The Smith Family Awards for Excellence in Biomedical Research 2019 call for applications is closed. The previous call is below for your reference only.  This call for applications is scheduled to be upated in the Spring of 2020.  Please check the ECOR website and your emails from MGH Research News for updates. Click here to sign up to receive MGH Research News.

Smith Family Awards for Excellence in Biomedical Research 2019



MGH Internal Call for Pre-Proposals

Internal Deadline: Friday, June 28, 2019 – 5:00 PM



The mission of the Smith Family Awards for Excellence in Biomedical Research Program is to launch the careers of newly independent biomedical researchers with the ultimate goal of achieving medical breakthroughs. Since 1992, the Program has funded 169 outstanding scientists and has provided $34.7 million in research support. The three-year Award supports newly independent faculty engaged in basic biomedical research. Investigators in the physical sciences (physics, chemistry and engineering) whose projects focus on biomedical science are also encouraged to apply. Clinical research is outside of the scope of this program.

In recognition of the importance of research collaboration by the scientific community, collaboration is an additional, but not required, positive ancillary factor. These projects may involve researchers within and/or outside MGH.

MGH is eligible to nominate two candidates. Pre-proposals will be reviewed and assessed by the ECOR Subcommittee on Review of Research Proposals (SRRP). Nominees will be asked to prepare an online application directly to the Medical Foundation at Health Resources in Action (HRiA), which manages the Smith Family Foundation Award.


MGH Internal Pre-Proposal: Friday, June 28, 2019

Foundation Deadline: Friday, August 2, 2019 at 12pm (noon) (EST)



Up to five $300,000 three-year awards inclusive of 5% institutional overhead will be awarded. It is paid as $100,000 per year, effective December 1, 2019.

This funding opportunity is not exempt from the 15% indirect cost (IDC) floor minimum. However, ECOR policy states that "for MGH investigators selected through a competitive process as the institutional nominee for the Smith Family Foundation, in which the grant will bring in less than 15% indirect cost (IDC), ECOR will cover the IDC gap up to a maximum of $50,000 per year. In this case, the gap for the Smith Award will be $10,000 per year.



  • United States citizenship is not required.
  • Applicants must have a full-time faculty appointment at MGH at the time of application.
  • Applications will be accepted from investigators who have received (or will receive) their first independent faculty appointment on or between July 1, 2017 and at the time of the ECOR internal application of June 28, 2019. We recognize that the June 28 deadline is earlier than what the Smith Family Foundation requires for eligibility (December 1, 2019). However, we have chosen the earlier date to avoid the possibility of nominating a candidate who could end up being ineligible. The Smith Foundation will accept applicants who are Instructors and meet the requirements for independence.
    • “For the purpose of this award, the first independent faculty appointment is the first faculty appointment after completing either postdoctoral fellowship training (for PhDs) or an ACGME certified subspecialty training program, or equivalent (for MDs and MD, PhDs)."
    • Recognizing that position titles vary among institutions, the level of experience and independence of the applicant, as detailed in the Department or Division Chair’s Letter and will be given serious consideration.
    • Typically, independence entails designated laboratory and office space, core facility and staff support, and access to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, including those on training grant support.
  • Applicants must have completed postdoctoral training by the funding start of December 1, 2019 and not be receiving salary support from training funds at the time of application.
  • The awards are targeted towards investigators who have held limited independent federal grants.
  • Applicants with concurrent federal and nonā€federal funding support totaling $500,000 or more in direct costs at any time during the first two years (12/1/19 - 11/30/20 or 12/1/20 – 11/30/21) of the three-year Smith Award are not eligible. This figure refers to external funding only and not an applicant's start-up package, other intramural support or the Smith Award.
  • Applicants are also ineligible if they were previously or are currently a Principal Investigator or Co-P.I. on an R01, P01, Pioneer Award, New Innovator Award or similar large awards from other federal agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) or Department of Defense (DOD), or national foundations. 
  • Applicants who have pending R01s or other large applications to the NIH and other agencies are encouraged to submit proposals. If applicants are notified on or prior to September 1, 2019 that they have been successful in securing a federal or non-federal grant support with a combined total of $500,000 or more in direct costs at any time within the first two years of the Smith Award, their applications will not be eligible for review. Notification of funding after 9/1/19 will not impact eligibility for a Smith Family Award.



The Scientific Review Committee uses the following criteria to evaluate applications.

  • A clearly stated hypothesis, based on sound precedents and supported by relevant literature
  • Objectives that are technically feasible and personnel who are qualified to carry out the proposed research
  • Project’s scientific merit and the applicant’s familiarity with the pertinent literature and the work of other investigators in his/her field of study
  • Applicant’s potential to carry out independent research and clear ability to develop a sound research plan
  • Applicant’s level of independence and Institutional commitment to her/him

Typically, up to 10% of submissions are funded.



The MGH pre-proposal must include the following 8 items (PDF documents only):

1. Project Title

2. Status of Previous Application(s). Indicate whether you have previously applied for this award. If yes, were you the selected nominee and when did you apply?

3. First Independent Faculty Appointment. Please list the month and year of your first independent faculty appointment.

4. Statement of Independence (500 words) including:  

  • A description of the Institution’s level of commitment to the applicant, including all department support, and the long-term plan that is in place for his/her independent, professional development. 
  • Number of applications received in response to the national search for this position.  For candidates promoted internally, please clarify why a national search was not conducted.
  • Size of the applicant’s start-up package including any salary support.
  • Amount of lab space under the applicant’s control 

5. Research Proposal (A maximum of 3 pages is permitted, exclusive of references. PDF documents only) including:

  • Specific aims
  • Background and significance
  • Preliminary data (if available)
  • Research design and methods
  • Potential limitations

Please also include a paragraph on the future direction of your laboratory over the next five years, which is included in the 3 page limit.

6. A Current Biosketch in the NIH Format. Please include the month and year of all faculty appointment(s) and completion of post doc training. Click here for the NIH format.

7. Funding Support including all current and pending support with dates and dollar amounts.  The NIH formatted Other Support is required. Click here for the NIH Format.  

8. One Letter of Support from Unit, Service or Department Chief.“The applicant’s level of independence is critical. The letter of support must be very clear about the applicant’s autonomy. Space, start-up package, and institutional commitment will be used in evaluating independence. Although it is expected that a national search will have been conducted for this position, candidates may have been promoted within their current institutions. If the applicant was promoted internally, the Chair must clarify why a national search was not conducted.

In addition to describing the Applicant’s qualifications, the Department or Division Chair must explain how the institution will contribute to the Applicant’s research career.”



ECOR accepts all applications online via the ECOR Online Grant Management Portal. This user-friendly system will allow MGH researchers to submit electronic applications to ECOR. The system has been designed to allow users to:

  • Create a personal profile, which will auto-populate your future ECOR applications
  • Assign a delegate to submit an application to ECOR on behalf of the applicant (optional)
  • View current calls and apply to open opportunities
  • Save and edit current applications in progress
  • Submit completed applications to ECOR
  • View all your ECOR applications that have been submitted via the online grants system

Instructions for Applying Online

1. Create your account: Login using your Partners credentials and fill out the profile information.

2. Complete the application: Once your profile is complete, you will automatically progress through the online application. If you cannot complete the application at one time, “save” the application and return to it at a later time to finish. Before submitting your application, you will have the ability to make changes to the application.

3. Submit your application: Once you have completed the application click on the “submit” button at the bottom of the page. Once you submit it, you will not be able to make further changes unless you send a request to ECOR (note that once the deadline passes, requests to make changes will not be accepted).

Useful tips:

  • To avoid losing your work, remember to save frequently
  • You can only upload PDF documents
  • If you previously created a profile, please ensure your information is current

Click 'Apply' below to begin the application.




  • For further information, click here for the Smith Family Awards website.
  • To see a list of past recipients, click here.
  • Any questions regarding the internal submission and process please email ECOR.