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Fellowship Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility

I have previously received AAN Research Program funding (formerly known as a Clinical Research Training Fellowship). Am I eligible to apply for the Career Development Award?
Yes, you would be eligible to apply. 

I am not a neurologist, am I eligible for the AAN Research Program Awards?
It depends on which award you are applying for. You are required to be a neurologist if you are applying for the Career Development Award. For all other Research Program awards, you do not need to be a neurologist.

Do you have to be an American citizen to apply?
No, you do not have to be an American citizen to apply.

Do I need to be certified to practice medicine in the US?
No, you do not need to be certified to practice medicine in the US to apply.

I am a non-US citizen, but did residency training in the US and am currently “X” fellow at “X” institution. I am planning to stay for an additional two years of research and would like to apply for an AAN Program award. Is it possible to do this on a J1s visa in general?
There are no visa requirements for the grant, so you may apply for the grant with the J1 visa.

Can there be only one applicant per institution?
We accept multiple applications from institutions.

Does my faculty position (or lack thereof) make a difference in whether or not my proposal is funded?
It depends. At the time of application for the Susan S. Spencer Clinical Research Training Fellowship, applicants can be epilepsy fellows, post-doctoral fellows, or newly appointed junior faculty members (first two years of appointment). To be eligible for the Career Development Award, you must hold the position of at least instructor or assistant professor by the start of the award on July 1, 2018. For all awards other than the Susan S. Spencer Clinical Research Training Fellowship and Career Development Award, your faculty position (or lack thereof) does not matter.

I am an associate professor. Am I eligible for the Career Development Award?
Yes.

If I apply and do not receive an award, can I reapply next year?
Yes. Applicants have successfully reapplied and received funding in subsequent years.

Can applicants who do not hold an MD apply for a Research Program award? I have a doctoral degree and have completed a post-doctoral fellowship, but do not hold an MD.  If I am eligible to apply, how will I be evaluated?  (The RFA specifically mentions evaluating candidate's potential to be a "clinician-scientist.")
It depends. To be eligible for the Career Development Award you must be a neurologist. You would be eligible for all other awards other than the Career Development Award. You will be evaluated based on the criteria in the RFA; in your case, as you are not a clinician, the term "clinician scientist" has a broader meaning; you will not be penalized for not being a clinician as long as your proposed project meets the mission of the AAN Research Program awards.

I will be in the middle of a fellowship when the AAN grant starts. Am I still eligible?
Yes, provided you are able to meet the required 80% protected research time (or 75% for some awards).

Can I apply to fund a PhD?
No, you cannot use the award to fund a PhD. 

I did PhD and post-doc work after residency (I have an MD and a PhD). To be eligible for the awards, I noticed that the date I finished residency affects my eligibility for the awards. How does this eligibility criteria apply to me?
If you hold both an MD and a PhD, your eligibility is based entirely on the date you completed residency.

The RFAs state that you need to have finished residency or a post-doctoral fellowship within the last five years for a Clinical Research Training Scholarship, within seven years for a Clinician Scientist Development Award and within five to 10 years of the start date of the award for the Career Development Award. I did one year of a clinical fellowship after finishing residency. For these purposes, does my one year of clinical fellowship count as part of residency?
No. If you have an MD and did a fellowship, your eligibility is still based entirely on the day you completed residency. 

Receiving Other Funding

Which situations require a Research Program recipient to forfeit the rest of their Research Program award?  

  • The recipient receives another award of equal or greater dollar amount to his/her Research Program award (including a K award) which starts before the July 1 start date of their Research Program award. (If the recipient receives another award of equal or greater dollar amount to their Research Program award- including a K award- which begins after the July 1 start date of their award, he/she is to follow the process outlined under “Re-budgeting” Below.)
  • The recipient is no longer able to meet the 80% required protected research time (or 75% depending on the award).
  • The recipient leaves their institution to go into private practice full or part time. 
  • The AAN reserves the right to require a recipient forfeit an award for reasons other than those described above. 

Can you provide an example of an “award of equal or greater dollar amount?”
For example, if you receive the Clinical Research Training Scholarship, which provides $150,000 ($75,000 per year), and you were offered additional funding which provided $75,000 or more per year of funding, this would be considered an award of “equal or greater dollar amount.” Another example would be if you received the three-year Career Development Award which provides $150,000 per year, you would not be able to accept funding which provided $150,000 or more per year of funding.

Does it matter how much of the Career Development Award and other awards are used for salary vs. research costs?
No, this is left up to the institution. 

When identifying the total amount of other funding, do I include the “total budget” or the “budget for salary support"? For example, some might include “fringe” and/or “overhead” and/or other fees?
Total budget. 

I hold a smaller career development award primarily for salary support ($75,000 per year for three years, from 2015-2018) from a Canadian government research funding agency (Canadian Institutes for Health Research, CIHR). Can I apply for a Research Program award even though the funding will overlap?
It depends on which award you are applying for. You would be eligible for the Career Development Award because the total amount of the CIHR award per year ($75,000) does not exceed the amount of the Career Development Award per year ($150,000). If you are applying for any other Research Program awards, you would not be eligible because your CIHR would exceed the yearly amount provided by the other AAN awards offered.

My annual salary support from my institution exceeds the amount of the Research Program award per year. Does this disqualify me from applying? No, the “equal or greater dollar amount” restriction does not apply to money provided by your institution, only external sources.

What is the process for requesting to re-budget my award?
If an applicant receives an additional source of funding of equal or greater dollar amount to the amount of their Research Program award (including a K award) after the July 1 start date of their Research Program award, the applicant is required to notify Kristin Roehl, Grants Program Manager. The applicant is also to submit a letter on institution letter head, signed by the mentor with the following information: the name of the additional funding received, the total amount, and a new budget for how he/she will use the remainder of the Research Program award. A budget narrative should accompany the new budget.

I have previously received a K award. Can I apply for the Career Development Award?
No, if you have received either a K or an R award you are ineligible to apply for the Career Development Award. However, you are encouraged to apply for K and R awards while applying for a Career Development Award and after receipt of the Career Development Award.  If you were to receive a K or R award after the start date of your Career Development Award you are eligible to follow the re-budgeting process covered in question #15.

I currently have a K award, R25, etc. can I apply for an AAN Research Program award and then defer the AAN award until the R25 runs out?
No, you cannot apply with the intention of deferring the AAN Award. 

Are mentors allowed to charge effort to the Career Development Award?
No. 

Recipient Questions

Would I be able to transfer institutions after I receive my award?
Yes, we require five letters to transfer institutions:

  1. A letter from you stating your intentions to transfer
  2. A letter of approval from your current mentor
  3. A letter of approval from your current department chair
  4. A letter of approval from the mentor at your new institution
  5. A letter of approval from the department chair of the new institution stating that 80% of your time will be protected for research.

We also require a final financial reconciliation from your current institution. After we have that, a new contract signed by you, the AAN and your institution would have to be signed. Your funding would then be sent to your new institution

What is the procedure for applying for a no-cost extension?
Please submit a one-page letter on institution letterhead via email to Kristin Roehl, Grants Program Manager, justifying why you are requesting the no-cost extension.

I am going to apply for a no-cost extension. Can any of the remaining funds be used for salary support during the no-cost extension?
Yes, please mention this in your no-cost extension request letter that all or part of the funds will be used for salary support. 

I have a general question about AAN's re-budgeting policy.  Are recipients of the awards that provide salary support and educational/tuition support allowed to re-budget funds into or out of either category?
One cannot use the education/tuition component for salary support. The purpose of the award is training. If it is for something else such as travel, supplies, etc. that may be allowed.   

My institution has a question about how I can be paid. Per my position, I am a salaried employee and am paid via “salary/fringe” and not “stipend.” This will not change the amount I am paid from the award, simply the method. Is this acceptable?
Yes, this is acceptable.

Application Attachments

What if I don't have any current/pending funding?
Please simply state that you do not have any current or pending funding.

The application calls for my CV. Should it be in traditional CV format or a bio sketch?  
Please use an NIH bio sketch format.

Should the NIH bio sketch be in the new or old format?
Please use the new format.

Do you require that the Research Plan be in NIH format?
No, you can use any format you wish for the research plan.

I am currently preparing my application. To whom should the recommendation letters be addressed?
Kristin Roehl, Grants Program Manager.

My mentor is wondering if I (as the applicant) will have access to what they write in support of my application?
No, this information is not available to you as the applicant. 

Should I upload my documents in Word or PDF format?
PDF format is required.

I have applied for AAN Research Program funding in the past, and I received feedback from the reviewers. In which document of the application should I address the feedback?
You should address the feedback throughout your application. For example, if the feedback indicated that your proposed coursework was sub-optimal, address the comments in the “Document describing arrangements for formal course work.” If the feedback was in regards to the research plan, then please address the comments in the “Research Plan.

One of my references would like to send a DVD of our pilot data. Is this recommended?
No, it is not recommended that you send DVDs. Still, pictures are allowed provided you do not exceed the maximum page numbers per document.

The application asks me to enter contact information for two references. Are these two individuals in addition to my mentor or can I enter my mentor's information as one of the references?
No, you are required to enter the name and email address for four individuals: your mentor, your department chair, and two references. If you have a second mentor, he/she can be one of your references. If your chair is also your mentor, please enter his/her name in both the chair and mentor fields. 

The application requires that I “describe arrangements for formal coursework including quantitative clinical epidemiology, biostatistics, study design, data analysis, and ethics.” I have taken all or most of this coursework already. How do I address this in my application?
Please list the applicable courses you have already taken and indicate that you have already completed them. 

Do I need to upload my documents all at once?
No, you can save and come back to your application at any time.

The application asks for the name and email address for the chair of the department. Can the letter be from my program director?
No, the letter must come from the department chair.

Are there any particular guidelines as to how advanced the area of coursework should be for the categories of epidemiology, biostatistics, study design, data analysis, and ethics?
Courses should be appropriate for your development stage. If you are in the early stage of your career and have never taken a course in clinical research, then start with the basics. If you are more advanced, then take a more advanced course that will be helpful for your career. Justify whatever courses you are taking. What is necessary is a description of the resources that are available to you at your institution in order to assist you with your research.

Is it okay for my letter of support from the chair to come from a department other than neurology?
Yes.

Is there a preferred font type and size for my attachments?
Please follow the font guidelines as provided by the NIH.

Are figures/tables counted in the research proposal page limit?
Yes, they would count against the page limit.

Are references in addition to the page limit for the research proposal or are they included in the proposal?
References will not count against the page limit. In other words, you can include additional pages for references.

Is a preliminary data section necessary?
It depends. If you are applying for the Career Development Award then yes, a preliminary data section is strongly recommended. For all other awards other than the Career Development Award it is not necessary. However, if you do have a preliminary data section, it should be included in your research proposal.

Is a signature page or an institutional signing letter required?
No. It is not required.

Misc.

How is the overall application scored?
The applicant's ability and promise as a clinician-scientist based on prior record of achievement and career plan, letters of reference, and curriculum vitae: 30% quality and nature of the training to be provided and the institutional, departmental, and mentor-specific training environment: 30%, quality and originality of the research plan: 40%. 

Who makes the decision about awards?
A review committee.

Can I be considered for more than one award?
It depends. If you are applying for any Research Program funding opportunities other than the Career Development Award, the answer is yes; you can be considered for more than one award. Please note at the top of your “Research Plan” document which awards for which you would like to be considered. Rank them in order of preference. Only send in one application. Apply for the one you would most prefer. The review committee will consider your application for all of the awards for which you are eligible, regardless of which you ranked first. If you are applying for the Career Development Award, you are not eligible for any other awards and vice versa. If you are applying for a Clinician Scientist Development Award (CSDA), you are also eligible for two-year funding opportunities, despite the difference in length and funding. In your application to the CSDA, note that you would also like to be considered for two-year scholar funding at the top of your “Research Plan” document.  

What other awards does the AAN have? 
This information can be found by visiting AAN.com. Select “Research and Awards."

Are there one-year awards?
Currently, there are no one-year awards.

I am currently at institution A, but I will be transferring to institution B. I will be using the AAN grant at institution B. Should I enter the contact information for the chair at institution A or institution B?
You should enter the information for the chair at institution B (the institution where you will be using the grant).

Does the AAN require I add a scholastic performance section to my bio sketch?
No.

Budgeting

When does funding begin?
Funding begins within 30 days of having a signed agreement between the institution and the American Academy of Neurology. Funding begins on July 1.

Is the AAN Research Program funding per year support to be used only for salary support? How is the research project being paid?
This is up to you and your institution. You can use AAN Research Program funding for Direct Costs. For a list of what is considered a “Direct Cost” see question directly below.

Does the award cover indirect costs?
No, the award only covers direct costs. Direct costs include: salary; travel to research related meetings; MRI/CT scans; participation costs; reimbursement for patients; equipment; fringe benefits; tuition; classes; publication costs; research related personnel (research coordinator, data analysis staff, etc. indirect costs include: facility and administrative costs and AAN/other neurological society membership dues. 

Is there a salary limit or salary cap?
No, there is no salary limit or salary cap (that is left up to the institution).

Can I use the funding to subcontract to another institution?
Yes, but your institution will need to be responsible for submitting the funds to the other institution. In other words, the AAN will only be responsible for submitting funds to your institution, not the subcontracting institution. Note that if you have an award that is sponsored by both the AAN and another organization, the decision about whether or not subcontracting is allowed will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Am I required to submit a budget with my application?
It depends on which award you are applying for. For all awards other than the Career Development Award you do not need to submit a budget. If applying for the Career Development Award yes, you will need to upload a budget.

Should I include a narrative with the Career Development Award budget?
Yes, please include a narrative of how the funds will be used (no longer than one page).

Is there a recommended template to use for the Career Development Award budget attachment?
Yes, please see below for an optional template. You are also allowed to use your own template. 

 Career Development Award Applicant 
 Project Title 
  Amount
 EXPENSE 
 Salaries & Wages 
 Fringe Benefits 
 Consumable Supplies 
 Travel 
 Other Expenses 
 Patient Care 
Capital Equipment 
Non-capital Equipment 
Subcontract Expense 
Other 
Other 
Other 
TOTAL COSTS 
Protected Research Time

I am a post-doc and not a clinician. The application requires me to submit a letter from my chair stating that 80% of my time will be protected. In my case, this is not applicable since I do not have clinic responsibilities.
Once you submit, your chair will receive an email requesting confirmation that they support the submission of your application. When they follow the link in the email, it will take them to a form for them to complete. Your chair can explain in that form that the 80% protected time is not applicable to your situation and you will meet or exceed that requirement.

Would I be eligible if I were to apply this year and still complete advanced post-doctoral work the following year while on the AAN grant?
You would be eligible, however, note that your chair would still need to sign a letter agreeing that 80% (or 75% depending on the award) of your time would need to be protected for research.

Does time spent in courses and completing coursework count toward the 75-80%?
Yes.

Are there any requirements about being involved in patient care at that time?
It depends on which award you are applying for. The Career Development Award and the Susan S. Spencer Clinical Research Training Fellowship limit patient care to 25% of your time. For all AAN Research Program awards other than the Career Development Award and Susan. S. Spencer Clinical Research Training Fellowship your patient care is limited to 20% of your time.

I noticed that the applicant's clinical responsibilities cannot exceed 20-25% (depending on the award) of the recipient's time. Is there a requirement of a minimum percent effort that an applicant should devote to the proposed project?
Yes, if the award restricts their clinical responsibilities to 20% then their minimum percent of effort to the proposed project is 80%. If the award restricts their clinical responsibilities to 25%, then their minimum percent of effort to the proposed project is 75%.

Does the 80% of the time that is calculated to dedicate to research only takes into account the usual clinical work schedule?
Regarding the 80% requirement, you should plan to devote four full work days per week to the research activities. If you have received an award with a 75% requirement, you should plan to devote 3.75 work days per week to the research activities.

Mentor

Does my primary mentor need to be a neurologist?
No.

Does my mentor have to be at the same institution where I will be conducting my research?
We strongly encourage your mentor to be from the same institution where you will be conducting your research. If your mentor is not at your institution, please provide evidence of a strong mentor-mentee relationship.

Are co-mentors permitted?
Yes, multiple mentors are permitted. One mentor should be designated as primary mentor to handle administrative issues. When applying, you can enter your second mentor's contact information as a reference. Both your mentor and your references will receive an email with a link. The link will bring them to a form where they can recommend you.

Does the mentor have to be a member of the AAN?
It is not a rule that the mentor has to be a member of the AAN; however, it is preferred.

What is the best way to handle collaborators at other institutions?
The primary mentor should spell out what the collaborator is doing when your mentor submits their form supporting your application.


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