Funding News Edition: September 20, 2023 See more articles in this edition
Earlier this month, NIH reissued the parent Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) individual fellowship notices of funding opportunities (NOFOs). There are five in total:
- PA-23-260, NRSA Individual Fellowship for Students at Institutions with NIH-Funded Institutional Predoctoral Dual-Degree Training Programs (Parent F30)
- PA-23-261, NRSA Individual Fellowship for Students at Institutions Without NIH-Funded Institutional Predoctoral Dual-Degree Training Programs (Parent F30)
- PA-23-272, NRSA Individual Predoctoral Fellowship (Parent F31)
- PA-23-271, NRSA Individual Predoctoral Fellowship to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (Parent F31-Diversity)
- PA-23-262, NRSA Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship (Parent F32)
In fiscal year (FY) 2022, NIAID funded 103 new fellowship awards, committing approximately $4.7 million in the process.
As a researcher, you need to identify the NOFO for which you are eligible. If you have completed a doctoral-level research degree, consider the F32 NOFO. If you have not, and are pursuing a dual degree (e.g., M.D. and Ph.D.), look instead to the F30 NOFOs, selecting between them based on whether your institution offers a dual-degree training program. Otherwise, as a predoctoral candidate, you should pursue an F31 NOFO; if you are from an Underrepresented Population, we recommend you prioritize the F31-Diversity NOFO.
The five NOFOs differ on matters like maximum award project period and award budget, though since you do not have discretion to pick and choose among them, it suffices to follow the limitations set by the NOFO through which you are eligible to apply.
Fellowship grants provide stipends, tuition and fees, and an institutional allowance. Stipends are a subsistence allowance to help defray living expenses during the research and clinical training experiences. Tuition and fees sponsor formal training. Institutional allowance covers related expenses like health insurance and research supplies, e.g., laptops.
Additionally, each NRSA fellow may request $2,500 each budget period to defray childcare costs from a licensed provider.
Funding levels will vary depending on the candidate’s experience and proposed research. Refer to Salary Cap, Stipends, & Training Funds for the exact dollar amounts.
For an F32, You Will Owe Work Time
Postdoctoral fellows must repay the government for their grant support. This isn't like paying off a loan; your debt is one of time and effort, not money. You can pay it off by continuing to work on the project for which you were funded.
During the first year of your appointment, you'll owe 1 month of payback for every month you're supported by NIH funds. After the first year, you can start paying back. For every month you continue to work—even with funding—you pay back 1 month of your debt. If your training lasts 2 years, your obligation will be paid in full.
Should you fail to repay your obligation within 2 years, e.g., leave science for another career, you'll owe the government the full amount of your grant, plus interest.
Fellowship Application Deadlines
The three annual deadlines for AIDS and AIDS-related fellowship applications match the standard AIDS due dates: May 7, September 7, and January 7. Non-AIDS fellowship applications are due each year on April 8, August 8, and December 8. Refer to NIH’s Standard Due Dates.
Keep in mind, the fellowship NOFOs require you to provide reference letters. You should start early to ensure your referrers complete your letters before the application due date. Your sponsor must also document the availability of sufficient research funds and facilities for high-quality research training.
A Note for AIDS-Related F31 Applications
When NIH reissued the F31 NOFO and expired the previous version, the September 7, 2023 application due date was inadvertently mooted. Thus, through October 10, 2023, you may submit an AIDS or AIDS-related F31 application through PA-21-051 (not PA-23-272) for review as part of the Cycle II Review and Award Cycle for FY 2024.
Read the September 7, 2023 Guide notice for complete details.
Additional Guidance on Fellowship Awards
For a fellowship award application, peer reviewers will consider both your attributes as a candidate and your proposed Research Plan’s strengths. Thus, you need to provide two key things in your application: a description of your experience, passion for research, dedication, and other strengths, as well as a demonstration of your capabilities through the design and presentation of a thorough and meaningful research protocol.