Request for Applications 2020 Basil O’Connor Program


Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Awards (BOC) support young physicians/scientists committed to the mission of the March of Dimes.  March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies.

Please read through these details carefully as many of the conditions have changed.  We invite impactful research that will advance our translational understanding of, or lead to improved clinical treatment of any serious medical conditions that afflict mothers during pregnancies or newborns within the first year of life.  Applications focused on preterm birth and birth defects are prioritized.  All applications are mandated to have a direct link to clinical translation.  The eventual goal to cure or greatly mitigate conditions that adversely impact the health of pregnant women and newborns is required.   Named for the first March of Dimes chairman and president, this grant is awarded to outstanding investigators just embarking on their independent research careers.

The award is $150,000 for 2 years, including 10 percent indirect costs to sponsoring institutions. Each application should be accompanied by a Letter of Support from a Nominator (see below).


June 3, 2019………….…….Application portal opened
July 17, 2019………………..LOI and Nomination due
October 28, 2019………..Invitation to submit application
December 5, 2019……….Full application due
May 20, 2020……………..Notification of funding decision
July 1, 2020…………………Award start date
June 30, 2022……….….…Award end date


The Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Award is intended to be an early career grant to young investigators who are just embarking on an independent research career.  Eligibility is thus restricted.  MD or MD/PhD applicants should be four to nine years past their last year of clinical training required for medical specialty board certification, must hold a full-time tenure-track faculty position (or equivalent) at their current U. S. based institution, and must have received their first tenure-track appointment no more than four years prior to the submission deadline.  For PhD scientists, the same timelines applies, but the four to nine year window begins upon completion of their terminal degree.  For PhD scientists, it is required that they have either primary or secondary appointments in clinical departments related to maternal or child health.

Requests for exceptions on timing (e.g. parental leave) may be submitted to the Chief Scientific Officer of the March of Dimes.

Applicants who have transition faculty-mentored awards (e.g. K99/R00) are welcome if they still have one year of the mentored portion.  If not, application should be deferred.  K12 and K08 applicants are encouraged.  Candidates may not simultaneously hold a grant for any other March of Dimes research program.  In addition, applicants may not have total grant support exceeding $200,000 per year before the BOC award start date (e.g. R01). Those who have previously submitted an application to the Basil O’Connor program are ordinarily not eligible for resubmission; however, exceptions will be considered on an individual basis.


The entire process must be completed online at


  • Letter of Intent (template provided) for the proposed research, which includes the following information in this order:
    1. Title of proposal.
    2. Hypothesis.
    3. Preliminary data.
    4. Specific aims and a brief summary of methods proposed.
    5. Current financial support: list all current financial support.  If there is no current support, state “NONE”.
      Items 1-5 may not exceed 3 pages
  • Candidate’s biographical sketch
  • Candidate’s facilities available 


  • Deans, Chairs of Departments, or Directors of Institutes/Centers may submit nominations for this award, addressed to the Chief Scientific Officer.  Included should be the Nominator’s name, academic appointment, mailing address, telephone and e-mail address.
  • Letter of Nomination (due by July 17, 2019) should be submitted via the online system.  The nomination letter should vouch for a candidate’s having an unrestricted faculty position and dedicated lab/clinical research space.  Information provided should explicitly include details concerning the candidate’s faculty appointment, independence, laboratory space (assigned to the candidate), startup package, and access to core facilities.  This information will be scrutinized closely.


1) The academic background and potential of the candidate.  2)  Resources available as judged by the nominator’s letter.  3)  The proposal: once completed, it should place the candidate in position to be competitive for a R21 or R01 building on the results of the project. 4) Clinical relevance to research priorities of the March of Dimes.


All awardees are expected to attend local and national March of Dimes events during the award and alumni sessions for the two years following.  Details will be available at the time of award.


Please direct any questions to [email protected].