Application Instructions

The 2021 Application Portal Has Closed

The application submission portal will open in mid-August 2022 for the next cycle. The general timeline below remains the same. Updates to the instructions, FAQs, award details or eligibility will be posted by mid-July. Few changes are expected, use the 2021 information as a general guide.

Downloads (valid for 2021):

InstructionsFAQs | Award DetailsBlank Sample Application | Eligibility Assessment

Go To Application Portal


Our application and peer review process identifies exceptional postdoctoral researchers engaged in high-quality, creative science in all areas of basic life science. We solicit individuals, companies and foundations for the funds to support these young scientists at a critical juncture of their training for the three-year award period.

We receive about 900 applications each year and are able to make 18-27 awards annually. The number of awards depends entirely on our fundraising efforts that year. LSRF does not have an endowment or pool of funds. Each year we seek support for our current group of finalists. We were able to fund 27 of 55 finalists in 2018, 27 of 58 finalists in 2019, 22 of 60 finalists in 2020 and 24 of 58 finalists in 2021.

Timeline for Application Submission, Evaluation and Funding

Mid-August Website opens for applications
October 1 Application deadline – 8:00pm Eastern Standard Time
November 1 Supervisor and reference letters deadline – 8:00pm Eastern Standard Time
Late-November Applications sent to members of the Peer Review Committee for initial review
Mid-January Peer Review Committee meets to choose approximately 50-60 finalists
Late-January Applicants are notified of their proposal status – Finalists or Non-Finalist
February –  August LSRF solicits existing and new potential sponsors to fund the finalists. Awards are made as funding is secured for a finalist.
August 1 Award activation date – THIS IS THE ONLY AWARD ACTIVATION DATE


The award is open to U.S. and non-U.S. citizens.

U.S. citizens are eligible to work in any geographic location. Non-U.S. citizens must work in a U.S. laboratory to be eligible for an award.

You must have your PhD or MD degree by the award activation date of August 1st each year. We encourage graduate students to apply before defending their thesis, however, if your project is selected for funding, you must have your PhD or MD degree by the time the award is activated on August 1st.

The application requires a letter of acceptance from your proposed postdoctoral supervisor (the Principal Investigator of the lab where you will conduct your postdoctoral training).

You must complete your postdoctoral training in a lab different from that of your graduate (thesis) lab. Applicants planning to remain in their thesis labs for the duration of their postdoctoral training period are NOT eligible. Remaining in your thesis lab for a few weeks or months after receiving your degree, before moving to your postdoc lab, is acceptable. The covid-19 pandemic may have delayed your postdoc search or start date in your postdoc lab. LSRF will take this delay into consideration during the review process.

Applicants must apply within 5 years of receiving their PhD or MD degree (whichever was awarded later). If you have held a PhD or MD degree for more than 5 years at the application deadline of October 1, you are not eligible to apply. 


LSRF awards are intended to provide support for early postdoctoral training, those who have received their PhD degree and begun work in their postdoctoral lab within the past couple of years. Our eligibility statement: “within 5 years of receipt of your PhD” is aimed at those who began postdoctoral work and, after a period of time, decided to substantially change their project or shift to a new life sciences field entirely. “Substantially change” means a new lab, supervisor and project. The new lab is likely to be at a different research institution. LSRF will not make this determination for you nor will we respond to queries asking whether a project is/is not substantially changed. Senior postdocs working on the same project or in the same lab for more than a couple years may apply though are less likely to be selected as finalists.

All complete applications received through our online application portal will be reviewed by our peer review committee. A complete application means that an applicant has completed and finalized their submission by 8:00pm EST on October 1, 2021 AND that the required three (3) reference letters and one (1) supervisor letter were received by 8:00pm EST on November 1, 2021. Incomplete applications will not be considered. There will be no deadline extensions.

Visit our FAQs page for answers to many common questions about eligibility and the application process.

Application Information

The application contains four tabs, Applicant Information, Research Proposal, Letters of Reference and Supervisor Letter, and Demographics. Instructions for completing the application are provided below and within the application system.

Applicant Information

Complete all required fields. Much of this information may be pulled from your curriculum vitae/resumé. Requested information includes current contact data, education history, a list of peer-reviewed publications to date, a list of honors and awards received, a 300-word summary of your thesis dissertation and the name and contact information of the grants or sponsored program official at the institution where you plan to carry out your research.

TIP: Your list of peer-reviewed publications may include those “in press” and pre-prints uploaded to established preprint databases such as BioRxiv, ChemRxiv, etc.

Research Proposal

This section consists of a 250-word abstract field and an upload area for your Research Proposal file.

The Research Proposal is limited to seven (7) total pages: five (5) single-spaced pages for the research plan including figures and tables and two (2) pages for the literature cited. The proposal and literature cited should be formatted with one-half inch (0.5) margins on all four sides of the paper and 12-point Times New Roman or 11-point Arial as the minimum font size for the text of the proposal and literature cited. You may use 10-point Times New Roman or 9-point Arial font type for figure legends and tables. The style/presentation of the proposal is determined by the applicant, not LSRF. Be concise. Experts in the field review proposals; extensive background information is not necessary. Complete literature citations must be included – all authors’ names, article title, journal name, year, volume and page numbers. The seven-page Research Proposal is uploaded as a single pdf file.

Letters of Reference and Supervisor Letter

Applications must have a total of four (4) letters – three (3) reference letters and one (1) supervisor letter. You will enter the name and email address for each person providing a letter. When you finalize your application LSRF will send an email to each of these people with a link to submit their letters online. The letters are typed or copy/pasted into the reference field, not as a pdf upload. The deadline for receipt of these letters is November 1.

Reference Letters: must come from associates who can critically appraise the applicant’s qualifications. One letter should be from the applicant’s thesis advisor. If the applicant’s thesis advisor is unable to provide a letter, an alternate faculty member most familiar with the applicant’s thesis work may be substituted. This does not apply to M.D. applicants. The Supervisor may not serve as one of the three referees.

Supervisor Support Letter: must acknowledge acceptance of the applicant to their laboratory and the willingness of the Institution to administer the award. The letter will indicate the role expected of the applicant in the broad framework of the supervisor’s research noting the size of the research group and the degree of independence the applicant will have. *If you have co-supervisors, please note that only one supervisor letter may be submitted. The letter should state each supervisor’s role and include the names and contact information for both co-supervisors.

TIP: We strongly recommend that you contact potential reference letter writers and your supervisor as far in advance as possible to confirm that they are willing to write letters of recommendation on your behalf and will meet the November 1st deadline. Let your references know they will receive an email from “” with a link to type or copy/paste their letter into the application portal. The subject line of the email from LSRF will be: “LastName, FirstName has Requested a Letter of Reference” (substitute your last and first name for the above placeholders). This information will help them find the email. PI-s likely receive an overwhelming amount of email and we cannot absolutely guarantee that our email won’t get caught in an overly aggressive spam filter. 

TIP: You are responsible for ensuring that reference and supervisor letters arrive on time. You are able to send your references reminders from within the application portal and will receive email notifications when letters are received on your behalf. If your letter writers have an assistant, you may wish to let the assistant know about the requirements and deadlines as well.


Complete all required fields. None of the information in this section is used in the review process or visible to our peer review panel. We collect this information to ensure that our award information is reaching as wide an audience as possible, that we are receiving applications from a diverse population, to help identify areas of research where we should focus our fundraising efforts each year and identify general research trends. If requested, we may provide gender and race data to reputable organizations (FASEB, AAAS, Chronicle of Higher Education, for example) wishing to aggregate and analyze applicant and funding trends from private postdoctoral funding organizations. We began collecting this information as of the 2020 application cycle.

TIP: Confirmation emails will be sent from LSRF ( when your application is finalized and when each reference/supervisor letter is received by LSRF. Confirmation and notification emails will be sent to the email account you used to register for the LSRF Application Portal. If you fail to receive these confirmations, check your spam/junk inbox. You may check the status of submission of reference letters by clicking the link in your application submission confirmation email. 

TIP: LSRF will not extend the application deadline or accept submissions after the deadline for any reason. We strongly suggest collecting your application information and working on your proposal before the application portal opens in mid-August. Submit your application well before the deadline of October 1 to avoid missing it altogether due to an unexpected delay such as a computer glitch, health issue, or personal or family emergency. You cannot access your application to edit or add material  after October 1. You cannot add or change the name of a reference after October 1. 

TIP: We encourage you to provide a copy of your completed application to your sponsored programs office, so they are aware of your submission. Approval or from your sponsored programs office is not required for  submission of a proposal. You may refer your sponsored programs office to our Award Details page for more information about the award process and requirements.

Visit our FAQs page for answers to many common questions about eligibility and the application process.