Request for Applications  —Fellowships

Overview of program goals and scope

The PKD Foundation’s principal mission is to support basic, translational and clinical research that will benefit patients with autosomal dominant and autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD and ARPKD).

The PKD Foundation is interested in fostering research in the areas relevant to PKD with the goal of furthering our understanding of the physiological, biochemical, molecular and genetic mechanisms of this disease. This fellowship is designed to facilitate young investigators to obtain significant research experience as they initiate careers in PKD research. This program is intended to assure the continuity over time of outstanding investigators committed to the study of PKD.

Under this RFA, the PKD Foundation solicits research fellowship applications in the following areas:

  • Basic research – to enhance understanding of molecular basis of PKD and its pathobiology
  • Translational research – to accelerate development of predictive and therapeutic strategies for PKD
  • Clinical research – such as small pilot studies
  • Epidemiology/data analysis research – to conduct secondary data analyses utilizing existing database resources, or to develop new statistical methodologies or test hypotheses using existing data

Special consideration will be given to proposed research in the following areas:

  • Autosomal Recessive PKD (ARPKD)
  • ADPKD in children
  • Biomarker discovery and validation
  • Behavioral interventions (e.g., in dietary habits)
  • PKD drug discovery
  • Epidemiology/ data analysis (e.g., using existing datasets)
  • Extra-renal manifestations of PKD, including but not limited to congenital hepatic fibrosis, polycystic liver disease and intracranial aneurysms
  • Clinical care disparities (e.g., race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, rural versus urban)


Important dates 

Application opens October 2020
Application deadline January 18, 2021
Review period January-May 2021
Applicant notification May 2021
Funding cycle July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2023

Program specifics


Fellows may submit a proposal that examines any aspect of polycystic kidney disease biology. Applicants must:

  1. Hold an M.D. or Ph.D. or the equivalent degree at the time of the award.
  2. May not have completed the equivalent of more than four years of research training (excluding clinical training) after completion of the M.D. (or equivalent) or postdoctoral research training after the Ph.D. at the time the award begins. This does not include medical leave or FMLA.
  3. Complete research under the direction of a mentor.
  4. Not hold another full fellowship award although institutional supplemental support is acceptable.
  5. Commit a minimum of 75% of time to research and training during the fellowship period.

Terms of support

The Award of $60,000 per year will be provided for two years (grant total of $120,000).

The funds awarded must be used solely for the purposes specified in the proposal submitted to and approved by the PKD Foundation as executed by the investigator and institution in strict compliance with the budget attached to the application. Future-year funding is dependent upon availability of funds and interim research progress.

This funding opportunity has following restrictions:

  1. No Indirect Costs are paid on this award.
  2. Any use of the award for salary support must be justified in the application.
  3. Consultant costs cannot exceed $10,000; equipment costs cannot exceed $10,000.
  4. No more than $1,500 per year may be used for travel.
  5. Successful applicants may not hold any other research funding from the PKD Foundation at the time funding of this grant begins.
  6. Applicants with existing funding from other sources (on which they are in the role of the lead investigator) will not be eligible to apply for this award, although institutional supplemental support is acceptable.
  7. All current or potential funding must be disclosed at the time of application.

Application review procedures

The PKD Foundation strives to be transparent related to our decision-making processes. We rely on our grant review committees, who develop recommendations for funding, as well as the process we use as a Foundation to make funding decisions. Learn more here

Reporting requirements

Grantees must submit an annual Progress Report to be submitted along with a Financial Report. As part of these reports, a brief (one or two paragraph) summary written for the lay public must be included.  Although Research Grant and Fellowship Awards are for a two-year period, the PKD Foundation reserves the right to terminate any grant if there has been inadequate research progress during the first year of the award.

Download the PKDF Report Requirements.


A stipulation to all awards is appropriate attribution of the PKD Foundation in any publication, news release, presentation, etc. that results from work funded by the award. The PKD Foundation must also receive a copy of the publication and/or news release.

Please use language similar to the following: This research was funded by a grant from the Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation, The Foundation had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Intellectual property policy

All research projects funded by the PKD Foundation are subject to its intellectual property policy. Details can be found here. By accepting a PKD Foundation award for a research project, the Principal Investigator or other personnel contributing to and working on the project, as well as the Institution(s) with which they are affiliated, agree to be bound by the terms and conditions of this policy.

Liability policy & reporting responsibilities

The PKD Foundation serves as a grantor not a sponsor for research grant projects. For those involving human subjects, the responsibility for liability issues and all reporting requirements including local, state and federal regulations and requirements including those of the FDA, will reside with the sponsoring institution, not the PKD Foundation.

Conflict of interest

Any relationship between the investigators and any industrial collaborator must be disclosed in the application.

Grants policy statement regarding sexual harassment in the workplace

Prior to releasing funding, the PKD Foundation will require an Authorized Organizational Representative to certify by means of a signed letter on institutional letterhead, institutional commitment to ensuring:

  1. Proper policies, procedures and oversight are in place to prevent discriminatory harassment and other discriminatory practices, and;
  2. Commitment to respond promptly and appropriately to allegations of discriminatory practices.

Failure to provide the signed letter will result in withdrawal of the application/funding. The full Foundation policy can be found here.

Application instructions

The application cycle for 2020 has closed. See below for sections included in the application.

  1. Intro Page (one page): basic information including contact details and project title.
  2. Applicant Biosketch (no page limit): NIH style including other support
  3. Lay Summary (100–150 words): a description of the project in layperson terms. Be as clear and non-technical as possible, avoiding scientific terms. This information will be reviewed by non-scientific and non-medical individuals; it is helpful to pretend you are describing your project to a friend or new acquaintance that is not in the field.
  4. Project Plan:
    1. Abstract (500 words)
    2. Specific aims (one single page); including relevance to PKD research
    3. Research strategy (up to 3 pages); including experimental design and pitfalls. (Preliminary data is not required but may be provided if available)
    4. References (no page limit); citations of relevant publications
  5. Mentor Biosketch (5 pages)
  6. Letters of Support (no page limit) including:
    1. Letter of support from mentor (should be the same person who submitted Biosketch): should include the following items in any order:
      1. Specific comment on the role the candidate had in preparing the application for research funding;
      2. A description of the training plan for the fellow during the fellowship years. Please include all plans for scientific training as well as professional development;
      3. A description of the training environment;
      4. Is the fellow likely to pursue a career in research?
      5. How will the proposed research provide the applicant with the necessary skills and training to pursue an independent research career after the training period?
      6. What are the future career expectations for the applicant?
      7. In addition, the letter should detail the applicant’s previous training to allow assessment of eligibility and career potential.  The mentor should describe their experience in training post-doctoral applicants.
    2. Two additional letters of reference (no page limit): These letters should be written by individuals familiar with the candidate’s scientific interests and abilities.
  7. Budget: include all line-items to be paid for by PKDF funds. No indirect costs can be included in this budget. See the sample template.
  8. Signed IRB Approval and summary of clinical protocol (or letter confirming that IRB approval will be obtained before start of project/funds are awarded), if applicable (single page)
  9. Signed IACUC Approval of animal use protocol (or letter confirming that IACUC approval will be obtained before start of project/funds are awarded), if applicable (can be pending but must be approved by the time the funds are awarded)


Formatting Requirements

Font size and types, margins and line spacing requirements are necessary to ensure readability. Applications that do not strictly adhere to the following guidelines will be administratively withdrawn.

  • Font size: Must be 11 points or larger. Smaller text in figures, graphs, diagrams, and charts is acceptable, as long as it is clearly legible when the page is viewed at 100%.
    • Some PDF conversion software reduces the font size. It is important to confirm that the final PDF document complies with the font requirements.
  • Text fonts: please use one of the following:
    • Arial
    • Georgia
    • Helvetica
  • Page margins: 1-inch margins from top, bottom, left and right aspects of each page.
  • Line spacing: No more than six lines per vertical inch (e.g., text using Arial font size 11 would need to be at least single (1.0) spaced).
  • Text color: No restriction. Though not required, black or other high-contrast text colors are recommended since they print well and are legible to the largest audience.
  • *All images, graphs, charts, etc. should be included in the Project Plan section of the application.


For general guidance how to structure and write a grant application consider NIH resources (e.g., Format and Write Applications or Research Forms)


 The application portal (through ProposalCentral) will be available in early November.

If you have any questions, please contact

Learn more

To move us forward in finding treatments, we select outstanding researchers as recipients of the PKD Foundation Fellowships. The fellowships recognize early-career scientists whose achievements and potential identify them as rising stars – the next generation of scientific leaders in PKD research. Each fellow receives $60,000 a year for two years.