2024 Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science

The Vilcek Foundation will award three Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise of $50,000 each to young, immigrant biomedical scientists who demonstrate outstanding early achievement.

Who Should Apply

  • You were born outside the United States to non-American parents
  • You are not more than 38 years old
  • You are a biomedical scientist who has conducted creative, independent research in basic, applied or translational biomedical science

Why Should You Apply

  • Unrestricted cash prize of $50,000 is awarded to each prizewinner
  • Reflect on how your experience as an immigrant has shaped your success
  • Receive an invaluable endorsement of your contributions to biomedical science from leaders in your field
  • Receive a comprehensive public relations campaign to promote you and your work

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants must:

  • Have been born outside the United States of America to non-American parents.
  • Not be more than 38 years old as of December 31, 2023 (born on or after January 1, 1985). Exceptions will be made for applicants who were born between January 1, 1983, and December 31, 1984 and experienced career interruptions due to caregiving, medical, military or parental leave.
  • Have lived in the United States for at least 4 years (or immigrated to the United States on or before December 31, 2019).
  • Be one of the following: a naturalized citizen or a permanent resident of the United States; an H-1B or O-1 visa holder with a valid visa stamp; a H-4 visa holder with a valid EAD card; a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) relief; an asylee or an asylum seeker who has applied for asylum and has a valid EAD card.
  • Have earned a doctoral degree (MD, PhD, or equivalent).
  • Hold a full-time position at an academic institution or other organization. Eligible positions include: assistant or associate professor, or equivalent independent position.
  • Be directly responsible for the design and execution of the entire work submitted for consideration 
  • Have at least one publication as corresponding author.
  • Intend to pursue a professional career in the United States.
  • Not be a past recipient of the Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise.

Application and Selection Process

  1. Complete the application process. You will be required to:
    • Provide personal information.
    • Upload a PDF of your CV.
    • Upload a PDF with documentation of your valid immigration status and your date of birth.
    • Provide information on authored publications. The jury puts the greatest value on publications on which you are the corresponding author.
    • Complete three essay questions
      1. Please describe your role in the conceptualization, research and writing that resulted in the articles you submitted. We are interested in the scientific insights you developed, the evolution of your research approaches and strategies, and any technological innovations you may have made. What is the major significance of your work in the general context of biomedical science? (3,500 characters maximum including spaces)
      2. Please reflect briefly on your background and experiences in developing your scientific knowledge, talents and skills. Indicate what you have done personally and professionally that demonstrates your creativity and productivity. Feel free to make mention of any individual who has played a significant role in your personal development or in regard to your work. In addition, tell us about your future goals and what you are interested in accomplishing in your career. (3,500 characters maximum including spaces)
      3. Describe the circumstances of your immigration to the United States. (1,500 characters maximum including spaces)
    • Request two letters of recommendation by providing the names and contact information of recommenders.
    • Sign an age exception self-attestation if you were born between January 1, 1983, and December 31, 1984.
    • Submit a completed application by 5:00pm ET, June 12, 2023
  2. A panel of distinguished jurors—scientists and science/medical writers or editors—will evaluate each application based primarily on the individual’s research contributions to progress in biomedical sciences, as demonstrated in the quality and significance of their research and publication record. The individuals chosen will have demonstrated exceptional independence and creativity by their 38th birthday. In addition, the applicants will also be judged on their ability to communicate the significance of their research to a scientifically literate audience. 
  3. Recommendations of the jury will be submitted to the Vilcek Foundation’s Board of Directors for final approval. All three winners will be considered equal in standing.
  4. The winners of the Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science will be notified in September 2023. Prizewinners will be invited to attend the Vilcek Foundation’s prizewinner event in New York City in the spring of 2024. Travel expenses and accommodations will be covered by the foundation.

Frequently Asked Questions

I meet all of the requirements except for one.

In order to be considered for the prize, you must meet all of the eligibility requirements.

I’m having issues logging into my account or general technical issues using the Applicant Portal. Can you help me troubleshoot?

Yes, please reference the Applicant Guide and FAQ.

Do you have any tips for my application essay writing?

Please use the essays to provide context to your work and the materials you submit for the jury’s review. We are also interested in learning your immigration story to better understand you as a person and how it may have affected your work and life vision. 

What biomedical science categories are eligible?

  • Biochemistry
  • Bioengineering
  • Bioinformatics
  • Biophysics
  • Cancer research
  • Cell biology
  • Chemical biology
  • Computational biology
  • Developmental biology
  • Epidemiology
  • Genetics/molecular genetics
  • Human disease
  • Immunology
  • Infectious diseases
  • Metabolism/Endocrinology
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular biology
  • Neuroscience
  • Physiology
  • Stem cell research
  • Virology

Can I submit multiple applications in more than one category?

No, only one application per individual will be accepted. Please choose the category and subcategory or subcategories that best fit your work.

How long should my CV be?

There is no limit to the length of your CV, but we advise you to condense it to the most relevant points only. 

I work under a different name than in my ID.

Please include both names in your application and indicate which one is which.

Can more than one person from an institution submit an application?

Yes, we will consider each application in its own right.

Do applicants have to be nominated by their place of employment?

No, applicants are encouraged to create and fill out an application on their own. They do not need to be sponsored.

Which publications should I submit?

Please submit publications that best reflect your creativity as a scientist. Submit at least one publication in which you are listed as a corresponding author.

In the citation section, are you requesting the number of times my publications have been cited by other publications?

No, we are not looking for the number of times your article has been cited; instead, please submit a full reference allowing others to find your article in full, i.e., author names, journal name, volume number, publication date, etc.

My biomedical science publication uploads are over the accepted size limit.

Please be sure that you are submitting only the first page of your publication, or the first page and the page containing the abstract. Do not submit the whole article. The only exception to this is if you are submitting an article that has been accepted for publication but is still in press. If so, please contact us at creativepromise@vilcek.org to let us know.

I would like to submit an article that has been accepted but not yet published; is this acceptable?

Yes, please submit the article in full if possible. Please contact us at creativepromise@vilcek.org when you submit unpublished articles. .

I do not have any corresponding author papers yet but have multiple independent grants. Am I eligible?

Applicants must have at least one corresponding author publication to be eligible for the prize.

Can I submit a publication if I am a contributing author, instead of a corresponding author?

You do not have to be the corresponding author on all publications, but one of your submitted applications should be as a corresponding author.

I am currently here on an O-1/student/other visa types; am I eligible?

You are eligible if you currently hold a valid O-1 or H-1B or H-4 visa and have been residing in the United States for at least 4 years. Any other visa status is not eligible.

I am currently in the process of applying for a green card; am I eligible?

If you are in the process of finalizing the application for a green card and expect to have the proper documentation by August 2023, please contact us at creativepromise@vilcek.org before submitting your application.

I am currently applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status; am I eligible?

You are eligible if you have an I-797 approval notice showing approval of the I-821D DACA application. If you are in the process of applying or reapplying for DACA and expect to have the proper documentation by August 2023, please contact us at creativepromise@vilcek.org before submitting your application.

My temporary green card has expired, but I have submitted paperwork to become a permanent resident. I do not know if and when they will receive my information. Am I eligible?

Yes, applicants in the process of becoming a permanent resident are eligible. Please contact us at creativepromise@vilcek.org for further instructions.

My visa was approved, but I don’t have a visa stamp yet.

You may submit the approval notice in the place of the visa stamp. 

I’m currently in-between visas and live outside the U.S.

Regretfully, you are not eligible to apply for the prizes. 

My green card or visa has expired.

You need a valid visa in order to be eligible. If your green card has expired, please contact us at creativepromise@vilcek.org with more details on when and how it expired. 

I became a U.S. citizen when I was a minor and do not have a certificate of naturalization.

Please submit a birth certificate and your passport instead of a certificate of naturalization and contact us at creativepromise@vilcek.org.  

I can’t locate my certificate of naturalization.

Please submit a birth certificate and your passport instead of a certificate of naturalization and contact us at creativepromise@vilcek.org.  

I’m a U.S. citizen. Can I provide a copy of my passport as my immigration document?

No, a passport may be submitted as a supplementary document only. 

I am over the age limit but not by much; can you make an exception?

Regretfully, we are not able to make exceptions unless you experienced career interruptions due to caregiving, medical, military, or parental or leave, and are within two years of the age requirement (born between January 1, 1983, and December 31, 1984).

What kind of documentation should I provide to prove my career interruption?

Below are examples of accepted documentation:

  • Confirmation letter from your employer, a medical provider, or a military office;
  • Official request for leave or approval notice;
  • Certificate of birth or military service.

Do you accept other reasons for career interruptions?

No, we only make exceptions for caregiving, medical, military, parental or leave.

I was born in Puerto Rico, Guam, or another U.S. territory; am I eligible?

Regretfully, we do not accept applications from individuals born in the U.S. territories.

I was born outside the United States, but to American citizens; am I eligible?

Regretfully, we do not accept applications from the U.S. citizens who were born overseas but are American by birth.

Can the winners use the prize money to support a specific project, personal expenses, etc.?

Each winner will receive an unrestricted cash prize; there is no obligation to use the money in any way.

Are there any other monetary fees that I should be aware of before applying?

Winners of the Vilcek Foundation Prizes receive unrestricted cash prizes, which is considered taxable income. Consult your financial advisor to understand any tax implications of receiving a cash prize from the Vilcek Foundation.

If I win, will I have to pay taxes on the prize?

Yes, you will have to pay taxes on the income you receive from any Vilcek Foundation Prize.

Can I please change or update an already submitted application?

No, but you may contact us at creativepromise@vilcek.org to notify us of any changes or updates, but we cannot guarantee any changes to the already submitted application.

Are the prizes considered grants?

No, the Vilcek Foundation Prizes are cash awards and they shall not be considered grants. They will be considered taxable income. 

Can the cash awards be given to the institutions?

No, the cash award can be paid to individuals only.

If I am selected to receive a Vilcek Foundation Prize, can I decline to receive the prize payment myself and make a charitable donation instead?

In some cases, yes. We have a policy on prize transfers that outlines scenarios for transfers of cash prizes. Following your receipt of a prize, please let us know if you are interested in learning more about our policy.

If I apply for the prize this year and am not chosen as a prizewinner, can I apply again in the future?

Yes, as long as you are within the age limit of a certain prize cycle and are not chosen as a prizewinner, you are eligible to apply as many times as you would like.

I applied for a Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise last year and am still eligible. Can I receive feedback on my past application in order to prepare a more competitive one this year?

Due to the high volume of applications we receive, we regret not being able to provide feedback on applications.

Can I submit my application even though my recommenders have not submitted their letters?

Yes, we encourage you to submit your application as soon as you can without waiting for your recommenders to submit their letters. You can always log in to your account to check on the status of your recommendation letters after your application has been submitted.

I applied for a Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise last year. Can I please use the same recommendation letter I used in my last application?

Your recommenders may submit the same letters (not recommended), but you still have to re-enter your recommenders’ contact information and have them re-submit the letter.

Is there a length limit for the letters of recommendation?

No, there is no limit on length.