Funding Opportunities
Funding Opportunities

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U.S. NAM Catalyst Award Competition

**The application period will open in early January 2020. Please check back here for detailed instructions on how to apply, or sign up to receive updates at**



As part of the Healthy Longevity Global Competition, the U.S. National Academy of Medicine (“NAM”), with support from Johnson & Johnson Innovation, will issue up to 24 Catalyst Awards per year between 2020 and 2022 (i.e., Catalyst Award Rounds 1-3). Each Catalyst Award includes a $50,000 cash prize as well as travel costs to attend an annual Innovator Summit. The American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) will collaborate with the NAM on the application and scientific review process.

Catalyst Awards will reward bold, new, potentially transformative ideas to improve the physical, mental, or social well-being of people as they age, in a measurable and equitable way. In particular, we seek ideas that aim to extend the human health span through innovative approaches. Applications may originate from any field or combination of fields (e.g., biology, chemistry, medicine, engineering, infrastructure, behavioral and social sciences, technology, and policy). Ideas may focus on any stage of life, as long as they ultimately promote health as people age.

Examples of topic areas include but are not limited to:
• Biology of aging and molecular pathways
• Physical health (e.g., mobility and functionality)
• Built environment and urban planning
• Disease prevention, including biomarkers and indicators of disease
• Health care delivery
• Housing (e.g., smart-enabled homes, intergenerational housing models)
• Policy (e.g., economic, health, and science policy)
• Behavioral health (e.g., social connectedness, engagement, and well-being)
.Technology (e.g., artificial intelligence; robotics, medical, assistive, and information-technology)


Applicant Eligibility

The Catalyst Awards will be open to any person or team of any discipline or background and from any organization (e.g., colleges and universities, government laboratories, research institutions, non-profit organizations, and for-profit companies). For-profit companies may apply, provided they don’t have annual sales revenues of more than $10 million for each of their last two fiscal years. Among for-profit companies, there will be a strong preference for early stage endeavors (e.g., seed investments, startups, social enterprises, and spinouts). Applicants do not need to be affiliated with an institution to submit an application. Applicants must reside in the United States but do not need to be a U.S. citizen.

There must be a single Principal Investigator (PI) associated with each application. Only one Catalyst Award application per year per PI is allowed. However, a PI can be on another application as a co-investigator or collaborator within the same annual cycle.


The Application

The application may not exceed two pages, and it will consist of two sections:

Section I. Explain your idea. Why is it innovative and potentially transformative?
Briefly describe your idea and why it is innovative and potentially transformative. Notably, if your idea works, what impact will it have on the health and well-being of people as they age? What will it change?
• Briefly describe the specific issue (related to aging and longevity) that your idea will address.
• Briefly state, in one or two sentences, the crux of your idea.
• How is your idea an unconventional or creative approach?
• Why is now the right time for this idea?
• Describe the hypothesis for your proposal (if applicable) and why you expect it to be successful.

Section II. How would you implement and test your idea?
Briefly describe the project design and a feasible implementation plan, and then explain how you would test your idea.
• Describe the project design and how you would realize or implement the idea. Explain why the approach is feasible.
• How would you establish proof of concept? How would you measure the effectiveness of your idea?
• If you were successful in demonstrating the feasibility and effectiveness of your idea, what are the next steps you would take?


Evaluation Criteria

Applications will be assessed against the following criteria (in order of descending importance):
Innovation: The extent to which the proposed idea challenges existing paradigms and employs new methodologies or concepts. (This is the most important criterion.)
Potential for Impact: The extent to which the proposed idea may have a significant impact on the physical, mental, or social well-being of people as they age.
Quality: The extent to which the proposed idea and the research methodology are clearly explained and the application includes a compelling or well-defined outcome metric.
Scope: The extent to which the proposed idea represents a challenge impacting the entire field, and not solely the interests of the applicant.



The following table includes key dates for Round 1 of the U.S. NAM Catalyst Award Competition.

Date* Event
January 2020 Application period opens
February 2020 Application deadline
July 2020 Winners announced
July 2021 Innovator Summit

*These dates are based on an estimated timeline and are subject to change. The NAM will post specific dates and any changes to key dates on the competition website.


Questions and Answers

Potential applicants will have the opportunity to submit questions about the U.S. NAM Catalyst Award process and/or application requirements to AFAR once the detailed application instructions are posted. Please check back here for instructions on how to submit questions.

The application period will open in early January 2020. Please check back for detailed instructions on how to apply. Sign up to receive updates at

The National Academy of Medicine reserves the right to update the competition rules and guidelines at any time for any reason. Updates to the Rules and Guidelines as well as Frequently Asked Questions will be posted to the competition website. Please refer to the current Rules and Guidelines before reaching out with questions.