Individual Fellowship Opportunities
While our students have guaranteed funding through the program, derived from a variety of sources - MSTP and other training grants, institutional funds, grants of thesis mentors and a number of others – there are a number of reasons students may want to consider applying for an individual fellowship. These include:
- Experience: the process of applying for a fellowship is valuable, and gives you a taste of what it will be like to apply for other fellowships and research grants later in your career.
- Kudos: competing against a national pool of candidates and receiving an individual fellowship from NIH or another funder looks great on your cv.
- Money/opportunity: For most students, receiving an individual fellowship will not change your stipend level, but these awards often come with additional funds for travel to conferences or other educational expenses (computers, books, etc).
- Benefit to mentor: If you receive an individual fellowship to help support your own training costs, this frees up funds for your mentor to use for other research/personnel costs.
Information about specific fellowship opportunities
Many fellowship opportunities are tied to particular research areas. There are also fellowships that are broad in terms of area of research, but have other eligibility criteria- eg awards for underrepresented minority students.
- Some of the fellowships current students hold or have applied for include:
- NIH individual fellowships: http://grants.nih.gov/training/F_files_nrsa.htm; see F30 and F31 award info for which Institutes support these (and what their research priority areas are), and for eligibility criteria
- Soros Fellowship for New Americans (permanent residents; naturalized citizens; children of two parents who are naturalized citizens) http://www.pdsoros.org/
- American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=9713 (see Great Rivers Affiliate link)
- There is a longer list of fellowships with MD-PhD students can apply for at https://www.aamc.org/students/linkableblob/62756-3/data/fundingformdphd-data.pdf. Penn students can consider the fellowships on both List A and List B. (We actively encourage students to consider applying for Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards from the NIH). Your thesis mentor may also have suggestions about particular awards he/she thinks you should consider.
Process and tips for applying
- Carefully read through all of the requirements for the application from start to finish, and make sure you’re aware of everything you and others will need to provide. Also be sure that you closely read the eligibility requirements for the particular fellowship you’re considering, to be certain you can apply.
- If you are planning to apply for an individual NIH fellowship, contact Marianne Altland Williams, Grants Manager, in the Finance Office, as far in advance as possible (at least 6 weeks before the deadline). She will provide essential information and guidance about the budget aspect of the application, and the process for getting required approvals from the Office of Research Services. There is also a very helpful powerpoint presentation on the BGS website at http://www.med.upenn.edu/bgs/current_students_financial.shtml - click the link that says “Application Process for Individual NRSA” which has info about F30s and F31s. Awards need to be submitted electronically, and it is vital that you work with Marianne to be sure everything is coordinated such that you meet Penn’s requirements and the funding agency’s specifications.
- If you are applying for a non-NIH fellowship, contact your thesis mentor’s Business Administrator, as far in advance as possible, for assistance.
- Many fellowship applications require letters of reference. Contact the people you would like to ask for letters from as far in advance as possible, and make sure to provide any necessary forms and information about the deadline. Offer to meet with them if they would like to discuss your application, and provide background information such as your CV and, if available, a draft of your research proposal.
- Many fellowship applications also require official transcripts or other documentation. Put in requests for those materials early so you’re able to meet the deadline.
- Some fellowships require background information about Penn, the MD-PhD program, or specific aspects of training (eg responsible conduct of research). If you have questions, be sure to ask someone (Marianne; Skip or Maggie; grad group leadership, etc). Our requirement for responsible conduct of research is at http://www.med.upenn.edu/mstp/bioethics.shtml
Relevant policies for fellowship recipients
- Students are expected to abide by the conditions specified in their individual fellowship award, along with all relevant graduate group, School and University policies.
- If the stipend amount provided by the fellowship is equal to or less than the current MD-PhD stipend level, then the student will continue to receive the current MD-PhD stipend level going forward. If the stipend amount provided by the fellowship is greater than the current MD-PhD stipend level, the student will receive the full amount of the fellowship stipend for the duration of the award.
- If the fellowship comes with funds for research expenses, cost of education allowance, and/or travel, Marianne Altland Williams or the relevant business administrator, can provide information about what the funds may be used for and how to process payment.
- For students who are awarded a significant (non-NIH) external fellowship, the CD program provides students with a Cost of Education allowance of $2,500/year, to support their educational and research activities. Fellows can use their allowance to fund travel to conferences related to their research field, books, lab supplies,one computer and associated peripherals. iPads and similar devices are also OK. If not spent in one year, funds can be carried over to the next but NOT beyond the end of your external fellowship.
The MD-PhD students below have volunteered to be a resource for our current Penn MD-PhD students who are considering applying for an individual fellowship. You can e-mail them with particular questions or to arrange to get together and talk over the process:
|Student||Grad Group||Year Awarded||Agency / Org|
|Dania Daye||BE||2010, 2009||HHMI, Soros|
|Ting Yang||CAMB||2012||Canadian Inst of Health Research|
Many of the above students have provided our office with a copy of their application for current Penn MD-PhD students to review. If you’d like to request a copy, please contact Amy Nothelfer at email@example.com.