Neuroscience Blueprint F99/K00 Diversity Specialized Predoc to Postdoc (D-SPAN) Award

Neuroscience Blueprint F99/K00 Diversity Specialized Predoc to Postdoc (D-SPAN) Award


[Lauren Ullrich] Hi and welcome to the NIH
Blueprint Diversity Specialized Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Advancement in Neuroscience,
also known as the D-SPAN, Award webinar. This is an F99/K00 mechanism. So today, I just wanted to give you a few
quick notes before we start. A recording of this webinar and the slides
will be available on the NINDS website and the NIH Neuroscience Blueprint website a few
weeks after the webinar. The presentation itself will last for around
an hour and then we’ll have the rest of the time for questions. So, during the webinar itself you will be
muted and we’re going to ask you to type your questions into the Q&A box which should be
on the right side of your screen and the Q&A, like I said, will be at the end of the webinar. If your question wasn’t answered during the
webinar, please email us so we can help you. So today, we’ll go through the introduction
of our two speakers, we’ll talk about what the NIH Blueprint is, as it is a little different
than mechanisms that are funded solely by an institute or center. We will go through the eligibility requirements
for the F99/K00, the program goals, we’ll go through all the application components,
and the review criteria, and then we’ll have our Q&A. OK, so our speakers today are Dr. Nancy Desmond
who is the Associate Director of Research Training and Career Development and Chief,
Neuroendocrinology and Neuroimmunology Program in the Division of Neuroscience and Basic
Behavioral Science at the National Institute of Mental Health and Dr. Michelle Jones London,
Chief, Office of Programs to Enhance Neuroscience Workforce Diversity at the National Institute
of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Take it away, Michelle. [Michelle Jones-London] First, thank you all
again for your interest and for making time to attend this webinar today. I think we can all agree that the field of
neuroscience over the recent years has achieved many new exciting research advances and the
data shows that the trainees that have increased in terms of receiving PhDs in neuroscience
has reflected that. However, when it comes to diversity, diversity
remains an issue across the biomedical workforce, and neuroscience is unfortunately no different
in terms of smaller numbers. According to NSF, the data shows that only
about eleven percent of those enrolled in U.S. neuroscience graduate programs were from
diverse groups. NIH believes that engaging trainees and researchers
from every segment of the American society is necessary to leverage the U.S. intellectual
capital. The diversity of our country’s population
is an extraordinary resource, this potential can only be realized by fully engaging the
talent, intelligence, and drive all of its members regardless of race, ethnicity, or
disability. Also, studies show that this is the right
thing to do from a standpoint of science; that a diverse workforce results in higher
quality scientific research through greater innovation, creativity, and discovery. So now that we’ve talked about the need, let’s
look talk a little bit about why this initiative. While many are excited about the research
areas blooming within the field of neuroscience, many trainees–perhaps even you yourself who
are listening to this webinar–may feel that the current research environment is very challenging,
and perhaps have even gone back and forth on whether the research career is even a desirable
one. The goal of this initiative is not to convince
you that this is the right path for you, but to provide support, mentorship, and resources
for those who do see this as becoming an independent neuroscience researcher as a viable pathway
to use your talents, your passion, and the goal of this initiative really does align
with the NIH diversity goal to create a seamless transitions for biomedical career advancement
and progression. Keep in mind, as Lauren already cited, that
this new pilot program is bigger than just one neuroscience NIH Institute. It is being funded by the NIH Blueprint as
a collaborative and coordinated effort. On the right side of the slide and at the
top of the funding opportunity announcement, or the RFA, you can see a list of the 13 participating
NIH institutes and centers. By pulling resources and expertise, NIH blueprint
is taking advantage of economies of scale and confronting challenges too large for any
single NIH Institute or Center. Blueprint eligible programs are cross-cutting
and benefit the broader neuroscience community. The goal for increasing diversity in the neuroscience
aligns with this mission, and aligns with the overarching goals and purpose of the NIH
Blueprint. This D-SPAN, which we call it, or the F99/K00
award is intended for individuals who have demonstrated an interest in any neuroscience
research career and in an NIH blueprint mission-relevant area, and for this particular announcement,
we’ve also included perhaps something that you’ve heard about: the BRAIN Initiative. The BRAIN Initiative research areas are also
eligible. The BRAIN Initiative, or Brain Research through
Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, is part of a public-private collaborative effort
aimed at developing new experimental tools that will revolutionize our understanding
of the brain. You can learn more about the NIH Blueprint
and also the BRAIN Initiative by going to their respective home pages. So now back to what is the D-SPAN? The NIH Blueprint D-SPAN program really does
seek to increase the levels of participation of diverse trainees transitioning from graduate
student to postdoctoral positions. It’ll do this by providing a continuum of
support throughout what we consider a very critical post-graduate career stage. We will do this by creating accountability,
a structured process for ongoing assessment, enhancing mentorship that you receive in both
phases, and empowering diverse trainees to choose postdoctoral environments that match
your skills and your scientific interest without worrying about financial constraints. This two-phase award will facilitate completion
of the doctoral dissertation and transition talented graduate students to strong neuroscience
research postdoctoral positions. And also, not only the research components,
but the career development opportunities relevant in getting you to the long-term career goal
of becoming an independent neuroscience researcher. Now, probably the most important part–and
I hope we don’t lose people along the way–we don’t want anyone investing time in writing
an application that does not match the NIH policy or eligibility requirements. If that happens, the application will end
up being withdrawn and not considered for review. The first: this is a diversity award. You must be a member of one of the recognized
NIH diversity groups based on under-representation on a national basis appropriate for this career
stage. You can either be eligible based on under-representation
by race or ethnicity, NSF data shows that the following groups would be included in
this category for neuroscience: that’s African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians,
Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islanders. The other category of eligibility includes
those individuals with disabilities. That’s defined as those with a physical or
mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of your major life activities. The other thing is that, to apply, you must
also be a US citizen or permanent resident by the time of the award. Current F31 awardees and appointees on T32s
are eligible to apply, but of course you cannot hold two training awards at the same time. If you receive the D-SPAN, you would have
to end your appointment on either the F31 are the T32. For dual-degree or professional doctorate
students such as MDs, MD/PhDs, you are not eligible because this training timeline that
we have is really not compatible with your current training that you would receive for
this dual degree. At the time of award, applicants are expected
to have one to two years to complete their PhD dissertation research–that is the F99
phase–before transitioning to the mentored postdoctoral research training phase–and
that’s the K00. In this case, if we look at that from the
one to two years, this typically means that an applicant should be in their third or fourth
year of graduate school when you apply. If you’re outside of that range, you are allowed
to apply, but you must make a strong case for why you will either finish early or need
additional training in the lab beyond the six years. Instead, we recommend that perhaps you consider
applying for the new NINDS F32, or also the BRAIN Initiative has an F32, which allows
you to apply up to a year before you actually enter your postdoc lab. To ask about the exceptions to the third and
the fourth year eligibility, please feel free to just contact me. Some examples of acceptable exceptions can
include someone who had a documented leave of absence due to your health, or for someone
applying in year two who’s had an MS degree, and is expected to graduate within two years. Part of your application will contain verification
by your institution that you’re at the dissertation phase, and are currently in a PhD program
that is neuroscience-relevant, and that you yourself have a desire to have a career as
an independent investigator in neuroscience research. And finally, when it comes to eligibility,
a really important component of this is that you must have mission relevance to at least
one of the neuroscience institutes listed on the FOA, as I previously described on slide
number seven. As always, if you have any specific questions
about your eligibility, we’re more than happy to receive your questions. Just email us. In terms of award details, this mechanism
involves two phases of funding: it provides 1-2 years of support for completing your PhD
dissertation in the F99 phase, and up to four years of support for postdoctoral training
in the K00 phase. Awardees will receive the F99 funding near
the end of the dissertation research, and can then bring the four years of the K00 to
the selected postdoc at any US institution. You do not have to have a postdoctoral position
or mentor established at the time of your application submission. In the majority of cases, your K00 postdoc
will be at a different institution and with a different mentor. The application includes career goals, objective,
the applicant’s plans for career development training activities during your award period,
and your biosketches, and other documents. If approved, the K00 support will go for four
years of the postdoctoral research, but it’s not automatic to receive just this K00 just
because you had the F99. As I stated, you’ll have to put in an application
to get prior approval. If you begin–if the applicant begins a postdoctoral
position or completes all of your PhD dissertation requirements before an F99 award is actually
made, neither the F99 award nor the K00 award will be issued. This slide just highlights what we’ve talked
about already in terms of career stage eligibility, but also gives you a little bit more detail
in terms of the funding that you would expect to receive if you are an awardee. The stipend level is the same as for the F31,
it includes tuition and fees allowable at this phase only, and an institutional allowance
including things like insurance, supplies, etc. The K00 phase, as I mentioned already, is
up to four years: you get up to $50,000 towards the salary of your career, and $3,000 towards
the research development costs. For this initiative or for this application
we are requesting a letter of intent. The letter of intent, the purpose is to help
anticipate and manage the review panel. NIH policy is that letters of intent are non-binding,
but we really do encourage you to submit one. The other thing is that, perhaps in your travels,
or through talking to peers, or your mentor, you’ve heard of the other F99 that NIH has:
the one that’s at NCI or the National Cancer Institute. Unlike the NCI F99, more than one person may
apply from any institution. We highly encourage everyone who is eligible
to apply, even if others from your institution are also applying. So before you start, keep these things in
mind, and you should be discussing this with your mentor. The first thing is really think about your
career goals. Define your career goals and the area of your
research interest, keeping in mind that, once again, it has to fit one of the NIH Blueprint
research interests or the BRAIN Initiative research areas. The second thing is to outline the technique
skills, knowledge, and relationships necessary to achieve your career goals. What will you need to make that transition
to a postdoc and beyond? The third, and a very important thing is,
it’s a good thing to identify your strengths, but it’s also a good thing to do a gap analysis
and decide: What skills are lacking? What skills do you need to be developed? The fourth is define your research plan: How
will the two phases of your research, the F99 and the K00, build off your existing strengths
and provide you with the skills, techniques, and data that will lead you to success. The fifth, build a training plan that is tailored
to you: don’t have a training plan that is borrowed from other awards that may be in
the lab or from other people. The training plan should really speak to your
needs, your talent. This is something that really has to be specific
for you. Number six, assess guidance and mentorship
that is needed: what will you learn from the identified mentor? And keep in mind that what we see a lot of
in terms of the training world is that sometimes it’s more than one mentor: it could be a co-mentor,
or a mentoring team, and are all the areas of your development covered? So, just in general, for the F99 phase, you’re
going to be provided support to finish the dissertation research. We expect an outstanding application to articulate
a thoughtful research project that has a clearly stated rationale, goes beyond experimental
details, and offers perspective about the work’s expected outcomes and significance. For the K00, you know, most applicants will
not have, and probably shouldn’t have, a commitment to a postdoc lab. We don’t expect a whole lot of detail, but
we expect the applicant to articulate in broad strokes the future research direction and
what is needed to develop the career through to the next stage. Now, Dr. Nancy Desmond from NIMH will detail
the application components and provide guidance for submitting a competitive application in
response to this unusual type of mechanism. [Nancy Desmond] Great. Thanks, Michelle. I want to talk about some of the nuts and
bolts of this application and first provide some very general guidance. First, in the next few slides, I’ll be talking
about particular sections of the application. These sections refer to where you may find
instructions in the application guide. Some of the instructions are in the general
application guide; some of them are in the fellowship specific guide. There’s an important point to keep in mind,
and it’s a little confusing, there is a hierarchy that you need to know about when you’re reading
all of these instructions and figuring out which instructions to follow. So, first you have the NIH Application Guide,
which gives you very general instructions, kind of like the highest level kind of instruction. And second, there are very specific instructions
for particular types of applications. For example, for individual fellowships, they
are covered in section 9 of the Application Guide. And then third, there is the specific funding
announcement to which you are applying: in this case, the RFA for D-SPAN. If there is different advice offered in each
of these particular instructions, it’s important to remember that the RFA always would overrule
the Application Guide. And so, if there is an apparent conflict in
the instructions, you follow the instructions in the RFA itself. So, it’s very important that you read the
entire FOA carefully, including the review criteria, as well as reading the fellowship
instructions as you’re putting your application together. So this is what the grants.gov website page
will look like when you view a funding opportunity. You need to download the application package
and the instructions for this RFA; there are links in the RFA that will allow you to do
this, or you can use assist. Both of these are available in the FOA. An important point: if you don’t already have
a commons ID account, you need to get one now, because you cannot submit an application
if you don’t have a commons ID. Your institutional official is the one to
go to, they will help you obtain this important ID. You also need to refer to the table of page
limits for fellowships, which will tell you how many pages you’re allowed to have for
each section of your application. There appear a number of different application
software packages that are available to help you in terms of putting together an NIH application. Each institution typically has their preferred
software package. But regardless, the application components
are the same. So specific instructions for your applications. You need, use the SF424 (R&R) fellowship package,
this is the same one used for all fellowships at the NIH. However, the Specific Aims and Research Strategy
Sections for this particular RFA follow a non-traditional format which we will talk
about more during the webinar. Other sections are much more similar to the
predoctoral fellowship program application. So, there are a number of required forms,
and this slide shows you a list of these forms. There are mandatory forms, five of those,
and then there are several optional forms. Each form has several parts. The first form is called SF424 R&R, the second:
the fellowship supplemental form, etc., and we’re going to go through each one of these
in subsequent slides. There are also two optional forms for the
planned enrollment report and the PHS 398 cumulative inclusion enrollment report. These are related to projects in which research
using human subjects is proposed. For research involving human subjects or vertebrate
animals, stem cells, or select agents, what you choose in one form will influence the
other forms, and we’ll talk about these at the end of this section of the webinar, but
for now, let’s focus on the mandatory sections of the application. I will review these forms in order, but will
focus primarily on the specific parts that are unique to the F99 part of the D-SPAN. So, again, just to reiterate an important
point, you need to recognize and accept that the application instruction guide is always
in a state of being updated. And so it’s best not to use a PDF of the application
guide that you may have downloaded months ago, because it may have changed since then. And keep in mind, also, that there is that
hierarchy that I mentioned before with the very general application guide instructions,
there is the more specific instructions for individual fellowships, and then the instructions
that are provided to you in the funding announcement, where the funding announcement instructions
always trump anything else. You can always use the find function in Adobe
to help you find all the relevant text that is related to a particular question if you
have particular things that you think you don’t fully understand what is what is going
on in the various instructions. So, we go on, I wanted to briefly mention
an important component of the fellowship section: the letters of reference. You want to be asking people to write your
letters of reference now, because they are required, and if you don’t have a sufficient
number of letters of reference submitted at the deadline for your application, your application
will not move forward and cannot be reviewed. There’s an art to asking for letters of reference:
you should always provide your reference letter writers with all the information they need
to write you a good letter. This could include your complete CV, a link
to the funding announcement so that they know what you’re applying for, a written description
of your current research and your future plans, and instructions on what aspects of your work
or your training you would like them to comment on. I encourage you to think critically about
who you’re asking to write a letter for you, and ensure that those individuals can speak
to all of the different aspects on which you will be judged. You want to ask people to write letters of
reference for you who actually know you, and know about your qualifications as a scientist. So, if we now move on to the so-called SF424
Form 1, which is also known as a cover sheet. It’s two pages, and it has a lot of details,
nuts-and-bolts type information, but there are some F99-specific components here. For example, on item 12, the start date that
you need to request in there is the start of the F99 phase. The earliest start date is September, 2017,
so that would be the date that you would want to put into that box on the cover sheet. The second is the end date, that is the end
date of the K00 phase, so basically, that would be either five or six years after the
start state, depending on if you’re requesting one year of F99 support or two years of F99
support. You should request the total time you believe
you need for each phase and what you believe you can justify for the further research and
training you’re proposing to do. Again, the maximum you can request is a total
of six years. Item 15 concerns the estimated project funding:
this would cover both phases, both F99 and K00. You want to use the budget section in the
RFA to help you with this entry. This is an estimate only; don’t stress about
the exact number. With help from grants people at your institution,
you can use the information in the budget section of the RFA to come up with your total
requested budget. You will have to guesstimate the K00 cost,
considering what are the allowable costs there. If an award is made, the NIH grants management
specialist will verify the tuition and fees and other expenses for the F99 phase. And at the time of transition to the K00 phase,
your K00 institution will be submitting a new budget page as part of the transition
application. While there are directions for the transition
application in the funding announcement, you can ignore them now because they only apply
at the time of the transition. Item 21 is the cover letter. In the cover letter, you want to cite the
RFA, and to include the list of individuals who will provide references for you, including
their name, departmental affiliation, and institution. The list of referees is also an attachment
in the application. So now, I want to talk about part B: the PHS
Supplemental Form. This is–you can have up to six pages in this
section, and in this section you want to be sure to follow the RFA instructions. Summarize your research and scientific experiences
in chronological order. Describe how your overall training goals will
enhance your development and how they relate to your career goal to become a productive
an independent neuroscience researcher. You want to discuss how the proposed research
training plan for each phase, for the F99 phase, and the K00 phase, will enhance your
conceptual knowledge, and technical and professional skills. And how that training plan for each phase
is anticipated to facilitate your transition to the next career stage. I want to emphasize the importance of including
both a timeline and milestones with it for that timeline for both the F99 and K00 phases. So, in Part C, so-called forms 2. This is a very important section of the application:
specific aims, research strategy, etc. The specific aims and research strategy are
very specific components for this, in the way in which they are structured for this
particular RFA, and I’d like to emphasize the importance of following the instructions
in the RFA for these two components. “Selection of sponsor” section refers
to your dissertation research advisor, that is a your F99 sponsor or multiple sponsors,
but it’s for the F99 only. Training in the responsible conduct of research
is a required component for all fellowship applications; it’s important to pay attention
to each of the five required points for training and responsible conduct of research, particularly
noting the duration of your proposed training and its frequency. You need to follow the instructions that are
provided in the fellowship application guide to complete that one page section. So, if we now move to the specific aims page. For the F99/K00 application, all applicants
will use the structure of the three specific aims that is shown here on this slide. This particular format will ensure that applications
address both the F99 and K00 phases, and it will avoid any potential overlap problems
for those who already have F31 awards, for example, who are also now applying for the
F99. In addition, we believe that this structure
will help reviewers focus on the potential of applicants for this D-SPAN program. Keep in mind the specific aims page is limited
to a single page. You can, of course, customize any other components
of the text that you provide on this page so that they are specific to your project,
but you want to have aim one describe your progress to date on your dissertation research
project, aim two will discuss the work that you need to complete on your dissertation
project during the F99 phase, and aim 3 will focus on the direction for your postdoctoral
research. The next section of the application is the
research strategy. For this section, you have six pages. This is a structured in a bit of a different
way from a traditional fellowship or research grant application where typically there’s
a hypothesis, proposed experiment, and how you will interpret the data. Instead, we encourage here a broad, comprehensive
viewpoint when you write this section, using a narrative style. You want to relate each of the aims to your
career goals, and also to consider the review criteria as you’re writing this section. Note that an innovation section is not required,
and you do want to consider the significance or importance of the overall question that
you are addressing. So now we’re going to look at each of the
specific aims, and talk about that component of the research strategy section. Aim 1: the dissertation research project. What you have done so far: the goal, the rationale,
the hypotheses, and the progress you have made so far. You want to highlight the skills and techniques
that will contribute to your long-term career goal. The section will provide the background and
significance for your dissertation project; it is certainly appropriate to include research
results obtained to-date, but you do want to write this in a narrative style. Aim 2 is about the work that you propose to
do during the proposed F99 award phase, and we anticipate that this is the aim that is
going to receive the most scrutiny by the reviewers. So, incorporating some of the traditional
format, that is, what is the hypothesis you are testing, the proposed study that will
examine that hypothesis, and how you will interpret the data, and what you will do if
the data turn out in a way different than you anticipate, is recommended for this particular
section. Again, we encourage you to highlight the new
skills that you’re going to learn during the remainder of your dissertation research project. So, finally, the third aim focuses on the
direction for your postdoctoral research. Aim 3 should be written in a narrative style,
since it’s quite likely too early for you to describe specific experiments that you
would be conducting during the K00 postdoctoral phase. We don’t believe that applicants should identify
a specific postdoctoral mentor in this section. It’s unrealistic for you to have already identified
the lab in which you would be conducting your postdoctoral research if you need several
more years of graduate training. So, for aim 3, you should describe, again
using a narrative style, the general research direction for the K00 phase, including technical
and career development skills that you propose to acquire, as well as the plan that you’re
going to use to identify a postdoctoral mentor, that is, to identify the best lab for you
to achieve your goal. So, you should not name a postdoctoral mentor,
but we do suggest that you describe the attributes of the institution and the mentor or mentors
that you would seek for your postdoctoral training. If you receive an F99 award, you will, in
the future submit a transition application following the instructions in the RFA, prior
to receiving the K00 award. This application will be more like a traditional
application, and would include specific aims and research strategy for your postdoctoral
project; it’s going to provide the kind of details that we’re saying we aren’t looking
for in Aim 3. Evaluation of the transition application down
the road will be done by a project team from the NIH Neuroscience Blueprint, and we’ll
look at your postdoctoral research plan in terms of its focus on neuroscience, your progress
during the F99 phase, and other variables. But again, at this point, Aim 3 is a broader
picture of your interest and your goals for your research training as a postdoc. So, the next section, part D: sponsor and co-sponsor statement. This is for the F99 phase. This is a six-page section, no more than six
pages. This section is typically written by your
sponsors; it is not written by you. And the six pages should also include any
information related to any co-sponsors you may have. There are five components to this section,
and they are labeled A through E in the instructions. The first is the research support that is
available; you don’t want to have your mentor here recapitulate any information that is
provided in the sponsor’s biosketch, but what is presented here is to list those grants
that will be used to support your dissertation research. The next section is about prior trainees:
this information is used by the reviewers to help assess the sponsor’s track record
in successfully mentoring individuals. So, your sponsor should be providing the number
of prior trainees that each sponsor has trained; they provide details for up to five previous
trainees per sponsor. The co-sponsor information may or may not
be relevant, depending on their role in your training project. For example, if the co-sponsor will be providing
clinical perspective, that individual’s training record may be less relevant. But if your co-sponsor is going to provide
extensive career mentoring, and, for example, has trained many more students than your sponsor
has, then it’s very important that their information be provided, so that a full picture is available
to the review panel. The third section is the training plan that
is provided by the sponsors. I’d like you to keep in mind that the training
plan described by the sponsors should be in agreement with the goals that you’ve previously
described in Part D. If the sponsors’ training plan is out of alignment with your goals,
the reviewers are going to question whether all of you are actually talking to one another,
and that won’t serve you well at review. So, this training plan should be personalized
for your background and strengths, and should be consistent with all aspects of the application. It should address training areas where you
need more development and should again, as I said, be aligned with your career goals. You want to make sure that the role of any
co-sponsor is very clear here, and that the inclusion of any co-sponsor is clearly adding
value to your training plan. While the training plan may be written solely
by the primary sponsor, or by the sponsoring team, or perhaps with each sponsor writing
a separate section, it’s important that it be clear if the section is written as a collective
that everyone has contributed to the development of that. I encourage the sponsors to just be very explicit
about that, so that the reviewers understand that the co-sponsors are actively engaged
in your training. The environment and research facilities: this
is a section that, generally, sponsors are very strategic about what they describe here,
so that it doesn’t merely repeat everything that is stated in the other section entitled
“Facilities and Other Resources.” The fifth section is the number of current
trainees who will be supervised during the fellowship period: important to include this
for each sponsor. Sometimes reviewers become concerned is the
lab is really large; they will worry that you will not receive adequate attention and
mentoring by the sponsor. So, if it is a large group in which you are
working, we recommend that the sponsor describe how the lab is structured, and the organization
and the frequency of interactions between the sponsor and you. The last section concerns your qualifications,
and this is the sponsor’s chance to say what a wonderful, outstanding, promising candidate
you are. The description here, of course, should match
the training plan, so if the sponsor says that you’re wonderful in all aspects here,
then the reviewers often wonder why it is you need all this training. Again, this could be written by the primary
sponsor, by the team of sponsors, or by each sponsor writing a separate section. Regardless of how its organized, it all needs
to fit within the six pages. At this point, I want to remind everyone that
there is no expectation that the F99 institutional commitment includes a commitment of a postdoctoral
position. The commitment concerns the institutional
commitment to you during your predoctoral training, and transition in identifying the
best postdoctoral position for you. Typically, the postdoc is going to occur at
a different institution in order to maximize your training potential from that opportunity. The next section, part D, is letters of support
from collaborators, contributors, and consultants. This is, again, another six-page maximum section. The letters of support are not the same as
reference letters; these are signed statements from any individual who will be collaborating
or consulting with you on this project. The letters will state and confirm that they
will participate in the project, and they will describe the specific role of each collaborator
and consultant. If you have advisory committee members, they
should also provide signed statements, or alternatively, all of the members of the advisory
committee could sign a single letter describing how they are going to provide you with advice. Again, these statements should confirm each
individual’s participation, describe their roles, and document the expertise that they
will contribute. Generally, individuals on an advisory committee
do not need to provide biographical sketches. Part E of the application describes institutional
environment and commitment to training. Here, the institution will document a strong,
well-established research program that is related to your area of interest. They should describe opportunities for intellectual
interactions with other investigators and other individuals in training, for example,
courses that are offered that are relevant to you, journal clubs, seminars, retreats,
other opportunities for you to present. This statement should also indicate facilities
and other resources that will be available to you for your career enhancement and for
the research that is proposed in the application. Now, getting back to these other research
training plan sections. Although we will touch base on the human subjects
and vertebrate animals later, you must include a resource sharing plan to the extent that
resource sharing is relevant to the proposed research, reviewers will comment on whether
the data sharing plan, sharing model organisms, and genomic data sharing plans are reasonable,
or whether the rationale for not sharing these resources is reasonable. Note that you do not need to include and a
plan to authenticate biological and/or chemical resources. Again, there is a part G for budget you want
to be sure to check the box for tuition and fees. Part H concerns the appendix: you don’t want
to disobey the rules about appendices, because that can lead to having your application not
being reviewed. And at this point in time, there are only
an extremely limited number of circumstances in which appendices are allowed. So, I want to move now to talking about the
senior and key personnel profile. Fellowship awards require a primary sponsor,
and there may also be co-sponsors, consultants, and contributors. Each individual who is committed to contribute
to the scientific development and execution of the project, including sponsors and co-sponsors,
should be identified in your application as senior/key personnel, even if they do not
commit any specific measurable effort to the project. Each one of these individuals also needs to
provide a commons user name. You of course, are the most important person
here, and need to include your profile as well. You will use a different biographical sketch
form page than does your sponsor, and we encourage you to take a look at the sample biosketch
that is available online, so that you provide the information that reviewers will expect
to see in that component. Under Other Project Information, there are
a couple of important points. Although foreign institutions are not eligible
to apply for this funding opportunity, foreign components are committed. So, item 6, international activities, may
apply to your application. There are two other attachments that are described
in the RFA: the so-called nomination letter and additional educational information, and
also the certification letter, and we will go through each of these now. So, the nomination letter comes from the institution
and it confirms that you are at the dissertation stage of your graduate training, and in a
Ph.D. program in a neuroscience field, and finally that you seek a career as an independent
investigator in neuroscience. The name of your primary sponsor and the affirmation
of the institution’s commitment to your training and research career goals should also be a
part of this letter. Note that this letter would be provided by
the head of your graduate program, and must be signed both by this individual and by your
institution’s organizational representative. This is important that this letter be included,
a signed letter be included, as part of your application for it be fully responsive to
the RFA. The letter may not be more than one page in
length. Additional educational information is requested
for this RFA. This attachment should include a description
of your graduate program that explains the structure of the program, required milestones,
their usual timing, and average time to degree over the past 10 years. In addition, we encourage that the following
information be included: the frequency and methods by which your program is formally
monitoring and evaluating the progress of graduate students and resources available
to you, including those typically associated with an office of graduate education. Finally, this section should describe your
progress and status in the graduate program to date, and to relate that to the typical
timeline for your graduate program. It’s important that the name of the individual
who has provided this information be included at the end of the description; typically this
information is provided by the director of the graduate program. Another required component is the certification
letter. This letter is from the institution and it
certifies your eligibility for support under the D-SPAN program. The statement must include a clear description
of how the appointment of you to the D-SPAN program will expand the pool of under-represented
individuals within science on a national basis. Populations that are nationally under-represented
for the purposes of NIH diversity programs are identified in the NIH notice of interest
in diversity, which is available on the NIH webpage. NIH relies on data compiled and analyzed by
the National Science Foundation using an evidence-based method that reviews the representation of
populations across the STEM pipeline. The institutional certification letter must
state the basis for your eligibility by reference to NSF national data. In addition to these data, the certification
letter may also address how you would further diversity in the neuroscience workforce. Since certification takes place at the academic
institution, and not at the NIH, the information contained in the certification letter adds
a level of transparency in alignment with program goals for the reviewers. The certification letter from your institution
must be on institutional letterhead and scanned so that an official institutional signature
is visible on the letter. We request that you–that this letter be in
PDF format and it have a specific name: diversity eligibility letter, and this is described
in the funding announcement. Again, this is a required component for the
application, if it is missing from the application, your application would not be considered complete,
and could not be reviewed. We’re getting down to the last few slides
here. R&R Other Project Information. In both the project summary abstract and in
the project narrative section, be sure to address both phases of the D-SPAN award, both
F99 and K00. While items 9, 10, and 11 are not explicitly
required, it is typical for fellowship applications to include these sections, and we recommend
that you do so also. Please note that there are specific circumstances
in which information can be submitted after your application has been received by the
NIH. These are so-called post-submission materials,
and these are sort of like just-in-time-before-review kinds of information that may be submitted
on your behalf by your institutional official to the scientific review officer. And there are two particular types of information
that can be very important for you to consider providing if it comes in after your application
has been submitted. One is information about sponsor funding. For example, if your sponsor received news
of an NIH grant award after your application is submitted, and that is relevant to your
particular project, that is the kind of information it that reviewers would want to know about. Another particular category that can be important
is if you have news of a paper that has been accepted for publication. So, in those kind of circumstances, you would
want to contact the program officer who is assigned to your application or to the scientific
review officer to find out how to provide that information. Generally, that information must be provided
no less than 30 days before the review meeting. Okay, performance sites. So, here, you want to list all sites where
the research will be done. Typically, the primary site is where the institution
is submitting the application, but in some cases, there may be an additional institution
or location that is involved in your research, and they would be listed as a secondary site. Now, I want to turn this back over to Michelle,
and she’s going to talk about the review criteria. [Jones-London] Hello again. Thank you Nancy. I think that was extremely helpful and detailed,
not only for the F99, but also perhaps learning just about the NIH process. Now, I’ll quickly highlight components of
the review criteria. Keep in mind that all of what I will highlight
has already been detailed by Nancy from the perspective of the input, and now you’ll be
getting it from the perspective of the assessment by the study section. How you’ll be judged by the reviewers is really
not a secret: we tell folks that all the time that when it comes to the training awards. It is included in the FOA, and once you finish
writing your application, the best advice is for you and your mentor to check what you
have written against this published review criteria. It can be found in Section 5. Let’s take a quick look at the sections: the
first is applicant. In the applicant–and I won’t just go and
read the slide; this has been copy and pasted from the FOA itself–The gist in terms of
what they’re looking for in terms of the applicant is that they really will be looking at your
past productivity, what you’re doing currently in with respect to your dissertation research,
and what are your plans for the future? That is, what does your prior training show
about you in terms of your potential, and based on your current work, do they protect
predict future success? And do you seem committed to a neuroscience
research career? Basically, will your current “point A”
help you get to “point B?” Second, sponsors, collaborators, and consultants:
that is the team around you. The reviewers will be looking at does it make
sense, this team that you’ve assembled? Are these the right talent agents to help
you get to the next step? Can they support you financially, and also
with respect to your professional development? Can they provide the right support? Nancy and I both mentioned the fact that you
could have not only one mentor, but perhaps a co-mentor, or even a mentoring team. If you have that, you should clearly describe
how all will coordinate the mentoring of you, the candidate. The next is the research training plan. Like any other research that NIH would invest
in, does this project have scientific merit? Is the proposed research project sufficiently
distinct from your sponsor’s funded research for your career stage, is it appropriate? Is the proposed research relevant to your
stated career objectives? That is, does the research training plan align
with the goals of the career development plan? It should once again make sense. And in broad strokes, have you developed a
sound game plan for determining the next step, of the selection of your postdoc mentor for
the K00 phase? For the training potential and development
plan, as I stated, for the research training plan, do the two align? Will you get the skills that you actually
need? Does the plan prepare you for a successful
transition? These are the questions that the reviewers
will be asking. Also, have you convinced reviewers that you
have a plan that takes advantage of not only your strength, but also really addresses the
gaps in your needed skills. That is, why do you need this training? Why does this matter to your development? The institutional environment and commitment
to training. In general, is the institution demonstrating
commitment to your current success, and will they facilitate and foster your future preparation
for the transition? Once again, reviewers will not be looking
for a commitment from your current institution for them to promise you a postdoc position. That is not the purpose of this award. They really are focused on what they’re doing
for you at the F99 phase, and also, how are they going to help you to get to the next
step. And speaking of next step, this is just our
little take-home messaging. The first part: confirm your eligibility. You definitely don’t want to waste your time
putting together an application for something that you’re not eligible for. The second: talk to your current mentor and
devise a timeline to submit a competitive application by April 8th. This is an RFA, we do not have any multiple
receipt dates. Right now, April 8th is it, and so the purpose
of having this webinar now is to give you the time to put together your mentoring team,
and to have that back and forth to decide if this was the right fit for you in terms
of the D-SPAN. The third is submit a letter of intent by
March 9th. Let us know that you have an intention of
applying to this mechanism. This helps us for planning purposes, and to
make sure we have the right reviewers. And finally, receive feedback. Don’t work in isolation with putting together
this application. Take advantage of not only your mentor or
mentoring team, perhaps peers. Get feedback on the application itself, revise
your work, and re-watch this webinar as necessary. Nancy did an excellent job of going point-by-point
in terms of what the FOA is stating in terms of what we’re looking for. A lot of times, people have challenges understanding
just the, perhaps, the “NIH speak” that’s written in the FOAs. This webinar has hopefully taken a step-by-step
detailed overview of what we are looking for. So, the suggestion would be to once you have
the application or a draft, is to look at the webinar again and see if you’re hitting
the points that we mentioned. Our goal today is to help you put together
a competitive application: we want you to succeed. This webinar will be archived and you’ll be
able to look at it. We’ll have it archived on the various NIH
Blueprint Institutes’ websites, also the NIH Blueprint website itself, and then also
our moderator, Lauren, will be sending you a direct link once the webinar has the ability
to be shared. Finally, we want to hear from you, we want
to hear not only today what your questions and issues are, but also in the future beyond
today. I’m the initial point of contact; you’re free
to send me an email about eligibility, or anything else that you have questions. And, so, speaking questions, now let’s open
it up: Lauren will moderate. [Ullrich] Okay, so, we’ve had some questions
come in over the course of the webinar, and I want to encourage you to keep submitting,
and we will keep the webinar going for as long as we have questions to answer. Well, until three o’clock, at least. So, in addition to our speakers, we also have
Ashlee Van’t Veer, who is a program officer at NIMH, in the Office of Research Training
and Career Development, and Edgardo Falcon-Morales, who is in the Diversity Office with Michelle
and I at NINDS, as well as Liz Webber, who is a charge of some of the review that we
do at NINDS in the training program. So all of us are here, available to answer
your questions. So, our first question is, can a candidate
hold a diversity supplement award, or an F31, and still qualify for the F99 K00 award? [Jones-London]
Yes, as we stated, having an award like an F31, and appointment on a T32, or a diversity
supplement does not disqualify you for applying for the F99. You are still eligible. [Ullrich] Can you talk a little bit more about
the level of research experience in neuroscience that might be expected by reviewers? So, let’s say you have a background in engineering,
but you’re doing neuroscience research: could you still apply for the D-SPAN? [Desmond] Absolutely: as long as your project
would be seen by staff as being relevant to neuroscience, and the part of the Institutes
at the NIH, who are participating in this funding opportunity, yes indeed. I would encourage folks to contact Michelle,
and confirm that the topic area falls within the scope of what ICs signed responses to
this RFA terms of the proposed science before you complete your application. [Jones-London] And that’s a great point, Nancy. The other part is that we’ve talked about
neuroscience pretty broadly, but not all neuroscience Institutes at the NIH are represented on this
particular FOA, meaning that even though it may be the neuroscience, it may not be an
Institute that’s participating. So, the safest way to go is to just send out
your specific aims, and we’ll assure you whether it is a go or not. [UIlrich] What kind of preliminary data should
be included in the D-SPAN application? [Jones-London] So, because of the way and the timing of this
award, the fact that an individual is applying typically in their third or fourth year, and
that it’s during the dissertation phase, the expectation is that you have some level of
preliminary data, that you have some evidence of feasibility with respect to your project,
and can demonstrate that in the application. [Ullrich] So, what kind of guidance is provided
to the graduate students when they’re doing the transition to the K00? So, let’s say you have the F99, and how do
they know what to do during the transition? [Desmond] Well, before the transitions, while
you’re completing your dissertation, you need to be thinking about what it is that you want
to do as a postdoc. And begin to think about that in very concrete
terms because you need to begin to identify potential postdoctoral mentors, institutions
that you might consider doing a postdoc at, because all of that process of identifying
and of obtaining a commitment to a postdoctoral position is part of what you’re going to be
doing during the F99, the first phase of the D-SPAN award. The K00, the second phase, starts when you
begin in the postdoctoral lab, so the transition itself, in a sense, is part of the F99. And there, you will have your mentor team,
and you’re also going to probably be taking advantage of feedback from NIH staff about
things to think about as you’re looking for postdocs. [Ullrich] We’ve had two questions about health
insurance coverage, so is health insurance, are funds provided for health insurance in
both phases?[Desmond] So, you know in a fellowship award, there is a standard allowance that
is provided that would include funds for health insurance. During the K99, sorry, K00 phase, this would
be part of the fringe benefit contribution that the NIH would provide to support your
K00, because you will be an employee of a postdoctoral institution, and this would be
part of your benefits as an employee. [Ullrich] And, just to reiterate, do applicants
need to be in the dissertation phase, or post qualifying exams at the time of submitting
the application? [Jones-London] So, the language is that, by the time the application is submitted,
you must have a nomination letter stating that you are in the dissertation phase. It could be for unique situations that currently,
you are not. Say, it’s January now, and by April you could
transition to that. It’s by the time of submission, and you
have to have the ability for your institution to be able to write you that nomination letter
saying that you are in the dissertation phase. [Desmond] So, let me just add on to Michelle’s
response to this, and depending, there may be some distinctions among different disciplines
in terms of the dissertation stage, if you will, and what that means, so that if you
have questions about this particular point based on an idiosyncrasy of your graduate
program, I would suggest that you consult with Michelle before you were beginning to
develop your application to make sure that everyone is on the same page about this point. [Ullrich] And another question here asked
how closely should we work with our mentor to prepare our application. [Jones-London] This is a mentored award, you
should work very closely with your mentor. As Nancy has highlighted, there are actually
some components where they should be writing it. We’ve called it “sponsor,” but in terms
of the language that should be synonymous with the mentor. Your mentor should be helping you through
this. This is, perhaps, your first time submitting
an individual NIH award, but hopefully for your mentor, that is not their first time,
and so a good mentor will help you, give you the room to develop this on your own, and
to use this as a training and a lesson for you to grow, but also, will use this as a
time to give you feedback, to help you revising it, not writing it for you, but giving you
feedback. Your mentor should be a partner in this process. [Ullrich] And so, another question, several
questions coming in about sponsors and co-sponsors. So, do co-sponsors need to be faculty at the
same institution that the applicant is at? And also, could someone at a staff researcher
level to be listed as a co-sponsor? [Jones-London] Well, in terms of being at the institution
that you’re at, certainly, we would think what is typical is that your primary mentor
would reside where you are, but in terms of co-mentors, there could be examples, I mean,
you know, schools in certain areas that are basically down the street, co-located, people
that perhaps, are already on your defense committee, or, you know, there could be really
good cases for why you would have someone that is not exactly at your primary institution. The key here, and what we highlighted, was
in terms of the training plan, and in terms of where they talk about the relationship
between the sponsor and you:you have to outline. How will they interact with you? How will they meet with you? How will they contribute to your development? The more remote a person is from where you’re
residing, there’s going to be skepticism about what is the real relationship? Is this a name only, or is this a real mentorship? You have to state the case and prove the case. [Desmond] So, the other question was with
regard to whether someone who is at a staff researcher level could be a co-sponsor. Again, I think this is the kind of question
that we often answer with the phrase, “Well, it all depends on the particular case.” So again, it would be important to build the
case for the skills and knowledge that that individual would be providing to help mentor
you. I could imagine a scenario where an individual
in a core resource center, for example, who has a very specialized skill set that you
need to learn to complete your dissertation research, may provide a strong component to
your mentor team or group. But again, it all depends on the circumstances
of your particular application. [Ullrich] So, another question about the sponsor. So, does the sponsor have to be funded by
one of the participating NIH Institutes? So, let’s say the sponsor is NIH-funded, and
the work is responsive, but they don’t actually have funding from one of the Blueprint ICs
on the FOA. But that’s not an issue, even with our F31s,
we’ve seen cases where the research that the trainee is focused on, has perhaps moved from
where the parent grant, or not the parent grant, but the mentors’ original scope of
research was. The fact is that a lot of our Institutes also
have research areas that almost touch each other. So, that’s not a real issue. In terms of the NIH funding itself, you can
also imagine someone who had HHMI funding, DOD funding, so that’s not a criteria. However, the dissertation project that you
describe, and that you’re working on, the reviewers at NIH have to see that this isn’t
just a case of you trying to morph the project to fit the funders, that this is something
that truly stands as something that’s relevant to the NIH Blueprint Institutes. [Ullrich] Another question. If somebody is awarded an F99, are they still
able to keep other NIH training funding, or would they have to give that training funding
up? [Desmond] So, that’s an easy question to answer,
the answer is that you would not be able to retain the other streams of NIH funding if
you were to be awarded an F99. [Ullrich] Okay, another question about mentors:
Are international co-mentors allowed? [Desmond] Again, it’s the same principle:
it all depends on the particular case of your situation. I would generally imagine that an international
mentor would provide a very unique, although perhaps that’s a ridiculous phrase, but
quite a unique resource that one could not—that did not exist. Because again, in the case of an international
mentor, the reviewers may have more questions about the actual integration of that individual
into your mentoring, and the frequency and quality of your interaction. Not to say you shouldn’t do it, but there
needs to be a really good plan. [Ullrich] In terms of choosing reference letters,
should they come solely from faculty, or could recommendations come from other people that
you know, can speak to your expertise, say a staff scientist? [Jones-London] I hate to
use this word again but, it all depends. But remember, the point of the references
is that the study section is comprised of people that are well-known in the field, who
have stature. And so, they want to hear from other people,
who are their peers, about how great you are and how you have this potential. And these people should be people that not
only know you, know your work, can speak to you as a person not in generic terms, but
also, a person to whom you would view that, if they’re sitting around, if the committee
is sitting around and looking at a letter from their peer, that there would be a level
of respect about what they’re saying about you. So, that would be the answer on that I would
give, and I think that goes beyond just the title of the person, but how they’re known
within, either you specific research area community, or neuroscience in general. [Ullrich] So, another question here, about
the transition. So, if awarded the F99, is the K00 portion
guaranteed upon completing the application, or is it a competitive process? [Jones-London] So, it is administratively
reviewed, meaning you won’t, in terms of how we use the word, “competitive,” that would
mean going back out to review, and going to a study section. That is not the case. However, the K00 is not automatic, internally,
as Nancy mentioned, the NIH Blueprint training team will look at the application that you
submit, and these components are outlined in the FOA. Right now, you wouldn’t worry about that as
you’re applying for this initial F99, but say you receive the award, you would look
that over, and know that when it came time for you to transition to the postdoc, you
could put together a more traditional application. You’ll have the specific aims, you’ll have
the environment, the mentoring team, a training plan, and this will all be reviewed in-house,
or in administrative review. And once again, it’s not a guarantee, we will
look at the suitability for the transition. Is it still neuroscience relevant? Is it a competitive environment? Do we believe that this offers you the opportunity
to get to what is the end goal, that is, a successful independent research career? [Ullrich] Okay, I’d like to have you guys
talk a little bit more about the different aims, so specifically, can you talk about
aim two, and sort of the research to be completed, versus in three, and how you might not know
exactly who the mentor is going to be, so, how should you frame this in the different
aims when you’re putting your application together? [Desmond] Well, I think that aim two is perhaps
the most traditional, if you will, or conventional piece of the application. It would be more like if you’ve seen other
fellowship applications what you might expect to see in a research strategy section of an
individual pre-doctoral fellowship application. So, you’re going to talk about the project,
the studies remaining in your dissertation, the hypotheses, how you’re going to test
them, how you’re going to analyze the data, keeping in mind the importance of data rigor,
and how you’re going to interpret the data. And if the data don’t turn out the way you
expect, how that might alter the next study in the proposed project? Aim three is, I would call it more like a
10,000 foot view, if you will, of what you want to do, the direction for your postdoctoral
research. Aim two is kind of down in the weeds of your
dissertation project, and the specific experiments that you want to do, in order to complete
the PhD dissertation. Aim three is, you’re going to step back if
you will, and it’s more of a thought experiment. To provide a context for–you’ve done this
research as a graduate student and been driven by an interest in some particular question
on a scientific topic area, and as you think about where you want to go, what you want
to learn as a postdoc, then you’re going to be talking about what I want to do in very
broad strokes. This is not saying I want to, you know, “the
first study I’m going to do as a postdoc is I’m going to do fiber photometry in the
basolateral amygdala because I want to test this specific hypothesis related to anxiety-like
behavior in female animals.” That’s way too granular. So, you need to step back, and think about
what is the general question that is interests me that I want to pursue as a postdoc? What are the new skills that I want to learn? Some people when they go into postdoc, may
have as a graduate student, for example, done very sophisticated electrophysiology in tissue
culture and slices and they decide that they want to gain a broader perspective on the
physiology of the brain and they want to learn how to do really sophisticated multi-unit
and multiple electrodes recording, do fiber photometry, you know, have hundreds of electrodes
in the brain of an awake behaving animal so they can ask questions a different level of
analysis. But in order to write aim three, you have
to have an idea of what you want to do. Not a detailed idea, because we also, I think,
expect people might change their minds in some way, because, of course, there’s always
new knowledge coming out, new tools being developed that people want to learn and apply
to a particular question, but in thinking about what is the question that is driving
my interest in neuroscience? What do I need? What do I want to do next? [Jones-London] Yeah, and I think aim three,
is really, if probably many of you, or some of you have done an individual development
plan and then you’ll be asked for your short-term and your long term goals or five-year planning
goals: that’s aim three. You’re really taking a look and saying, you
know, I have ownership of my science. I have ownership of where I’m going. Where do I want to end up? What do I want to gain out of this training
experience? So really, like Nancy said, we don’t want
to pigeonhole you. The expectation isn’t that aim two and aim
three match together. It could be that for your postdoc research
direction, you’re taking a piece of the techniques, the things that you learned during your graduate
training, and maybe going into another avenue. That’s what often happens in postdocs. And so I think aim three is really you taking
a step back and saying, with this neuroscience training that I have, what do I want to do? And how will I show the reviewers that, once
again, I really have taken ownership of my science, and that I thought about it, and
that I have the potential to develop into independence? [Desmond] So, let me just remind you of one
of the questions in the review criteria under “research training plan.” There are a number of them and I think they’re
all very important questions, but in terms of this particular question from one of our
viewers, the question that the reviewers are asked to consider is the following: Is the
research direction outlined for the K00 phase appropriate to the applicant’s anticipated
stage of development and as a vehicle for developing the research skills described in
the career development plan? This is not a question about real granular. It’s a fairly macro-level question. You’re going to be outlining your research
direction and how is that going to help you learn the skills that you believe you want
to acquire as a postdoc. And remember you only have six pages in this
section for aims 1, 2, and 3. Six pages is not a lot of pages. [Ullrich] Okay, so we have one more question
in the queue, so if anybody else listening has any questions, please send them in as
soon as possible, otherwise we will wrap up. So the last question is: for the introduction
page of the specific aims, should there be a focus on who we are as a scientist or focus
on our project? [Desmond] So I’m not sure what the question
means about the “introduction page” of the specific aims because the specific aims
is one page in length, so I’m wondering perhaps the question refers to, like, the beginning,
before you say specific aim 1, blah blah blah blah? [Jones-London] Or is it the fellowship
application? [Ullrich] I think it’s probably referring
to the extra text that might contextualizes the specific aims page, the introductory paragraph. [Desmond] So, typically on a specific aims
page, just in general, not unique to this—yes, intro paragraph. Ok, so typically in a specific page, regardless
of the particular funding announcement to which someone is responding, people provide
some context for the specific aims. Scientific context for why this is important,
how this relates to biomedical research, improving health, et cetera. [Jones-London] The CV it’s going to be you,
on your biosketch that’s where you would talk more about you as a scientist and how are,
you know, what your perspective and what you’re bringing to the project. [Desmond] And your contribution to date. But the specific aims page is really more,
is typically about the science and the project, although of course, I think in this particular
funding announcement there is more, in my opinion, it seems like there’s more integration
with the specific training goals, if you will, there may be more discussion related to that. But in this introductory paragraph, generally
its most about the science, although there, if you have room I think it’s great if you
can integrate, make it really clear to the reviewers the specific skills you’re going
to acquire and what they are because generally reviewers read the specific aims pages aren’t
assigned to provide a full review of your application, so it can provide a nice one-page
snapshot, if you will, for them. [Ullrich] So, I guess to wrap up, we’ve had
a couple of questions sort of asking, you know, how large is the application pool? What’s the award rate going to be? And things of that nature, so just wanted
to say that this is the first time that the Blueprint is offering this award, so we don’t
know how many applications we will get, and so we can’t really give you any historical
statistics. And also to reiterate what Michelle said,
that currently this is an RFA, so there’s only one application deadline of April 8th,
and we don’t know what the future may hold. [Jones-London] Exactly, and this is, I mean,
this is a very exciting opportunity for someone to get this type of support. You know, two years at the most at the graduate
phase, up to four years at the postdoc level and so, this is a time to gamble. This is a time to focus on putting the most
competitive application you can put together, and not worry about statistics. If you put together a competitive, compelling,
strong application, it could be you. And so, for something like this, these one-time
shots, I would worry about putting together the competitive application and not worry
so much about the statistics. [Desmond] And, you know, if you don’t apply,
you’re not going to get any money. [Jones-London] Exactly. [Desmond] Give it your best shot. [Ullrich] Is there anything else that our
speakers would like to emphasize before we sign off? [Jones-London] We’re really looking forward
to a nice response to this FOA. We thought long and hard about this initiative
and we really would like the positive outcomes from it. We’re here to help you, we’re here to answer
any questions that you may have regarding eligibility, Nancy brought up a great point
about dissertation, about mission relevance, these are all things that if you’re in doubt
just ask us. Don’t necessarily take yourself out of the
game, we’re more than willing to answer your questions and to work with you. The other thing that I mentioned before is
that this was a long webinar, but our hope was that, you know, you’ll be able to come
back to it, it will be archived and it’ll be a great resource for you as you draft the
application to come back and to listen. And so thank you; I don’t know if Nancy has
parting words as well. [Desmond] So I want to thank you for your
persistence, shall we say, for the duration of the webinar and really to reinforce Michelle’s
statement about that we are here to help; if you don’t ask questions, you can take advantage
of our technical assistance and feedback to you. So don’t assume, ask questions if you aren’t
one hundred percent sure. [Jones-London] Get writing! Bye! [Ullrich] Thank you. The recording should be posted in a couple
weeks.

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