2022 Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science

The Vilcek Foundation will award three Creative Promise Prizes of $50,000 each to young, immigrant biomedical scientists who demonstrate outstanding early achievement. Applications for the 2022 Creative Promise Prizes are now closed. Winners will be notified in Fall 2021.

Who Should Apply

  • You were born outside the United States
  • You are not more than 38 years old
  • You have conducted creative, independent research in basic, applied, and/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
  • Winners are featured in a public relations campaign that promotes their 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, 2021 (born on or after January 1, 1983).
  • Have lived in the United States for at least four years (or immigrated to the United States on or before December 31, 2017).
  • Be one of the following: a naturalized citizen or a permanent resident of the United States; a 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 work submitted for consideration. Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows working under the supervision of a mentor are not eligible.
  • 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
    • 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)
      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)
      3. Describe the circumstances of your immigration to the United States. (1,500 characters maximum)
    • Request two letters of recommendation by providing the names and contact information of recommenders
    • Submit a completed application by 5:00pm EDT, June 11, 2021
  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. The Creative Promise Prize recipients selected by the jury will be scientists whose work best exemplifies the characteristics above.
  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 Creative Promise Prize in Biomedical Science will be notified in fall 2021. Prizewinners will be invited to attend the Vilcek Foundation’s annual awards ceremony in New York City in the spring of 2022. Travel expenses and accommodations will be covered by the foundation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Immigration Requirement

I am currently here on an OPT/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. 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 2021, 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 2021, 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.


Age/Birthplace Requirement

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

  • Regretfully, we are not able to consider applicants who fall outside the age limit.


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 American citizens who were born overseas but are American by birth.


Cash Prize and Application Process

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.


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.


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

If your category isn’t listed, please contact us at creativepromise@vilcek.org.



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 have to 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 corresponding author?

  • You do not have to be the corresponding author on all publications.


Letters of Recommendation

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 to the Creative Promise Prizes 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.