SPARK Awards at La Jolla Institute for Immunology

A nonprofit organization

$3,275 raised by 11 donors

66% complete

$5,000 Goal

SPARK Discoveries

Early career scientists face a major challenge in advancing to the next stage in their careers: funding for new projects that don't yet have preliminary data. The Tullie and Rickey Families SPARK Awards program at La Jolla Institute for Immunology was designed to solve this issue for the most promising new projects. With the support of private donors, the SPARK program provides flexible start-up funding that enables LJI’s early career investigators to act on their promising projects for bold new approaches to diagnoses, treatments, and possibly even cures for diseases that afflict us today. This philanthropically-funded program fills the gap between scientists’ imagination and that first solid set of data that allows them to attract additional funding to further their research and ultimately make life-saving discoveries.

The Tullie and Rickey Families SPARK Awards for Innovations in Immunology

Each year, LJI receives dozens of proposals from its graduate student and postdoctoral scientists. A panel that includes Institute scientists, leadership, and the Tullie and Rickey families, reviews the proposals, selects the finalists, and has each of them present their projects in person. The finalists are then ranked in order to receive funding based on the total amount raised for the program that year from donor contributions. Each Tullie and Rickey Families SPARK Award provides $25,000 in funding that must be spent within a year.

In addition to funding high-risk, high-reward research, the Tullie and Rickey Families SPARK Awards program also provides training in how to communicate the importance of research to the public and attract private funding. And, award winners ultimately gain the experience in running an independent research project, which can be an important career milestone.

Program Impact

By making a donation to support the Tullie and Rickey Families SPARK Awards program, you will directly empower the next cohort of young immunologists with promising SPARK projects. Learn more about our most recent cohort of SPARK Awardees and their scientific discoveries in our most recent annual report: 

2023 SPARK Annual Report

La Jolla Institute for Immunology's Mission

Since its inception over 30 years ago, La Jolla Institute has solely dedicated itself to understanding the far-reaching power of the immune system because we believe that no other biomedical discipline has greater implications for human health than immunology.

Giving Activity

Organization Data


Organization name

SPARK Awards at La Jolla Institute for Immunology

other names

La Jolla Institute for Immunology

Tax id (EIN)



LA JOLLA, CA 92037