Application and Eligibility | Postdoctoral Scholar Awards

Carefully review the detailed information below if you are interested in applying to the Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Scholars track or the Brain Resilience Postdoctoral Scholars track of the program.

Key Dates for 2024 Postdoctoral Scholar Awards
Application OpensFriday, August 11, 2023 
Application DeadlineSunday, September 24, 2023, at 5:00pm PST
Including faculty sponsor statement(s) and recommendation letters
Notification of AwardsLate November, 2023
Award Start DateFunding may begin between February 1, 2024 and June 1, 2024
Funding PeriodTwo years of funding from start date
To ApplyApply here

Eligibility Criteria


  • Applicants must hold an MD, PhD and/or DVM/VMD degree(s).
  • The applicant must be appointed as a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University at the time the award begins — Wu Tsai Neurosciences Postdoctoral Scholar Awards are not to be used for recruiting purposes. If the applicant is not an appointed scholar at the time of the application deadline, the applicant must submit their job offer letter, signed by them and their PI, for their upcoming position at Stanford to the Program Coordinator Zulema Garibo before the application deadline.
  • Instructors and Research Associates may not apply.
  • Citizenship is not a selection factor - international postdocs are encouraged to apply. Foreign scholars may have J-1 visas (receiving stipends) or H1B visas (receiving salary).
  • The Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute is committed to offering equal opportunity employment and encourages applications from all qualified individuals regardless of race, religion, cultural or ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation and disability.

Faculty sponsor(s)

  • A co-sponsor is not required.
  • The faculty sponsor and co-sponsor (if any) must be appointed at Stanford University. Acting and consulting appointees are not eligible to be a sponsor or co-sponsor.
  • The primary faculty sponsor must be the faculty who is sponsoring that postdoc’s appointment at Stanford University.
  • The faculty sponsor and co-sponsor must be Wu Tsai Neuro faculty affiliates. Any interested Stanford faculty member is invited to become an affiliate.
  • A faculty sponsor may not have more than one active scholar from each of the two tracks at a time.
  • A faculty sponsor may not co-sponsor more than two active scholars from the Interdisciplinary track and no more than two from the Brain Resilience track at a time.
  • A faculty member may sponsor two (2) applications per cycle, but only one (1) from each track, and/or serve as a co-sponsor on no more than four (4) applications per cycle, but only two (2) from each track.


  • The award funding is restricted to support research activities that are focused in the neurosciences and are within the scope of work proposed in the scholars application (which may include basic science, translational and applied sciences or the social sciences or brain resilience), and that are conducted under the direction of a Stanford University faculty member.
  • If the applicant currently has other fellowships, or has applied to fellowships that may be awarded during the Award period, they must make full disclosure of the names, amounts and dates of the other award(s) in their application.
  • This award is intended to provide primary fellowship support to the scholar, but sponsors may supplement stipends from research awards with prior approval from the Neurosciences Institute. If a postdoc is awarded another fellowship, the Institute should be notified immediately by e-mail to the Program Coordinator, Zulema Garibo. Refer to the Terms and Conditions for more details.
  • The Award funding is to be utilized for payments toward tuition, stipend or salary and health benefits.​


  • Please carefully review the Eligibility Criteria section above before beginning your application and contact the Program Coordinator Zulema Garibo if you have any questions.
  • All application materials must be submitted online by the application deadline. Please begin the online application with enough time to solicit the required letters of reference prior to the deadline.
  • The Selection Criteria & Guidance section below includes advice that will help you craft your application.

Application components

In addition to basic questions about the applicant, their postdoctoral appointment and sponsor(s), the application requires the following information:

  1. Total months of postdoctoral experience: The total number of months of postdoctoral training that you have had to date at Stanford or other institutions. How to calculate postdoctoral months of experience.
  2. Research title: Title of your research proposal.
  3. Abstract in lay language: A lay abstract is a short account of your research targeted at the general public. It should reveal the purpose of your research, the approach you will employ and the importance or significance of the project. Avoid jargon and acronyms. 300 word limit.
  4. Research collaboration and roles: Describe the collaborative process between you, your sponsor and co-sponsor (if any) in the development, review, and editing of this research training plan. Discuss the respective roles in accomplishing the proposed research. 300 word limit.
  5. Contribution to diversity: The Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute believes diversity, inclusion, belonging, equity and justice (DIBEJ) are essential to the advancement of science and to the development of a vibrant intellectual community. The institute is committed to identifying ways that we can ensure that all voices are heard and all have equitable opportunities to thrive in the neurosciences. We value the contributions of all community members from any and all personal backgrounds towards this effort. How will you contribute to diversity, inclusion, belonging, equity and justice at Stanford? This statement should describe your past efforts, as well as future plans to advance diversity, inclusion, belonging, equity and justice in neuroscience. To the fullest extent possible, it should demonstrate an understanding of the importance of inclusive research environments. 300 word limit.
  6. Proposal: Upload a pdf version of your research proposal, which must be written by the postdoc and reviewed by the faculty sponsor.
  • Proposals of applications to the Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Scholarstrack should bring together two or more distinct disciplines and/or propose research in a discipline that is significantly different from the scholar’s PhD work. For the Brain Resilience Postdoctoral Scholars of the Knight Initiativetrack: a strong application would demonstrate research thematically relevant to the Knight Initiative for Brain Resilience. For instance, thematically relevant studies could include molecular mechanisms, genetics, cell biology, imaging and/or development of novel technologies related to brain resilience, aging, dementia that may advance our understanding of mechanisms of neurodegeneration and/or how to maintain brain resilience into old age. Research proposals that are both relevant to the Knight Initiative for Brain Resilience and make use of an interdisciplinary approach must choose one of the two application tracks.
  • Page limit: 3 pages with figures and tables + 1 additional page for references. This is intended to be a brief statement of proposed investigation in the following sections: Background, Goals, Hypothesis, and Experimental Methods. Formatting guidelines: at least 1-inch margins at the top, bottom, left and right; 11 point font (Times New Roman, Times Roman, Arial, Helvetica, or Verdana). In the references page, please include DOI links for all references to allow the reviewer to look up the paper.
  1. Curriculum Vitae: Upload your current CV formatted using the Postdoctoral Scholar CV Template. Other CV formats will not be accepted.
  2. References: In lieu of a typical letter, your faculty sponsor must submit the Postdoctoral Scholar Primary Sponsor Statement. Your faculty co-sponsor (if any) must submit the Postdoctoral Scholar Co-Sponsor Statement. Additionally, you must provide 1 or 2 letters of recommendation, depending if you have a sponsor and a co-sponsor or just a sponsor respectively, for a TOTAL of exactly 3 references. At least 1 letter should be from a scientist not directly engaged in the proposed research. All references must be requested and submitted through Slideroom. Do not skip this portion of the online application form — you cannot return to the page to add the information later, and your letter writers will not be contacted.

Review Process, Selection Criteria & Guidance

Review Process

  • All applications will be reviewed by an interdisciplinary panel of faculty who have expertise in neuroscience.
  • Applicants will be notified of results in December. The committee does not provide feedback on individual applications.

Selection Criteria & Guidance

The review committee will consider the following criteria:

  1. Stage of training: Anybody who has been appointed as a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University between January and June of 2023 is encouraged to apply, but the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Postdoctoral  Scholar Award program usually gives preference to applicants in the first two years of their post-residency or postdoctoral training. Scholars applying in their 1st, 2nd or 3rd years will be equally considered for a Brain Resilience Award so long as their total number of years designated as a postdoctoral scholar (including 2 years as a Brain Resilience Postdoctoral Scholar) will not exceed 5 years.
  2. Scientific merit: A strong research proposal defines how the proposed work would address an interesting and important question or technical challenge in the neurosciences broadly defined, advance justified hypotheses or address a technological gap, state clear goals with well-structured aims that will address the goals, and demonstrate creativity or innovation in identifying or addressing the problem. Strong proposals may be hypothesis-driven, exploratory, or primarily focused on technology development and communicate the general approach to readers. 
  • For the Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Scholars track: a strong application would clearly demonstrate interdisciplinarity in multiple ways. One is through proposed research that brings together two or more distinct disciplines. Another is that the applicant seeks to establish themselves as an interdisciplinary scholar by proposing research in a discipline that is significantly different from the scholar’s PhD work. Strong applications will also demonstrate the applicant’s potential for performing interdisciplinary research by including strong mentorship and training plans from faculty sponsor(s), and/or by showing past successful interdisciplinary research. A co-sponsor is not a requirement in order to meet the program’s expectations for interdisciplinary neuroscience research.
  • For the Brain Resilience Postdoctoral Scholarsof the Knight Initiative track: a strong application would demonstrate research thematically relevant to the Knight Initiative for Brain Resilience. For instance, thematically relevant studies could include molecular mechanisms, genetics, cell biology, imaging and/or development of novel technologies related to brain resilience, aging, dementia that may advance our understanding of mechanisms of neurodegeneration and/or how to maintain brain resilience into old age.
  1. Contributions to diversity: a strong statement of contributions to diversity would include knowledge about diversity, inclusion, belonging, equity and justice (DIBEJ) or a track record in advancing DIBEJ, or future plans for advancing DIBEJ. We acknowledge that everybody is at a different stage in their knowledge of the role diversity of experience and knowledge has in innovative research, and in their engagement in advancing DIBEJ in neuroscience research, and we encourage all applicants to consider how they may grow and contribute to this effort. Engagement in DEI may occur at several levels: at a personal level, within the lab, or within Stanford or the broader community. Learn more about ways you can get engaged.
  2. Applicant qualifications: Strong applicants will demonstrate productivity, independence, creativity, collaborative mindset and promise for innovation in neuroscience research based on information in the CV, sponsor statements and reference letters. Strong applicants will be able to convey independence and their collaborative mindset in their description of their role and that of the sponsor in developing the research project.
  3. Training: A strong application will convey a coherent and realistic training plan through (1) the applicant’s research proposal, (2) their description of their role in carrying out the research project, and (3) their sponsor(s) statement(s). The sponsor(s) statement(s) will include specific ways in which the applicant and their sponsor(s) will address the applicant’s individual technical and professional goals, thinking broadly about the skills needed to prepare the applicant for their desired career path.


If you have any questions about the Wu Tsai Neuro Interdisciplinary Scholar Award application process, please contact Program Coordinator Zulema Garibo.