Future Leaders Prizes


The Emerging and Pandemic Infections Consortium (EPIC) is an integrated network for researchers, trainees and partners working to confront infectious disease challenges. We unite members across the University of Toronto and its hospital partners to accelerate cross-disciplinary work in the understanding of infection and development of new countermeasures against pathogens. A key pillar of EPIC’s work is training the next generation of infectious disease research leaders that will help stop future pandemics and reduce the societal burdens of infectious disease. 

EPIC Future Leaders Prizes celebrate the best and brightest PhD students who graduated each year among the EPIC research community. These competitive prizes identify the most outstanding graduate in each of four streams:  

  • applied and/or translational research  
  • clinical research 
  • fundamental research  
  • population, global and public health research  

Nominees will be put forward by a faculty member (typically their supervisor) who has a primary appointment at the University of Toronto or one of EPIC’s partner research institutes. The nominees will have successfully defended their thesis in the preceding calendar year. Prize winners will have submitted an excellent thesis, both in scientific content and communication style, as well as demonstrated a high degree of leadership outside of their scientific pursuits. These merit-based prizes will be awarded by evaluation of the submitted application package. 

EPIC is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from racialized persons / persons of colour, women, Indigenous / Aboriginal People of North America, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ2S+ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas. 

In addition to the cash award, winners of the EPIC Future Leaders Prizes may be invited to speak at the EPIC annual symposium to highlight the innovative and impactful work they accomplished during their graduate studies. They will retain membership in EPIC for the year after they graduate and still receive priority access to EPIC events, including networking and career development sessions. 

  • Successfully defended their thesis in 2023 
  • Completed a research project that has an infectious disease focus aligned with one of the following areas:
    • Applied and/or translational research 
    • Clinical research  
    • Fundamental research 
    • Population, global and public health research 
  • Present an exemplary scientific thesis that illustrates excellent research, communication skills and impactful findings 
  • Demonstrate a track record of undertaking leadership or advocacy roles within the scientific community and/or in community engagement. 
  • Primary supervisor must have a primary affiliation at the University of Toronto or one of EPIC’s partner hospitals (the Hospital for Sick Children, the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Unity Health Toronto, and the University Health Network)
        Value and Duration

        EPIC Future Leaders Prize recipients will receive a one-time prize of $5,000 and may be invited to present their work at the EPIC annual symposium as well as receive extended access to EPIC events for the year beyond graduation. 

        Awardee Responsibilities

        Awardees must have fulfilled the academic requirements of their degree program and plan of study.  

        Nomination materials


        For any questions or concerns, please email epic@utoronto.ca with “Future Leaders Prize” in the subject line.

        Please comment on the nominee’s development of research skills throughout their training, their accomplishments in their program of study including the impact of their research findings, and the qualities that identify them as a future leader in infectious disease research, as outlined in the eligibility criteria. 

        The letter can be from the primary supervisor or another faculty member at U of T or one of EPIC’s partner research institutes. 

        Submit the letter as a PDF using the following naming convention: [Student last name][Student first name]_nomination letter. Please send nomination letters to epic@utoronto.ca with “Future Leaders Prize” in the subject line.

          Please complete the online nominee form with relevant details about yourself, your supervisor(s) and your thesis, including the TSpace permanent link for your thesis.

          Complete the online nominee form. 

          Please submit your CV, transcript and the following three statements in a single combined PDF document by email. An unofficial transcript is fine.

          • Nominee Statement (maximum 250 words): Summarize how your research aligns with and supports EPIC’s mandate as well as how the research skills and experiences you gained during your training has set you up to be a future leader in infectious disease research.  
          • Research Project Description (maximum 300 words): Please provide a plain language summary of the research project, the major findings and the significance of the work.  
          • EDI Statement (maximum 250 words): Please share your reflections on the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and how you have advanced EDI during your time in graduate school. This can be directly related to your research field and/or project or to your non-research activities (community engagement, volunteering, etc...). You can also share your perspectives on the gaps in EDI in research and how you have/plan to address them.

          Submit as one combined PDF using the following naming convention: [Last name][First name]_supporting. Please send your supporting documents to epic@utoronto.ca with “Future Leaders Prize” in the subject line.

          Provide two reference letters from individuals other than the nominator who can attest to the scientific and/or leadership potential of the nominee. Referees do not have to be researchers themselves. The referees should have a direct relationship with the nominee such that they can comment on the qualities, experiences and achievements that make the nominee an excellent candidate for the EPIC Future Leaders Prize, as outlined in the eligibility criteria.

          Submit as a PDF document using the following naming convention: [Student last name][Student first name]_[Referree last name]_letter. Referees should send their letters directly to epic@utoronto.ca with “Future Leaders Prize” in the subject line.

          Demographic Survey

          Both the nominator and the nominee will be asked to complete our demographic survey. While this survey is required, there is an option to select “Prefer not to answer” for all questions.


          The 2024 Future Leaders Prizes competition is now closed.


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