Are you interested in applying for a PDF grant, but have some questions about the process? We encourage you to learn more by browsing answers to the questions most frequently asked by our prospective grantees.
[+] Public Access Policy
Q. Does PDF have a public access policy?
A. It is a condition of PDF funding that all peer-reviewed articles supported in whole or in part by its grants must be made available in the PubMed Central online archive, so that research results become accessible, prominent and integrated within the context of other research findings, making it easier for scientists worldwide to pursue Parkinson’s disease research. Equally important are the continued benefits that families, clinicians, people with Parkinson's, educators, funders and students can reap from information arising from PDF funding by accessing publications on PubMed Central at no charge. This policy applies to all grants awarded after January 31, 2014. View our full policy here.
Q. My research is currently funded by PDF. Where can I learn more about compliance with this public access policy?
A. Awardees receiving a grant after January 31, 2014, need to submit their peer-reviewed articles to PubMed Central. Details on how to do so can be found in the Public Access Policy FAQ and our Public Access Awardee Compliance Guide.
Q. Does PDF fund both international and US applicants?
A. All PDF research programs are open to applicants that reside either within the US or internationally, regardless of citizenship, with the exception of the Stanley Fahn Faculty Transition Award. For this award, applicants do not need US citizenship but must reside in the US and conduct their research at a US-based institution.
Q. Are students on J-1/F-1B (Students Visas) eligible to apply for grants?
A. Yes, all international students meeting the eligibility requirements may apply. All inquiries regarding visas should be directed to your research institution.
Q. I am a Ph.D. with an overseas lab. May I apply for a grant even if most of work will be conducted outside the US?
A. Yes, international applicants are encouraged to apply for PDF Postdoctoral Fellowships and PDF Summer Student Fellowships. Moreover, there is no requirement for research to be conducted within the US for these PDF Research Programs.
Q. Does PDF have a policy about funding multiple Fellowship applicants from the same lab?
A. There is no specific policy; however, due to the competitive nature of the awards, it is unlikely that two individuals from the same lab will be funded.
Q. I am a student/resident who will be receiving my Ph.D./finishing my neurology residency in June. So, I will not have completed my training at the time of my application for the PDF Postdoctoral Fellowships. Am I still eligible to apply?
A. For Fellowships, individuals who will have finished their training (Ph.D. degree or residency) by June 1 may apply.
Q. I am interested in applying for one of the Postdoctoral Fellowships for Basic Scientists. I have been working as a post-doc since receiving my Ph.D. two years ago. Am I eligible to apply?
A. Yes, you are eligible. Generally, PDF is looking to support postdoctoral researchers who are within five years of receiving their Ph.D.
Q. How far out can an applicant be from his or her Ph.D. or neurology residency and still be eligible for a Fellowship?
A. There is a time limit of five years from completion of a Ph.D. for the PDF Postdoctoral Fellowship for Basic Scientists and a limit of three years from completion of residency or final training for the PDF Postdoctoral Fellowship for Neurologists.
Q. I am interested in taking a year off between my undergraduate studies and medical school to work in research. Is it at all possible to apply for the summer fellowship funding to research that will be performed in the fall of the following year?
A. No. Only students currently enrolled full-time in an academic institution are eligible for PDF Summer Fellowships.
Q. I am interested in applying for one of the Postdoctoral Fellowships for Basic Scientists. I have been on maternity leave during my post-doc period and therefore more than 5 years have passed since I received my Ph.D. Am I still eligible to apply?
A. In general no. PDF has a policy of supporting postdoctoral researchers who are within five years of receiving their Ph.D. However, if you have exceeded this time period, e.g., due to maternity leave, an exception may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Please contact PDF at firstname.lastname@example.org before applying. If an exception is permitted, please make sure that you clearly state the reason for exceeding the five year timeline in your application.
Q. Will PDF allow me to take parental leave during the course of my postdoctoral fellowship?
A. For postdoctoral fellowships, PDF allows up to eight work weeks (60 calendar days) of paid leave with a concurrent extension of the length of the fellowship. Parental leave will be supported by using $3,000 of the Fellow’s research allowance with additional funds provided by PDF. Parental leave is permitted on other, non-fellowship awards and will follow the grantee institution’s leave policy. In those cases, a no-cost extension of up to six months will be provided to match the leave taken by the grant recipient. In either case, PDF requires prompt notification when grant recipients utilize extended leave.
Q. I am a senior Postdoctoral Fellow looking to apply for my first faculty position. Am I eligible for the Stanley Fahn Faculty Transition Award?
A. No, the Faculty Transition Award is designed for applicants who already hold a tenure-track position and are working to submit their first R-01 application. Applicants who hold an Instructor position and intend to commence a tenure-track position, as evidenced by a letter support from the department chair, are also welcome to apply.
Q. I have a Ph.D. and conduct research at a biotech firm. Am I eligible for the Stanley Fahn Faculty Transition Award?
A. No, the Faculty Transition Award is only for applicants in tenure-track positions conducting research at a US-based academic institution.
[+] Application Process
Q. Can I submit my application/proposal via email?
A. Except for the PDF Student Summer Fellowship Letters of Support, proposals are not accepted by email. All grants must be submitted through the PDF website at grants.pdf.org. Only proposals submitted online will be reviewed.
Q. How does my mentor submit their Letter of Support for my Summer Student Fellowship?
A. Letters of support may be emailed by mentors to PDF at email@example.com with “SUMMER FELLOWSHIP” in the subject line. Alternatively, mentors may send their letters by regular mail to: Parkinson’s Disease Foundation; Summer Fellowship Letter of Support; Attn: Dr. Beth Vernaleo, Associate Director of Research Programs; 1359 Broadway, Suite 1509, New York, NY 10018. All letters must be received by the application deadline.
Q. I would like to apply for the PDF Summer Student Fellowship but I do not have a mentor. How can I find one?
A. You must identify a mentor and project prior to applying for the PDF Summer Student Fellowship. If you do not already have a mentor, PDF recommends seeking a researcher at your institution who is studying Parkinson’s and asking if he or she is willing to both take you on for a summer project and help you apply for the Fellowship. Your mentor may be able to help you find a project based on your interests and the work that is already being conducted in the lab. You do not have to work with a mentor at your own university. You can find a mentor at any institution, as long as this person is an expert in PD research and is willing to work with you on a 10-week project.
Q. How does PDF select its grant recipients?
A. Proposals are reviewed by PDF’s Research Grants Committee, a group of leading Parkinson's basic, clinical and translational scientists, headed by Un Jung Kang, M.D. Committee members initially review all proposals to remove noncompetitive applications. The remaining proposals are reviewed and adjudicated using the National Institutes of Health (NIH) rating scale. It should also be noted that for all PDF grant reviews, PDF Research Advocates (people with Parkinson’s and their care partners) sit on the panel and review the proposals. This is part of the PDF commitment to patient engagement, which helps us to fund science that is not only top-notch, but is also relevant to the community.
Finalists are chosen by the Committee from the highest score downward until the funding cap is met for the fiscal year. If the awards are not accepted for any reason, the next applicant in line (again, based on the scores assigned by the scientists during the review process) is notified. This process continues until all the grant monies are awarded and accepted for the fiscal year.
Q. How many proposals will each applicant/PI be allowed to submit for the Research Grants and Fellowships Programs?
A. You may only submit one proposal at a time for review.
Q. Do applicants need to propose three-year studies for the Stanley Fahn Faculty Transition Award or are projects funded based upon competitive renewal?
A. For Faculty Transition Awards, the award period is three years, subject to review of the previous year's progress. While renewal is not competitive, investigators must demonstrate sufficient progress to warrant continued support from PDF.
Q. Do applicants need to propose two-year studies for the PDF Postdoctoral Fellowship or are projects funded based upon competitive renewal?
A. For Postdoctoral Fellowships, the award period is two years, subject to review of the first year's progress. While renewal is not competitive, investigators must demonstrate sufficient progress to warrant continued support from PDF.
Q. What are the benchmarks used to determine if enough progress has been made to warrant another year of PDF support?
A. To secure the next year of funding, work in the previous year should reflect progress towards completing at least one of the specific goals included in the proposal.
Q. Will applicants receive critiques or feedback for their proposals?
A. PDF provides reviewer comments for the Stanley Fahn Faculty Transition Award and the PDF Postdoctoral Fellowships. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the review process for the PDF Summer Student Fellowships, we are unable to provide reviewer comments.
Q. What does “Budget and Justification” mean for Faculty Transition Awards?
A. The budget is the amount of money requested to complete your research project. Salaries, cost for animals, equipment, related travel, or anything else to be paid out of the PDF grant should be listed in detail; this is the justification for how the funds should be spent.
Q. Are salaries permitted in the grants budget?
A. Yes, salaries for the investigator and/or assistants are permitted in the budget for Faculty Transition Award proposals. When listing salaries, percent effort must also be included in the budget justification. Please note that for Faculty Transition Awards, applicants are permitted to allot funds for up to 40 percent of direct salary support. For PDF Postdoctoral Fellowships, it is expected that Primary Investigator salaries will be covered in their entirety. For all PDF awards, there is no allowance in the budget for fringe benefits, postdoctoral taxes, institutional overhead or fees.
Q. What is not included under the budget?
A. Overhead expenses are now covered at 10 percent of the Faculty Transition Award. This 10 percent is included within the total award amount. Overhead includes items such as rental of office or lab space, electricity or janitorial expenses. Overhead is automatically calculated and need not be listed as part of the budget.
Q. Can the budget be presented in a table format, rather than in prose?
A. There is no requirement for the budget format; however, please keep in mind that it needs to be easily read and understood by the reviewers.
Q. Can portions of the project (e.g., antibodies, animals, etc.) be funded from other sources?
A. Yes, however, concurrent funding from any other source must be noted as a subscript of the budget and disclosed when completing the application proposal.
Q. I have two mentors for my Postdoctoral Fellowship, but there is only room on the online application to list one. What do I do?
A. Simply provide the information on the online form about a primary mentor and then include information about both mentors in the NIH biosketch component of the proposal package. When asked to upload letters of support, please include letters from both mentors combined into one .pdf document for upload.
Q. Does an applicant need to submit his/her mentor’s CV or references?
A. Yes, as part of the application process, the applicant is required to include a NIH formatted biographical sketch of their mentor/sponsors. Briefly: 1) List name, title and education/training; 2) List positions and honors; 3) List relevant peer-reviewed publications; 4) List research support (current, pending, and completed). For an example, see the NIH website. Except for the section describing research funding, the biographical sketch is limited to two pages per investigator.
Q. For candidates applying for Postdoctoral Fellowships in Basic Science, what should be included in the letters of support from their mentors?
A. The letters of support for postdoctoral candidates would be similar to those one would provide for a NIH NRSA application: qualifications, potential and research environment are all important aspects of such a letter.
Q. I just received my Ph.D. and am new to the field of Parkinson’s. Is that a problem for my fellowship application?
A. Since candidates are expected to have only recently received a Ph.D., it is understood that some applicants will be new to the field. Consequently, a well-conceived proposal will be important in these cases. Additionally, it may be helpful to have a mentor who has a strong background in Parkinson’s disease.
Q. How much detail is needed in the Fellowship application regarding the facilities and research environment available to that applicant?
A. The letter of support should provide assurance that the fellow will have access to material needed to conduct their research. If specific equipment or reagents (e.g., mouse lines or MRI) are required, the letter of support should reflect that those items are available either in the lab or as part of collaboration.
Q. What does IRB or IACUC stand for?
A. IRB stands for the Institutional Review Board. Under FDA regulations, an IRB is a committee of physicians, statisticians, researchers, community advocates and others that has been formally designated to review and monitor biomedical research involving human subjects. The IRB ensures that the research is ethical, and that the rights of participants are protected. IACUC is the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, which oversees the specific use of animals in research by formally reviewing protocols and ensuring that animals are cared for and used in a humane manner. The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals is an excellent resource for investigations involving animals. Note: All research involving the use of humans or animals must have approval of the appropriate institutional committee.
Q. I am an International applicant and do not have an IRB/IACUC number, but we have a Research and Ethics committee. Is the approval of the committee, which is equivalent to the IRB number, sufficient or do you need other information?
A. As noted above, all research involving the use of humans or animals must have approval of the appropriate institutional committee. If your institution does not provide a IRB/IACUC number, please include a copy of your institution’s approval certification, e.g., a copy of the approval letter.
Q. Are preliminary data welcome and if so, which is the most appropriate section of the application section in which to present it?
A. As with any grant, preliminary data are not only welcome but only adds to the strength of a proposal. Please include it in the details of the proposed experiments.
Q. Is there a limit to the number of citations that should be included in my application? Should I include only the maximum number that can fit on one page (if necessary)?
A. There is no limit to number of citations other than they must fit within the one-page limit (set within the specified 0.5” margin and 10 point font size). Please order citations alphabetically by author.
Q. I just submitted my application for the Fellowship Training Program, and realize that I uploaded neither my mentor's, nor my own biographical sketch. Is there anything that I can do to provide that information to PDF?
A. Once your application has been submitted it cannot be edited. If you made an error or desire to withdraw your application, please email PDF at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your application can be removed from consideration or you may then submit a replacement if desired.
[+] Funding/Grant Cycle Specifics
Q. How long is the funding period for research grants?
A. The Stanley Fahn Faculty Transition awards are three-year grants, with the second and third years subject to assessment of the previous year’s progress. Fellowship awards are two-year grants. Fellowships may be competitively renewed by submitting a new application. For more information, see the specific program grant descriptions and guidelines found on this website. The normal award cycle is July 1 through the following May 31st of any given fiscal year.
Q. When applying to the Faculty Transition Award or Postdoctoral Fellowship, does the second and third year (if applicable) budget justification need to be included or will the first year budget justification suffice?
A. Budgets for all years must be included.
Q. Since the Postdoctoral Fellowships support two-year projects, is it still possible to apply for one-year $100,000 grants?
A. The Parkinson's Disease Foundation's emphasis has shifted to longer term funding. Nevertheless, a compelling proposal requesting one year of funding would not be ignored. Your application should make clear your funding request, e.g. in the budget, etc.
Q. How are indirect costs calculated for investigator initiated awards?
A. Except for the fellowship awards and other specific programs, indirect costs are provided as 10 percent of direct costs. For example, if the maximum direct costs are $100,000 per year, the maximum indirect costs are $10,000 per year for a combined total (direct plus indirect costs) of $110,000.
Q. I am assisting an investigator who is applying for a PDF grant. On the application, on Step Two, under Administrative Information, the form asks for an Authorized Recipient Information and Authorized Administrative Official. Who would be considered the Authorized Recipient/Official?
A. The authorized recipient and administrative official are the individuals in your institution’s grants office who handle the disbursement of grant funds awarded to your institution. These would generally be the same people identified on the face page of an NIH grant. Note, PDF also notifies each investigator as quarterly award payments are made.
Q. I would like to apply for one of the Postdoctoral Fellowships for Basic Scientists. My prospective mentor; however, is affiliated with another University. Can I apply for a PDF Fellowship under a mentor with whom I would like to work in future, while keeping my present affiliation with a different University?
A. You may maintain your affiliation with your current University during your application process. However, you will need a letter of support from your prospective mentor. If an award is made, it will be disbursed to your mentor's University. Therefore, you will need to supply the grants administrator contact information for your mentor’s University on the application.
Q. For the Postdoctoral Fellowship program, what is the expectation of time commitment (or effort)?
A. It is expected that Postdoctoral Fellows are working full-time toward their research project. We understand that Fellows will need to spend time in other areas such as classes, teaching and patient care. Therefore, a Basic Science Postdoctoral Fellow is required to commit 90 percent of his or her effort to the PDF-funded project, and a Clinical Postdoctoral Fellow is required to commit 80 percent of his or her effort to the PDF-funded project.
Q. Do you have a list available of previously supported projects?
A. Yes, we currently have summaries for this year's projects and several previous cycles. View Project Summaries.
Q. What may be purchased with the Postdoctoral Fellowship research allowance?
A. The research allowance is meant to allow the Fellow to purchase specialized equipment, software or reagents necessary to complete their research. In addition, items that augment the training and education of a Fellow such as books, journal subscriptions, training courses or a computer are also permitted. Travel costs of up to $2,000 may also be defrayed by the research allowance. With approval of the advisor/mentor, the Fellow determines how the research allowance is spent. However, under no circumstances can the stipend or research allowance be used to pay for fringe benefits, postdoctoral taxes, institutional overhead or fees.
Q. May the Postdoctoral Fellowship research allowance be used for health insurance premiums?
A. Yes, the research allowance may be used to defray the costs of a Fellow’s health benefits up to $3,000. Once an award decision has been made, the Fellow may submit a written request to PDF to direct a portion of their research allowance towards health care costs.
Q. What happens if a grant recipient transfers to a new lab/institution during an award cycle? Will he/she still be eligible for the remainder of the grant?
A. Should a grant recipient depart from his/her original research institution prior to the conclusion of the award cycle, all funding will cease. In addition, all equipment purchased from the award must remain at the prior institution. However, there may be instances where funding may be transferred if the recipient provides official documentation from both the original and the new institutions’ administrative officials confirming that the recipient is continuing research at the new institution for the project funded by PDF. We encourage the grant recipient to contact the PDF in these circumstances.
Q. What happens to unused grant monies?
A. Any unused monies are to be made payable to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation and sent to PDF, 1359 Broadway, Suite 1509, New York, NY 10018, Attn.: Dr. Beth Vernaleo, Associate Director of Research Programs.
Q. If a grant recipient needs additional time to complete his/her research, what can be done?
A. A grant recipient must request a “No-Cost Extension” and specify how long they will need (generally an additional three to six months) to complete their project. This request must include an interim progress report and a report of expenses to date. The request must be made by the applicant and signed off by the institution’s administrative official. If the extension is granted, the grant recipient will be notified of the new reporting deadlines.
Q. What is a Progress Report?
A. A progress report is a report summarizing research findings as well as the accompanying expenditures of the project to date.
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