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 timeframe, 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 $4,000, 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 equal installments: the first (75%) payment shall be made upon written acceptance of the award; the second (25%) installment 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.


HDSA accepts applications for the Donald King Summer Research Fellowship through our online portal yearly between December and early March.

Questions about the Donald King Fellowship or the application portal may be directed to Dr. Leora Fox, Manager of Research and Mission Programs at HDSA, LFox@hdsa.org.

Meet the 2020 Fellowship Recipients

Sophia Friedman (Wellesley College) will complete her project at the Massachusetts institute of Technology with David Housman, PhD, exploring genes known to alter the onset of HD symptoms.

Amber Keith (UC Irvine) will be working under the guidance of Sarah Hernandez, PhD, a 2017 HDSA Berman-Topper Career Development Fellowship recipient, to develop a model of the blood-brain barrier derived from human cells.

Lav Patel (Ohio State) will spend time in the laboratory of Richard Fishel, PhD, to visualize DNA repair proteins that affect the expansion of CAG repeats.

Tasneem Sadok (UCLA) will work with Lindsay De Biase, PhD, to study how changes in energy production affect the brain’s support cells in areas vulnerable to HD.

Kadambari Vyas (University of Central Florida) will be mentored by former HDSA Human Biology Fellow Dr. Amber Southwell and will study aggression in mouse models of HD.