Starting with the August 8, 2016 receipt date, NINDS will use the F30 NRSA mechanism PA-16-306 ONLY to support students at institutions without formal NIH-funded institutional predoctoral dual-degree training programs. Students at institutions with formal NIH-funded predoctoral dual-degree training programs may apply for F31 NRSA funding PA-16-309, which supports graduate education only.
For the F30 mechanism. NINDS will provide funding to applicants who are within 8 years of starting their entire MD/PhD training – funded awards will not extend beyond the 8th year in the MD/PhD program. NINDS holds strictly to the eligibility requirements described in the F30 FOA. Applicants must be within the first 48 months of their entire dual degree program to submit an initial (A0) application. A minimum of 50% of F30 funding must support research training leading to the research doctorate (during this time, 100% of full time effort to research training is expected, with a maximum of ½ day per week allowed for clinical training experiences).
Should the awardee’s timeline change following submission of an F30 application, the award will be adjusted as needed to maintain the requirement that a minimum of 50% of the support be used toward research training (at 100% full time effort). Applicants are expected to contact NINDS if there is a change in plans either before or after the award is made. For awards to be made, applications must clearly indicate the timeline of the entire dual degree program, and the portion of that program for which the award is requested.
Applicants are encouraged to contact Stephen J. Korn, Ph.D. before preparing an application, as NINDS will consider only those applications that are designed to support the training and development of scientists with interests relevant to the mission of NINDS.
See NINDS Program Announcement: PA-16-306
Application Receipt Dates: April 8, August 8, and December 8
Notice to Emphasize the Requirement for Additional Educational Information under PA-14-150 "Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NSRA) Individual Predoctoral MD/PhD or Other Dual-Doctoral Degree Fellowship (F30)" (NOT-OD-14-133) Office of the Director, NIH.
NINDS provides National Research Service Award (NRSA) predoctoral training fellowships (F31) to promising applicants with the potential to become productive, independent investigators in the scientific mission areas of the Institute. NINDS uses this mechanism to support the career development of neuroscientists (some rare exceptions apply), so the applicant must propose dissertation research in an area within the scientific mission of the NINDS and a training program appropriate for a career in neuroscience research. The mentor should be committed to the successful transition of the applicant to a subsequent appropriate position, have a strong track record in training, and have an active, funded research program in the area of the applicant's proposed research. Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the NINDS Training Office before preparation of an application to determine whether their proposed training and research falls within the NINDS mission.
NINDS will provide funding to applicants who are within 8 years of starting their entire MD/PhD and within 6 years of starting their research training towards the PhD degree - funded awards will not extend beyond these training periods. 100% of full time effort must be devoted to research training. However, approximately ½ day per week may be devoted to continued clinical education.
This program will provide predoctoral training support for doctoral candidates who are within their first 6 years of graduate school, have or will have successfully completed their comprehensive examinations or the equivalent by the time of award, and will be performing dissertation research and training. Support will be provided for a maximum of 3 years and a minimum of 12 months. The applicant should provide evidence of potential for a productive research career based upon the quality of previous research training and academic record. The research training program should be carried out in a research environment that includes appropriate human and technical resources and is demonstrably committed to the research training of the applicant in the program he/she proposes in the application.
For all Fellowship mechanisms. Whereas it is expected that the applicant will work with the mentor to develop the application, the applicant should write an original research plan consistent with the mentor’s funded research. Applicants should not simply be working towards fulfillment of specific aims already devised by the mentor. In addition, applicants are strongly advised not to write in the second person, or to refer to themselves in the third person. It is critical that NINDS and reviewers understand what the applicant is doing, what the applicant is proposing, what the applicant him/herself has written, and what has or will be done by others in the research environment.
NINDS provides National Research Service Award (NRSA) training fellowships to outstanding predoctoral candidates from groups that have been shown to be underrepresented, including underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. The intent of this program is to increase the number of scientists from underrepresented populations in biomedical research. Award recipients will receive up to five years of research training leading to a PhD. or equivalent research degree, a combined MD-PhD. degree, or another formally combined professional and research doctoral degree in biomedical, behavioral, health services, or clinical sciences who are within their first 6 years of graduate school. Support is NOT available for individuals enrolled in medical or other professional schools UNLESS they are enrolled in a combined professional doctorate/PhD degree program in biomedical or behavioral research. Potential applicants are encouraged to contact Dr. Michelle Jones-London, Chief, Office of Programs to Enhance Neuroscience Workforce Diversity (OPEN-WD), at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
Applicants are required to submit a letter with the application certifying eligibility of the Fellowship Applicant for this program. This letter must be received by the NIH by the application due date, or the application will be considered incomplete and not reviewed. Specifically, information must be submitted by the applicant Institution in a letter certifying that the applicant belongs to one of the following groups as further defined in PA-16-308 (see section on Eligible Individuals): (A) An individual from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown by the National Science Foundation to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis; or (B) An individual with disabilities, who are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The certification letter (titled: Diversity_Eligibility_Ltr) must be attached under Item 12 “Other Attachments” in the Section titled “Other Project Information Form.” The letter must be on institutional letterhead and scanned so that an institutional official signature is visible.
The purpose of the NIH Blueprint Diversity Specialized Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Advancement in Neuroscience (D-SPAN) Award is to support a defined pathway across career stages for outstanding graduate students who are from diverse backgrounds underrepresented in neuroscience research. This two-phase award will facilitate completion of the doctoral dissertation and transition of talented graduate students to strong neuroscience research postdoctoral positions, and will provide career development opportunities relevant to their long-term career goal of becoming independent neuroscience researchers. For the F99/K00 award, individuals may receive up to 6 years combined support for both phases, which includes up to 2 years in the F99 fellowship phase and up to 4 years in the K00 career development phase.
Applicants are encouraged, but not required, to submit a Letter of Intent to Dr. Michelle Jones-London. See Program Announcement for details. The due date for the Letter of Intent is 30 days prior to the application due date.
Citizenship Requirement: At the time of award the individual must be a citizen or a non-citizen national of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence.
Individual National Research Service Awards (F32) are made to applicants seeking postdoctoral research training in the basic or clinical neurological sciences. Before beginning the proposed fellowship, an applicant must earn a doctoral degree. In addition to biomedical research training, the proposed study must include an opportunity to conduct research. The training plan should provide an opportunity for research scientists and clinicians to broaden their scientific background or to extend their potential for research in health-related areas. Training areas are generally the same as those identified earlier for institutional training grants. Before formally submitting their applications, prospective fellows must arrange for an appointment to an appropriate institution and acceptance by a sponsor who will supervise the training and research experience. The application must document that staff and facilities are available to provide a high-quality training opportunity. The application should emphasize opportunities for research training and broadening scientific competence.
Goals of the NINDS F32
The NINDS F32 mechanism is designed to
In accordance with these goals, candidates who wish to receive NINDS F32 support must develop a strong research and training plan prior to, or shortly after, starting in a postdoctoral lab. Applications for the NINDS F32 will only be accepted from candidates who have not yet joined the postdoc lab, or who are within the first 12 months after starting in the lab. To facilitate early submission of applications, the inclusion of preliminary data in NINDS F32 applications is not needed, and is, in fact, discouraged.
The F32 is designed for new training. Training involves not only learning new techniques but also approaches to doing science and exposure to different ways of thinking. Consequently, F32 applications will not be supported if the F32 applicant is remaining in the same research environment as the predoctoral or a prior postdoctoral experience.
Why are preliminary data discouraged?
Eliminating the requirement for preliminary data will enable applicants to apply for an F32 prior to, or shortly after entering the lab. In addition, however, NINDS is hoping that candidates, via early discussions with their mentors, will generate bold, original, creative, impactful research projects. Eliminating the need for preliminary data will eliminate the need for candidates to simply jump onto previously designed, ongoing projects in order to generate preliminary data quickly for a fellowship application.
What about feasibility?
Generally, preliminary data are included to demonstrate the feasibility of the experimental approach and to support the stated hypotheses. For this NINDS F32, reviewers will not rely on preliminary data to evaluate feasibility. Rather, reviewers will judge whether they believe the proposed project is feasible based on the clarity of the research description and the mentor’s expertise and prior accomplishments. The following lists several examples for guidance.
1) If the mentor has a strong track record of electrophysiological recording from neurons in one brain region, and the applicant proposes a project that involves electrophysiological recording from another accessible brain region, reviewers might reasonably conclude that the mentor has the technological, experimental and biological expertise to successfully guide the project, even in the absence of preliminary data. Of course, if there are potential challenges with recording from a different brain region, reviewers will expect to see this explained in the application. An important component of the application will be the demonstration of awareness of challenges and approaches to overcoming these challenges.
2) In contrast, if an applicant’s proposal depends on the use of an imaging technique in a lab that has no imaging expertise, reviewers might question the feasibility of the project in that laboratory, or the sufficiency of planning put into project implementation if there is a lack of relevant expertise for the proposed project.
3) In example 2, suppose the primary mentor lacks expertise in imaging but the application includes a co-mentor involved who is an expert in imaging. Then, reviewers will be expected to judge, based on what is presented in the application (both in the quality of the candidate’s experimental description and in the mentors’ letters), whether the co-mentor is intellectually invested in the project and the success of the applicant, and whether the resources (e.g. access to imaging equipment, expert guidance in conducting imaging experiments, etc.) will be available for the successful conduct of the proposed research and based on this, whether the candidate and project are likely to succeed.
Is there ever a place for preliminary data?
For the NINDS F32, preliminary data may be useful when experiments are proposed that reviewers could reasonably believe cannot be done in the proposed research environment. For example, if a candidate proposes to do intracellular recording from cells in four different brain regions simultaneously in an awake, behaving animal, it would be wise to demonstrate that it can be done.
Despite the intent, will reviewers give preference to applications with preliminary data?
It is the intent of NINDS that F32s be evaluated without consideration of preliminary data. Reviewers will be instructed that preliminary data should neither help nor hurt applications. Note: In addition to the considerations in the paragraph just above, there is one exception to this. If preliminary data demonstrate poor quality research, a lack of rigorous explanation, a poor understanding of statistics, or are presented poorly, reviewers are likely to view the data presented negatively not because of the science but because of a lack of appreciation for scientific quality.
How do I demonstrate to reviewers my contribution to the proposed research project?
In the application, the mentor must explicitly describe his or her contribution to the research plan, the portion of the research ideas and plan originated with the candidate, and the relationship of the proposed F32 research to existing projects in the mentor’s lab. Critically, the best way for an applicant to demonstrate his or her contribution to the proposed project is to distinguish his or her work from that of others by using the first person singular narrative when describing hypotheses and the work that will be done, and to attribute hypotheses and work done by others appropriately.
Am I more likely to get an NINDS F32 if I delay applying until I get some experience in the postdoctoral laboratory?
The intent is for there to be no preference in review or by NINDS based on when an applicant applies. The determination of which F32 applications receive support will be based on the reviewers’ evaluation of the merit of the application as defined by the review criteria in the funding opportunity announcement.
What constitutes a “different lab or research environment?”
The research environment is not just the immediate lab but the cohort of scientists that form the applicant’s local scientific community. A change of institution constitutes a change in research environment, unless the move involves working with prior mentors. If an applicant stays at an institution where he or she previously trained, the application must convincingly explain in their application how this represents a complete change in environment. If the research environment includes many of the same scientists as a previous experience, it is not different enough to warrant consideration of F32 support. If, however, an applicant is conducting research at the same institution but interacting with a different group of scientists in a different research area, then reviewers might consider the environment to be sufficiently different to have enthusiasm for the F32.
The NINDS F32 is different from the NIH-wide F32. The key differences are outlined below.
See NIH Program Announcement: PAR-16-458
Application Receipt Dates: April 8, August 8 and December 8
NRSA FY2017 Stipend Levels: NOT-OD-17-003
Notice to Discontinue the Requirement for Additional Educational Information under PA-14-149 "Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship (Parent F32)" (NOT-OD-14-137) Office of the Director, NIH