• Proposal: 01/01/2020


  • Amount: $75,000 per year
  • Duration: 3 years


The McKnight Scholar Awards encourage neuroscientists in the early stages of their careers to focus on disorders of learning and memory.

The Scholar Awards support young scientists who: hold an M.D. and/or Ph.D. degree; have completed formal postdoctoral training; and demonstrate a commitment to neuroscience. The Endowment Fund especially seeks applicants working on problems that, if solved at the basic level, would have immediate and significant impact on clinically relevant issues.

McKnight Scholars have generated some key findings about neuroscience, including:

  • The discovery of receptors that encode the senses of smell, taste, and thermal pain.
  • The first crystal structure of one of the ion channels that control the excitability of neurons.
  • The discovery of neurotrophic factors that promote neuronal survival.
  • The identification of molecules that promote axon growth and regeneration in the nervous system.
  • The discovery of proteins in the nerve terminal that mediate the release of neurotransmitters.
  • The identification of genes that control short- and long-term memory.

Each year, up to six scholars are selected to receive three years’ support. Currently, awards are $75,000 per year. Funds may be used in any way that will facilitate development of the Scholar’s research program, but not for indirect costs.

The Scholar Awards have been given annually since 1977. They were the McKnight Foundation’s earliest means of supporting neuroscience research. In 1999, in revising the awards program, the Endowment Fund board continued the Scholar Awards but with the new goal of addressing problems with imminent clinical implications.

Eligibility & Submission Requirements

Candidates for the McKnight Scholar Awards must have:

  • An M.D., Ph.D., or other suitable doctorate
  • A record of meritorious research
  • Evidence of a commitment to a career in neuroscience
  • Full-time appointment at the rank of Assistant Professor, and must have served at that rank for less than four years at the application deadline. Scientists holding other titles such as Research Assistant Professor, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Assistant Professor Research Track, Visiting Professor or Instructor are not eligible, and time spent in service in those ranks does not count against the four years of service for determining eligibility.
  • Documentation that the sponsoring institution has government approval for the applicant to work in the U.S.

Applicants may not:

  • Be employees of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute or scientists within the intramural program of the National Institutes of Health
  • Apply in more than two rounds of competition
  • Have already been awarded tenure
  • Hold another award from the McKnight Endowment Fund

Contact Information

For questions related to this opportunity, please call the McKnight Foundation at (612) 333-4220