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.  

  • The online portal for applications for research fellowships beginning in summer 2023 opened on December 6, 2022.
  • Completed applications for the summer of 2023 must be received by HDSA no later than Friday, March 3, 2023, at 5:00 pm (EDT).
  • Awardees will be notified by late April of 2023.  
  • Final reports are due by the end of September, 2023.  

Click here for the direct link to begin or resume your application. 

Questions about the Donald King Fellowship or the application portal may be directed to Leora Fox, PhD, Assistant Director, Research & Patient Engagement, LFox@hdsa.org, and Kelly Andrew, Coordinator, Research & Mission Programs, KAndrew@hdsa.org.

Meet the 2022 Fellowship Recipients

Manasa Chillarige (University of Pittsburgh) will, under the mentorship of Diane Carlisle, PhD, study whether activation of a specific protein pathway can protect brain cells from the negative effects of stress brought on by HD.

Carly Fisher (The Ohio State University) will work in the lab of Richard Fishel, PhD, to determine the role of FAN1, a DNA mismatch repair protein, in regulating CAG repeat expansion in HD.

Carolina Gomez Casas (University of Massachusetts Medical School) will study how a CRIPSPR-Cas9 system may be used to reduce CAG expansions in the mutated huntingtin gene under the mentorship of Michael Brodsky, PhD.

Anthony Ventimiglia (The Ohio State University) will study the role of MLH1-PMS1, a protein complex that plays a role in DNA mistmatch repair, in regulating CAG repeat expansion in HD in the lab of Richard Fishel, PhD.

Katherine Vinski (University of Pittsburgh) will work in the lab of Diane Carlisle, PhD, to study how crosstalk between two protein pathways affects stress response in HD and to determine whether the pathways can be regulated to minimize negative effects.