NIH – BRAIN Initiative Fellows: Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship (F32)

November 10, 2017 by School of Medicine Webmaster

The integrated program of research and training supported by this re-issued FOA is intended for postdoctorates who are early in their postdoctoral training period in a given laboratory or research environment, rather than for advanced postdoctorates. Support for early postdoctoral training will maximize the training potential of this fellowship award. Given the interval when applications will be accepted (from 12 months prior to completing terminal degree requirements to 12 months after starting postdoctoral training), it is recognized that some applicants are unlikely to have had the opportunity to generate preliminary data for the proposed project. Accordingly, it is expected that there will be no preliminary data in the application, although inclusion of preliminary data is permissible.

The proposed research and training plan should focus on a research area and/or skill set that clearly and strongly complements the applicant’s existing research expertise and skills and that will markedly broaden the applicant’s knowledge and skills. For example, an applicant with existing skills in molecular neuroscience might propose a research training plan that emphasizes circuit-level neuroscience approaches to brain function. An applicant with existing neuroscience training might propose a research training plan that emphasizes neuroethics. An applicant trained in physics or statistics might propose a research training plan that emphasizes data-intensive/computational approaches to neuroscience. An applicant with research experience using non-human vertebrate animals might propose a research training plan using human subjects.

The application should consist of a well-conceived scientific project, integrated with a comprehensive training plan, which is designed by a collaborative discussion between the applicant fellow and sponsor. In addition to preparing the candidate to be a subject matter expert in the proposed research area and to acquire new technical skills, the research and training plans are expected to provide the candidate with a strong understanding of the principles of experimental design and the tools for rigorous analytical approaches. Given that neuroethics research may involve analysis of large qualitative data sets, applicants proposing research in this domain are expected to propose didactics and training that will develop state-of-the-art analytical skills appropriate for such data sets. In contrast, applicants proposing experimental neuroscience research and/or modeling are expected to propose didactics and training that will enable them to develop state-of-the-art quantitative skills, the principles of quantitative analysis, and to incorporate quantitative approaches that are appropriate to answer the proposed research question. Applicants proposing a computational/modeling project are encouraged to gain exposure to the biological approaches from which the data sets they’ll model are derived.

Further, the proposed research and training plan should enhance the individual’s potential to develop into a productive, independent researcher by providing committed mentorship, appropriate training and career development opportunities, and strong institutional support. The training plan should document the need for, and the anticipated value of, the proposed mentored training in relationship to the individual’s research career goals and the individual’s prior research training. The training plan should be explicitly designed to prepare the fellow to transition to the next stage of his/her research career.

It is expected that the mentored training experience will provide:

  • A strong foundation in quantitative reasoning, research design, methods, statistics and analytic techniques appropriate to the proposed research and sufficient to ensure that the applicant has the knowledge and skills to generate robust and reproducible data;
  • Experience conducting research using appropriate, state-of-the-art tools and approaches relevant to the goals of the BRAIN Initiative, and an expert understanding of the tools and methods used;
  • Opportunities to present research findings at national meetings as the work progresses;
  • Opportunities to publish the research findings as first author;
  • Opportunities to interact with members of the scientific community at appropriate scientific meetings and workshops including BRAIN Initiative investigator meetings; and
  • Professional skills needed to transition to the next stage of the applicant’s research career.

To be considered responsive to this FOA, the proposed research training plan must be relevant to the scientific goals of the BRAIN 2025 Report, as described in the required Other Attachment for this application (see Section IV.2. SF424(R&R) Other Project Information below). Applications that are not relevant to one or more goals of the BRAIN 2025 report will not be reviewed.

Pre-Submission Consultation

Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with NIH scientific/research staff when planning an application. Early contact provides an opportunity for NIH scientific/research staff to provide guidance on program scope and appropriateness of the proposed research and training for potential funding in response to this FOA.  Applicants should contact NIH scientific/research staff as early as possible before the due date.

Pre-Submission Technical Assistance Webinar

A technical assistance webinar will be held for potential applicants on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 at 1:00-2:30pm EST. The intent of the webinar is to provide an overview of the FOA and to address questions pertinent to preparing an application. Participation in the webinar, although encouraged, is optional and is not required for application submission. To obtain access information, please email at least 48 hours prior to the scheduled webinar and specify “BRAIN F32 webinar” in the subject line of the email. Access information will be sent the day before the webinar. Prospective applicants are encouraged to submit their questions or comments regarding the FOA to at least 48 hours prior to the scheduled webinar.  Please indicate “BRAIN F32 Webinar” in the subject line of your email.

Deadlines:  March 15, 2018; December 7, 2018; August 7, 2019; April 7, 2020 (letters of intent due 30 days prior to the deadline)


Filed Under: Funding Opportunities