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Overview

Accelerating Treatments for Rare Diseases 

The Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Scholar Award advances promising discoveries from academic labs to move them into clinical practice. The award combines funding and expert therapeutics development support to help researchers in the UK, US, or Canada to accelerate preclinical projects towards treatments for patients.

The grant is administered by the Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Centre (OHC), a partnership between the University of Oxford and Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio. Harrington Discovery Institute’s UK granting organisation is Fund for Cures UK, Ltd.

Specifically, the award includes:

  • US and Canada: USD$100,000 guaranteed grant award; UK: £100,000 guaranteed grant award
  • Drug and business development support from Harrington’s Therapeutics Development Center*
  • One year of Therapeutics Development support and project management guaranteed, with potential to renew for a second year based on milestones met
  • Access to Oxford facilities and infrastructure including oligonucleotide synthesis and screening, small molecule and protein platforms, cell and gene therapy facilities as well as genomics capabilities, and links to Genomics England
  • Invitation to present at the bi-annual Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Centre Symposium (UK-based scholars) or the annual Harrington Discovery Institute Symposium (US- and Canada-based scholars)
  • Opportunity to compete for acceleration funds up to USD$300,000 / £250,000 
  • Opportunity to qualify for investment funds at a higher level according to project requirements

*Advisors with Harrington’s Therapeutics Development Center have capabilities in biology/biophysiology, commercial and business development, formulation, medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, pre-clinical and clinical planning, and regulatory and translational. The advisors have previously held leadership positions at companies such as Merck, Bristol Myers Squibb, Schering-Plough, Forest Laboratories, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, and Allergan.


Eligibility Criteria

  • MD or PhD (or equivalent) researchers in the UK, US, and Canada operating their own independent lab
  • Faculty position at an accredited academic medical center, university or research institution in the UK, US, or Canada, and conduct the majority of their research at that institution
  • A project must have a single Principal Investigator (PI), who is responsible for project oversight and financial management. The PI may engage collaborators, core labs, or commercial Contract Research Organisations (CROs) to execute any portion of the project

Past recipients of Harrington awards may submit new and distinct proposals, but may not seek additional support for previously funded projects.

We welcome and encourage multiple proposals from each institution.

Late submissions will not be accepted for any reason, other than issues with the Harrington Discovery Institute’s submission system. Proposals received after the deadline will not be reviewed.


Discoveries Sought

The Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Scholar Award seeks novel approaches to treat rare diseases. Proposals of interest include discoveries demonstrating rigorous science, innovation, and potential for clinical impact. Projects with novel, validated targets are of particular interest.

The current focus areas of the OHC are neurological disorders, developmental disorders, and rare cancers, but we welcome applications directed to other rare, genetic indications with a high unmet need. Any therapeutic modality will be considered.


Key considerations also include:

  • Novel approaches to treat rare diseases (Either European or US definition of a rare disease can be applied. Ultra-rare diseases will also be considered)
  • Potential to be developed into a commercial program
  • Strong intellectual property (IP) or protection strategy


Emphasis of Call

  • Neurological disorders
  • Developmental disorders
  • Rare cancers
  • Other rare genetic diseases

Important Dates


  • Call Opens for Applications 
    6th February 2024
  • Application Submission Deadline 
    26th March 2024 
  • Finalists Contacted for Due Diligence Review  
    June - July 2024
  • Notification of Award
    October 2024