Kavli NDI Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellows Program

Submission deadline
February 24, 2019

  • Objective

    • The goal of the Distinguished Fellows Program is to enable postdoctoral fellows at Johns Hopkins University to pursue cross-disciplinary research in neuroscience, engineering and data science. The Fellowship will foster discovery-driven neuroscience research aligned with the mission of the Kavli Neuroscience Discovery Institute (Kavli NDI) and will be guided by co-mentorship, drawing upon the expertise of Johns Hopkins faculty to direct innovative, interdisciplinary postdoctoral research projects. The successful fellow will be co-mentored by two JHU faculty with distinct expertise in neuroscience, engineering and/or data science. Awarded Fellows and their PI’s will be expected to attend monthly Kavli NDI meetings and to participate in various Kavli NDI events throughout the tenure of the award.


      Award Information

      We invite proposals for funding of up to $60,000 per year for two years. Second year funding is contingent on acceptable progress, as described in a progress report due two months prior to the start of the second year. Kavli NDI Postdoctoral funding will be provided as a 12-unit sum ($60,000 USD) that is equally allocated across a 12-month period. Each installment will be provisional upon demonstration that the team is working cohesively to support the goals of this initiative, as well as the research initially proposed by the Kavli Fellow. Fellows will be required to notify Kavli NDI (kavlindi@jhu.edu) as soon as they are aware of any possible change in plans regarding their fellowship support. In particular, notification at least two months prior to an anticipated departure date from Kavli NDI/Johns Hopkins is required, and a final progress report will be required within two months following departure or termination of the fellowship.

      We expect to award four Distinguished Fellows with this RFA.



      The Fellows program is open to current (as of January 1, 2019) full-time JHU postdoctoral fellows or students (who must be appointed as a JHU postdoctoral fellow prior to award commencement). Fellows must be co-mentored by full-time faculty members at JHU who are eligible to serve as Principal Investigator (PI) and Co-PI. The PI and Co-PI must be from distinct disciplines and/or two departments or divisions within Johns Hopkins University, such that together they bridge the fields of neuroscience to engineering and/or data science. We especially encourage applications from the School of Medicine, Whiting School of Engineering, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Applied Physics Laboratory. 

  • Proposal Preparation
    and Submission

    • Formatting Requirements

      All application materials must be formatted to fit on 8.5 x 11” paper with 1-inch margins, single line spacing, 12-point Arial or Helvetica font. Please adhere to the specified page limit for each section (listed in parentheses below). 

      Applications should be submitted to Kavli NDI email (kavlindi@jhu.edu) as a single PDF document where all components are collated together (except reference letters which are to be emailed directly by referees). The application deadline is February 24th, 2019 (12:00 AM, Eastern Standard Time).

      Proposal materials

      Proposals should include the following items:

      1. Applicant’s Biosketch, not to exceed four (4) pages, in accordance with NIH guidelines (for formatting assistance see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sciencv/).
      2. PI and Co-PI should include:
        1. Each PI’s Biosketch, not to exceed four (4) pages, in accordance with NIH guidelines (for formatting assistance see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sciencv/).
        2. A brief, 1-page statement summarizing the qualifications and specific expertise that will be contributed to the project, and how these skills will be integrated together for co-mentorship of the applicant. 
        3. A 1-page mentorship plan that clearly delineates how the Fellow, PI and Co-PI mentors intend to integrate their research to form a cohesive team at the start of support and throughout the tenure of the project. This section should delineate specific steps the team will take to ensure they are supporting the goal of creating new synergies across disciplines directly between the Fellow, PI’s and the other members of their laboratories. This should include, but not be limited to, participation of the Fellow in lab meetings for both laboratories.  
        4. A list of each PI’s existing funding for research related to the project, following the NIH format for description of “Other Support”. 
      3. Project Title and Lay Abstract: A title and short lay description of the project in 300 words or less, written to be conceptually accessible to a non-expert audience, and highlighting the potential impact of the proposed research.
      4. Project Description (5 pages maximum): This document must contain the following sections:
        1. Background and Specific Aims: This section should clearly describe the background, the objectives of the project, and the hypotheses or questions addressed. This section should end with a numbered list of the Aims.
        2. Approach: This section should clearly describe the research design, measures, data analysis plan, and any preliminary data.
        3. Significance: This section should briefly describe how the project addresses each of the evaluation criteria listed below. This section should illustrate the importance of the project or describe the critical barrier to progress in brain research and how the project will improve scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or practice if the Aims are achieved.
        4. Project Timeline for Years 1 and 2: This section should include a brief project timeline (table format preferred) that identifies major project activities and their projected completion dates (e.g., experiment development, data analysis, manuscript submission).
      5. Detailed Budget Outline for years 1 and 2: We anticipate (though not required) that the Kavli NDI award will be used in entirety to support the annual salary of the awarded Postdoctoral Fellow. Please use the supplied document ‘Budget Proposal’ to outline your intended specific use of award funds.
      6. Applicant’s Letters of Reference (2): Two letters of reference (emailed directly by reference writers to the KavliNDI@jhu.edu) that address the suitability of the fellow to undertake these studies. Letters must be written by individuals other than the proposed mentors.
  • Application Review Criteria

    • Proposals will be evaluated by a team of internal reviewers. Priority will be given to proposals that are strongest in meeting the following criteria, which will be explicitly evaluated in the review process:

      • Innovation: The project seeks to have a transformative role in neuroscience discovery, encompassing the development of novel strategies, generates innovative tools, and/or establishes facile data management/analysis methods, ultimately contributing to greater understanding of the structure/function of the nervous system.
      • Interdisciplinary: The project uses multiple theoretical and empirical approaches to neuroscience, and clearly draws on expertise spanning more than one discipline, department, and/or division in the University.
      • Sustainability: The project is likely to generate preliminary data that could be used to generate continuing support for the research, including grant proposals to federal institutions, private foundations, and/or industrial partners when the grant period is complete.
      • Approach: The project’s design, methods, and analytic plan are well-developed, integrated, and appropriate to the Aims of the proposed project and the research environment with consideration of potential pitfalls and alternative solutions. 
      • Strength of PI, Co-PI and Fellow: The PI’s have each demonstrated an ability to carry out and publish high quality research on their own, and as a team the members are uniquely qualified to create new synergies across fields with appropriate content knowledge and methodological practice to carry out all elements of the proposed project.
      • Cohesion of PI, Co-PI and Fellow as a Research Team: High level of research integration and preparedness to develop/maintain cohesion of the team is delineated clearly from commencement of the award and throughout the tenure of the project.
  • Application Timeline

    • Application deadline

      February 24. 2019

      Notification of award

      April 22. 2019

      Commencement of award

      June 1. 2019

  • Questions

    • Applicants who wish to discuss their project before applying are encouraged to contact members of the steering committee with the most relevant expertise. 

      Questions regarding the application process or review timeline should be directed to Dr. Natasha K. Hussain, Scientific Director, Kavli NDI (kavlindi@jhu.edu).


      Kavli NDI Leadership & Steering Committee

      • Dwight Bergles, Director, Kavli NDI; Professor, Neuroscience, dbergles@jhmi.edu
      • Michael Miller, Co-Director, Kavli NDI; Professor, Center for Imaging Science, & Director, Biomedical Engineering, mim@cis.jhu.edu 
      • Natasha K. Hussain, Scientific Director, Kavli NDI, natasha.hussain@jhmi.edu
      • Lisa Hamm, Administrative Assistant, Kavli NDI (SOM), lhamm4@jhmi.edu
      • Kimberly Biasucci, Administrative Assistant, Kavli NDI (Homewood), kbiasuc1@jhu.edu

      Steering Committee