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Undergraduate Student Fellowship

Some AHA application forms and instructions have been updated for the summer 2016 deadlines. Check the Supporting Documents for the program to be sure you have the most up to date information.

Application Deadline:

  • Great Rivers Affiliate - Aug. 17, 2016
  • Greater Southeast Affiliate - Aug. 17, 2016
  • Mid-Atlantic Affiliate - Aug. 17, 2016
  • Midwest Affiliate - Aug. 17, 2016
  • SouthWest Affiliate - Aug. 17, 2016
  • Western States Affiliate - Aug. 17, 2016

Award Activation:  Feb. 1, 2017

The application must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. Central Time in Grants@Heart on the deadline date. The application will be submitted to the designated grant officer, who will submit it to the American Heart Association (AHA).


 

Program Description, Eligibility and Peer Review Criteria

Success Rate

Objective

To encourage students from all disciplines to consider research careers.

This is an institutional award, made to qualified research institutions within the affiliate's geographic boundaries that can offer a meaningful research experience to undergraduate college students.

Science Focus

Research broadly related to cardiovascular disease and stroke and pertinent clinical, basic, bioengineering and biotechnology, public health, and multidisciplinary efforts.

The institution must demonstrate the ability to provide a meaningful research experience to students during the allotted 10-week fellowship experience.

Location of Project

The project must be conducted at any accredited institution in one of the following affiliates:

Great Rivers - Delaware, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia
Greater Southeast - Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, U.S. Virgin Islands
Mid-Atlantic Affiliate - District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia
Midwest - Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin
SouthWest - Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming
Western States - Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington

Target Group, Eligibility

Institution

American Heart Association research awards are limited to non-profit institutions, including medical, osteopathic and dental schools, veterinary schools, schools of public health, pharmacy schools, nursing schools, universities and colleges, public and voluntary hospitals and other institutions that can demonstrate the ability to conduct the proposed research. Applications proposed by federal institutions or employees will not be accepted (except from Veterans Administrations employees). Funding is prohibited for awards at non-U.S. institutions.

Program Director

The program director is the applicant for this award. At the time of application, he/she must:

  • possess a demonstrated track record of providing mentoring to student researchers;
  • be a full-time faculty member at the level of assistant professor (or equivalent) or above;
  • provide a detailed description of institutional support that is available to sponsors and students;
  • list potential sponsors, along with brief details about their background and nature of work;
  • outline how potential student awardees will be identified and recruited;
  • provide the procedure that sponsor/student teams will follow to compete for AHA funds granted to the institution;
  • submit a plan for obtaining annual feedback from current and former trainees to assess the quality and effectiveness of the fellowship experience.
  • have one of the following designations at time of application:
    • United States citizen;
    • Permanent resident;
    • Pending permanent resident (any resident who has an approved I-765 form and has submitted an I-465 application with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).
    • E-3 - specialty occupation worker;
    • H-1B Visa - temporary worker in a specialty occupation. Note: You must have an H-1B or equivalent by the award activation date. If the H-1B or equivalent is not received by the award activation date, the award must be relinquished;
    • J-1 Visa - exchange visitor. Note: You must have an H-1B or equivalent by the award activation date. If the H-1B or equivalent is not received by the award activation date, the award must be relinquished;
    • O-1 Visa - temporary worker with extraordinary abilities in the sciences;
    • TN Visa – North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) professional;
    • G-4 Visa - family member of employee of international organizations.
  • maintain one of the designations listed above throughout duration of the award.

Program structure

This is an institutional award to qualified research institutions within the affiliate's geographic boundaries that can offer a meaningful research experience to undergraduate college students. The institution applies, with an internal selection process outlined, in which the sponsor/student pairs apply together for one of the awards from the institution.

  • The institution must include a student recruitment plan that is open to students at any school within the affiliate. A sponsor/student team may be located at a non-research undergraduate institution within the affiliate, if there is a letter from the sponsoring institution assuring support for the project and responsibility for the student’s work.
  • The institution is strongly encouraged to recruit students from racial and ethnic groups that are underrepresented in science (Black/African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Pacific Islander).
  • The institution may apply for support for two to five students per year. The request must be justified by the institution, based on how many students they can effectively manage.
  • This is a three-year award that supports two to five students per institution, per year. Renewal is based on satisfactory interim reporting from students, sponsors, and the program director.

Following are requirements and restrictions related to sponsors and student trainees:

Sponsor

  • The sponsor must demonstrate that the student will be provided with a meaningful experience within the 10-week time period allotted for the award.
  • A sponsor may have no more than two AHA-supported student fellows (undergraduate and/or medical/graduate student) at any time.
  • Sponsor must provide a detailed description of available support, projects available for student to work on, and the nature of research activities of each project, which will be submitted to AHA by the Program Director at the time of award activation.
  • Sponsor must possess a track record of supporting trainees.
  • Sponsor must have one of the following designations at time of award application:
    • United States citizen;
    • Permanent resident;
    • Pending permanent resident (any resident who has an approved I-765 form and has submitted an I-465 application with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services);
    • E-3 - specialty occupation worker;
    • H-1B Visa - temporary worker in a specialty occupation. Note: You must have an H-1B or equivalent by the award activation date. If the H-1B or equivalent is not received by the award activation date, the award must be relinquished;
    • J-1 Visa - exchange visitor. Note: You must have an H-1B or equivalent by the award activation date. If the H-1B or equivalent is not received by the award activation date, the award must be relinquished;
    • O-1 Visa - temporary worker with extraordinary abilities in the sciences;
    • TN Visa – North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) professional;
    • G-4 Visa - family member of employee of international organizations.
  • Sponsor must maintain one of the designations listed above throughout duration of the award.

Student

  • To be eligible for this program, an undergraduate student must be classified at the junior or senior academic status at the time of award activation, or may complete the fellowship during the summer immediately following graduation.
  • A student who was previously supported by an AHA summer fellowship may apply for an additional fellowship in a subsequent year. However, a student who has been supported by two AHA undergraduate summer fellowships is no longer eligible to apply. An application for a second undergraduate fellowship should be well-justified.
  • Student must be enrolled full-time or a recent graduate of an undergraduate degree program at a four-year college or university.
  • Student must either attend an institution within the Affiliate or be a resident of a state within the Affiliate.
  • At the time of application, student must be a United States citizen, or a foreign national holding a student, exchange or permanent resident visa, including an F-1, H1, H1B, J1, PR, TC or TN visa.
  • Students are not required to reside in the U.S. for any period of time before applying for American Heart Association funding.

Budget

Trainee Stipend/Salary: $4,000 per student for the 10-week summer research experience. Institution may request support for two to five students per year.
Award duration: Three years.
Total Award Amount: $24,000 - $60,000.

Annual payment will be made to the institution for disbursement to the students. Faculty sponsor and institution assume fiscal responsibility. The institution may supplement the award amount. The award does not constitute an employee-employer relationship between the student and the American Heart Association. Direct use of award funds to pay tuition is prohibited.

 

July/AugustApplication Deadline
December:AHA Notifies Program Director
Institution conducts a call for applicants and holds an internal selection process
April 1: Program Director submits names of sponsors and student awardees to AHA
May-August:10 weeks of fellowship experience

Interim Reporting

By October 1 each year of the award, the documents listed below are to be submitted to the AHA by the Program Director. Continued funding of the award and eligibility for subsequent awards will be contingent upon meeting these reporting requirements.

  • From each student: Up to a one-page narrative on experience, lessons learned, and future educational and career plan.
  • Student awardees from years one and two are expected to submit an annual update of their educational and career progress, at least until the award has ended. It is in the best interest of the institution to make students aware that they will be asked for an annual update of their academic and/or career activities through the end of the award.
  • From each sponsor: Up to a two-page narrative on the training experience, including research and training accomplishments, abstracts, and publications.
  • From Program Director: Up to three pages outlining method used for identifying and selecting sponsors and students; the extent to which the awarded slots were filled, and a reporting of how many students were minorities.
  • At the end of the three-year award, Program Director is to submit a final report that summarizes the experience from the standpoint of the institution. The final report should include a review of each student’s educational and career progression.

Peer Review Criteria

Overall Impact

Reviewers will provide an overall impact/priority score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood for the program to provide a meaningful 10-week research experience, in consideration of the following review criteria. To judge the merit of the application, reviewers will comment on the following three criteria, each of which will account for one-third of the overall score.

Assessment of the Program Director

The program director is the applicant for this award.

Does the Program Director have the scientific background, expertise, time commitment, and administrative and training experience to provide strong leadership, direction, management, and administration of the proposed research training program?  

Student Trainee Recruitment Plan

  1. Does the application contain a recruitment plan with strategies to attract well-qualified student candidates, both from within the sponsoring or from any four-year college or university within the affiliate?
  2. Are there well-defined and justified selection criteria?
  3. Is there a well-defined plan for recruiting underrepresented minorities?
  4. Is a procedure in place that sponsor/student teams will follow to compete for the AHA funds granted to the institution?
Training Program and Environment

  1. Are the research facilities and environment conducive to preparing trainees for successful careers in biomedical research? Is the level of institutional commitment to the training program, including administrative and research training support, sufficient to ensure the success of the program?
  2. Do the proposed research projects that students could be imbedded in/exposed to provide opportunities for trainees to acquire state-of-the-art scientific knowledge, methods, and tools that are relevant to the goals of the training program?
  3. Are sufficient numbers of experienced proposed sponsors with appropriate expertise and funding available to support the number and level of trainees proposed in the application? Do the proposed sponsors have strong records as researchers, including recent publications and successful competition for research support in areas directly related to the proposed research training program? Do the proposed sponsors have strong records of training undergraduate and graduate students?

    For each proposed sponsor/student team from a non-research undergraduate institution within the affiliate, is there either:

    a) An established collaboration (such as shared papers) and a letter from the sponsoring institution assuring support for the project and responsibility for the student’s work, or
    b) For new collaborations, a letter from the sponsoring institution as outlined above?
     
  4. Does the program provide appropriate inter- or multidisciplinary research training opportunities?
  5. Are there planned activities and educational opportunities for the cohort of student trainees?
  6. Is the proposed training program likely to ensure trainees will be prepared for research-intensive and/or research-related careers?

Does the program propose a rigorous evaluation plan to assess the quality and effectiveness of the training? Are effective mechanisms in place for obtaining feedback from current and former trainees?

Renewals: For subsequent awards, the peer review committee will consider the progress made in the last three-year funding period, including on the Recruitment Plan. Does the application describe the program's accomplishments over the past funding period(s)? Is the program achieving its training objectives? Has the program evaluated the quality and effectiveness of the training experience, and is there evidence that the evaluation outcomes and feedback from trainees have been acted upon? Are changes proposed that are likely to improve or strengthen the research training experience during the next project period?
 

Training Record

  1. How successful were past trainees in completing the program?
  2. Has the training program ensured that trainees are productive in terms of research accomplishments, presentation and/or publication of research conducted during the training period, and subsequent training appointments and fellowship or career development awards?
  3. Have past trainees continued research training/career tracks, such as enrollment in graduate or professional school, honors, awards and scholarships?