In 2005, HDSA established the Donald A. King Summer Research Fellowship program in honor of Donald King who passed away in 2004. Don was a tireless advocate for HD families and served as HDSA’s Chairman of the Board from 1999 to 2003. The purpose of this fellowship program is two-fold: first, to attract the brightest young scientists into the field of Huntington’s disease research and secondly, to facilitate meaningful HD research to clarify the biological mechanisms underlying HD pathology. 

The Fellowship sponsors college students to pursue an HD research project that can be conducted over a 10-week period, between May and September. Fellowship recipients, working under the supervision of senior HD scientists, will undertake a project that is focused and achievable in a short time-frame, yet helpful in guiding future HD research. Applications are accepted between December and March each year. 


Application is open to matriculated undergraduate life sciences students and pre-medical students who are currently attending accredited institutions in the United States. Applications will also be accepted for the summer after graduating from college, the summer after the first year of medical school, or the summer after spending a year as a laboratory technician. The students will conduct full-time research, under the direction of a mentor, investigating a subject relevant to Huntington’s disease. Applications must be accompanied by a letter of support from the mentor who oversees the laboratory where the research will be performed. The duration of each project shall be at least 10 weeks. Note that HDSA does not place students in HD laboratories.  


The Donald A. King Summer Fellowship will provide funds, in the amount of $4,500, as stipend for a student(s) who completes a 10-week summer fellowship and submits to HDSA a report of their activities and findings. In addition, up to $500 is available for the host university/lab/center to help defray the costs associated with the research. Awards will be paid by HDSA directly to the student in two installments: the first payment of $3,500 shall be made upon written acceptance of the award; the second installment of $1,000 shall be made upon successful completion and fulfillment of the terms and conditions of the award. Any and all published papers, posters and abstracts resulting from research performed as an awardee must acknowledge the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, and be provided to HDSA when in-press. 


Each student applying for a fellowship must complete an application outlining their project, and can only submit the form with an endorsement from a faculty mentor who will supervise the student. Selection criteria will include the academic credentials of the student, the scientific merit of the proposed project, and the relevancy of the proposal to HD. HDSA’s Scientific Advisory Board will review and select candidates. Each recipient will be required to submit a progress report upon completion to receive final payment. Payment will be made directly to the fellowship recipient. A separate payment for the research expenses will be paid directly to the host institution where the research will be performed. Progress Reports will be circulated among all HDSA senior investigators and reports of interest may be published by HDSA in its research publications. Awardees may be invited to present the results of their research findings at an annual HDSA Convention. 

Important Dates

HDSA accepts applications for the Donald King Summer Research Fellowship through our online portal yearly. Applications for the 2024 Fellowship are closed–stay tuned for more information about the 2025 award cycle.

  • The online portal for applications for research fellowships beginning in summer 2025 will open in December 2024. 
  • Completed applications for the summer of 2025 must be received by HDSA in March of 2025.
  • Awardees will be notified by late April of 2025.  
  • Final reports are due by the end of September, 2025.

To begin a NEW application, click here. (Note that this link will always take you to a new, blank application. To access saved progress, see below) 

To continue an existing application, login to proposalcentral.com and navigate to your “Proposals” tab–your submission-in-progress will be available from there.

Instructions for completing the application are available within the ProposalCentral platform.

Questions about the Donald King Fellowship or the application portal may be directed to Kelly Andrew, Coordinator, Research & Mission Programs, KAndrew@hdsa.org.

Meet the 2024 Fellowship Recipients

Alex De Almeida (University of Central Florida) will study the underlying biology of aggression in HD by comparing levels of genetic messages that control hormone production in the brains of aggressive and non-aggressive HD mice under the mentorship of Amber Southwell, PhD.

Ana Ramos De Jesus (Columbia University) will work with HD mice to study a trash disposal system called autophagy that can remove clumps of harmful protein in the lab of Ai Yamamoto, PhD, with the support of Katherine Croce, PhD. She will look at the function of the system and whether it can be enhanced to clear away huntingtin.

Kaleigh Hanley (University of Central Florida) will, under the mentorship of Amber Southwell, PhD, treat HD mouse models with a novel psychedelic drug that does not cause hallucinations to see whether it could have a positive effect on depression behaviors.

Shai Lipkin (University of Central Florida) will work in the lab of Amber Southwell, PhD, to investigate the biology of HD inheritance in HD mice. They will study whether stress during pregnancy results in signs of neurodevelopmental disorders in the pups.

Abby Matuszak (Marquette University) will work with a yeast model system to study how the huntingtin protein is shuttled by cells to areas where it can be better stored and broken down in the lab of Emily Sontag, PhD.

Mariana Olivares-Cealy (Massachusetts General Hospital) will study different variants of a gene known to affect the age of onset of HD in the lab of Jim Gusella, PhD, and with support from Zachariah McLean, PhD. She will determine how multiple versions of this gene affect the length of CAG repeats in cells grown in a dish.