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AHA Predoctoral Fellowship

Application Deadline: Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Applications must be received no later than 5 p.m. CDT on the deadline date. The system will shut down at 5 p.m. CDT. Early submission is encouraged. Your institutional Grants Officer (GO) has the final responsibility of submitting your completed application to the American Heart Association. It is important that you check with your GO for his/her internal deadline.


Reference Report Deadline: November 20, 2017


Award Activation: July 1, 2018

The application must be submitted by 5 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 and Eligibility

Success Rates

Statement of Purpose

To enhance the integrated research and clinical training of promising students who are matriculated in pre-doctoral or clinical health professional degree training programs and who intend careers as scientists, physician-scientists or other clinician-scientists, or related careers aimed at improving global cardiovascular health.

Science Focus

All basic, clinical, behavioral, translational and population research broadly related to cardiovascular function and disease and stroke, or to related clinical, basic science, bioengineering or biotechnology, and public health problems.

Disciplines

AHA awards are open to the array of aspiring academic and health professionals. This includes but is not limited to all academic disciplines (biology, chemistry, mathematics, technology, physics, etc.) and all health-related professions (physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, dentists, pharmacists physical and occupational therapists, statisticians, nutritionists, etc.).

Clinical, translational, population, behavioral, and basic scientists are encouraged to apply. AHA maintains dedicated Peer Review Committees by science type and subject.

AHA strongly encourages applications by women, underrepresented minorities in the sciences, and those who have experienced varied and non-traditional career trajectories.

Target Audience

At the time of application, the applicant must:

  • Be a post-baccalaureate Ph.D., M.D., D.O., D.V.M., Pharm.D., D.D.S., DrPH, or Ph.D. in nursing (or equivalent clinical health science) doctoral student who seeks research training with a sponsor prior to embarking upon a research career.
  • be a full-time student working towards his/her degree.  
  • Have completed initial coursework and be at the stage of the program where he/she can devote full-time effort to research or activities related to the development into an independent researcher or a related career aimed at improving global cardiovascular health.

Sponsor

It is imperative that the fellow receives counsel and direction from a sponsor who is an established investigator (as outlined in the peer review criteria for the sponsor/training plan below) interested in the progress of the project.

A fellow must have primary responsibility for the writing and the preparation of the Fellowship application, understanding the sponsor will play a significant part in providing guidance to the applicant.

AHA does not require but strongly encourages institutions to develop and use Individual Development Plans (IDPs) for AHA training programs. IDPs provide a structure for the identification and achievement of career goals. The student’s career goals as stated in “Part A - Personal Statement” of the fellow's biosketch and the sponsor’s training plan must be complementary to one another and focused specifically on the individual. A standardized training plan will not be viewed favorably.

Citizenship

At the time of application, must have one of the following designations:

  • U.S. citizen
  • Permanent resident
  • Pending permanent resident (any resident who has an approved I-765 form and has submitted an I-485 application with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services)
  • E-3 Visa - specialty occupation worker
  • H1-B Visa - temporary worker in a specialty occupation
  • F-1 - student visa 
  • J-1 Visa - exchange visitor
  • 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

Applicants are not required to reside in the United States for any period before applying for American Heart Association funding. An awardee must maintain one of the designations listed above throughout the duration of the award.

Eligible Sponsoring Institution

American Heart Association research awards are limited to U.S.-based 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 others that can demonstrate the ability to conduct the proposed research.

Applications will not be accepted for work with funding to be administered through any federal institution or work to be performed by a federal employee, except for Veterans Administrations employees.

Budget

AHA does not pay indirect costs on fellowships.

Annual Stipend – matches the NIH scale for predoctoral fellows
2017: $23,844, plus $1,000 per year for health insurance

Project Support
$2,000 per year, in addition to the stipend. (No limit on any line item (travel, computer, equipment, etc.). International travel is permitted and does not require prior AHA approval.

Award Duration
One or two years
If applying for only one year of support, select the ONE YEAR form for this program before beginning the application in Grants@Heart.

Total Award Amount:  
$26,844 - $53,688

Restrictions

  • An applicant may submit only one AHA Predoctoral Fellowship application per deadline.
     
  • An AHA Predoctoral Fellowship student may hold only one AHA award at a time.
     
  • This award is not for individuals of faculty/staff rank.
     
  • An AHA Predoctoral Fellowship awardee may not hold another AHA award concurrently. However, the student may apply for an AHA Postdoctoral Fellowship in the last year of the AHA Predoctoral Fellowship.
     
  • The awardee may not hold a comparable award as a source of supplementation. An applicant who receives AHA funding, but has an ongoing training grant from another source, may defer the start of the AHA award up to six months to complete the existing fellowship.
     
  • The sponsor/co-sponsor may sponsor no more than two AHA-funded fellows (pre-doctoral and postdoctoral) concurrently. Fellows who are part of an AHA Strategically Focused Research Network are excluded.
     
  • Submission of an application to the AHA with identical or significantly similar content as a submission by another investigator is prohibited. Also, the submission of an application to the AHA with identical or significantly similar content from a sponsor to a grant program and his/her fellow to fellowship program is prohibited. In such cases, both applications may be removed from funding consideration. If a grant application is submitted by the sponsor of a fellowship application, both applications may be funded if there is no duplication of aims.
     

Peer Review Criteria

An applicant is prohibited from contacting AHA peer reviewers. This is a form of scientific misconduct and will result in removal of the application from funding consideration and institutional notification of misconduct.

To judge the merit of the application, reviewers will comment on the following criteria. Please address these in your proposal. Each criterion will account for one-third of the overall score.

Criterion 1 – Evaluation of the Applicant

  1. Does the student have potential for a research career?
  2. Are the student's career plans specified in the application?
  3. Is this supported by the student's academic record and the assessment provided by the three letters of reference?
  4. Does the student have prior research experience and/or publications?
  5. Is there a clear rationale supporting the need for the proposed training?
  6. What is the sponsor's assessment of the applicant?

Criterion 2 - Sponsor/Training Plan and Environment

Because the student receives only a stipend from the award, additional research support for the proposed project MUST come from the sponsor's laboratory. Therefore, the proposed project will likely be related to the sponsor's funded research. The sponsor should clarify the role that the applicant played in developing the proposal, the relationship of the proposed project to ongoing research in the sponsor's laboratory, and how the project will contribute toward the applicant’s training and career development.

Sponsor/Training Plan

  1. Is the sponsor an independent investigator?
  2. Does the sponsor have the experience to direct the proposed research training, as evidenced by a track record regarding productivity, funding and prior students?
  3. Does the sponsor have adequate current funding to support the student’s project?
  4. Does the sponsor demonstrate familiarity with the applicant’s career and developmental goals and provide a comprehensive training plan that supports the applicant's progress towards his/her research career plans?
Environment
  1. Does the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success of the training experience?
  2. Is there evidence of institutional commitment?

Criterion 3 - Evaluation of the Proposal

This section should provide a research project summary no longer than five pages: A carefully planned, systematic study aimed at clearly answering a question in cardiovascular and/or stroke health research. It should be completed in collaboration with the proposed sponsor.

Note: The project will be assessed on the scientific merit, but equally as an integral part of the candidate's development as a researcher or related career aimed at building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

A new fellow may not have had adequate time to generate preliminary data; therefore, applicants may present preliminary data generated by the sponsor. The assessment of preliminary data, whether generated by the sponsor or the applicant, should be put into perspective so that bold new ideas and risk taking by beginning investigators are encouraged rather than stymied.

  1. Is the proposed project appropriate for the applicant, given his/her education, experience and career interests? Is the project the right balance of challenge, importance of the research question, and feasibility in relation to the applicant's experience and training?
     
  2. Does the proposed research project summary:
    • Include the specific hypothesis of the research and describe the applicant's role on the project;
    • Provide a concise account of the subject matter, an overview of each part of the research plan, specific project aims and the methodology;
    • Reflect the significance of the project.
    • For all applications that include vertebrate animals or human subjects, applicants must explain how relevant biological variables, such as sex, are factored into the research design, analysis and reporting. Furthermore, strong justification from the scientific literature, preliminary data, or other relevant considerations, must be provided for applications proposing to study only one sex.
    • Is there a plan for instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)? Taking into account the specific characteristics of the training program, the level of student experience, and the particular circumstances of the students, the reviewers will evaluate the adequacy of the proposed training in relation to the following: A sufficiently broad selection of subject matter, such as conflict of interest, authorship, data management, human subjects and animal use, laboratory safety, research misconduct, research ethics? 
       
  3. Impact: How does this project address the mission of the AHA, and how likely will this support enhance PI career development in the area of cardiovascular diseases and stroke?  

Interim Reporting -
AHA requires both the awardee and sponsor to submit annual progress reports that include narrative description of accomplishments related to the research and training, as well as an inventory of any abstracts and publications produced.