By Mona D. Shah, MD
Dr. Shah is a Postdoctoral Clinical Fellow in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Hematology/Oncology at Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine.
In recent years, reduced trends in the funding of young biomedical research scientists have raised serious questions about the future of life sciences research. As federal funding sources have become more competitive, young investigators must constantly seek new opportunities. Unfortunately, navigating the alphabet soup of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and nonprofit-funding resources is a challenge for the uninitiated.
Briefly, there are three main categories of NIH grants for young investigators: 1) The National Research Service Awards (NRSA) — “T” grants, 2) “F” grants, and 3) “K” awards. The “T” (training) grants are generally awarded to institutions that train residents and postdoctoral fellows. These grants are primarily used to promote the education of our future researchers. The “F” (fellowship) grants are typically awarded to individuals, either predoctoral or particularly promising postdoctoral fellows, to promote diversity in health-related research. Many of these awards are granted to those who demonstrate the potential to become independent investigators. The “K” (career development) awards are granted to individuals during the mentored phase of their career. These awards focus on enhancing career development while providing protected time to selected investigators.
The American Society of Hematology (ASH) has always recognized the need to foster young trainees — offering numerous resources to hematologists interested in advancing their careers. In an effort to de-mystify this application process, the ASH Trainee Council recently revised their educational Trainee Career Center Web page. A key feature has been the addition of the recently unveiled Grants Clearinghouse – a comprehensive list of research grants for hematology trainees in various stages of training (both MDs and PhDs). The Grants Clearinghouse provides a multitude of hematology-related research grant opportunities available through ASH, NIH, and other federal agencies, as well as award opportunities from selected patient groups. Each grant entry included in the Grants Clearinghouse (available to all ASH members as a downloadable Excel file) provides a brief description of the grant award, the sponsoring organization, eligibility and citizenship requirements, award amounts and duration, and the most recent deadline and Web link information.
The newly revised Training section of the ASH Web site also contains other valuable features for young investigators. These features include: an article titled “Making Sense of NIH Funding Opportunities,” a primer on various NIH-funded grant opportunities; a PowerPoint presentation on “Preparation for Life After Fellowship,” which includes suggestions to guide fellows in preparation for life after training; and a “Career Development Timeline for Trainees,” a generalized framework for the career development of trainees at various stages. We invite you to explore these newly added features as well as take advantage of the numerous opportunities afforded through ASH membership on the ASH Web site.
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