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Shaw Family Pioneer Award

The Shaw Family Pioneer Awards provide funding for sex-inclusive research, focusing on sex-based mechanisms and determinants of health and disease. Two projects will be funded at $15,000 each in direct cost support over a 12 month period. Only one submission per PI will be accepted for review.

2019 Awardee Matthew Major
Marla Mendelson, MD, Teresa K. Woodruff, PhD,  2019 Awardee Matthew Major, PhD, Robert Shaw ('70, '81), and Charlene Shaw ('70).

The Pioneer Awards are not designed to provide ongoing support for a long-term project, rather they are intended to assistant in obtaining pilot data required for larger grant applications.  Funds can be spent on supplies, services, and salary/stipend support.  

Applicants must be early career investigators (Assistant Professor), research track faculty, or post-doctoral fellows at Northwestern. Proposals must be to conduct sex-inclusive research, focusing on sex-based mechanisms and determinants of health and disease.

Specifically, this program:  

  • Supports Northwestern University investigators who conduct or are interested in sex-based research.  
  • Enables early career investigators to conduct pilot studies that will help build their portfolio, thereby enhancing their ability to compete for large federal grants.  
  • Provides a mechanism for senior investigators to mentor young scientists who are interested in sex-based research.  
  • Promotes sex-inclusive science through collaborative and innovative research.  


Established in 2018, the Shaw Family Pioneer Awards were previously sponsored by the Women’s Health Research Institute. The Center for Reproductive Science is honored to now administer these awards. The Shaw Family Pioneer Awards were established by Robert Shaw ('70, '81), and Charlene Shaw ('70). These awards advance the Center for Reproductive Science’s mission to enhance and coordinate research in the reproductive sciences at Northwestern, to promote the application of this research toward human welfare, and to optimize the training of future researchers, educators and clinicians in the reproductive sciences. 

Previous award recipients and their projects can be found here. 

Click here to view the 2023 Call for Proposals!

2022 Winners

In 2022, two recipients were selected to receive the Shaw Family Pioneer Awards. 

  • Jennie Lin, MD, MTR, Assistant Professor of Medicine ( Nephrology and Hypertension) Project Title: Sexual Dimorphism of Aging and Immune-Mediated Kidney Injury
  • Heather Mahoney, PhD, Post-doctoral Fellow, Schmidt Lab, Department of Neurobiology  Project Title: Sex differences in visual modulation of mood and nicotine abuse


Applications for the 2023 awards cycle are now open! Please apply by August 15, 2023.

To submit your application, send the completed submission packet in an email as a PDF to CRS Program AdministratorLauren Ataman-Millhouse, MA. 

Please include in the Subject line: Shaw Family Pioneer Award Application  

Materials required for submission:  

  • An abstract limited to 250 words 
  • A proposed research plan (limited to 3 pages, 0.5 margins, Arial font, type size 11) including the following: introduction, goal and objectives, approach, project timeline, relevance to sex-based discoveries.
  • An NIH biographical sketch 
  • A budget summary (limited to 2 pages) including the following: Amount of funds requested, not to exceed $15,000; An itemized budget and rationale for resources needed; Additional current and pending sources of funding for the proposed research

Review Criteria 

A panel will review and evaluate award proposals and select the most commendable projects based on the reviews and specific criteria requested. CRS will not provide individual critiques of submitted proposals. Award proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:  

  • Impact of the project
  • Innovation of the project
  • Approach of the project
  • Relevance to sex-based discoveries


The awardee will be required to:  

  • Submit a stewardship report upon completion of the project period.  
  • Present their research at the annual CRS Reproductive Science and Medicine Summit. 
  • Cite the Center for Reproductive Science and the Shaw Family Pioneer Awards as a source of support in presentations, publications or grants resulting from their proposed research project. It is the responsibility of the awardee to notify the Center for Reproductive Science of these relevant activities. 

 Key Dates 

  • June 25, 2023 - Applications open
  • August 15, 2023 – Applications due 
  • September 1, 2023 – Project period begins 
  • August 31, 2024 – Project period ends

Questions regarding the Shaw Family Pioneer Awards or the application process should be directed to:  

Lauren Ataman-Millhouse, MA 

Research Project Manager, Center for Reproductive Science