Starzl Scholar Award


The Starzl Scholar Award provides fellowship salary support as part of our Pre-K program. This award reflects the Dean’s Office's commitment to advancing diversity in biomedical science among our physician-scientist trainees. We hope that through this program, our physician-scientist trainees will be able to advance their research to be competitive for a K award.

2022 Award Application

We encourage you to apply for the Starzl Scholar Award, which provides fellowship salary support for up to two years. This Award reflects the Feinberg School of Medicine’s commitment to advancing diversity in biomedical science among our physician scientist trainees. We specifically seek applications from physician scientist trainees in post graduate training (residents, fellows, postdoctoral fellows) who are from groups underrepresented in the scientific workforce (We follow the NIH definition for underrepresented populations:

The goal of this program is to enable you to advance your research to be competitive for a K award.  

Please include the following in your application:

  1. Candidate NIH biosketch
  2. Primary mentor NIH biosketch (if more than one mentor, please also provide biosketch for secondary mentor)
  3. Research proposal (1 page of Specific Aims and 2 pages of experimental plan for a total of 3 pages, excluding references)
  4. Career plan statement (1 page)
  5. Mentor support letter

Please combine all the above into one PDF file and submit via email to Dr. Han Yu ( by January 30, 2023. Applicants will be notified of decision around March 1, 2023. If you have questions about eligibility, please contact us.

Our Current Recipient

Timothy Luigino Sita, MD, PhD

Dr. SitaTimothy Luigino Sita, MD, PhD, is a fifth-year chief resident in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine. Sita's career goal is to run a basic science laboratory focused on understanding the biology of brain tumors while treating patients as a clinical radiation oncologist. This dream is inspired by his grandfather and fueled by the many patients whom he has had the pleasure of meeting.

Sita's research focuses on understanding how brain tumors hijack normal brain’s activity to drive their own tumor growth. Recent discoveries have shown that brain tumors deeply integrate with normal neurons. These tumors form electrical network connections with neurons that allow them to both provoke and exploit excitatory messages, promoting tumor dissemination throughout the brain.

How to stop this integration between brain tumors and neurons is what Sita hopes to study in his lab. One promising idea is the repurposing of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), the therapeutic induction of seizure, as a mechanism to disable tumor-neuron connections. ECT has been used by psychiatrists for nearly a century as one of the most rapid and efficacious treatments for severe psychiatric disorders. Sita's preliminary data demonstrate that applying ECT to mice with brain tumors disassembles the cellular machinery required for brain tumors to form their pathologic network with neurons, slowing tumor growth and prolonging mice survival. Further, therapeutic compounds normally unable to cross the blood-brain barrier can enter patients’ brains after ECT treatment, enabling critical access for brain tumor therapeutics.

With the support of the Starzl Academy, Sita is excited to keep exploring the use of ECT in brain tumor research and searching for new breakthroughs for brain tumor patients.