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Junior Faculty Research Scholar awards support mentored research

Penn State College of Medicine’s Junior Faculty Research Scholar awards support mentored research and career development by junior faculty.

Individual awards will be named to honor the contributions of senior investigators at Penn State College of Medicine who have advanced the frontiers of knowledge both through their own research and through the mentoring of colleagues and trainees.

Priority will be given to scientifically meritorious applications from candidates with outstanding potential to successfully address important problems in biomedical/health research in their chosen field. It is anticipated that successful projects will result in one or more peer-reviewed publications and provide the preliminary data needed to obtain competitive extramural research funding.

Submission information will be provided when applications are being accepted.

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RFA Details: Junior Faculty Research Scholar Awards

Eligibility Expand answer
  1. The principal investigator of a Junior Faculty Research Scholar award application must have their primary academic appointment in the College of Medicine at the rank of assistant professor. In addition to basic science faculty, virtually all physicians and psychologists employed by Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center have a primary academic appointment in the College of Medicine and are therefore eligible to apply.
  2. The principal investigator must not currently have a K01, K08, K23, K99/R00 or similar research career development award; and must not have served as principal investigator of an R01, R35 or R37 grant or other peer-reviewed, externally funded research grant of equivalent size, duration and competitive success rate such as the Impact and Innovator Awards funded by the Department of Defense. However, investigators who have served as principal investigator of an R03, R21, K22, R43/R44 or other similar external grant award are eligible to submit an application to this program if they meet the other eligibility criteria in this RFA. PIs of a previously funded Junior Faculty Research Scholar awards are not eligible to submit an application.
  3. The principal investigator must commit a minimum of 30 percent effort to research, including 10 percent effort to this project. If the PI proposes to devote more than 10 percent effort to the project, other funding is required to support the additional salary and fringe benefits.
  4. Principal investigators who are eligible for this program may submit one application in response to this RFA.
  5. Principal investigators of Junior Faculty Research Scholar awards may be eligible to apply for and receive other competitive institutional research grants, provided there is no scientific overlap between the projects.
Program Guidelines Expand answer
  • New proposals, as well as revised versions of previously unfunded proposals, to this program may focus in the areas of basic, clinical or translational research within the mission of Penn State College of Medicine.
  • Each principal investigator must identify a mentoring team of three or more experienced investigators to provide advice and assistance in developing and executing both a research proposal and a career development plan. If the award is funded, the mentoring team should meet with the awardee at least every three months.
  • Junior Faculty Research Scholar award applications may request up to $100,000 in direct costs per year for up to two years to support new research projects at Penn State College of Medicine or Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
  • Grant funds may be used to support the salary and fringe benefits of the principal investigator (10 percent) and research staff (in proportion to effort dedicated), student stipends, supplies, equipment, domestic travel, publication costs and expenses related to the use of human subjects.
  • Other funding is required to support the contributions of any collaborators from other colleges or campuses.
Awards Expand answer

Recommendations of the Scientific Review Committee will be forwarded to the Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Studies and, in consultation with the Director, Research Development will recommended application(s) to be funded and the senior investigators for whom the award(s) will be named.

Contingent on the receipt of meritorious proposals, two to three awards will be made.

The principal investigator of a Junior Faculty Research Scholar award application recommended for funding will be invited to develop a Pennsylvania Department of Health Certifications Form and strategic plan for final approval by the PA Department of Health prior to the issuance of an award.

Principal investigators of all funded awards will be expected to:

  • prepare an interim progress report approximately one year after the JFRSA award is activated;
  • present an oral progress report upon request; and
  • submit all progress reports and related information to comply with requirements of the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Review Process Expand answer

Junior Faculty Research Scholar award applications will undergo review by the College of Medicine Scientific Review Committee. Reviewers will evaluate:

  1. The scientific and technical merit of the research plan using the NIH review criteria and scoring metric. The SRC will evaluate (50 percent):
    • Significance of the proposed research project
    • Investigator(s) principal investigator training and prior research experience
    • Innovation of the proposal
    • Approach with regard to overall strategy, methodology, rigor and feasibility of the proposal
    • Environment and its contributions to the success of the proposal
  2. The necessity and appropriateness of the proposed career development plan (50 percent):
    • Critical role of the career development plan in achieving the proposed research
    • Qualifications and commitment of the mentoring team and its proposed role in providing guidance and advice to the principal investigator in the development of a robust research career
    • Commitment of the department to the further development of the principal investigator’s research career
Application Format Expand answer

When submissions are open, applications should follow this format:

  1. Page format: All pages of the application should have 1-inch margins all around and use a font size of 11 points or larger. Number all pages consecutively beginning with the cover page.
  2. Cover page: Complete the cover page found in Box (Penn State Access ID login required).
  3. Table of contents: Include a table of contents with page numbers for each section of the application.
  4. Introduction for revised applications: Explain how the application has been revised in response to the previous reviewers’ comments. What additions, deletions, revisions and other responses to reviewers’ comments in the previous critiques has the principal investigator made in the revised application? (One page)
  5. Abstract: Briefly summarize the objectives, methods and health-relatedness of the proposed research project in terms appropriate for a scientifically or technically literate lay reader.
  6. Specific aims: State concisely the goals of the proposed research and summarize the expected outcome(s), including the impact that the results of the proposed research will exert on the research field(s) involved, and list succinctly the specific objectives of the proposed research. This section must be no more than one page on a separate sheet.
  7. Research strategy: This section should describe the proposed research project and include, in order, the significance, innovation and approach, and should not exceed five pages single-spaced, including figures and tables.
  8. Vertebrate animals: Proposals involving the use of vertebrates must include a discussion of four points regarding the use and treatment of animals in the research design and methods section:
    • Description of procedures
    • Justification for the use of animals and the species
    • Interventions to minimize pain, distress and injury
    • Statement of euthanasia consistent with AVMA guidelines or provide justification if not

    Note if IACUC approval has been sought (pending) or approved.

  9. Human subjects: Applications that involve human subjects must include a Protection of Human Subjects section that addresses the points below. Applications that are not proposing human subjects research, but will use human data or biological specimens, must provide a justification for the claim of no involvement of human subjects. If human subjects are involved, address each of the following:
    • The risk to subjects
    • The adequacy of protections against risk
    • Potential benefits of the research to subjects and others
    • The importance of the knowledge to be gained
    • For clinical trials, data and safety monitoring plan and a data and safety monitoring board for Phase III trials
  10. Literature cited: No page limit.
  11. Research project budget and justification: Provide a SIMS budget per the instructions elsewhere in this RFA. Include a one-page detailed budget justification. Any budget item that lacks strong justification may be deleted.
  12. Career development plan: This section should be prepared jointly by the principal investigator and the mentors. This section should not exceed four pages and should be organized as follows:
    • Background: Describe the PI’s prior research training, start-up recruitment package, dedicated lab space, other available research resources, research effort commitment, other professional and academic responsibilities and long-term career goals and objectives.
    • Mentors: Describe the qualifications of the mentors and provide a rationale for why they are a critical member of the mentoring team.
    • Plan: Describe anticipated career development activities: courses, workshops, programs, academies, etc., providing a rationale for how these activities will facilitate the completion of the proposed research and a trajectory of scholarly success for the applicant. Describe the nature and timing of the anticipated interactions with individual mentors and the team.
    • Future research: Describe the external funding agencies/mechanisms that are likely to be interested in funding the research and connect the anticipated outcomes of the proposed research with opportunities available externally, e.g., knowledge gained from this proposed research will be sufficient preliminary data for what funding opportunity.
    • NIH biosketch: Include a current NIH biosketch for the principal investigator and the designated research mentors. Biographical sketch forms are available on the NIH website.
  13. Research support: List all active and pending research projects. Provide project title, sponsor, project period and funding awarded/requested. Indicate whether each project listed does/does not overlap with this application.
  14. Attachments: Attach only the information requested here.
    • Departmental commitments: Attach a letter from the principal investigator’s department chair to describe the department’s commitment to the PI’s further development as an independent investigator, document the total percent effort that the PI will commit to research (including at least 10 percent to this project), and describe any commitment of departmental resources that will contribute to this project.
    • Research mentors’ commitments: Attach a letter(s) signed by each of the designated research mentors to document their agreement to provide advice and assistance in the conduct of this research project and in the further development of the principal investigator’s career as an independent investigator.
    • Other commitments: If the research proposed requires the use of facilities or other resources that are under the purview of another investigator(s), include a letter from that individual to document the availability of those resources for use in the proposed research.
Instructions for Preparing a Junior Faculty Research Scholar Award Budget in SIMS Expand answer

Create a two-year SIMS budget. Use PA Tobacco Settlement Fund (TSF) as the sponsor name. Start date TBD.

For each of year one and year two:

  • Up to $100,000 direct costs
  • Plus 20 percent F&A
  • Note: Total cost of out-of-state personnel, subcontractors or consultants must not exceed 2 percent of the total grant ($1,000)
  • Apply current NIH salary cap

Budget justification: Include a detailed budget justification for each budget year.

Questions regarding the SIMS budget process should be directed to the Office of Research Affairs at 717-531-8495.

Previous Awardees Expand answer

Previous recipients of funding from the Junior Faculty Research Scholar Award are listed here.

For Details

Questions on this award should be directed to Research Development at 717-531-6949 or

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