Early Career Catalyst Award - Kenneth Rainin Foundation

Early Career Catalyst Award

The Early Career Catalyst Award supports two early career investigators whose research could improve the lives of people with IBD.

The Kenneth Rainin Foundation believes that early support for innovative ideas can lead to improvements in preventing, predicting, diagnosing and treating Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Our Health grantmaking enables researchers worldwide to test ideas, gather and share data, and collaborate to advance the understanding of IBD.

The Rainin Foundation invites Letters of Inquiry for the Early Career Catalyst Award from March 1 through March 29, 2024. The Foundation is making these one-time awards, totaling $1 million, to commemorate our 15th anniversary of formal grantmaking. The Early Career Catalyst Award will provide $500,000 each to support the work of two early career investigators, in any field, whose research has the potential to improve the lives of people with IBD. One grant will support a basic research project, and the other grant will support a translational/therapeutic research project. All funds must be expended within five years of the grant start date.

Ensuring a robust pipeline of scientists is essential to finding a cure for IBD. Early career researchers bring new lines of thinking and introduce technologies and directions that are invigorating the field and enhancing quality of life for IBD patients. Building their capacity and programs is beneficial and essential to scientific discoveries and innovations.

Click to expand the sections below to learn more about the Early Career Catalyst Award and how to apply.

A researcher sharing findings in a digital poster session.
Alexis Gibson, PhD, sharing research at the Innovations Symposium. Photo credit: Mitch Tobias

Funding Criteria

Both basic and translational projects must be conceptually and/or technically innovative. Priority for translational projects will be given to applicants using human samples and/or datasets in their aims and objectives.

Applications will be evaluated based on:

  • Scientific feasibility of the proposal
  • The potential to advance and inform IBD research
  • Potential impact of award on investigator career development
  • Adequate resources available to the PI (at the home organization) to carry out the proposed activities



  • The Early Career Catalyst Award may only have one Principal Investigator and no Co-Investigators/Co-Principal Investigators.
  • Applicant must be an Assistant Professor or equivalent. If an applicant is not currently a faculty member but will be by October 1, 2024, they will need to include a letter from the institution to confirm the institution’s commitment to the applicant and the applicant’s official start date.
  • Applicant must be an independent researcher, with a doctoral degree and no more than five years from the time of appointment to an independent faculty position, including institutional support of at least $750,000 and lab space. If an applicant has had time off due to COVID-19 shutdowns, or for health/medical, family or personal reasons, this time will not count toward the five-year period.
  • We encourage investigators from underrepresented groups in science to apply.
  • Researchers from any scientific disciplines worldwide are eligible for funding.


  • All US nonprofit institutions must be classified as “not a private foundation” under Section 509(a)(3).
  • If a proposal from a nonprofit institution outside of the United States is ultimately recommended for funding, the institution will be required to undergo an Equivalency Determination process. The Rainin Foundation contracts with NGOsource to manage this process. Institutions outside of the United States do not need to provide any documentation during the two-stage application process.
  • The Foundation may upon occasion make grants to government and public agencies, as well as to independent projects that have a qualified tax-exempt fiscal sponsor.
  • Institutions may submit more than one proposal for different Principal Investigators.

The Foundation Does Not Fund:

  • Direct Assistance to individuals or individual sponsorships
  • Sports, athletic events or league sponsorships
  • Advertising or promotional sponsorships
  • Deficits or retroactive funding
  • Fraternal organizations
  • Organizations that discriminate based on religion, race, sexual orientation, gender or gender expression

Use of Animal and Human Subjects
Grant recipients using human or animal subjects must provide documentation of approval from the appropriate review committee within 90 days of award start date.

Application Process

Applying for an Early Career Catalyst Award is a two-step process.

  1. Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) addressing project aims and objectives, and a biosketch/CV, will be accepted online from March 1 through March 29, 2024, at 5 PM Pacific. Applicants selected by the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board will be notified by May 1 and invited to submit a full proposal. Download a preview of the LOI content.
  2. Selected applicants will submit a full proposal by Wednesday, June 12, 2024. Interviews with finalists will be conducted Sunday, July 14, 2024. Download a preview of the full application content.

Awards will be announced by July 30, 2024, and the grant start date is October 1, 2024. All grant funds must be expended within five years. This one-time award is not eligible for renewal.

Awards Calendar

Letters of Inquiry
March 1 – March 29, 2024
Letters of Inquiry are due by 5 PM PST on March 29, 2024

Full Proposals (by invitation only)
May 1, 2024 – June 12, 2024
Full proposals are due by 5 PM PST on June 12, 2024

Finalist Interviews
Sunday, July 14, 2024 (in person in San Francisco, or can be arranged to be virtual)

Award Announcement
August 1, 2024

Grant Period
October 1, 2024 – September 30, 2029

Budget Guidelines

Early Career Catalyst Award Letters of Inquiry do not include a budget.

Full applications must include a budget. All necessary costs can be budgeted including personnel, reagents, supplies and equipment. Institutions may use any format they’d like or download this budget template.

Salary support for the Principal Investigator (PI) cannot exceed 20% maximum effort for the period of the award (max $200,000 over 5 years). No indirect costs are allowed. Co-PIs are not allowed in the proposal. Support for other senior personnel is permitted, but must be commensurate with their limited role in the project. Primary support for the Early Career Catalyst Award will be for the PI and their research efforts.

Budget Amount

  • Early Career Catalyst Awards provide $500,000 USD for projects by individual researchers.
  • The budget must reflect the total amount of $500,000.
  • No indirect costs may be charged.

Principal Investigator Salary
The maximum amount allowed for the Principal Investigator salary is 20% of their Full-Time Equivalent (max $200,000 over 5 years).


Awardees will be required to submit annual progress reports and financial reports during the award period and a final report due 60 days after the end of the award period.


Please feel free to use our contact form to email Health Program Staff if you have any questions.