Medical Research

CSDA Frequently Asked Questions

Jump to FAQ's about: Budget, Eligibility, Eligibility Criteria Exceptions, Eligibility for Applicants at Harvard Medical School, Miscellaneous Issues (including IRB requirements, indirect costs, salary caps, preliminary animal research and success rates), Online Confidential Support Forms, Other Funding, and Pre-Proposals Application (including information on tax status).

If your question is not answered after reviewing the FAQs, email ddcf@aibs.org with 2020 CSDA as the subject line. No phone calls please. We are better able to address your questions if contacted via email. Calling might delay a response, as calls often do not reach the appropriate contact at the foundation. 

Budget

A project budget is not part of the pre-proposal application and should not be submitted at the pre-proposal application stage of the competition. The information below is provided only for informational purposes. Details about how to prepare a budget will be provided to applicants invited to submit a full proposal application in the second stage of the competition.

May I include a project budget with the pre-proposal application?

No, budgets may not be submitted with pre-proposal applications. A budget will be part of the full proposal application for those invited to proceed to the second stage of the competition.

What is the award amount?

The award consists of $150,000 annual direct costs plus $15,000 (10%) annual indirect costs for three years for a total grant amount of $495,000.

Does the award provide any formal coverage of indirect costs?

Yes, the award has an indirect cost allowance. The total indirect costs for the duration of the award can be up to $15,000 (10% of direct costs) per year for three years.

Is there a salary cap for this award?

No, there is no salary cap on the amount that can be charged against this award.

If invited to submit a full proposal application, can I request salary support for my mentor in the budget?

Yes, up to 5% of the mentor's effort is allowed to be included in the budget.

Would the award allow costs for support of graduate students or mentees in my budget?

Yes, the award allows budget allocations to support a graduate student or mentee as long as these individuals would be working on the proposed project.

Eligibility

Must my institution nominate me to apply for the 2020 Clinical Scientist Development Award competition?

No, nominations are not required to apply for this competition. Applicants must meet all eligibility criteria in the Request for Applications to apply.

What is a doctoral degree-granting institution?

An accredited, doctoral degree-granting institution in the U.S encompasses the university and all affiliated institutions, graduate schools, hospitals and research institutes.

Am I eligible to apply if I work at a research institute or hospital that is affiliated with a university or medical school?

Individuals working at research institutes or hospitals affiliated with a medical school or university (the degree-granting institution) are eligible as long as they hold a full-time assistant professor appointment at the doctoral degree-granting institution.

Do I qualify to apply if I work at an independent research institute or hospital?

Individuals from independent research institutes and hospitals that do not grant doctoral degrees or are not affiliated with an accredited, doctoral degree-granting institution in the U.S. are not eligible to apply. These awards are intended to support physician scientists working in a faculty track.

Does DDCF accept applications from state universities?

Yes, DDCF welcomes applications from state universities. Many state universities do not have a 501(c)(3) tax status, so applicants from state universities are encouraged to apply through their institution’s 501(c)(3) grant-receiving arms. For example, applicants from the University of Texas may apply through the University of Texas Foundation. DDCF encourages applicants to seek guidance from their institution to identify the appropriate institutional entity through which they can apply. DDCF is unable to provide information on the tax ID that applicants must use to gain access to the application site; this information can only be provided by the applicants’ institutions.

I am unable to commit 75% effort to research because I need to maintain my clinical specialty competency skills during the award period. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes, surgeons or others, such as interventional cardiologists, and electrophysiology cardiologists, whose clinical competency skills must be maintained during the award period may apply provided that no less than 50% effort can be committed to research if an award is made. These applicants must provide a clear justification in the online application stating the reasons for the projected reduced amount of research effort. Whether an effort commitment of less than 75% would be conducive to committed and long-lasting clinical research careers will be evaluated during the review process to determine funding merit of an application.

I am a surgeon, and I have a large clinical commitment; however, I also do research. Am I eligible to apply if I cannot dedicate 75% of my time doing research?

Applicants in surgical specialties may apply provided that they dedicate no less than 50% of their effort to research should an award be made. These applicants must provide a clear justification in the online application stating the reasons for the projected reduced amount of research effort. Whether an effort commitment of less than 75% would be conducive to committed and long-lasting clinical research careers will be evaluated during the review process to determine funding merit of an application.

Am I eligible to apply if I do not have a valid U.S. medical license?

No, only physician scientists with a valid medical license at the time of application are eligible for this competition.

I have a medical license or certificate from my state, which allows me to see patients only for teaching purposes at my institution. Does this meet the eligibility requirement to have a valid U.S. medical license?

Yes, a state clinical teaching license or certificate to practice medicine only at the applicant’s institution would fulfill the eligibility requirement to have a valid U.S. medical license. The purpose of requiring applicants to have a valid U.S. medical license is to ensure that active clinical participation of physicians supported by the award informs their research activities.

I have a joint appointment. Which institution should I apply through?

You should apply through the institution where you have a full-time assistant professor appointment. If your appointment is considered full-time at both institutions, then you should apply through the institution that will administer your award.

Can non-U.S. citizen investigators apply to the CSDA?

Yes, as long as they meet all eligibility criteria, applicants do not have to be U.S. citizens.

I work in clinical research, but I have a Ph.D., not an M.D. Am I eligible to apply?

No, applicants must have received an M.D. (or a foreign equivalent) or a D.O. from an accredited institution to apply for this award.

I am a fellow. Am I eligible to apply?

No, neither clinical fellows nor research fellows are eligible to apply for this award. This award is for assistant professors. Clinical subspecialty fellows should refer to the Physician Scientist Fellowship for possible funding opportunities.

My title is instructor. Am I eligible to apply?

No, full-time, post-fellowship instructor positions are not eligible, except for instructors from Harvard Medical School. Applicants from Harvard Medical School should see additional information below. Neither clinical fellows nor research fellows are eligible to apply for this award. Clinical subspecialty fellows should refer to the Physician Scientist Fellowship for possible funding opportunities.

I was appointed as assistant professor in the clinical track prior to Dec. 1, 2015. Am I eligible to apply?

No, applicants that held their first assistant professor appointment prior to Dec. 1, 2015 are not eligible to apply, regardless of the faculty track.

I was an instructor prior to my current appointment as assistant professor. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes, you are eligible to apply provided that you were not an instructor at Harvard Medical School (HMS) prior to Dec. 1, 2015 or that your first appointment as assistant professor occurred between Dec. 1, 2015 and Dec. 1, 2018. Applicants from HMS should see additional information below.

Must my first assistant professor appointment have started between Dec. 1, 2015 and Dec. 1, 2018 to be eligible for the competition?

Yes, applicants must have received their first assistant professor appointment between Dec. 1, 2015 and Dec. 1, 2018.

I was appointed as a full-time instructor in 2012 and was appointed as an assistant professor in December of 2015. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes, you are eligible to apply unless you were a full-time post-fellowship instructor at Harvard Medical School. To be eligible, applicants must be appointed to their first full-time assistant professor position between Dec. 1, 2015 and Dec. 1, 2018.

If you were appointed as a full-time post-fellowship instructor at Harvard Medical School before you were appointed as an assistant professor in December 2015, you are not eligible to apply. See below for additional information regarding Harvard Medical School.

I was appointed as an assistant professor at my current institution in 2015 but was previously an assistant professor at another institution (appointed in 2012). Am I eligible to apply?

No, to be eligible, applicants must be appointed to their first full-time assistant professor position between Dec. 1, 2015 and Dec. 1, 2018.

I held a research associate position in 2014 but was appointed as full-time assistant professor in December 2015. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes, you are eligible to apply. Research associate positions are not considered full-time assistant professor appointments.

Are acting assistant professors or adjunct assistant professors eligible for this award?

No, individuals with acting and adjunct professor post-fellowship positions are not eligible. This award is intended for physician scientists who hold a full-time academic position with a length of appointment that covers the grant period (minimum of three years).

Are adjunct instructors or acting instructors eligible for this award?

No, this award is intended for physician scientists who hold a full-time assistant professor position with a length of appointment that covers the grant period (minimum of three years).

Am I ineligible if I held an acting instructor, acting assistant professor or an adjunct position before Dec. 1, 2015?

No, acting instructor, acting assistant professor or adjunct assistant professor appointments do not count toward the four-year restriction.

Eligibility Criteria Exemptions 

The foundation considers exceptions to eligibility criteria on a case-by-case basis and encourages exemption requests for leave of absence due to illness, maternity leave, and extraprofessional activities, such as care of an ill relative, etc., that have taken away considerable time from the eligibility period.

Exemptions for other eligibility criteria, such as the degree requirement and that applicants must be assistant professors for at least one year, are not granted.

How can I request eligibility criteria exemptions?

All eligibility criteria exemption requests must be submitted via this form by 5 p.m., E.T. on Oct. 18, 2019. Note that a biographical sketch is required to qualify for consideration of an exemption request and must be uploaded in the form linked above. If the reason for the request is a leave, you will also be asked to provide confirmation in the form of a letter from the respective Human Resources department. There are no guarantees that exceptions will be made. Responses to exception requests will be emailed by the end of the business day on Oct. 22, 2019.

I missed the eligibility window because my first assistant professor appointment occurred before Dec. 1, 2015. However, I took a leave of absence for personal reasons during the period of my faculty appointment. Will the foundation make an exception so I can apply?

Generally, the length of a parental leave or other well-justified leave for pressing personal or family situations (e.g., family care responsibilities, disability or illness, active military duty) may be deducted from the period of your faculty appointment. However, you must still receive approval from the foundation by submitting an exemption request via this form by 5 p.m., E.T. on Oct. 18, 2019. Your application will not be considered otherwise.

I have been an assistant professor for more than four years. However, I worked part time since the beginning of my appointment. Would you make an exception to the eligibility criteria requiring applicants to have been appointed to their first faculty position for at least one year but not longer than four years?

An exemption request will be considered and evaluated, provided that any part-time service does not add to more than five years. The foundation will consider requests for exceptions on a case-by-case basis and grants them only when well justified. All eligibility criteria exemption requests must be submitted via this form by 5 p.m., E.T. on Oct. 18, 2019.

I have been an assistant professor for just over four years, however most of my effort was clinical and not spent in research activities. Would you make an exception to the eligibility criteria requiring applicants to have been appointed to their first faculty position for at least one year but not longer than four year?

No, the foundation will not make exceptions for applicants who have been assistant professors for more than four years who had little to no research effort protection during this appointment.

Eligibility for Applicants at Harvard Medical School

Applicants at both the instructor and assistant professor ranks at Harvard Medical School (HMS) are eligible to apply, provided that they meet all other eligibility criteria. Please note that DDCF considers the Harvard instructor position as the first faculty position title at Harvard. Therefore, applicants from HMS must have been appointed to their Harvard instructor position between Dec. 1, 2015 and Dec. 1, 2018. Applicants at the assistant professor rank must be within four years of their Harvard instructor appointment. For questions related to this eligibility criteria, contact us at ddcf@aibs.org.

I am an instructor at Harvard Medical School. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes, DDCF considers instructor appointments at Harvard Medical School (HMS) to be equivalent to the assistant professor appointment elsewhere. Instructors at HMS whom were appointed between Dec. 1, 2015 and Dec. 1, 2018 are eligible to apply provided they meet all other eligibility criteria.

I am an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes, applicants at the assistant professor rank at Harvard Medical School (HMS) are eligible to apply provided that they are within four years of their Harvard instructor appointment or their first assistant professor appointment at a previous institution. Harvard applicants at the assistant professor rank must have been appointed to their Harvard instructor position or an assistant professor position elsewhere between Dec. 1, 2015 and Dec. 1, 2018 and meet all eligibility criteria.

I was an instructor at Harvard Medical School prior to my current appointment as assistant professor. Which appointment should be considered as my first faculty appointment?

DDCF considers the Harvard post-fellowship instructor position to be equivalent to the assistant professor rank elsewhere. Therefore, if you were a Harvard instructor prior to your current position, you must have been appointed to your Harvard instructor appointment no earlier than Dec. 1, 2015 to be eligible to apply.

Miscellaneous

What is DDCF's definition of clinical research?

Clinical research involves the scientific investigation of the etiology, prevention, diagnosis or treatment of human disease using human subjects, human populations or materials of human origin. Included in the definition are studies that utilize tissues or pathogens only if they can be linked to a patient.

It is expected that the research protocols of grant applicants will require Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. Occasionally, the foundation has funded research that does not require IRB approval, such as research using de-identified patient populations. If a research project is being proposed that does not require IRB approval, applicants are strongly encouraged to contact program staff via email to ddcf@aibs.org to discuss whether the proposed research falls within the DDCF's definition of clinical research.

Are there any limitations in terms of clinical areas you are willing to fund?

No, clinical investigators working in any disease area are eligible for this award. This award program does not prioritize funding for any disease areas or research types. Meritorious applications are identified based on the review criteria for the competition listed in the Request For Applications document.

Does the foundation have specific disease areas or research types of focus for funding through the Clinical Scientist Development Award?

No, the foundation is neutral to research type and disease area in its funding decisions, provided that projects meet the definition of clinical research and have the potential to significantly advance the frontiers of clinical research.

Does the foundation have priority areas for funding for the CSDA competition?

No, the foundation does not have funding priority areas. The priority is to fund the best individuals and the most promising research plans to enable individuals to transition to independence research careers. The selection of awardees is based on peer review that evaluates both the potential of the applicant for a career in research as well as the potential of the project in supporting the investigator’s transition to independence.

Can I propose aims that will need use of non-human animal models for their completion?

No, experiments that use non-human animals or their tissues, including cell lines, should not be included in the research plan. In keeping with the wishes expressed in Doris Duke’s will, experiments that use animals or their tissues will not be supported.

My proposed research aims build on preliminary data generated with non-human animal models or their primary tissues. Can I include these data in my application?

Yes, animal-based research may be presented as preliminary evidence supporting the research plan, but the aims themselves may not include research with non-human animals.

My project is subject to IRB Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. Does IRB approval have to be in place before submitting a pre-proposal application?

No, IRB approval can be pending at the time of pre-proposal application submission; however, if you receive a grant, we expect that you will have approval by the grant start date of July 1, 2020 or no later than Oct. 1, 2020.

My proposed project is subject to Investigational New Drug (IND) approval. Does IND approval need to be in place at the time of pre-proposal application submission?

No, IND approval can be pending at the time of pre-proposal application submission. However, IND approval must be in place by the deadline for full proposal application submission by March 22, 2020. Full proposal applications for projects with IND requirements that do not have approval at the time of submission will be disqualified.

Will I be able to revise my project title if invited to submit a full proposal application?

Yes, you will be able to change your project title as needed if you are invited to submit a full proposal application, provided the aims described in the pre-proposal are not changed.

What is the success rate for CSDA applicants?

Although there is no way to know how many applications we will receive this year, the typical success rate for this competition is approximately 10%.

How many awards will be made?

DDCF plans to award approximately 17 grants in 2020.

Online Confidential Support Forms

Where can my mentor and department chair access the online support forms needed for my application?

When you, the applicant, provide the contact information for the mentor and department chair at https://ddcf.smapply.io/prog/csda_mentorship_and_institutional_commitment_form_request/, they will be emailed instructions on how to access the online confidential support forms. We strongly suggest you provide the contact information for your mentor and department chair at the website above well in advance of the pre-proposal application submission deadline of 3 p.m., E.T. on Nov. 19, 2019.

My mentor and/or department chair would like to provide letters of support on institutional letterhead. Can I append these to my pre-proposal application?

No, do not attach any materials that are not required by the pre-proposal application instructions. Any additional materials will be removed and will not be provided to the peer-review panel. Attaching additional materials may disqualify you from the competition. The mentor and department chair will be able to provide a signed letter on institutional letterhead if you are invited to submit a full proposal application in the second stage of the competition.

My mentor and/or department chair would like to provide letters of support on institutional letterhead instead of filling out the confidential forms. Is that ok?

No, both the mentor and the department chair must fill out the online confidential support forms at the website emailed to them. Data collected by these forms are used in the pre-proposal evaluation. Pre-proposal applications with missing forms from the mentor or department chair will be incomplete and disqualified from the competition.

Can my Institutional Commitment Form be provided by the head of my division rather than the department chair?

Applicants who are part of a department of medicine or pediatrics may have their division chief provide the institutional commitment form. Division chiefs in the departments of medicine or pediatrics may provide this form only if they are authorized to confirm the applicant’s appointment term and guarantee that she or he will be provided with the required research time protection (75%) if selected to receive the Clinical Scientist Development Award. All other applicants must have this form completed by their department chair.

I have more than one mentor. Can all my mentors submit online mentorship forms?

No, for the pre-proposal application you must designate one mentor to submit only one online mentorship form on behalf of the mentorship team. You will be able to provide a joint letter, or separate letters from each mentor if invited to submit a full proposal application.

Is it best to have a single mentor or a mentorship team for the application?

The foundation cannot make a recommendation as to whether a single or multiple mentors are appropriate for an application. This is a decision for you and your mentor(s) to make based on your specific project and the role that mentors are expected to play should an award be made.

My mentor is from a different institution. Is that all right?

The competition does not have requirements regarding location or institutional affiliations of the mentor(s). We are unable to provide specific direction about characteristics of the most appropriate mentor(s) for the application. The applicant’s institutional environment and mentorship are evaluated based on the review criteria described in the request for applications document. Mentors are expected to play an active role during the course of the Clinical Scientist Development Award in fostering the applicant’s career development as a physician scientist and capacity for independence. Mentors are expected to act as advocates for the applicant at the departmental, institutional and professional levels, and provide scientific guidance for the proposed project.

My mentor is the chair of my department. Do I need to find another person to submit my mentorship form?

No, your chair may submit both the mentorship form and the institutional commitment form. However, note that each form collects different information. Thus, your mentor will have to submit both forms by the pre-proposal application deadline of 3 p.m., E.T. on Nov. 19, 2019. Applications with missing forms will be disqualified from the competition.

My mentor is also the department chair. Can she or he provide only one online form?

No, if your mentor is also the department chair, he or she must submit two forms: an institutional commitment form and a mentorship form. Please note that the two forms are different and must be received by the pre-proposal application deadline of 3 p.m., E.T. on Nov. 19, 2019. Applications with missing forms will be disqualified from the competition.

Will I be notified when my mentor or department chair submit their online forms?

Yes, you will receive an email notification when the mentor and department chair submit their online forms for your pre-proposal application. We recommend that you add noreply@mail.smapply.io to your email safe senders list. If you have not received the confirmation emails as the pre-proposal application, deadline approaches please follow up with the mentor and department chair prior to contacting the foundation. Due to the high volume of applications expected for this competition, DDCF will not check if your mentor or department chair have submitted their forms until after the deadline, and missing forms will eliminate applicants from the competition. We strongly suggest you provide the contact information for your mentor and department chair at the website well in advance of the pre-proposal deadline of Nov. 19, 2019.

I submitted a pre-proposal application but would like to change or replace the mentor(s). May I make this change?

No, changes to the mentor(s) are not allowed once a pre-proposal application has been submitted. The peer-review of pre-proposal applications evaluates the ability of the mentor(s) to enable career development of the applicant and provide research guidance. Therefore, mentors cannot be changed after submission of the pre-proposal application.

Other Funding

I have an NIH K series award, which requires 75% research effort. Can I still apply for the CSDA?

Yes, individuals with K awards may apply, provided that all other CSDA eligibility criteria are met and they satisfy the percent effort requirements for NIH K awardees. CSDA awardees must devote 75% of their professional time to research, but there is no minimum effort requirement for the CSDA project itself. If the CSDA proposal requests salary support for the CSDA grantee, the percent effort committed to the CSDA project must be equal to or greater than the percent salary charged.

I have been successful in obtaining other research funding. Will this hurt my chances in getting an award?

No, candidates will not be penalized for having other awards, but there can be no budgetary overlap between the proposed aims of the CSDA research and those of other awards.

I applied for a NIH R01 grant or equivalent with start date of July 1 or earlier, but I do not yet know if the application will be funded. Am I eligible to apply?

No, you are not eligible to apply, even if the grant funding outcome is unknown. Applicants who have submitted an R01 grant application or equivalent as principal investigator or co-principal investigator are not eligible for the award if the grant has a potential start date of July 1, 2020 or earlier.

I am the principal investigator of a NIH R01-funded project. Can I apply for this award?

No, an award will not be made if the applicant has served as the principal investigator of a single or multiple-principal investigator National Institutes of Health, peer-reviewed, R01 or equivalent research grant on or before July 1, 2020. This includes but is not limited to: research projects that are part of a P01 program project, P50 center grant or a U01 cooperative agreement, DP1, DP2, R37, and VA Merit grants.

I am the principal investigator of a NIH R01 grant or equivalent that I inherited from another investigator. Am I eligible to apply?

No, you are not eligible to apply. An award will not be made if the applicant has served as the principal investigator of a single or multiple-principal investigator National Institutes of Health, peer-reviewed, R01 or equivalent research grant on or before July 1, 2020.

I have a NIH K series award or other research support. Can I propose the same scientific aims?

No, the aims proposed on your CSDA application must be distinct from those of other awards, with no budgetary overlap. To avoid conflicts in the event that your proposal receives a funding recommendation, we strongly suggest that you do not propose the same aims and budget in different grant applications.

Pre-Proposal Application

How do I return to my online pre-proposal application form once I've started it?

You may use this link to access a pre-proposal that is in progress. You should bookmark this page to return to your pre-proposal application form.

What is the difference between the institution where I hold a faculty appointment and the grant-receiving organization?

The degree-granting institution where you hold a faculty appointment (e.g., Harvard University) may differ from the grant-receiving organization. If you are associated with an affiliated research hospital or research institute (e.g., Dana Farber Cancer Institute) and your grants are administered through that organization, then that institution is the grant-receiving organization.

Are there any limitations on the number of applications that can be submitted per institution for this competition?

No, there are no limits regarding the number of applications that can be submitted per institution or even department within an institution. However, applicants must meet all eligibility criteria and submit a complete pre-proposal application to be considered for the competition.

Why are there restrictions on the tax status of the institution accepting the award?

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) can award grants only to institutions that have letters from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service documenting that they have been determined to be exempt from federal income taxation as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 as amended, and that they are not a private foundation or a Type III supporting organization as defined in Section 509(a). Please contact ddcf@aibs.org if you have any questions.

Why is the tax ID for my institution not being accepted when I try to access the pre-proposal form?

The tax ID is not working because it is not associated with a 501(c)(3) organization in the IRS database.

For applicants from state universities: While state universities are eligible for tax deductible contributions (and many other foundations can make grants directly to a state university), DDCF must make grants to state institutions through their 501(c)(3) grant-receiving arms. For example, applicants from the University of Texas may apply through the University of Texas Foundation. Contact your institution's grants office to obtain the tax ID number of the appropriate grant-receiving organization to gain access to the eligibility questionnaire and pre-proposal. DDCF is unable to provide information on the tax ID that applicants must use to gain access to the application site. Please note that faculty at state universities who meet the eligibility criteria described in the RFA are eligible to apply for a CSDA; this tax ID requirement does not preclude them from submitting an application for the award.

 

Contact

Email questions about the Medical Research Program to ddcf@aibs.org.

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