Ben Barres Spotlight Awards: Applications open for 2024

Awards of up to $5,000 are now available to researchers from underrepresented backgrounds or countries with limited funding to support their research, career and community.

Through the Ben Barres Spotlight Awards, eLife has supported over 50 pioneering researchers from backgrounds historically underrepresented in biology and medicine, including many working in countries where research funding is limited. As we now enter the scheme’s sixth year, we are pleased to welcome eligible authors of publicly reviewed preprints or eLife articles to once again apply for awards of up to $5,000 (USD) to support their research, careers or communities.

Applications must be submitted by 5pm (BST) on Tuesday, June 4, 2024.


Applicants must be:

  1. An active researcher in the life or biomedical sciences at a university or other non-commercial research institute AND
  2. An author of a life sciences preprint with one or more evaluations from an eligible group on Sciety* OR author of a manuscript published or accepted for publication at eLife AND
  3. A member of one or more of the following groups based on their background or identity:
  • Researchers based in countries where research funding is limited; emphasis is placed on those from low and middle-income nations**
  • Disabled researchers or researchers with disabilities
  • Researchers with ethnic minority backgrounds
  • Women; non-binary researchers and researchers of minority genders; transgender researchers of any gender
  • Researchers who are neurodivergent
  • Researchers who belong to a minority group based on their sexual orientation
  • Researchers from working-class backgrounds or “first-generation” students

Sciety is an application that aggregates public evaluations from preprint-reviewing groups like eLife, Review Commons, PREreview and others. Preprint servers that are currently supported include bioRxiv and medXiv. Please see exclusions below for groups that are not covered by this award scheme.

** eLife welcomes and will consider applications from all countries. There are, however, some territories where it will not be possible for us to transfer funds. We will explore all practical and legal options to allow any winners in these locations to still receive their awards. Researchers based in countries subject to economic sanctions or who are unsure about their eligibility or ability to receive funds are invited to contact eLife’s Head of Communities, Godwyns Onwuchekwa via [email protected] before making an application.

Available awards and application process

Awards of up to $5,000 (USD) will be granted to assist researchers from groups that are underrepresented in biology and medicine or from countries with limited research funding (as indicated in the eligibility criteria above) until the entire budget is distributed.

We aim to select ten winners. We may offer more awards if not all applicants request the maximum amount. We may also decide to offer fewer awards of the maximum prize in order to provide runner-up awards of a lesser value to a greater number of applicants.

Awards will be made for research in any area of the life sciences and biomedicine covered by the eLife journal.

eLife does not specify the purpose for the awards. We simply invite candidates to explain their requirements and describe how the money, if granted, will support a major improvement in their research, career or community. Applicants also need to provide a high-level budget for their proposed expenses under the award. (A PDF copy of the application form can be viewed here, to help applicants prepare their applications.)

Examples of acceptable requests include, but are not limited to:

  • Infrastructure, equipment, services or materials purchases, whether to support research or participation in virtual events or online communication;
  • Adaptations or equipment to make research workspaces more accessible or inclusive;
  • When and where it is safe to do so, travel expenses to conferences, study trips or other visits for the applicants, their group members or collaborators;
  • Meetings with specialist academic mentors to develop research proposals;
  • Temporary administrative or personal assistance, for example, to provide relief during preparation of grant applications or requests for disability support services;
  • Childcare or other care costs to enable, for example, working from home, conference attendance, or a visit to another lab.

Part-funding is acceptable; for example, you may have some funds available for a purpose, but not enough, and this award would complete that requirement. In these circumstances, the applicant should make a request for no more than $5,000 (USD), and describe how the remaining costs will be covered in the “Purpose of the expenditure” section of the application form.

For the complete terms and conditions, visit the Awards page.


How to apply: 

Apply via the eLife website here.

Medicine & Healthcare
Application deadline: 
04 Jun 2024
15 May 2024