Applications for 2020 Creative Promise Prizes in Biomedical Science

Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise

Biomedical Science 2020 Applications Vilcek Dropdown Arrows
The Vilcek Foundation will award three prizes of $50,000 each to young foreign-born biomedical scientists who demonstrate outstanding early achievement. Eligible work may be in basic, applied, and/or translational biomedical science. 
Applications are now closed. The winners of the Creative Promise Prizes will be notified in fall 2019. Thank you for your interest!

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants must meet all of the criteria listed below:

  • Applicant must have been born outside the United States;
  • Applicant must not be more than 38 years old as of December 31, 2019 (born on or after January 1, 1981);
  • Applicant must: be a naturalized citizen or permanent resident (green card holder) of the United States; be a holder of an H1B or O-1 visa and have been living and working in the United States for at least 5 years; or have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA);
  • Applicant must have earned a doctoral degree (MD, PhD, or equivalent);
  • Applicant must hold a full-time position at an academic institution or other organization. Eligible positions include the following: assistant or associate professor, or equivalent independent position. The applicant must 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;
  • Applicant must intend to pursue a professional career in the United States;
  • Applicant must not be a past winner of the Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise.

Online Application

You will be required to:

  • Provide personal information
  • Upload a PDF of your CV
  • Upload a PDF with documentation of your immigration status
  • Provide information on authored publications
  • Complete three essay questions
  • Provide two letters of recommendation
  • Submit a completed application by 5:00pm EDT, June 10, 2019

Selection Process

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 outlined above. All three winners will be considered equal in standing. Recommendations of the jury will be submitted to the Vilcek Foundation’s Board of Directors for final approval.

The winners of the Creative Promise Prize in Biomedical Science will be notified in fall 2019 and will be invited to attend the Vilcek Foundation’s annual awards ceremony in New York City, in the spring of 2020. Travel expenses and accommodations will be covered by the foundation.

Frequently Asked Questions


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 welcome to create and fill out an application on their own. They do not need to be sponsored.


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

You are eligible if you currently hold a valid O-1 or H1B visa and have been residing in the United States for at least five 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 2019, please contact us at 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 for DACA and expect to have the proper documentation by August 2019, please contact us at before submitting your application.


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

Regretfully, we are not able to consider candidates who fall outside of our 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 U.S. territories.


I was born outside of America, but to American citizens; am I eligible?

Regretfully, we do not accept applications from 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 particular way.


Which publications should I submit?

If you are applying in the field of biomedical science, please submit publications that best reflect your creativity. 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 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 to let us know.


I am currently a postdoctoral fellow but will assume my new position as an independent researcher this fall. Would I be eligible?

Possibly; please explain the circumstances in your essay answers.


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.


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.

If you have any other questions regarding the awards or the application process, please contact Shinnie Kim, program officer, at 212-472-2500 or

  • We are here to help!

    Do you have questions about eligibility? Application requirements? Please contact Shinnie Kim, program officer, at with questions.```

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