Application Information


The Cellular and Molecular Biology Training Grant is now accepting applications as of March 18, 2016. The deadline is 11:45pm, Sunday, April 17, 2016. Applicants tend to do best when they read all below, especially the Tips for a Great Proposal and Presentation near the bottom of the page. Students with faculty advisors in Genome Sciences must include a cover letter with their application indicating the faculty advisor's primary affiliation with Genome Sciences.

Qualifications and Requirements

  • The applicant's thesis research must be in molecular/cellular biology.
  • Students apply to the CMB TG during years two and three of their graduate careers. MSTP and international students are not eligible to apply.
  • The applicant must be in good academic standing in a Ph.D. program in one of the nine participating departments: Biochemistry, Biological Structure, Biology, Genome ceces, Immunology, Microbiology, Pathology, Pharmacology, and Physiology & Biophysics, or in one of the three participating programs, MCB, Neurology & Behavior or Biological Physics, Stucture & Design (BPSD). The applicant’s PI, on the other hand, must be an MCB interdisciplinary group faculty member. Further, the MCB faculty member must hold either a primary appointment or adjunct appointment in one of the nine participating departments. MD/PhD and international students are not eligible.
  • The applicant must be willing to fulfill the NIH requirement of participating in a program in the principles of scientific integrity by attending the Biomedical Research Integrity Lecture Series sponsored by the School of Medicine.
  • The applicant must have completed or be willing to complete 4 modules of the conjoint series.
  • The applicant must be willing to attend every meeting of a monthly evening student presentation series as a requirement of participation.
  • The applicant must be willing to attend the yearly retreat as a requirement of participation.
  • The applicant must be a US Citizen, a non-citizen national of the United States, or possess the alien registration receipt card I-151 or I-551.
  • The applicant's advisor must have sufficient support to underwrite necessary supplies, equipment and other expenses. The Cell and Molecular Biology Training Grant does not provide research funding. The trainee's advisor must attend the yearly retreat.
  • This NRSA institutional training grant allows a maximum of 24 months of support; provided that the aggregate support from all NIH training grant awards and individual fellowship awards does not exceed 60 months. An applicant must be eligible for at least nine months of support (the minimum appointment period).

Research Proposal

Research proposals must be written by the applicant (advisors may provide editorial comments).

Research Proposal Format

Research proposals should be no longer than four double-spaced pages of standard type (at least 12-point typeface) using 1" margins. References, diagrams and illustrations are not included in the four-page limit. Proposals that do not conform to this format will be returned.

Proposal Sections

  • Introduction (include a brief summary of background literature)
  • Project Specific Aims (what hypotheses will you test?)
  • Research Methods (a brief description of methods employed)
  • Progress to Date (if the project is not yet in progress, indicate when you expect to begin)
  • Feasibility (state how long it will take to complete the whole project and what you expect to accomplish in each of the two years).

Letters Of Recommendation:

To ensure consideration be sure that letters of recommendation are provided by the application deadline.

  • Advisor Letter of Recommendation: Your advisor's letter should describe your progress, evaluate your research abilities and assure the availability of adequate funding to support your research (supply funds are not available from the Training Grant). Your advisor needs to explain how much input they had in formulating your proposal.
  • Second Letter of Recommendation: A second letter is required from an individual familiar with your research and/or academic record (i.e. previous lab rotation supervisor, graduate program advisor, and former employer).

Individual Development Plan (IDP)

Include your department's current Individual Development Plan (IDP). This form needs to be filled out and signed by your PI.

Submission Instructions

For a copy of the application, go to the Catalyst Drop Box. Click on the "Application", read the directions, scroll down to "C." and download the CMB TG Application. Application materials must be typed and submitted to the CMB TG drop box at: after open on March 18, 2016 and by the deadline date of April 17, 2016 in order for the applicant to be considered. Students with faculty advisors in Genome Sciences must include a cover letter with their application indicating the faculty advisor's primary affiliation with Genome Sciences.

Application materials are to be submitted in the following order as one combined document

  1. Cell and Molecular Biology Training Grant application
  2. Research proposal (maximum four doubled-spaced pages (see previous instructions for format)
  3. Current Curriculum Vitae listing scholarships, awards, publications, research experience (previous full-time employment as well as previous lab rotations).
  4. Individual Development Plan (IDP)
  5. College and university transcripts, including UW (copies from department offices are acceptable).

Should you have any issues with the Catalyst drop box, your documents (application and both recommendation letters) can also be submitted to Maia Low at Call 543-0253 if you have questions.

Tips for a Great Proposal and Presentation

The following tips have been written specifically for the Cell and Molecular Biology Training Grant, but they apply to any training grant application or postdoctoral fellowship application, and in large part to a research grant application.

  1. The proposal should be "hypothesis-driven". The aims of your proposal should clearly follow from your hypotheses. Begin writing with the hypotheses and let the experiments follow from that, rather than the other way round. If you propose making a knock-out mouse, for example, why is that important? What central idea will it test? How will the results you obtain allow you to test your hypothesis? One of the biggest mistakes people make is providing a list of experiments but not tying it to a specific hypothesis.
  2. Consider alternatives. If you propose making a transgenic mouse as the central aim of your proposal and the mouse shows no phenotype is your research project down the tubes? While no one can anticipate the outcome of every experiment, if there is a reasonable chance of your major aim not working (a mouse with no phenotype, a 2-hybrid that produces no interacting proteins, etc.), be sure that you have thought of an alternate direction, even if you only briefly explain it.
  3. Be sure your aims are realistic. You could propose making 20 knock-out mice to test an interesting idea, but unless your advisor is planning to provide you with an army of technicians, reviewers will know that you do not understand the practical limitations. Remember also that this is a 2-year training grant. Projects that would take three people four years to complete are unrealistic, whereas a project that will be finished within a year shows that you have not considered the length of the grant.
  4. Write for a general audience. Your reviewers may know your field intimately, but more likely than not, they will know the area only superficially. It is your job to explain to the reviewer why the field is important and why the hypotheses you propose will provide important insight. It is a very good idea to give your proposal (and practice your presentation) to someone outside your field and ask them if there are areas that they find confusing.
  5. Write and present clearly. When reviewers have to work through a lot of proposals, and often are rushed for time, they will be much less sympathetic to a poorly written or poorly organized proposal, no matter how brilliant the ideas.
  6. Minimize jargon. While it might seem that you will impress a reviewer with your wonderful knowledge of a field by using technical terms, it will only alienate a reviewer. If you have to use words specific to your field, then be sure that they are clearly explained. If you use acronyms, be sure they are explained and do not use more than are necessary.
  7. Make clear your contribution to any results and ideas. It is typical in scientific seminars that "we" is used since the results are usually the product of more than one person (a student and her/his advisor, for example). But in a proposal, the reviewers want to know what you did and how much you contributed to the results and ideas that you present. Distinguish between what was done in the lab before you started and what have you done since or how what you propose to do is different than what has been done before (or is being done by others).


  1. UW Faculty can be either regular departmental faculty or clinicians. If the faculty member does not have a primary appointment in one of the nine departments, they must have an adjunct appointment in one of the participating departments and must be MCB Faculty.
  2. Hutch Faculty must be in either Basic Sciences or Human Biology and MCB Faculty. No clinical faculty may apply even if they are MCB Faculty or have an appointment in one of the nine participating departments.