Alzheimer’s Association opened its first funding calls of 2023, and in this session, Adam Smith, Programme Director for Dementia Research talks with Dr Stefânia Forner, Director, Medical & Scientific Relations from the Alzheimer’s Association.
Stefânia provides a comprehensive overview of all the funding calls listed below, who can apply, who can’t and details of the funding provided and the research they hope to fund. Watch the recording to find out more.
Current calls open are:
- Sex and Gender in Alzheimer’s (SAGA 23)
- Clinician Scientist Fellowship (AACSF)
- Program Clinician Scientist Fellowship to Promote Diversity (AACSF-D)
- Research Fellowship (AARF)
- Research Fellowship to Promote Diversity (AARF-D)
- Research Grant (AARG)
- Research Grant to Promote Diversity (AARG-D)
- Research Grant — New to the Field (AARG-NTF)
- Research Grant to Promote Diversity — New to the Field (AARG-D-NTF)
If you have a question you will find futher information on the Alzheimer’s Association Website.
Adam Smith – Hello, thank you for joining today’s livestream. I’m Adam Smith. I’m the program director for Dementia Researcher and I’ll be hosting today’s discussion. Welcome. We’re just a little bit checking everything was live and working, but thank you very much for joining us. Dementia Researcher aims to attract new people to the field and provide support to ensure that we better retain those people that work within it. One way that we do this is by collating all the relevant funding calls onto our website and then doing our absolute best to share those as widely as we can with our community. From talking to funders, we know that while some grants are extremely competitive, there are also a few others that attract less applications and that can be for a variety of reasons. But a major factor is, is that people just don’t know about them or that they aren’t confident that they have a very strong application or don’t really understand the details. And so that’s where today’s live stream comes in. We hope to address some of those issues. I have the pleasure of being joined by Dr. Stefania Forner who is the director for medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer’s Association, and importantly, the key person behind their international research funding call. Hi Stefania.
Dr. Stefania Forner – Hi Adam. Hi everyone. Thanks for joining us whichever platform you are watching us.
Adam Smith – Yeah, if you’re watching in Twitter, we’re gonna have some SlideShare. So we should just point out that if you are watching on a tiny little screen on your mobile phone, you might actually find it’s better if you jump over to our YouTube channel. There is a link to that on our Twitter feed if you’re watching on Twitter to scroll down a little bit and you’ll find that there. Alzheimer’s Association have recently opened nine funding calls, which includes fellowships, and clinical fellowships, research grants. And we weren’t aware of this, but we just had a chat before we went live and I can completely understand how people might misread the rules because I did, I’ve already been corrected. So we’ll be able to cover that today in this live stream Stefania will run through each of them and discuss what they’re looking for and there’ll be a chance for you to ask questions as well.
Practically how you ask questions is you can post them. If you’re watching this live, you can post them in the comments box below on YouTube and we’ll put those to Stefania at the end. If you’re watching on Twitter, just comment on the post on the live post that this is being streamed through. If you missed the live session and you’re watching on catch up, I would suggest you put your questions to us in Twitter by replying below and Stefania is listed on that and I’m sure be able to reply as long as there aren’t too many, maybe we don’t want to swamp you, but don’t worry if you don’t watch live, you can still get your questions answered there. So, Stefania, that is enough from me.
Adam Smith – Brilliant. Then I will turn my camera off and leave you to it and I’ll see you in a bit.
Dr. Stefania Forner – I hope my slides are all good. Everyone can see it. So as Adam said, I’ll go through a little bit of our programs and if you are not familiar with Alzheimer’s Association, we have a vision to have a world without Alzheimer’s disease and all other Dementia. We have obviously a website alz.org that you can check all resources that we have. And in order to have a world without Alzheimer’s and other dementia, we have to fund, we have to have a research strategy. And our research strategy is to see the speed and scale. So, we want to fund new ideas. Something that you try to be funded elsewhere and did not get funded. You have a pilot study. We don’t request for our core programs and most of our programs preliminary data. So, if it is a new idea that you want to develop, we want to see that. We wanna develop that idea and possibly fund it, and hopefully it will be funded.
We wanna accelerate the rate of discovery and the scientific discovery. So we want science to be multi-dimensional, dynamic and have all academic levels. We do fund all academic levels. Right now we are the Alzheimer’s Association, the largest non-profit funders of Alzheimer’s and all other dementia in the world. We currently have over $310 million of funding, almost a thousand projects in 48 countries. So, we do fund anywhere in the world. We do fund globally. You do not have to be an American citizen, it is not a US-centered funding program. You don’t need to have a green card or anything and being in the United States. Our portfolio is remarkably diverse.
We do have the majority of our funding being focused on biology of AD and ADRD, but we focus on dementia. We also have funding in dementia care, diagnosis, translational research, so it’s all the full spectrum of science. So we do fund any project related to ADRD. And we have, as Adam said, a lot of programs focus on early career and some of them open twice a year. Our main programs, what we call core programs, they open, and the last call that opened actually opened last week. So, we are receiving letters of intent until March 6th. So if you have an idea, if you have something that you are looking for funding, please take a look at our website alz.org/grants and I’ll go over this over and over if you have any questions, you can put it on right now after with the Q&A and as Adam said within Twitter comment, I’ll definitely reply there. But you can also reach the grants team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So for this programs that open twice a year, that is open right now and the next call will most likely open in August, we have programs that are fellowships, clinician scientist fellowships, research fellowships, research grants and research grants new to the field. All of these programs have what we call the promote diversity component and the diversity is of the applicant and not of the application. So if we have a list of, what makes you eligible to apply to one of these programs to promote diversity, including if a list of countries that if you are doing research in those countries, or if you were born in one of those countries but you are not there but maybe you are in the UK but you were born in one of those countries, you are eligible to the promote diversity program.
So, make sure to take a look of those as well. I’ll go through each one of them in a little bit. We have other programs through the year. Right now, we have several under review like Zenith Fellows Programs, Discovery Funding Program, but we also have one program that it is open and it is open for postdocs as well and assistant professors and associate professors level, that is the Sex & Gender program. And the letter of intent’s deadline is February 15. So also take a look in that if you do investigate or you do have a project on sex and gender in ADRD. We will have other programs that will open this year. The one focus endolysosomal, those will open pretty soon. We have Part the Cloud Trials Program and how Tau Pipeline Enabling Program, the T-PEP, that most likely will open sometime this year as well. All our programs, they have the same format of reviewing. So, all of them you need to submit the letter of intent. The letter of intent is pretty straightforward. You put it on the system that we use the software, you fill it out a high summary of it, the specific aims, the innovation, the novelty of your project and that is gonna go out for review.
If you are invited for a full application, then you will obviously be notified if you are not as well. But if you are invited for a full application, you will have then some weeks to put the whole project together. That will include several portions that I will go through. After the full application, then that will go out for review as well. And then we’ll have what we call a review panel that will sit expert of review panels from throughout the world, we have reviewers from everywhere in the world, they will sit and discuss the applications that will be recommended for funding. We have an international research grant program counsel that will recommend those applications that were discussed in emeritus ranking. We, the Alzheimer’s Association has a medical certificate advisory group and they will do the final recommendation of applications to be funded to the Alzheimer’s Association. The Alzheimer’s Association will then make the final decision on which applications will be funded based on the amount of funds that we have on that specific cycle. We always try to fund every recommended application, but if we do not have the funds, we’ll create also a pending list. And this is how all programs are reviewed overall.
The letter of intent, as I mentioned, it should include a summary, a very short methodology, specific aims, innovation and most important, as well, it’s the impact on the field of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. If you are applying to the new to the field, and I’ll go through a little bit over that, you need to put this transition statement of what you were bringing to the field. As the letter of intent is reviewed, the reviewers will take into account the impact of the project, the methodology rigor. Are you addressing sample size properly? Are you addressing a diverse sample? Are you mentioning the population that you are studying? Is it correspondent to where you are located and all details of your project, innovation, and everything. The new to the field, obviously they will take into account as well how, what are you bringing to the field of ADRD that will elevate the dementia research. That will go to review. If you are invited, then you will put a full application. You do not get comments of the letters of intent, this course, but the full application you do. So I’ll go through a little bit now with the each program and eligibility criteria. So the research fellowships and the research fellowship to promote diversity, it is targeted for postdoc, anyone when finish a PhD to assistant professor level within 13 years of that time. So, it can be a postdoc. There are different names and levels on that phase, career phase. So you can be a postdoc, you can be an instructor, sometimes you can be called a researcher, you can be a project scientist. Anything between that PhD and assistant professor level within 13 years of your defence. It is a $200,000 fellowship that can be up to three years including $7,500 for travel. And if you complete everything successfully, you provide all your reports, we approve everything looks good. At the end you will receive, the fellow will receive $10,000 and the mentor will receive $10,000 because this is a fellowship you have the mentorship component, you need a mentor. So each of them at the end will receive $10,000 to advance science. So it is not for your dream vacation, it is for to advance science professional development, conference, manuscript fees, to start a new pilot project, anything related to research. And we do fund, as I said in the beginning, full spectrum of science from in vivo, in vitro, technology, translational, clinical, care. So, anything that is related to Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The Clinical Scientist Fellowship, it’s pretty similar how one titles, but it is only eligible for folks that have a clinical service. So you have a medical degree, you see patients or you have a deal or you might, we’ve funded in the past physical therapists, you need to have a clinical license. It is within 18 years of the terminal degree. And it is also from postdocs residents up to assistant professor level. So you can be an assistant professor level. It is $250,000. But it is also the same thing as the research fellowship. Three years, same amount of the travel, $7,500 and $10,000 at the end if successfully delivered all reports and everything. Also, all spectrum of science. You can be doing clinical service, but your project may be in basic science. That is okay. We will fund that. You don’t need to have a clinical license and be doing clinical work. It can be the research, it can be different as well. So if you are invited for an application for the fellowships, you will need a statement of mentorship, a statement of commitment of the fellow, and the area of research, the work plan, everything they entitles, specific games, methodology, everything that’s on it. The reviewers will take into account the mentor, everything, the mentor plan, the research plan, the impact risk. But I will take this opportunity to actually mention that do make sure to work with your mentor on the training plan, on the mentorship component. The reviewers will, that counts for 30% of your review. Sometimes we’ve seen in the past applications that the science is really good, but the mentorship plan was lacking a lot of things and therefore it was not funded. So make sure to work, have a good mentoring plan, put a timeline, make sure to address everything that how the mentorship component will help you as a fellow advance to your next level, career level.
All of these programs can have a resubmission. So if you are, you are invited for full application, you don’t get funded, you will have the reviewer’s comments and in the next round you can do as a resubmission. However, in the next round you will have to go through the letters of intent again, the process, and if you’re invited for full application, you can do a resubmission of the full application and you will have a chance to respond to those comments that the reviewers gave you in the past round. It’s a one-page limit. Just like when you answer reviewer comments for a paper. You will address all those comments. You’ll make changes and reviewers will have access to your previous application as well. Other programs that we have that are focused on assistant professor and associate professor levels are the research grants. So the research grants are for folks that are assistant professor and associate up to 15 years of their terminal degree. If you’re new to the area of Alzheimer’s, we also welcome those applications and it is up to $200,000, up to three years. Also 7,500 in travel. And we fund all the spectrum of science.
We have a different program that’s called New to the Field. So, it is focused on individuals that have not done any research on Alzheimer’s and dementia in their careers and it doesn’t have a cut-off. So it can be a full professor, it can be an assistant professor. However, you might, nonpublished or there’s a few eligibilities on that in this programs and before you apply to this program, we do ask you to send us an email and with your CV and we will evaluate if you are eligible for this, a specific research grant New to the Field program. It is also up to $200,000, up to three years. Same travel amount and all spectrum of science. This program is really cool. We wanna bring new people to the area of AD and RD. We funded folks that done their careers on other areas like engineering, computer science, oncology, folks that have seen something, maybe a protein or something in their area of expertise and now they think, they believe this would be useful for the area of Alzheimer’s and dementia. So they do write a project on this area. If you know anyone obviously in any of these programs, make sure to let them know and yourself as well. For the full application, for the research grants, and also all other programs, for the research grants you need as well the work plan and for the New to the Field, a transition statement, what are you bringing then it’s new. What are you gonna add to the field of ADRD with your project and you coming in. Reviewers do take into account the applicant information, the quality of the work, the novelty, the impact risk and also can have resubmissions. Every program, fellowships and research grants, if you are recruiting individuals for your study, you need a recruitment plan and the reviewers will take you into account if your project, are you evaluating, are you recruiting individuals that do represent the community that you are studying? The available resources. Budget justification will need bio sketches. If it’s a fellowship from the mentor and a fellow, if it’s research grants from the applicant, you can add bio sketches of collaborators and key personnel. We do request a data plan, data sharing plan. And if you are doing resubmission and resubmission statement and references. For the fellowships, actually, let me go back.
The fellowships we do request letters of reference support up to three. So always make sure to have those as well. Some tips of success. We’ve done just like this. We’ve done an ISTAART Guide to Grants that it is available through the website of the research webinars, the education centre of ISTAART. You can go back there and watch. I did interviews with awardees, past awardees, members of our medical and scientific advisory group, our IRGP council. They give, each step of the fellowships and we talked about insight, steps, red flags, they’re all reviewers as well. So that might be of interest to you all and I would definitely go back to it. And, if you have not yet, I would highly recommend listening to the podcast that Adam and I actually did with three folks that are reviewers and awardees from the Association and we recorded Writing the Best Fellowship Application. So go back, listen to that podcast. There’s also a video cast on that. So make sure to take a look into it. Other tips for success is one, that I will always say and I say over and over, and you will, if you ever hear me say, give any of this talks or you talk to me, I will say read the program announcement.
Make sure to read the RFA, the program announcement. We change every cycle. There are things that we update. If you have applied in the past and you think maybe it’s the same RFA, no it is not. We change allowable costs. We change eligibility criteria which we update. We try to make it as clear as possible. Most of your questions are answered if you read the RFA, but we are here to answer any questions. So always write to us, send us an email, write to us on Twitter or any other platform. As I mentioned, your letter of intent is reviewed. It is not a guarantee that you’re gonna be invited for application. So make sure to read and all the details of the program you are applying. Especially because as I just flew through all the eligibility criteria. They’re very specific. So make sure you are eligible and if you have any questions just let us know. Am I eligible to this or that program and we’ll let you know. Or sometimes you are not eligible to one program but you might be to another one that you don’t even know it is open and we’ll let you know that as well.
Always find someone to read your application that it is possibly not working the field that you are writing the project. Those folks will let you know if the application is clear. I was a scientist, a bench scientist myself, I was actually funded by those associations as a postdoc. And we know our science and the folks in our labs know, understand everything and sometimes a reviewer as much as we wanna match to experts in the field, sometimes it’s not clear for them what you’re saying, what you’re writing. So make sure, the more eyes into an application the better. When you are invited for full application, you can identify reviewers you wanna include and exclude. We will guarantee the exclusions will be done and they will not get your application. And the ones that you would like to include, we’ll try our best, but we don’t guarantee because of availability. If you are doing a resubmission, make sure to read the critiques of the reviewers and make sure to address them as much as you can if you are doing a resubmission. Us from Alzheimer’s Association, there’s only so much we can control. We are observers of the process. But we are here to help you and you can call or email us or tweet us or any other platform, we’ll answer you. If you do write grants at alz.org, it is guaranteed then we’ll answer you within 24 hours if it is not over the weekend. Because we wanna fund you, we want you to be successful and please make sure to apply, especially in the United Kingdom, we don’t have, we do have a short number of active awards compared to the majority of other countries.
And just a high-level you all know about ISTAART. If you don’t, please make sure to go into the website of ISTAART. It is our International Society to Advance Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment and we are over 7,000 people, and it is full of collaborators, professionals in dementia. And there are tons of benefits on being in ISTAART, including participating in professional interested areas, the PIAs, we have 29 of them. Out of them came collaborations. It can be that pair of eyes to read your project. It can come on a collaboration for a future grant. So make sure to take a look into an ISTAART if you are not a member. As well, ISTAART, it is free for students and if you are located in a lower middle income country, that’s free as well. But for postdocs, it’s just $65 a year and for professional 125. You have access to all our conferences online for free and in-person you get discounts. So, it just pays off. There’s no reason not to become an ISTAART member. And also, there’s an ISTAART Ambassador Program. If you are a student or a postdoc, you can apply to have one, it’s a one-year program. It’s really nice and cool. You have a whole experience within the association. You Go to AAIC. If you ever been to AAIC, it’s the people with the purple T-shirts running around. The next program will open for applications, we’ll be receiving applications on February 14th. So make sure to take a look into that. We would love if you could apply. And we have other conferences if you are not aware. Those are other opportunities to engage in network. We have two in March, the ApoE and the Immunity. They’re also gonna happen online. We have the AAIC Neuroscience Next that’s gonna be entirely virtual and it is focused on postdocs and students. And we also have one in May in Satellite Symposium in Mexico and the grand conference that we hope to see you all there and I hope to see you all there as well. AAIC in July in Amsterdam. If you are an ISTAART member, the abstracts are due actually today. So, make sure to take a look into that. So thank you, thank you Adam for the opportunity. And we can go through Q&A and throw all this links that I have here on the chat or something.
Adam Smith – Brilliant. Thank you so much, Stefania. Wow, what an amazing talk. Do you know what? You’ve gasped me cause every single question I had written down, you’ve already answered. So, I don’t know how, that was incredibly clear and concise. I think we might do a roundup cause you’re right. That’s a lot of information to digest. So, this is being recorded. You can watch this on catch up if you want to jump around. We’ll try and put some chapters in there between the different talks. But do post your questions now in the chat box on YouTube or you can tweet us and we’re keeping an eye on that and I’ll put your questions to Stefania. And the conferences. I mean for anybody who is interested in the ISTAART Ambassadors Program, Beth Eyre, one of our Dementia researcher bloggers wrote a great blog late last year about her experience over the first few months of being an ambassador. If you’re not convinced, go and have a look at that, but we’ll make sure we share that in our newsletter as well as soon as that opens in February, just as a reminder to everybody. Cause it is a really great program. And is that five or six conferences in six months? So, everybody at the Alzheimer’s Association must be incredibly busy. That’s a lot to take on. I mean I can’t imagine-
Dr. Stefania Forner – Yeah, we’re all very busy, very fast paced. But this is just a representation of how we wanna advance our mission to add Alzheimer’s and dementia. We wanna connect people, we wanna advance science, we wanna make people meet, create collaborations, move the research forward. And we, as you said lots of conferences, lots of programs open for funding programs. And if you do attend any of those conferences, do reach out to us if you have questions on the funding program or questions on the conferences as well and because it’s a lot, but it is a good lot.
Adam Smith – Yeah, I mean and that doesn’t even start to consider the, I mean I don’t know the webinars that come out from ISTAART as well ’cause I mean there must be several. I mean there’s been at least what, 20 of the year in review webinars throughout January. And I see that there’s already a program of webinars which are great because they go into specific fields of research just at the output of that amazing ISTAART community through the peers.
Dr. Stefania Forner – Yeah, and with that we also like within, I mentioned the guide to grants webinar that I did and there are other webinars we’ve done webinars, we’ve done one last week in Spanish for Spanish speaking regarding our funding programs. We have one in Portuguese. We have other webinars related to other funding mechanisms as well. I would definitely go to those. And if you are focused on our programs, I would definitely encourage anyone to go watch those guide to grants, listen to the podcast that we did because as you mentioned, there are lots of details to all of these programs and sometimes people get lost. Am I eligible? What is it allowed? Like we were talking is it salary allowed? And yes, you can charge your salary to our fellowships and our research grants. One thing that I do wanna bring it up, two things actually, then it is common questions when we talk about this is we have indirect costs that are allowed up to 10%. And also one question that comes from the grants office quite often is for the fellowships, for the research fellowships, we do request that the fellow have 50% at least effort on research and the clinician scientists to have 40% on research that does not equal salary percentage. So you can have 50% on research but maybe charge 30% of your salary on the fellowship or 70% that goes depending on where you are. Also, the percentage of effort on research, it is not necessarily all in the fellowship that you were funded. It is towards research. Obviously we want your research to be done, we want you to be successful and we will request annual reporting. You will, for the fellowships, you need a mentor, annual mentor evaluation, financial report. The project itself, the scientific reporting. If you, sorry, if you have a recruit, if you’re recruiting individuals, we need a recruitment plan every year. How is your recruiting going? How diverse is your recruiting? But non, that percentage of research can be towards other projects as well. But you do need to, when you’re putting your full application together, let’s suppose you are just putting on your budget reagents or supplies and things like that. You need to, on the budget justification, explain where is your salary coming from. Like make sure to be, this is something that we always say to everyone that is not from US, all the international folks outside United States. It’s make sure to point it out on your application, on your budget, on your budget justification, what is different. If it is something different in your institution, I suppose your salary is covered, I dunno by your institution and certainly there’s no salary on your fellowship or on your research grant. Make sure to write that down on the budget justification. I’m not requesting the salary because X, Y and z or I have another funding. Also if you are funded, double funded, that’s what I usually try to say, like because I was a postdoc, I applied everywhere like as a postdoc I got into the United States and I was like where can I apply?
Adam Smith – Is this where you brag about how incredibly successful you were in attracting multiple funders?
Dr. Stefania Forner – I just applied everywhere. Did I get in the first year? No, I got all nos. But that is a learning experience that I say like you will learn how to, that do not, it is frustrating, I always talk to people, I’m like, I know how it is, I was sitting in your place not too long ago getting all this rejections and, but it is a learning point. In the second year I did get a research fellowship from those association. So it is kind of a full circle right there. So I understand the anxiety, I understand the frustration, but don’t give up and do point it out interesting things that you have in your project. So if you are like, we sometimes get, because reviewers on those comedic calls, we have reviewers from everywhere in the world and if, well the reviewers itself, we have thousands of reviewers everywhere in the world. So
Adam Smith – Oh that’s great. Actually, that was, that was one of the, you just jumped me ahead. That was one of questions.
Dr. Stefania Forner – Sorry I just Oh I know the questions.
Adam Smith – Well I mean that’s not surprising, but I love it sounds like there’s a great deal of flexibility there. So, and an opportunity to find a grant that suits every circumstance. So, if you are so coming back to the main fellowships which are, they’re two to three years on it. So if you have your salary from elsewhere, you can still apply and put most of this as down as research costs. But you can put some of your salary in there if you needed to.
Dr. Stefania Forner – Yes.
Adam Smith – If you had another project or the go, you’re still working for your PI. You do have, am I right in thinking you do have to have finished your PhD, you can’t still just be at the last bit.
Dr. Stefania Forner – No. So first, yes you can put your salary, we’ll cover salaries and benefits. I do wanna go back that I actually did not finish on the double funding. So if you do get double funded, let’s suppose you apply, then you got two fellowships like from ours or something else. Do reach out to us. Do not just write us, oh we are declining. No, we will work with you as much as we can. So, we will not punish you for being successful. So, to make sure to always reach out to us in any circumstance.
Adam Smith – That’s a good point ’cause at the moment your deadlines are the 6th of March. That’s right. But it also overlaps with the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK that just opened theirs and their deadline is the 24th of March. So, if you apply for one or thinking about applying for both, which is very sensible thing to do, you’re saying don’t just decline the Alzheimer’s Association for Society-
Dr. Stefania Forner – Yeah, if you do get funded elsewhere as well, do get in touch with us. We try to work with you as much as we can but obviously if you can make sure that you make different projects when you apply in different funding programs.
Adam Smith – Yeah.
Dr. Stefania Forner – Also I did not say on my talk, but if you are eligible for like suppose ARF, you can only put one letter of intent per program. Let’s suppose you are eligible for ARF but you are also eligible for the Promote Diversity. You can only put one letter of intent, you can only apply to one program.
Adam Smith – I did have a question throughout the diversity, I think you did cover this but I may have zoned out at the time. So, the diversity, ’cause your clinical program, the fellowship program and your main project grants all have a main grant and then a diversity grant option, which I think is incredibly, incredibly important and well done for being the first that I’m aware of two specifically, you know, provide that opportunity. Am I right in thinking that that this isn’t about where you are physically based? So if you are say, black woman researching in the UK you don’t have to be, say, based in a lower middle income country, you can, as long as you represent that diversity, it doesn’t matter where in the world you are.
Dr. Stefania Forner – So there’s a whole list on the NIH list as well of eligibility on the diverse of the applicant. And there’s a whole list of country that is a combination of two lists from United Nations and the World Bank on low and middle income countries. So we combine both to be very inclusive and it is the same list of the ISTAART. So, the only difference between ISTAART eligibility for low, middle income and the funding programs is that for ISTAART for you to have a free membership, you need to be based in one of those countries. For the funding programs you can be, you were born. So, let’s pause, I’m originally from Brazil. Brazil is on that list. But I’m doing research in London or Oxford or Edinburgh, whatever, I can apply to the Promote Diversity.
Adam Smith – Okay.
Dr. Stefania Forner – Even though I’m located in the UK but I was born in one of those low and middle income countries. Also, there are other eligibility criteria related to disabilities, mental and physical disabilities and all other. So, I would definitely take a look into the RFA and that’s something that I always go back to. If we’re applying to like research fellowships or clinician scientist fellowship or research grants, go to that portion of the RFA because the RFA is a long document. I would encourage you to read it. It is a learning experience.
Dr. Stefania Forner – Go back to the RFA. And including the allowable cost and everything is listed. Like we have things that very like specific, like this is allowable, this is not allowable.
Adam Smith – So, and is there a conversation to be had there? So, you know if, I mean, if you were born somewhere but then you were brought up somewhere else, I’m assuming there’s still a conversation to be had. It’s not rigid that you have to, you know, have had your school education in a place or something like that.
Dr. Stefania Forner – No, and the only, the only thing we ask is that if you were born, you were on one of those countries, it is okay to apply to the Promote Diversity. The difference between the application of the Promote Diversity and the regular one is that on the portion of the letter of intent, you will be asked to write one paragraph of why you are eligible to the Promote Diversity. That file, it is for only Alzheimer’s Association, for the grand scheme eyes. We will actually read it if we have any questions, we’ll reach out. We will remove that from your file and the reviewers will not have access to it. So the reviewers not know why you’re qualified to.
Adam Smith – They would already just know that on that point of qualification you’ve already accessed.
Dr. Stefania Forner – The Alzheimer’s Association grants team has validated and approved your application to be on that program. So we will, that is a confidential information, we’ll not share with anyone and it is only for the grants team.
Adam Smith – Should we take a question from YouTube? We’ve got a question.
Dr. Stefania Forner – Yes.
Adam Smith – I’m gonna pop this up on the screen, which I know you won’t be able to see. So, I’ll read this out. Kira Shaw asks, “Hi, thank you for a wonderful, clear presentation. I had a question regarding eligibility. Can you apply for funding to be taken to a different university from the one you are currently employed at?”
Dr. Stefania Forner – Yes. I will actually add to that on what Adam asked. One, you need to have a PhD. So, all our programs, you need to finish your PhD and you need to be fully employed of the institution you’re applying from. So let’s suppose on your question, if you apply, I’ll just name any institution in the UK like UCL, you apply from UCL and you get fund, but you as a postdoc, you get a position elsewhere and it can be anywhere in the world. Let’s suppose you get a position in Germany, we will work with you to transfer that grant. We understand that you are, especially the postdocs, the research fellows and the clinician centres that you are in a career stage that you are moving that maybe you will finish your postdoc and get a job. Within that time, if you do have a fellowship with us or a grant, we will work with you to transfer, we’ll work within our institution to transfer. It might take some time due to bureaucracy of institutions, but we’ll work with you to transfer that award.
Adam Smith – Brilliant. And we talked about the different types of research that you fund before, I had a question that somebody sent me earlier this week was around research into this. They were doing research into the benefits of outdoor spaces for people living with dementia and brain health programs. It does that kind of care, qualitative care research, albeit interventional still fall within any of these streams.
Dr. Stefania Forner – We do have, if you, we are more focused obviously on quantitative research on that end. As long as you have data that, or maybe you are collecting data that could fall into one of these programs. However, we do have other programs. If you think and I would actually reach out to us, we can read your summary of your project and actually let the person know this might not qualify for this program but we’ll qualify for X, Y and Z. We do have other programs. We have programs that are in partnership with other, such as like we have the Global Brain Health Institute, the GBHI, we have a program with them if, but that program is you are, you need to be a fellow for GBHI to apply. So it is an invitation only, but we have other programs that open that are focusing X, Y, and Z that if you don’t have a specific, your project itself is not maybe qualified for one of those programs that I talked about, we’ll direct you elsewhere. We’ll try to help you find a funding mechanism.
Adam Smith – Brilliant. I mean again, it sounds like, you know, the best thing to do here in any of these instances, whether you are, if you are looking at this and thinking, oh, I’m not sure I’m really eligible. It sounds like, it is to ask the question because in most instances it sounds like that even if that funding stream isn’t right for you, there will potentially is another one. And there’s so much flexibility within this program about what you charge, where you are based, when you start the research you’re doing that you, you just better off asking rather than just disregarding this call.
Dr. Stefania Forner – Yes, I wanna reiterate that Adam, please reach out to us. Don’t just assume that oh, you are not eligible or my project is not good enough. As I mentioned, we fund projects that are in the beginning, pilot studies. We want you to be successful. A lot of folks in the field of Alzheimer’s and disease and I can name a lot of them have their first and folks that are like big names on the field have their first grant from the Alzheimer’s Association that grant leveraged them to apply to bigger funding, federal funding. So that is what we want you to do, please, you have a successful career so we wanna support you throughout your, any stage of your career. We can start funding you with the research fellowship and then maybe become assistant professor and you apply for a research grant, and we can fund you there. And then you become a very established professor and you apply for a Zenith Fellows Program. So, make sure we, we wanna support you in every stage of your career and that might as well start with the right after your PhD when you become a postdoc as a research fellow, as a clinician scientist fellow.
Adam Smith – I have a technical question about the fellowships ’cause I know this is, somebody flagged this in one of our podcasts a while ago as being a bit of a technical barrier that sounded like it was a technicality but was overcome able, which is the grants that they’d originally been looking for had all requested that the person have a contract that covered at least the period of the grant that they were applying for. However, the grant application included the salary to employ themselves. So they didn’t have a contract, you know, they had a contract that was, had a year left on it or six months left on it. But they were reason why they were applying for the fellowship was to partly get their salary to enable that to be extended. But the application required them to have a contract for the whole period, which of course they didn’t. So you ended up in a bit of a catch 22 is how do your grants fit with that?
Adam Smith – Which we’ve seen as well.
Dr. Stefania Forner – The only request we have, the request that we do have is that by the time you apply, when you start your application, I suppose your letter of intent on March, by March 6th you are submitting a letter of intent or any other program SAGA, the sex and gender. You need to be a full employee; you need to have a contract at the time of the application.
Adam Smith – Even if that’s only-
Dr. Stefania Forner – If the institute, If your contract with the institution is for six months or a year, we don’t override institution policies. So that is something that you, the applicant needs to work with the institution.
Adam Smith – So you don’t stop them applying. It might be their own institution-
Dr. Stefania Forner – we don’t stop them apply. They need to be full employed by the time they apply to the, that’s why like the question you made, like I’m finishing my PhD, can I apply, even though I know I have a postdoc position set in six months, we get those questions pretty often of like, oh I’m wrapping up, I’m defending on X day and I am gonna start my postdoc just like three days later. No, you cannot apply because we, you need to be a full-time employee of the institution you are applying from at the time of the application. So you need to start your postdoc at the time. How long your postdoc is? How long your contract is with your institution? That is then, we don’t override institution policies for us-
Adam Smith – Yeah.
Dr. Stefania Forner – At the time of the application.
Adam Smith – And I know it’s not a topic for today. This is about the funding.
Dr. Stefania Forner – Yeah, it is. A lot of institution have different rules and sometimes people will write to us and sometimes we can help. Sometimes it is an institution policy and unfortunately we cannot override.
Adam Smith – Yeah, absolutely. It’s something that institutions themselves need to take a look at.
Dr. Stefania Forner – Another thing I do wanna bring up is maternity leave. We will never punish a mom for being a mom. So if you do need maternity leave during your fellowship, during your research grant, let us know. We will also work with you on pausing your grants and your fellowships on that stage of your life.
Adam Smith – Actually that raises a good question. This, again brilliantly innovative funding stream about the New to the Field. I’m, again, that’s another one I’m not aware of anybody else having anything quite like that. If you’ve, would you classify somebody as new to the field who’s perhaps had some years away from it. So, they’ve perhaps been away. So, you mentioned moms there. Of course we know we talk about one of the challenges we have is in retaining women working in Alzheimer’s disease, particularly as they get to the middle stages. And that’s one of the reasons why we’ve got this imbalance between the number of women as early career researchers and more senior ones is, could you potentially use that funding stream as a way to return if you’ve had time out.
Dr. Stefania Forner – So if you previously have done and published and like that’s why it’s, we ask the CV to be sent and we evaluate. It depends. You might be eligible for new to the field. But I do wanna say something that like if you notice now like ARFs are 13 years and clinician and ARGs are 18 years after, they used to be 10 and 15. We actually added three years due to the pandemic. So, we gave those three years of eligibility then might go back to 10 and 15 or none. I cannot say of it right now, but it is for that. Let’s suppose you had to take some time off for whatever reason and we will work with you like maybe you took maternity leave and you were out for a year and you would be eligible for research fellowship but now it’s 14 years but you had an ear off, let us know, we’ll work with you. We will most likely, 100% like to be eligible for it. We’ll give you an exception because there is a recent part. So as long as it is justifiable, there is a justification of why you took those times off you are, we might work that time. For the new to the field, because there’s no cut-out like it can be associated, it can be full professors because we are bringing other people to the ADRD field. I think it’s case by case, I would say. And-
Adam Smith – The reason why, another reason why I flagged this is ’cause I can see this has been a great way to steal people from other disease research areas. Not that I’m competitive at all.
Dr. Stefania Forner – We don’t wanna steal people Adam, we wanna aggregate, bring people together-
Adam Smith – of course.
Dr. Stefania Forner – Bring them.
Adam Smith – Of course, but if for example, you are, you know, you are a woman, you did take some time out in your career and you worked in cancer research before and you’re finding it hard to get back into cancer research ’cause the opportunities aren’t there. This is the perfect call for you ’cause you can flip to dementia research and it would allow you to return back. But in a whole new area.
Dr. Stefania Forner – We wanna bring people from other fields and this is a great, great example. Maybe it is to feel like bring you back to science or it is to get that knowledge, use the knowledge that you’ve conquered successfully in another field to ADRD. And think multidisciplinary, right? Because then you are into different fields. That program does have really interesting applications because it is different mindset, right? For people that maybe have done computer science and now they’re like, I wanna bring this knowledge of computer science to Alzheimer’s and dementia. So it is a very interesting funding mechanism for sure.
Adam Smith – Absolutely. And ’cause I guess if you were being kind of strategic, I guess if it was me, I’d be looking for which of these funding calls, if I was eligible for more than one, I’d be tempted to apply for the one that I thought was perhaps gonna be slightly less competitive. But you mentioned before that actually there’s flexibility within Alzheimer’s Association to move that there’s an overall budget. So it’s not that there’s a fixed number of fellowships. If you get a lot more fellowships compared to, or say New to the Field fellowships than you do other ones, you can move money between budgets.
Dr. Stefania Forner – So we usually, I didn’t draw numbers on now I can, it took a minute for that question, Adam.
Dr. Stefania Forner – The first question. How much do you fund? So usually for the letters of intent, when we invite for full application, 40 to 50% overall, average on and off. For full applications per program, we’ve been funding around 18 to 23, 25% of the applications.
Adam Smith – So about one in four.
Dr. Stefania Forner – One in four, yeah. It’s on and off depending on the year, depending on the funding that we have, we have increased amount of funding per application. If you go back to a year and a half, the fellowships were 175 K and research grants as well, 175. Now they’re 200 and 250 for the clinician scientist. So it is, that number varies obviously, but it is around 18 of 20, 25% of the applications being funded.
Adam Smith – So you don’t have to be strategic fundamentally. I mean-
Dr. Stefania Forner – No. What I would recommend is like, one program that we do sometimes see like, oh, the person is eligible for the New to the Field and to the research grant. It is of the discretion of the applicant to decide which program they wanna apply. They cannot apply to both. But we give them this information. When you apply to the New to the Field, you are competing with full professors. If on the research grant, you are competing with assistant and associate professors. So, it is your discretion. It is a decision that we cannot make to the applicant.
Adam Smith – No.
Dr. Stefania Forner – For the applicant.
Adam Smith – I guess they can ask the question, right? I guess.
Dr. Stefania Forner – And we’ll let them know because what usually happens, they will send their CV for us to evaluate as the New to the Field is required. And we’ll let them know you are eligible for the research grant and to the New to the Field. And this is the scheme.
Adam Smith – If- that makes complete sense.
Dr. Stefania Forner – And it is of your, but you cannot apply it both.
– Well, Stefania, I’m very conscious that our hour is up, and you are not in the office today. You are on location somewhere.
Dr. Stefania Forner – I’m yeah somewhere.
Adam Smith – And have somewhere else to go. But thank you so much for joining us and I’m justifying that we had fewer questions because your talk was so incredibly comprehensive and very helpful. But if you do have a question and that hasn’t been answered over the last hour, which I can’t believe it hasn’t. But if it hasn’t, do continue to post comments below or reach out to us on Twitter and post your questions and Stefania, as you’ve heard, we’ll get back to, or you can send a message to their website and you’ll get a reply within 24 hours as long as it’s not on a weekend.
Dr. Stefania Forner – Yeah, we won’t go in into the weekend.
Adam Smith – But honestly this is a rallying cry. I think to, of course this webinar is being watched all over the world and we will also make sure it’s translated into Spanish and Portuguese as well in the captions. So those captions will be there in other languages for you. But I think as somebody based in the UK, I particularly hope that we’ll get a good turnout from UK researchers for this round and for the ones later in the year.
Dr. Stefania Forner – Yes, and as Adam said, thank you so much for watching us today and any questions to reach out and I hope to see you applications from UK coming in.
Adam Smith – Brilliant. And so a last reminder, we mentioned a couple of things during the webinar that there was this great podcast and video podcast that we recorded last year, which talked to, had some great advice for those letters of interest particularly. So do find that on our YouTube channel. We will post a link below as well. And of course you’ll find all of the grant calls at not just for Alzheimer’s Association, but for other funders as well that happen to have those open right now on the Dementia Researcher Website at dementiaresearcher.nihr.ac.uk. And all of your grants close on the 24th of March except for the sex and gender?
Dr. Stefania Forner – No, March 6th.
Adam Smith – 6th of March, sorry.
Dr. Stefania Forner – March 6th and the letters of intent for the core programs March 6th and for the Sex and Gender, February 15th.
Adam Smith – Yes. Sorry, I’ve got the, still the other ones.
Dr. Stefania Forner – Yeah, don’t worry. Too many days, too many programs.
Adam Smith – No, but that’s brilliant. Thank you so much Stefania and I’ll look forward to seeing you soon and I hope this has been helpful to everybody. Thank you and have-
Dr. Stefania Forner – Thank you, bye-bye everyone.
Adam Smith – Have a great day.
Dr. Stefania Forner – Happy Friday.
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