Early Career Innovation Grants Program

The 2021 online application period has closed!

Have a great idea on improving patient care and need some seed funding to get it started? Already developed an idea and want to advance it locally or nationally?  

ASDS is pleased to promote creativity and innovation through its new Early Career Innovation Grants Program. This program will award grant funding to support residents and fellows in their creative development of novel ideas to improve access, service or care to patients. 

Dermatologists have a long-standing history of pioneering new advances in the field. ASDS desires to foster residents’ and fellows’ passion for innovating solutions to everyday problems facing patients and the community. The Society wants to fuel your interest and foster increased meaningfulness in the work you do. 

This program is not intended to support clinical research grants.

Generously supported by Skin Medicinals and Hairstim Labs.

Frustrated by the ever-increasing cost of generic, basic dermatologic medications, ASDS member Dhaval Bhanusali, MD, developed Skin Medicinals and HairStim to compound and sell pharmaceuticals. The success of this innovation has prompted Dr. Bhanusali to inspire other dermatologists – residents and trainees specifically – to invent solutions to day-to-day challenges by supporting this Early Career Innovation Grants Program.

Expectations and Key Dates

  • Progress updates must be provided every six months, at which time formal feedback may be shared.
  • Awards will be announced and recognized during the ASDS Annual Meeting.
  • Applications are closed!

Program Resources


Program Overview

ASDS will distribute $40,000 in grant funding for well-conceived proposals in any area of innovation, including access to care, service and care to patients, unique technology solutions, etc. Additionally, $10,000 in grants will be awarded for creative projects that advance hair research.

This resident or fellow-led project will be supported by mentors who will coach and provide you guidance throughout the process. Together, the plan on how to bring the idea to fruition will be solidified.

Program Requirements

The Early Career Innovation Grants Program is open to all eligible residents and fellows at any stage of idea development. Applicants must complete the application and must:

  • Be enrolled in an ACGME-approved Dermatology Residency Program or be enrolled in a formal Dermatology Fellowship Program.
  • Include a copy of your curriculum vitae with your application.
  • Provide letters of recommendation (optional).
  • Provide a letter of recommendation and intent from a faculty member willing to be your mentor.
  • Identify your project by providing a one-page summary (500 words or less) to include:
    • Project title
    • Project description
    • Budget outlining funds requested and how they’ll be used
      • Please be advised that we generally do not provide salary, travel or conference attendance support.
  • Specific, realistic aims and goals of the project that can be attained within the two year period.* This could include significant development of your idea or full execution within two years.
  • Description of how you will evaluate the progress of your project
  • Project milestones reflecting progress toward aims/goals
  • Compliance with institutional policies

Note: A letter from your Program Director is strongly encouraged, but not required.  Also, if you feel additional letters of recommendation in support of your application will be helpful, this is optional.

*Progress updates must be provided every six months, at which time formal feedback will be shared.

The finalists selected from the applications received will pitch their ideas to the work group via Zoom. The work group will provide feedback, determine award recipients and the amount of grant funding for each. Grant recipients and their mentors are encouraged to reach out to ASDS should they need feedback on overcoming hurdles or general guidance on their project.


2021 Early Career Innovation Grant Recipients 

Michael Abrouk, MD

Institution: Harvard MGH Laser and Cosmetic Dermatologic Surgery
Topic: Machine Learning Artificial Intelligence Guided Management Robotic Articulated Arm Laser

Laura Gardner, MD

Institution: Vanderbilt Department of Dermatology
Topic: Derm X

Morgan Murphrey, MD

Institution: University of California, Davis
Topic: Upcycling for a More Sustainable Future

Elaine Otchere, MD

Institution: Duke Dermatology Residency Program
Topic: Preventing Wrong-Site Surgery for Skin Cancers Utilizing a Free, Patient-Facing, Novel Smart Device-Based Software Application (Skin Check 360)