Stepping Strong Innovator Awards

Request for Applications

The Stepping Strong Innovator Awards are part of the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Fund that was established by the Reny family following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. During the attack, Gillian Reny, an 18-year-old aspiring dancer, sustained severe injuries to both of her lower legs. The fund’s goal is to support clinical and research efforts that will enable future patients who have suffered from traumatic injuries to return their highest possible level of functionality and mobility in order to resume their physical passions and step strong again. Projects focusing on any aspect of trauma are welcome.


The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Fund announces ‘Stepping Strong Innovator Awards’ to inspire innovative research addressing well-defined clinical problems in areas related to trauma injury recovery, advanced stem cell technology, orthopedic and plastic surgery, bioengineering, rehabilitation, limb reconstruction, limb transplant, bone and wound healing, and other facets of  trauma care that impact both civilian and military patients. These awards will fund high-reward projects by the best and brightest physicians and researchers, as long as they collaborate with a BWH investigator around their proposed project. Funds will be awarded on a competitive basis with one non-renewable $100,000 award available through this RFA.


Applications will be evaluated and ranked for funding priority on the basis of a review process at BWH that will evaluate clinical relevance and scientific merit. Please note that the entire selection process may involve review by both BWH faculty (both clinicians/researchers) as well as non-BWH reviewers including donors, venture capitalists, representatives of the biopharma/device industry, and other friends of the Brigham. The final selection will be made at a live pitch session conducted as a closed door meeting with a committee of judges composed of reviewers who are internal (BWH clinicians/researchers) and/or external to BWH.



March 25, 2016 – RFA announcement


July 18, 2016 –  Full applications due – finalists will be selected by review committee composed of BWH faculty (clinicians & researchers)


September 16, 2016 – Up to three finalists notified


November 2, 2016 – Finalists’ presentations, real time review/voting by BWH faculty, donors, other non-BWH reviewers at a closed door live pitch session. Recipient announced.


December 1, 2016 – Funding start date

  • All members at any research institution/academic medical center in the United States with a faculty rank of instructor and above are invited to apply but MUST have a BWH collaborator
  • If you are a non-BWH applicant, you MUST have a BWH collaborator. Please contact Anu Swaminathan, PhD, Director, Scientific Programs & Partnerships at the Brigham Research Institute (BRI) for more details.
  • Please note that finalists of the 2016 BWH BRIght Futures Award are ineligible for the Stepping Strong Innovator Awards.
  • Previous applicants of the Stepping Strong Innovator awards (with the exception of winners) are eligible to re-apply
  • Individuals may serve as the Principal Investigator (PI) of only one proposal but may be co-PIs on multiple proposals.
  • The project must have direct clinical relevance and application potential and a trauma clinician collaborator is strongly encouraged unless the PI himself/herself is a trauma clinician.
Review criteria
  • Please note that aspects regarding commercial feasibility or intellectual property might also be considered as part of the review process.
  • Projects must address a well-defined clinical problem related to trauma care and will be evaluated for clinical significance.
  • The project must be scientifically meritorious and aligned with innovative research in areas related to limb reconstruction, limb transplant, advanced stem cell technology, orthopedic and plastic surgery, bioengineering, rehabilitation and others around trauma care.
  • Projects that are an extension of ongoing work may be considered; novel ideas in the fields above will be given priority.
  • The project should be focused and achievable, with a clear strategy and high potential to secure future additional funding.
  • Strength of team: investigators must have the requisite skills and experience to carry out the project successfully.
  • Recipients will be obligated to provide a report of activity to BWH Development and the BRI at the end of one year of funding.
  • Grantees will notify the BWH Development Office and the BRI when other grants are received as a result of this funding.
  • Grantees will acknowledge the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Fund in publications, posters, grants and other professional recognition resulting from this funding support, and will notify the BWH Development Office and BRI when such events are due to occur.
Application Format

Full applications (due July 18, 2016, 12:00 pm) will be submitted through an online submission system ( and must include the following:

  1. Title of research project to be supported
  2. Applicant’s last and first names, employing institution, department, academic/professional title, email address and telephone number
  3. Scientific theme/field your proposal addresses
  4. A compelling lay clinical impact summary (no more than 300 words) and a scientific abstract (no more than 300 words)
  5. Scientific proposal (5-page limit, excluding references), including:
    1. Introduction
    2. Specific aims
    3. Background, significance and preliminary data (if available)
    4. Research approach (include experimental details, approximate timeline and contributions of each team member)
    5. Future plans i.e., how this project will be funded after this award from the Stepping Strong Fund


  1. Biosketch of Principal Investigator, co-investigators and significant key personnel in NIH format
  2. Detailed budget for one year for a maximum of $100,000 (Download Budget Template)
  3. Copy of current human or animal use protocol approval letter (if applicable)

By applying for the Stepping Strong Innovator Awards you agree to release and hold harmless BWH, the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Fund and its subsidiaries, affiliates, societies, advertising and promotion agencies, partners, representatives, agents, successors, assigns, employees, officers and directors from any liability, illness, injury, death, loss, litigation, claim or damage that may occur, directly or indirectly, whether caused by negligence or not, from (i) such Applicant’s participation in the Stepping Strong Innovator Award Competition and/or his/her acceptance, possession, use, or misuse of any award or any portion thereof, (ii) technical failures of any kind, including but not limited to the malfunctioning of any computer, cable, network, hardware or software; (iii) the unavailability or inaccessibility of any transmissions or telephone or Internet service; (iv) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the promotion; (v) electronic or human error which may occur in the administration of the promotion or the processing of entries.