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Fellowship Program

A critical component of the UCDC is to provide research training for the next generation of investigators and increase the number of research trained physicians, nutritionists, and neuropsychologists who are qualified in the study of patients with urea cycle disorders (UCD), other inborn errors of metabolism and rare diseases.

Through NIH and philanthropic funding, the UCDC will provide fellowships to promising young investigators who are dedicated to the study of urea cycle disorders. The fellowships support investigators at the level of postdoctoral or clinical fellows, or junior faculty for a period of 1-2 years. The goal is to provide the research fellowships at critical junctures of the investigators’ careers, in order to allow them to have protected time to pursue a career in academic medicine.

Scope of the Program

The primary mission of the CEC is to train and attract new investigators who will conduct research in urea cycle disorders (UCDs) that contribute to a better understanding of UCDs and help improve the treatment and quality of life for individuals with UCDs. The secondary goals are to: 1) increase the number of well-trained physicians and other health care providers to optimally manage patients with UCDs, 2) contribute to the successful implementation of Urea Cycle Disorders Consortium (UCDC) site projects; and 3) to attract junior investigators to the field of rare diseases research

Annual funding of up to $50,000 direct costs is available. Indirect costs are capped at $19,625 (39.2%) for Institutions within the U.S. Foreign institutions are capped at 8% ($4,000) for indirect costs. Applications from sites that will not accept the lower indirect rate may adjust their direct costs accordingly as long as the total requested does not exceed $69,625. During each year, the UCDC will fund one or two applicants. Individuals who have already received one year of funding through this mechanism may apply for a second year of support; funding decisions for a second year of support will be made based on the progress during year 1 and the continued scientific merits of the proposal. If you are applying for a second year of funding, please contact Jennifer Seminara and/or Sandesh Nagamani regarding indirect rates for the second year of funding.

The budget section of the application does not need to be approved and signed off by the applicant’s Institution at the time of the initial submission of the application by April 16, 2023. The applicant that is selected to receive funding will be requested to submit an official budget signed off by the Institution after the funding decision has been made in March.

Applicants and mentors who are not part of the UCDC are eligible to apply. Applicants from non-UCDC sites, or from a UCDC site but with a mentor who is not part of the UCDC, should identify a co-mentor from a UCDC site. Dr. Nagamani can help facilitate the identification of an appropriate co-mentor if needed. Collaboration with other RDCRN consortia is desirable, again with co-mentors identified from both consortia. Trainees are expected to participate in the RDCRN Rare Disease Research Training Program and to attend the annual Conference on Clinical Research for Rare Diseases (CCRRD). Travel to the annual conference ($1,500) should be included in the budget.

The use of animal models is not permitted by the parent RFA and will not be funded using NIH funds. Outstanding projects using animal models may be funded with philanthropic funding if funds are available.

Graduate and postgraduate trainees, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty within 10 years from the completion of their degree/residency/clinical training are eligible. The application should use the attached template and include:

  • Project summary (page limit, half page)
  • Project relevance to the overall mission of the UCDC explaining how trainee activities will be integrated not only into the training mission but also the scientific and clinical mission of the UCDC (page limit, one page)
  • Detailed Budget
  • Budget Justification
  • Career goals and objectives (limit, half page)
  • Career development plan (limit, one page) Describe how this opportunity will help develop your career and support your development in becoming an independent investigator. Applicants are encouraged to specifically describe as to how this opportunity will retain your involvement in rare disease research.
  • Statement by Mentor (Primary Mentor to sign a standard form in the application)
  • Letter of support from the mentor outlining the mentoring plan and the facilities and training environment at the parent institution that will be available to the trainee (limit, three pages). Please note that the primary mentor does not necessarily have to be the PI of a RDCRN site. Cross-mentorship between RDCRN consortia is acceptable and encouraged with the approval of the mentor from each consortium.
  • NIH bio sketch of the applicant (please format according to the standard format
  • Applicant’s other support.
  • NIH bio sketch of the mentor.

Research strategy with the following sections:

  • Specific aims (limit, one page)
  • Background, Significance, Innovation, and Approach (limit, six pages)
  • Protection of Human subjects (if applicable)
  • Data Safety monitoring plan (if applicable)
  • Inclusion of women and minorities (if applicable)
  • Inclusion of children (if applicable)
  • References cited

The review panel for the applications will consist of the PIs from three to five participating UCDC sites. External Ad Hoc reviewers may be called as needed. Applications will be scored using the NIH review criteria. The Chair of the review committee (Sandesh Nagamani, MD) will forward averaged scores and recommendations for funding to the PI of the UCDC. Each applicant will be reviewed based on the following criteria:

  1. Quality of the applicant
  • Previous and current training.
  • Potential to contribute to the UCDC mission.
  • Commitment to UCD research and patient cared.
  • Commitment to rare disease research

2. Quality of research

  • Relevance to the overall mission of the UCDC (applicants are encouraged to participate/expand an existing UCDC project)
  • Rare disease relevance.

3. Quality of the training environment and potential to become independent clinical investigator.

Trainees are expected to publish results of data analysis projects/original projects and to present results to the UCDC at an in-person meeting or conference within a year of the grant funding period.

The Deadline for submission is April 17, 2023. Awards will be announced by May 15, 2023. Funding will begin on August 1, 2023.

Please contact Dr. Nagamani or Ms. Seminara with any questions you may have about the application process.

Sandesh Nagamani, MD
Phone: 713-798-8335

Jennifer Seminara
Phone: 202-306-6489