Research News

Call for proposals: 2023 Sanofi Innovation Awards (iAwards)

The Sanofi iAwards initiative is a multi-institutional partnership program designed to support collaborations with academic investigators to accelerate innovative early-stage, disease-relevant research toward the clinic. With this program, Sanofi aims to fund cutting-edge translational research that can contribute to its early-stage pipeline and ultimately benefit patients.

Award winning proposals will receive:

  • Up to $125,000 in research funding, including institutional direct and indirect costs for 12 months with nine awards given in the 2023 cycle
  • Sanofi R&D expertise and guidance
  • In-kind resources such as reagents, tool compounds, data, etc.
  • Successful projects can be converted to Sponsored Research Agreements, which can receive increased additional funding for up to three years


Date Action Items
May 5 Open portal and send Call for Pre-Proposals to TTO’s
June 5 Submission portal closes for Pre-Proposals
June 15 Feedback from Therapeutic Areas received for Pre-Proposals
July 15 Open portal and send call for Full Proposals (approximately 30)
Sept. 1 Submission portal closes for Full Proposals
Oct. 15 Feedback from Therapeutic Areas received, informational meetings scheduled
Nov. 1 Announcements made to TTO’s for 2023 iAward winners

Areas of Interest


  • New and actionable knowledge about disease relevant targets, pathways and mechanisms
  • Early-stage compounds or biologics targeting novel disease mechanisms
  • New models for validating disease relevant targets
  • Technology platforms with the potential to significantly improve drug discovery and development (examples –gene therapy, biologics development)
  • Novel therapeutic modalities


  • Diseases associated with dysregulated Type2 immune responses including Atopic Dermatitis and Asthma
  • Rheumatological disorders including Lupus Erythematosus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, psoriaticarthritis, and Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Autoimmune sequelae of checkpoint inhibition
  • Co-stimulation pathways in autoimmune and allergic diseases
  • Systems Immunology and single(immune) cell analysis
  • Immuno-metabolism


  • Novel targets, models and therapeutic concepts for muscular dystrophies and other rare muscle disorders
  • Investigation of mechanisms influencing disease progression or treatment potential for muscular disorders including mitochondrial, peroxisomal disorders, inflammation, fibrosis, muscle repair and regeneration. Additionally, Insights into mechanisms driving the deterioration of certain muscle fiber types in different muscular disorders, role of satellite cells, role of central nuclei and contribution to disease, disease signatures shared across different muscular disorders.
  • Biomarkers and imaging methodologies to facilitate disease diagnosis, evaluation of disease progression and therapeutic efficacy, or patient stratification, for muscular dystrophies and other rare muscle disorders
  • Novel methods for delivery of therapeutic payloads to muscle
  • Novel targets, models and therapeutic concepts for rare kidney, metabolic, bleeding, and lysosomal storage diseases
  • Role of the complement cascade in the pathophysiology of rare and common disorders, including kidney, blood, eye, and CNS diseases


  • Novel targets, assays, models and therapeutic concepts for proteinopathies, in particular for synucleinopathies, tauopathies and TDP-43 driven diseases
  • Studies directed towards identifying new strategies to halt synaptic loss, strengthen synaptic connections leading to the rescue of cognitive impairment
  • Novel targets and mechanisms to achieve neuroprotection in neurodegenerative diseases including MS, AD, PD and ALS/FTD
  • Novel approaches to address nucleotide repeat expansion diseases, including small molecules, ASOs, gene therapy approaches
  • Novel targets, models and therapeutic concepts for neuromuscular diseases
  • Novel targets and therapeutic concepts for rare genetic diseases of the nervous system
  • Novel targets for neuroinflammation especially focusing on modulation in astrocytes and endothelial cells
  • Biology, transport mechanisms and delivery across the blood brain barrier
  • Biomarkers and imaging methodologies to facilitate disease diagnosis, evaluation of disease progression and therapeutic efficacy, or patient stratification, for MS, PD and other neurodegenerative diseases


  • Gene therapy applied primarily to rare diseases, rare blood disorders, CNS, musculoskeletal diseases and the kidney
  • In vivo gene delivery in liver, brain, muscle and eye
  • CNS gene delivery and/or neuromuscular gene delivery technologies such as AAV capsids that enable recombinant virus penetration of blood-brain barrier following intravenous, intracerebroventricularor intrathecal delivery approaches
  • AAV platform and other gene delivery technology (non-AAV platform), such as virus-free gene delivery
  • Triple transfection technology (TTX) as complementary/alternative approach to a robust AAV production method
  • Technologies that improve CMC processes and productivity


  • Allogenic NK cell therapy in solid tumors
  • in situ generation of CAR T or CAR NK via delivery of targeted lipid nanoparticle carrying mRNA (or other methods)
  • Mechanisms of innate and acquired resistance to checkpoint blockade
  • Immuno-modulatory function of TGF-β
  • Immune cell engagers (NK cells & T cells engagers)
  • Immuno-conjugates
  • Intra-tumoral Treg depletion, modulation of immunosuppressive myeloid lineages
  • Immune profiling methodologies in preclinical and clinical setting
  • Novel translational models in immuno-oncology
  • Tumor angiogenesis and vascular normalization beyond VEGF
  • Ongoing CAFs and ECM alterations in cancer
  • Epigenetics and cancer immunity


  • Sanofi priority indications are breast, lung, multiple myeloma, prostate but also could be other cancers pending on target or modality
  • Novel targets and/or early drug discovery projects in molecularly defined cancer populations and/or lineage
  • Tumor induced immune suppression: regulation of anti-tumor immunity when the target is in tumor cells
  • Tumors microenvironment targeting programs
  • Modality: targeted protein degradation (PROTAC, Glue, monovalent degrader) BIOLOGICS RESEARCH
  • Specific tissue delivery of biologics
  • In silico design / Computational biologics
  • Intracellular biologics
  • Multi specific protein formats
  • Stimulation Type-I IFN response
  • Transcriptional regulation, Cell cycle

Complete the submission form for the Sanofi iAwards by June 5. If you have questions, please contact Chris Harris, director of licensing at Vanderbilt’s Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization and tech transition officer (TTO) for Vanderbilt faculty submitting to the Sanofi iAwards.