The AAI ASPIRE Award recognizes up to six outstanding early career investigators for research accomplishments and professional promise in the field of immunology.

The purpose of this award is to encourage and foster the development of talented early career AAI member scientists to continue advancing their research activities and scientific contributions in the field of immunology. Additionally, this award aims to enhance the careers of early stage investigators by providing support to disseminate their research via podium presentations at the AAI annual meeting. Applications will be reviewed by the AAI Awards Committee.

Recipients will receive complimentary meeting registration, a $2,000 cash award, and travel support to the AAI annual meeting for presentation of their research and the award presentation.


Applicants must be Regular AAI members in good standing* who have received an advanced degree (Ph.D., M.D., or equivalent) within the last 10 years (2024 applicants must have received their degree on or after January 1, 2014) or are within 10 years of the end of post-graduate clinical training, whichever date is later at the time of application. Applicants must be independent research scientists (PIs); postdoctoral fellows are not eligible. Applicants' eligibility will be checked at time of application and before presentation of award.

Members of the AAI Council and AAI Awards Committee are not eligible to apply nor recommend candidates.

AAI encourages applications from women and underrepresented scientists.


* Member dues paid through the end of 2024; 2023 dues must be paid by the time of submission and 2024 dues must be paid by November 30, 2023.

This award is intended for an early career investigator with a maximum of 10 years post-degree. It is, however, recognized that there may have been family-related, personal, or other circumstances resulting in extended time out of the laboratory. Exceptions to the 10-year limit will be considered based on a description of any special circumstances. Please email awards@aai.org with inquiries.

Application Instructions

AAI Regular members may submit the award application by logging into their AAI member accounts at https://account.aai.org/ and choosing “Award Application” in the “Member Benefits” menu. All documents should be uploaded as a single combined PDF file with a file name of less than 25 characters. Please be aware that the single, combined PDF must be no larger than 20MB. Packages that are not complete will not be considered. Final award decisions are at the discretion of AAI.

Please include the following in the application package:

  1. The applicant’s curriculum vitae, including education and fellowships (institutions, dates, degrees), important awards, relevant employment history, and selected bibliography (complete citations with titles).
  2. A one-page summary from the applicant describing his/her career accomplishments and goals in the field of immunology.
  3. One recommendation letter of not more than three (3) pages, signed and submitted by a colleague who is familiar with the applicant’s career and work, indicating the applicant’s qualifications for the award. The letter should describe the applicant’s contributions to the field of immunology. The recommendation letter must be from one individual and not include multiple endorsements within it. It should reflect the observations and opinions of the author.

Applications will be accepted beginning August 1, 2023. Complete application packages must be received by 11:59 PM Eastern on September 20, 2023. AAI will not accept materials sent separately or through regular mail. According to U.S. law, any AAI award recipient receiving monetary awards totaling $600 or more in a single year must provide AAI with a completed Form W-9 or a Form W-8BEN (as appropriate) in advance of receiving the cash award.

Please direct questions to awards@aai.org.

2024 AAI ASPIRE Award Recipients

Siyuan Ding

Siyuan Ding, Ph.D. (AAI ’19)
Washington Univ., St. Louis, USA

Ruth A. Franklin

Ruth A. Franklin, Ph.D. (AAI ’20)
Harvard Univ., USA

Weishan Huang

Weishan Huang, Ph.D. (AAI ’17)

Chaoran Li

Chaoran Li, Ph.D. (AAI ’19)
Emory Univ., USA

David R. Martinez

David R. Martinez, Ph.D. (AAI ’23)
Yale Sch. of Med., USA

Zhenyu Zhong

Zhenyu Zhong, Ph.D. (AAI ’19)
Univ. of Texas Southwestern Med. Ctr., USA

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