NINDS Support for M.D./Ph.D. Students Will Now Use the F31 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Mechanism

Notice Number: NOT-NS-10-010

Key Dates
Release Date:  March 4, 2010

Issued by
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), (


The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) considers the training of outstanding predoctoral M.D./Ph.D. students in neuroscience research to be critical to the mission of reducing the burden of neurological diseases.  For the last 9 years, NINDS has supported M.D./Ph.D. students with the F30 Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA).  To enhance the support of time devoted to research training during the M.D./Ph.D., the NINDS will now use an F31 NRSA mechanism, PAR-10-091 ( specifically designed for M.D./Ph.D. students, in place of the F30 mechanism. The F31 mechanism for M.D./Ph.D students being implemented by NINDS will support students starting early in the research portion of their training, eliminating the requirement for graduate research publications and/or preliminary data in the grant review process. The F31 applications for M.D./Ph.D. students will be reviewed in an NINDS study section.


NINDS remains firmly committed to the support of M.D./Ph.D. students. The F31 NRSA fellowship will provide individuals in integrated M.D./Ph.D. programs with up to 5 years of predoctoral NRSA support.  It differs from the F30 mechanism in that it will provide support for research leading to the Ph.D. degree, but not training that is associated with obtaining an M.D. degree.  With the change in mechanism, NINDS is instituting changes in the review requirements that will enhance the ability of students to submit successful applications much earlier in their M.D./Ph.D. training.  It is suggested that students submit F31 applications as soon as they have chosen a dissertation laboratory, which could be as early as the end of the medical school year prior to the start of full time dissertation research.  Taken together, these changes will preclude the need for preliminary data, increase support for students during their research years, and potentially provide support immediately upon entering a research laboratory.

The intent of the NINDS is to foster the development of independent M.D./Ph.D. investigators in neuroscience to advance the Institute’s mission to decrease the burden of neurological disorders.  High quality, creative research is an essential element of training for a successful research career.  The NINDS also regards the development of a comprehensive training plan and outstanding mentoring as critical to a successful outcome.  Therefore, the F31 FOA used by NINDS to support M.D./Ph.D. students places heavy emphasis not only on the opportunity for doing high quality neuroscience research but also on the quality of the overall training and mentoring plan.  As described in the funding opportunity announcement (PAR-10-091), all applicants should have at least one closely involved mentor with an excellent track record in training M.D./Ph.D. students and should contact NINDS staff before preparing an application to ensure that their research fits within the NINDS mission. Applicants should make sure to reference the correct program announcement when applying for fellowship support to ensure that proposals are reviewed in the appropriate NINDS study section.


Direct questions about this Notice to:

Stephen J. Korn, Ph.D.
Director of Training and Career Development
Neuroscience Center, Room 2186
6001 Executive Blvd MSC 9531
Bethesda, MD 20892-9531

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