Prize in Developmental Biology

The March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology honors leaders in the field. Their pioneering research offers hope and opportunity to one day prevent and treat some of the most serious birth defects and other human diseases. 

Each year outstanding scientist(s) are awarded the coveted March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology for research that has profoundly advanced the science that underlies our understanding of birth defects. The Prize has been awarded annually since 1996. The March of Dimes created the Prize as a tribute to Dr. Jonas Salk shortly before his death in 1995.  Five recipients of the March of Dimes Prize to date have gone on to win the Nobel Prize® in Physiology or Medicine.

The Prize carries a cash award of $250,000 and a silver medal in the design of a Roosevelt dime.  This is in honor of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who founded the March of Dimes. The awardee delivers his/her lecture before the Pediatric Academic Society (PAS) meeting held yearly in the spring. The actual award is given at a black-tie event traditionally hosted by TV celebrity Greg Gumbel. Anne Eleanor Roosevelt, great-granddaughter of President Roosevelt, traditionally awards the silver medal.

In 2013, the March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology was awarded to Eric N. Olson, PhD.  Dr. Olson was recognized for his work elucidating the genetic basis for cardiac development, providing a framework for function of genes in normal and abnormal differentiation. These new insights are leading to novel treatments for heart disease and muscle dysfunction.

Nominations are solicited for the 19th annual March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology, to be awarded in 2014.  This $250,000 Prize is given to scientists whose research has profoundly advanced the science that underlies our understanding of birth defects. A list of previous awardees is available.

Nomination procedure:
Nominators should submit the below information via email attachment to the Senior Vice President for Research and Global Programs at on or before October 31, 2013.
The nomination format must include the following information in this order:

    1. Name
    2. Professional Title and Affiliation
    3. Address
    4. Telephone
    5. E-mail Address
    6. Signature
    1. Name
    2. Professional Title and Affiliation
    3. Address
    4. Telephone
    5. E-mail Address
    6. Curriculum Vitae
    7. A narrative biographic sketch (250 words)
    8. Brief statement (150 words) of the basis for the nomination
    9. Summary of scientific contributions on which nomination is based


See also: A list of previous awardees(PDF, 34KB), Nomination procedure(PDF, 223 KB) 

Most common questions

How many disorders should newborns be screened for?

The March of Dimes calls upon all states to adopt the new national standard of screening for at least 30 treatable conditions that are not obvious at birth. Early diagnosis and proper treatment of these disorders can make the difference between lifelong impairment and healthy development. Each year an estimated 6,000 newborns are diagnosed with a treatable metabolic condition and another 12,000 with a hearing impairment.

What birth defects are associated with maternal obesity?

Studies suggest that babies of obese mothers are about twice as likely as women of average weight to have a baby with spina bifida (open spine) or related birth defects. They also may be at slightly increased risk of heart and limb defects. Today about 1 in 4 women of reproductive age are obese. A woman who is obese should discuss her weight with her health care provider before pregnancy and work towards reaching a healthy weight to improve her chances of having a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby.

What is toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is a common parasitic infection that often causes no symptoms. About 30 percent of pregnant women who develop toxoplasmosis pass the infection on to their babies, sometimes resulting in vision and learning problems, serious newborn complications and, occasionally, death.Toxoplasmosis during pregnancy also can cause preterm delivery or stillbirth. Pregnant women can reduce their risk of toxoplasmosis by avoiding possible sources of the infection, such as raw or undercooked meats and cat feces. A pregnant woman should ask someone else to change the cat's litter box.

©2013 March of Dimes Foundation. The March of Dimes is a non-profit organization recognized as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3).