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Funding opportunities for MCB students

Sep 2011 | Lauren 2,302 Comments

Many MCB students apply for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, but it is not necessarily the best option for everyone.  What if your project is disease based, and therefore likely to be rejected by the NSF?  Or you are an international student?  Or you simply do not receive the NSF fellowship?  There are a variety of other funding sources available, which are summarized here.

Institutional training grants:

The NIH funds institution-based training grants, and many UW departments have these grants (http://www.lib.washington.edu/gfis/schoolFAlinks.html).  These grants fund from 1-3 years, and typically have course requirements that relate to the departmental field (CMB matches the MCB requirements). Training grants also include requirements for presentation of research.  For example, CMB and Developmental Biology have required retreats, and Immunology has required presentations to faculty. The training programs associated with these grants are designed to help students become better scientists in their field.

Requirements for training grant applications vary widely, so you should pay attention to what those are. For example, the CMB training grant application includes a presentation component.  The following table provides websites and deadlines for several training grants of interest to MCB students.

Grant website 2011 deadline duration of support
CMB http://depts.washington.edu/mcb/training-grant April 18 3 years
Immunology http://depts.washington.edu/immunweb/resources/studpostdoc.html#grant August 1 1-3 years
Viral Pathogenesis http://www.fhcrc.org/science/education/grad_postdoc/funding/Viral_Pathogenesis/index.html September 12 1-2 years
Developmental Biology http://www.fhcrc.org/science/groups/developmentalbiology/training_grant.html April 1 up to 3 years
Molecular Medicine http://depts.washington.edu/molmed/traineeship/index.html Spring
Aging http://www.uwaging.org/training-grant/application Flexible
Molecular Biophysics http://www.bmsc.washington.edu/programs/Biophysics.html not listed
Bacterial Pathogenesis http://depts.washington.edu/bactpath/ not listed


NIH F31 (Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards for Individual Predoctoral Fellows):

There are F31 fellowships available for diversity, MD/PhD, and for other predoctoral fellows.  The funding level of these fellowships is $21,600, which is approximately the same as that of training grants (unlike with an NSF fellowship, you will not get a raise). Your PI will pay the difference between the fellowship and your normal salary.

Study the F31 website (http://grants.nih.gov/training/f_files_nrsa.htm) carefully to make sure you are eligible before deciding to apply.  In particular, if you are NOT able to apply for a diversity fellowship, you are most likely limited to applying through the National Cancer Institute (NCI) or the National Institute on Aging (NIA).  Discuss this carefully with your PI before deciding to apply; they may have grants through one of these institutes, or have had grants from them in the past and therefore have reason to expect that your research will also be applicable. There are a few other possible institutes, but most are unlikely to be useful to MCB students.  That being said, an F31 fellowship application is useful practice both for postdoctoral F32s and for R01s, should you become a professor later on.

If you do decide to apply for the F31, talk to your PI about providing you with samples of the supplemental documentation. If your PI has any R01s, they will have already completed documents detailing Major Equipment, Resource Sharing, Facilities, Vertebrate Animal and/or Human Subject use, and others. You will need these documents, and the content will be very similar to that used by your PI, so using their documents as a resource will save you time. Also note that the F31 fellowship requires three references in addition to your PI, one more than the three total required for the NSF.

Another important consideration is routing. The F31 deadlines are April 8, August 8, and December 8, but the final date to route the grant through the NIH website on time is five business days before the deadline. The administration of your department should be able to route the grant for you (and probably has to approve it anyway), so you should discuss this with them. They may even be able to help you compile the application.

International Student Fellowships:

Unfortunately, international students are not eligible for most fellowships, which usually have US citizenship requirements. However, there are some available specifically for international students.

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) International Fellowships are available to non-citizen women pursuing a PhD full-time. The application deadline is December 1, and details are here: http://www.aauw.org/learn/fellowships_grants/international.cfm.

HHMI International Student Research Fellowships are available for international students in the 3rd or 4th year of their PhD work in the biomedical sciences. You cannot apply directly for this fellowship; your department must nominate you by November 1 to the Graduate School Office of Fellowships and Awards. Details are here: http://www.hhmi.org/grants/individuals/intl_fellows.html.

Other Funding:

The UW Graduate School has a Grants and Funding Information Service (GFIS) (http://www.lib.washington.edu/gfis/) that is a resource to help graduate students find funding opportunities.    The GFIS provides workshops, lists of funding sources by category (federal, institutional, foundations), fellowship deadlines, and other useful information.

Department of Defense: http://www.asee.org/ndseg/preface.cfm.

Hertz Foundation (computational biology):http://www.hertzfoundation.org/.

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