Medical Research

PSF Frequently Asked Questions

Physician Scientist Fellowship Frequently Asked Questions

Jump to FAQ's about: Application (including tax status), Budget, Electronic Confidential Support Material, Eligibility, Eligibility Criteria Exceptions, Miscellaneous Issues (including IRB requirements, indirect costs, salary caps, preliminary animal research and success rates) and Other Funding.

If your question is not answered after reviewing the FAQs, email ddcf@aibs.org with “2021 PSF – Last Name” as the subject line. Please refrain from calling us by phone with questions. Calling can delay a timely response, and we are better able to answer your questions via email.

Application

How do I start an application?

You may use this link to begin a new application. Clicking this link will create a new application each time, so be sure to use the link below to return to an application that is already in progress.

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

You may use this link to access an application that is in progress. You should bookmark this page to return to your application form.

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

No. There are no limits regarding the number of proposals that can be submitted per institution or department within an institution. However, applicants must meet all eligibility criteria and submit a complete application to be considered for the competition. Only one proposal may be submitted per person.

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 form?

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

I work for a state university. Which tax ID do I need for my application?

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 eligible candidates at state universities are eligible to apply; this tax ID requirement does not preclude their application for the award.

Budget

Please review the Request for Applications for guidance on how to complete the budget template.

What is the award amount?

The award consists of $100,000 annual direct costs plus $10,000 (10%) annual indirect costs for two years for a total grant amount of $220,000.

Does the award provide coverage of indirect costs?

Indirect costs for the duration of the award can be up to 10% of direct costs per year (up to $20,000 total over two years).

Is there a salary cap for this award?

No. The foundation does not have a salary cap for what can be charged against this award. If salary support is charged to the grant, however, salary must be greater than or equal to the NIH National Research Service Award (NRSA) Fellowship stipend, determined by the number of full years of relevant postdoctoral experience when the award is issued.

Can I request salary support for my mentor in the budget?

No. Salary support for the mentor(s) is not allowed in the Physician Scientist Fellowship award budget.

Does the Physician Scientist Fellowship allow budgeting for equipment?

Small equipment allocations are allowed and must not exceed $5,000.

Electronic Confidential Support Material

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

When you, the applicant, provide the contact information for the mentor and department chair at https://ddcf.smapply.io/prog/psf_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 well in advance of the application submission deadline of 3 p.m., ET on Jan. 5, 2021.

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

The application requires the mentor and department/division chair to complete an online confidential support form demonstrating commitment to the fellow’s career development. At the time of completing the forms, only the mentor will be required to upload a letter of support on institutional letterhead. This letter should not be attached to the application and should only be uploaded by the mentor. Attaching additional materials may disqualify you from the competition. Please see the Request for Applications instructions for additional details.

Can my institutional support confirmation 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 complete 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 Physician Scientist Fellowship 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. You must choose one mentor to submit only one Mentorship Form on behalf of the mentorship team.

The Mentorship Form will require a letter of support on institutional letterhead to be uploaded. At this time, a joint letter or separate letters from each mentor may be uploaded as one PDF file. Please see the Request for Applications instructions for additional details.

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 mentor 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 acceptable?

Mentors from institutions outside of the applicant’s may be included if they would strengthen the applicant’s research experience or would expand access to knowledge that will enable a successful research career.

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 online Mentorship Form and the Institutional Commitment Form. However, note that the two forms are different, thus your mentor will have to submit both of them by the mentor/chair deadline of 3 p.m. ET on Jan. 5, 2021. 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 application. We recommend that you add noreply@mail.smapply.net to your email safe senders list. If you have not received the confirmation emails as the application deadline approaches, please follow up with the mentor and department chair prior to contacting the foundation. You may also log into your account at https://ddcf.smapply.io/prog/psf_mentorship_and_institutional_commitment_form_request to check whether the materials were received.

Due to the 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 application deadline of Jan. 5, 2021.

Note that once materials are submitted by your recommenders, changes to the contact information for your department/division chair or the mentor may not be made.

Can I replace mentors after submission of an application?

No. Changes to the mentor(s) are not allowed once an application has been submitted.
Also note that once materials are submitted by your recommenders, changes to the contact information for your department/division chair or the mentor may not be made.

Eligibility

In general, what is the goal of the Physician Scientist Fellowship award?

The Physician Scientist Fellowship award aims to support research during final years of subspecialty fellowship and aid in the transition into an academic faculty appointment.

I am training at a state university. Does DDCF accept applications from candidates at state universities?

Yes. DDCF welcomes applications from state universities. Given that many state universities do not have 501(c)(3) tax status, 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% of my time to research because I need to maintain my clinical specialty competency skills during the award period. Am I eligible to apply?

No. The purpose of the Physician Scientist Fellowship award is to support research during subspecialty fellowship after completion of clinical training. Guaranteeing a minimum of 75% effort to research demonstrates institutional commitment to developing clinical investigators towards careers as independent researchers.

I am a resident enrolled in a program that incorporates research training. Am I eligible to apply?

No. Residents enrolled in programs that incorporate research training but do not lead to fellowship sub-specialization are not eligible for this award. Eligible applicants must be in subspecialty fellowship training leading to certification in an ABMS-approved clinical subspecialty at the time of application for the award.

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

You should apply through the institution where you plan to conduct your research, which also must be the institution that will administer your award.

Can non-U.S. citizens apply to the Physician Scientist Fellowship?

Yes. As long as the applicants meet all eligibility criteria, they do not need to be U.S. citizens to apply for the fellowship.

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., M.D./Ph.D. (or a foreign equivalent) or a D.O. from an accredited institution to apply for this award.

I have a D.M.D/D.D.S. Am I eligible to apply?

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

I am an assistant professor. Am I eligible to apply?

No. Please see our Clinical Scientist Development Award for information on funding for early-career physician scientists with faculty appointments.

I am an instructor. Am I eligible to apply?

Instructors who are fulltime faculty members are not eligible to apply. Please see our Clinical Scientist Development Award for information on funding for early-career physician scientists with faculty appointments. We realize that some fellowship programs give their fellows the title of “instructor,” but it is not a fulltime faculty appointment. You may be eligible to apply if you have this type of instructor title, so please apply for an exemption to check if you are eligible.

My fellowship is not an ABMS-certified subspecialty fellowship. Am I eligible to apply?

The foundation recognizes the important research being conducted by residents and fellows in fields that are not listed as ABMS subspecialty fellowships. However, due to very limited resources, we are only able to offer the Physician Scientist Fellowships to ABMS subspecialty fellows at this time.

I am not enrolled in an ABMS-certified fellowship program but I am a fellow supported by a T award. Am I eligible to apply?

No, being supported by a T award alone does not constitute an eligible fellowship; individuals must be currently enrolled in an ABMS-approved clinical subspecialty fellowship.

Eligibility Criteria Exemptions

Are there any eligibility criteria exceptions or exemptions for the Physician Scientist Fellowship?

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 extra-professional activities, such as care of an ill relative, COVID-19-related delays, etc., that have taken away considerable time from the eligibility period.

Exemptions for the following requirements are not granted:

  • Be guaranteed a minimum overall research time protection of 75% of full-time professional effort;
  • Have received an M.D., M.D./Ph.D., D.O. or foreign equivalent degree;
  • Be in a fellowship program leading to certification in an American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS)-approved clinical subspecialty as of the application submission deadline;
  • Not have an appointment as a full-time faculty member.

How can I request eligibility criteria exemptions?

All eligibility criteria exemption requests must be submitted via this form by 5 p.m. ET on Nov. 20, 2020. Note that a biographical sketch is required to consider 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 Nov. 25, 2020.

I missed the eligibility window because I took a leave of absence for personal reasons during the clinical training portion of my fellowship. Will the foundation make an exception, so that 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, illness or active military duty) or COVID-19-related delays may be deducted from the time requirements. However, you must still receive approval from the foundation by submitting an exemption request by 5 p.m. ET on Nov. 10, 2020. Without submission of the exemption request by this deadline, your application will not be considered. Please see the Request for Applications for additional information.

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 use 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 at 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 require a focus on specific disease areas or research types for funding through the Physician Scientist Fellowships?

No. The Physician Scientist Fellowship is available to fellows in all subspecialty disease areas. The foundation is generally neutral to research type and disease area in its funding decisions, provided that projects meet the definition of clinical research and have the strong potential to impact the corresponding field and be achievable within the scope of the award amount and two-year term.

Does the foundation have priority areas for funding for the Physician Scientist Fellowship competition?

No. The foundation does not have funding priority areas for this competition. The priority is to fund individuals with a desire to pursue careers in biomedical research. The selection of awardees is through a peer-review process evaluating 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 into a research faculty appointment.

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

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

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 gathering of preliminary data was curtailed by the pandemic. Will this affect the evaluation of my proposal?

We understand that COVID-19 has negatively affected research productivity and will instruct reviewers to be mindful of this general impact when evaluating availability of preliminary results to support the scientific premise.

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

No. IRB approval can be pending at the time of application submission; however, if you receive a grant, we expect that you will have approval by the grant start date of July 1, 2021.

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

Yes. IND approval must be in place at the time of application submission. Applications for projects with IND requirements that do not have approval at the time of submission will be disqualified.

What is DDCF’s public access policy for publications funded through its grants?

For this program, DDCF requires grantees to submit an electronic copy of their final peer‐reviewed manuscripts in the PubMed Central online archive immediately upon acceptance for journal publication. The manuscript will have to be made publicly available in PubMed Central no later than 12 months after the official date of journal publication.

Would the public access policy adopted by DDCF limit the journals to which grantees can submit their DDCF-funded work?

No. Grantees may publish their work in any journal they wish. However, the final accepted manuscript must be deposited in PubMed Central for public release no later than 12 months after acceptance for publication.

What is the success rate for Physician Scientist Fellowship applicants?

There is no way to definitively know how many proposals we will receive this year and therefore what the success rate will be. However, based on data from previous Medical Research Program competitions, we estimate an award rate of approximately 15%.

How many awards will be made?

DDCF plans to award approximately 10 grants in 2021.

Other Funding

I have a National Institutes of Health K series award. Can I still apply for the Physician Scientist Fellowship?

No. Individuals with NIH K awards may not apply.

I am supported on an institutional T award from the NIH. Can I apply for the Physician Scientist Fellowship?

Individuals supported by NIH T awards may apply, but they cannot be supported by an NIH T grant after July 1, 2021, if a Physician Scientist Fellowship grant is awarded because the NIH programs require fulltime commitment. Applicants whose NIH T grant does not require fulltime commitment at their institution may request an exemption to apply.

I am supported on an institutional F award from the NIH. Can I apply for the Physician Scientist Fellowship?

Individuals supported by NIH F awards may apply, but they cannot be supported by an NIH F grant after July 1, 2021, if a Physician Scientist Fellowship is awarded because the NIH programs require fulltime commitment.

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Contact

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