The National Palliative Care Research Center

Curing suffering through palliative care research.

Funding Opportunities

Kornfeld Scholars Program


One of the major barriers to the growth of the field of palliative care is the lack of a pipeline for the development of scientific investigators.  Given the low levels of support for research focusing on the care of people with serious and complex illness, new investigators are at a significant disadvantage in competing for larger, externally funded project and career development awards because of an absence of pilot data to support their grants and the absence of a publication track record in research.  Historically, externally funded research by senior investigators has cross-subsidized mentoring and pilot studies for their mentees, however, downwardly negotiated budgets, the expectation of contributed time on the part of funders, reduced indirect costs, and the reluctance of institutions to support contributed time, have all made such cross-subsidization increasingly difficult.

The National Palliative Care Research Center (NPCRC) is providing career development awards to allow junior faculty to have the protected time required to develop and conduct the pilot research necessary to be competitive for larger, extramurally funded awards. In recognition of the Emily Davis and Joseph S. Kornfeld Foundation's leadership commitment, NPCRC's career development activities have been rebranded as The Kornfeld Scholars Program. This tribute recognizes the vital role the Kornfeld Foundation has played in NPCRC's growth and success- both as our founding philanthropic partner, and as a continued leadership supporter.

Proposed research must focus on improving care for patients with serious illness and their families in one of  the three NPCRC key areas of interest: pain and symptom management, communication, and models of care for palliative care delivery.

*Research focused on dementia; children, adolescents, and young adults; and on addressing  disparities in access and receipt of palliative care are high priority areas for NPCRC.

*Research focused on advance care planning or advance directives will not be considered.

Award Information

The Kornfeld Scholars Program Award provides two years of support for salary and/or research activities to junior faculty in the amount of $90,000 per year (direct costs), plus 10% allowable indirect costs. Awards are not renewable. Start date for all awards will be July 1.


To be eligible for a career development award under the NPCRC Program, applicants must meet the general eligibilty requirements of the Center, as well as the following specific requirements:

  1. Applicants must hold a doctorate degree (M.D., Ph.D., or equivalent);
  2. Applicants must have a full-time faculty position or equivalent at a college, university, medical or nursing school, or other fiscally responsible organization within the United States by the time of the award start date;
  3. Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States;
  4. Applicants must be no more than 5 years out of their post-doctoral or post-graduate fellowship training. Exceptions to this policy will be made on an individual basis and potential applicants who would like to request consideration should contact the NPCRC;
  5. Applicants must be able to commit a minimum of 60% of full-time professional effort conducting patient-oriented research and relevant career development activities;
  6. Applicants must NOT be current or past recipients of a career development award (e.g. NIH K-Award, VA career award, foundation-funded career award). If an active recipient of a NPCRC career development award is selected to receive—and accepts—a career development award from another source during his/her grant period, then the individual must relinquish salary and research support from the NPCRC. The NPCRC will continue to support the investigator's travel to the NPCRC Annual Retreat and Research Symposium in order to allow him/her to attend and present;
  7. Applicants should have a mentor or co-mentors who together have extensive palliative care research experience. If the applicant is unable to identify a palliative care researcher for his/her mentor, then he/she should contact the NPCRC prior to submitting an application.

Funding priority will be given to qualified and promising junior investigators early in their faculty careers who wish to establish themselves in areas that reflect the NPCRC mission goals. Applicants uncertain about their eligibility are strongly advised to contact the NPCRC before preparing an application.

How to Apply

The NPCRC requires that eligible applicants first submit a letter of intent. Full proposals are accepted by invitation only. All eligible candidates who would like to be considered for the Kornfeld Scholars Program Award should follow the NPCRC guidelines on how to apply.

Proposal Preparation

Full proposals must include all of the items and sections outlined in the Request for Application PDF document below. Items are either entered directly through the NPCRC website or uploaded in a PDF file and attached to the online application.  The Application Data Sheet and the Applicant's Biosketch are submitted during Step 1 of the application process, while the remaining documents are submitted in Step 2.  Download the Request for Applications below for complete information on what to include in the proposal.

Budget: In preparing the budget for the proposed project, please utilize the template available online. Project expenses should be in accordance with the NPCRC budget guidelines and justified, if necessary.


Recipients of the career development award will work with a mentor/co-mentor who has extensive palliative care research experience. The goal of the advisor is to ensure that funded junior investigators receive appropriate mentoring, that projects move forward in an efficient and timely manner, that projects continue to address the core mission of the Center, and to connect junior faculty with other investigators in the field of palliative care.



Each recipient of an NPCRC grant, as a condition of accepting the award will agree to the following:

Peer Review of Applications

The NPCRC Scientific Review Committee (SRC) will review the proposals. The SRC is composed of internationally prominent scientists with expertise in palliative care, patient-oriented research, health services research, communication, epidemiology, research design and biostatistics.

Award Criteria

Applications will be scored and reviewed based upon the Candidate's qualifications and career development plan; the research plan; mentor(s) and mentorship plan; and the institutional environment using the following review criteria:

  • Quality of the candidate's academic and clinical record;
  • Potential to develop as an independent researcher in palliative care; and
  • Commitment to a career in palliative care research.
Career Development Plan:
  • Likelihood that the career development plan will contribute substantially to the scientific development of the candidate;
  • Appropriateness of the content and duration of the proposed didactic and research phases of the award;  and
  • Consistency of the career development plan with the candidate's career goals and prior research experience.
Research Plan:
  • Scientific and technical merit of the research question, design and methodology;
  •  Relevance of the proposed research to the candidate's career objectives; and
  • Appropriateness of the research plan to the stage of research development and as a vehicle for developing the research skills as described in the career development plan.
  • Appropriateness of mentor(s) research qualifications in the area of this application;
  • Quality and extent of mentor's proposed role in providing guidance and advice to the candidate;
  • Previous experience in fostering the development of more junior researchers;
  • History of research productivity and support; and
  • Adequacy of support for the proposed research project.
Environment and Institutional Commitment:
  • Adequacy of research facilities and the availability of appropriate educational opportunities;
  • Quality and relevance of the environment for scientific and professional development of the candidate;
  • Applicant institution's commitment to the scientific development of the candidate and assurances that the institution intends the candidate to be an integral part of its research program; and
  • Applicant institution's commitment to an appropriate balance of research and clinical responsibilities including the commitment of 60 percent of the candidate's effort to research and research related activities.
  • Justification of the requested budget in relation to career development goals and research aims.

Application scores, comments, and funding recommendations will be forwarded to the NPCRC Scientific Advisory Council who will make the final decision regarding funding and allocation of resources.


Applications that are not funded may be revised and resubmitted for the next NPCRC funding cycle. However, only two resubmissions are allowed. Resubmitted applications will be reviewed in the same detail and will compete on an equal basis with all other new applications and competing renewals. For more information, see the Center's section on resubmissions.


RFA KSP 2022.pdf