 25, 2023:  Application opens to receive Letters of Intent (LOI)
October 30, 2023:       Deadline to submit LOI
December 15, 2023:    Selected applicants invited to submit Full-Length Proposals (FLPs)
January 26, 2024:       Deadline to submit FLPs
April 3, 2024:               Prize Review Board Meeting at PSF Offices in NYC
Mid-April 2024:           Prize winners notified
June 17, 2024:               Prize Award Dinner
Summer 2024:            Projects start


Radically innovative research: Novel approaches in cancer research characterized by a strong scientific rationale and novel methodologies. Research areas may include, but are not limited to, basic research and technological applications. PSSCRA is seeking high-risk, high-reward proposals characterized by radically novel scientific approaches that would otherwise not be funded.

Scientific excellence: Scientific merit will be evaluated and determined by the Pershing Square Sohn Prize Scientific Review Council and Prize Advisory Board. For more insight please review our panel of board members and archive of past winning proposals on our website.

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

Applicants are encouraged, but not required, to submit proposals that leverage a multidisciplinary approach.


An MD, PhD, MD-PhD degree (or equivalent) is required. Applicants must have at least two (2) years of experience running their own laboratories but no more than six (6) years of experience by the start date of the Prize (July 2024). Exceptions due to prolonged medical or family leave will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Principal Investigators (PIs) must hold faculty appointments at academic research institutions in the greater New York City area at the level of Assistant or Associate Professor (or equivalent). The greater New York City area includes New York City’s five boroughs, Long Island, Westchester County, New Jersey, and Western Connecticut (Fairfield and New Haven Counties). Applicants may only apply to the Prize a total of two (2) times. 

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.

The Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability or any other legally protected characteristics.


LOIs are due Monday, October 30, 2023 by 5pm EST. Applicants must fill out and submit the LOI online. The LOI is a one-page document in Georgia, 11-point font, single-spaced, and one-half inch (.05) margins (figures are accepted, references not included in the limit), 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 their research.

A biosketch using our template (slightly different from the NIH template) will be required in addition to the LOI. The template can be found on our application submission platform.

The link to the submission form can be found on our application submission website:


  • Full-Length Proposals are due no later than Friday, January 26th, 2024 at 5pm EST.  Proposals submitted after the deadline will not be considered.
  • Applicants must fill out the 2024 Pershing Square Sohn Prize proposal application template and submit the proposal by accessing the submission website. The link to the submission form can be found at
  • Content should be single spaced in Georgia, 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 below.
  • Complete 2024 Prize proposals will include the following components:
    • Cover Page (Project title, Principal Investigator contact info, abstract)
    • Lay Abstract
    • Scientific Abstract
    • Significance and Innovation
    • Specific Aims
    • Project Description
    • Statement of How the Expertise of the Applicant is Suited for the Research Proposed
    • Collaboration Description (if applicable)
    • Timetable and Milestones
    • References (sent separately)
    • Budget* (template provided- see note below)
    • Budget Justification
    • Other Support
    • Biographical Sketch
    • Signed Submission Agreement

*NOTE: The total budget per year should not exceed $250,000 (this includes direct and indirect costs).  Therefore, the budget should be constructed as follows:

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total
Total Direct Costs $225,000 $225,000 $225,000 $675,000
Indirect Costs (10%) $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $75,000
TOTAL (Direct & Indirect) $250,000 $250,000 $250,000 $750,000


You may download the Full-Length Proposal and Prize budget templates to use in planning and organizing your application. Please check back in December to ensure that no updates have been made to the template.

Remember, applications are accepted online ONLY. 

2024 Prize Full Length Proposal Template 

2024 Prize Budget Template


  • After submission of the LOI, PSSCRA will invite the selected applicants to submit Full-Length Proposals.
  • All proposals will undergo peer review by the PSSCRA Scientific Review Council.
  • 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 PSSCRA.
  • Finalists will be invited to present their proposal to the PSSCRA Governing Board, Prize Advisory Board, and Scientific Review Council at the 2024 Prize Board Meeting on Wednesday, April 3, 2024.
  • The final selection will be contingent upon ratification by the PSSCRA Governing Board.
  • As a policy, PSSCRA does not provide reviewer critiques or evaluations to applicants.


Award Agreement
Upon acceptance of the Prize, the PI and his/her employing institution will be required to sign an award agreement indicating acceptance of The Pershing Square Foundation 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, and must be acknowledged in publications.

By submitting an application for funding, the PI grants PSSCRA permission to use their name, image, likeness and quotes at any time in connection with the publicity relating to this Award (whether during the Award period of after) provided that such use is factual, accurate and for non-commercial purposes only. PSSCRA will coordinate with the appropriate individuals with the employing institution for use of institution name. (Further publicity terms related to the PI’s institution will be outlined in the award agreement and will be agreed to upon agreement execution.)

PSSCRA will allow no more than 10% of the award amount ($25,000/year) 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 award agreement, including submission of complete and accurate progress reports indicating that the research project is meeting measurable objectives.

Annual Retreat
Prize winners, academic and industry leaders, Scientific Review Council and Prize Advisory Board members, and select guests will be invited to attend the Pershing Square Sohn Annual Retreat, held each fall.

Reporting Requirements
All projects are required to provide an annual written progress (narrative and financial) report in accordance with applicable IRS requirements. The reports will be reviewed to ensure that the purposes of the grants are being fulfilled. A template and reminder will be sent in advance of the deadline.

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


Please find answers to Frequently Asked Questions here.

We also recommend reading this article from PLoS Computaitonal Biology on best practices for grant applicants.

Olivia Tournay Flatto, PhD
Co-Founder and Executive Director, Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance
President, The Pershing Square Foundation

Christy Hudson 
Philanthropic Advisor, Life Sciences Programming
Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance
The Pershing Square Foundation