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TOPMed

2024 TOPMed Fellowship

Over the last several decades, NHLBI has invested in creating a significant resource for research and development by supporting the creation of many observational, epidemiological, and longitudinal datasets related to heart, lung, blood and sleep phenotypes, with the aim of uncovering insights that may be leveraged toward novel therapeutic, interventional, or preventive strategies resulting in improved patient outcomes. In the past 10 years, the TOPMed program has generated a collection of genomic, epigenomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomic data (see details at https://topmed.nhlbi.nih.gov/) from over 200,000 well-phenotyped individuals to enable detailed characterization of these study participants. This data is available for access by researchers in the BioDataCatalyst and dbGaP databases. Together, this multi-omics data coupled with clinical, imaging, EHR, and environmental data, present both unprecedented opportunities for data-driven discovery as well as challenges. Analyzing and combining these datasets are currently limited by both practical and conceptual constraints. With this fellowship program, TOPMed seeks to enable and accelerate AI/ML-driven mining of these rich datasets from diverse populations.

The goal of the TOPMed Fellowship program is to promote broad participation and engagement of early-career researchers in applying novel and innovative AI/ML approaches on data-focused research problems. The program will provide support for researchers who will leverage the trans-omics resources of TOPMed and beyond to gain access to training, data, and analytical tools needed to rapidly develop research skills required in the AI/ML field. It will also cultivate a community of computer scientists and data scientists with broad understanding of AI/ML to help drive scientific discovery in biomedical research and precision medicine through the informed use of AI/ML. The fellowship opportunities are aimed to facilitate the career advancement and/or transition of scientists to the next steps in their scientific careers and to develop a cadre of diverse scientists capable of applying AI/ML approaches to address challenging research questions in areas of HLBS, including Women’s Health Research and bias in AI/ML algorithms or data.

The NHLBI recognizes a unique and compelling need for its precision medicine program to promote inclusive excellence in genomics and its data sciences research workforce. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for NIH support (see NOT-OD-20-031).

Applicants need to focus on the area within the NHLBI’s mission [5] and propose to use existing or up- coming data to conduct discovery research. TOPMed fellows are encouraged to use TOPMed data as either the primary or secondary dataset in their proposals. Examples of relevant topic areas and research approaches include but are not limited to:

  • AI/ML models to analyze multi-omics data along with other phenotypic and clinical data;
  • AI/ML approaches to leverage the trans-omics resources of TOPMed to better understand and predict women’s health issues with special focus on gender, and race/ethnicity for disease etiology and health inequities;
  • Novel AI/ML methodologies to improve the identification and interpretability of associations between modalities defining complex HLBS phenotypes;
  • Evaluate AI/ML methods and their limitations in applications for HLBS research;
  • Combining multiple-omics data with phenotypic and environmental exposure data, including social determinants of health (SDOH), to detect and assess molecular “profiles” associated with HLBS disease and differential drug response; and
  • Leveraging genomics and longitudinal clinical data in AI/ML applications to understand susceptibility, differential risk, and need for intensive intervention of HLBS disease.  

To apply, create an applicant account here: CREATE APPLICANT ACCOUNT

If you have already created an applicant account, or are a current TOPMed member, access the application form here:  APPLICATION FORM

 

An informational webinar session will be held for applicants prior to application submission. 

Informational Webinar Slides:  SLIDES

Frequently Asked Questions:  Q&A

  • Date and time: August 19th, 2024, 2:00pm ET
  • ZoomGov details: TBD
    • Meeting link:
    • Meeting ID:
    • Passcode:
  • Dial by your location: 833 568 8864 US Toll-free
  • Find your local number: https://westat.zoomgov.com/u/acM74djkOC

  • Funding Mechanism: A firm fixed price subcontract between the selected awardee's institution and Westat, which serves as the TOPMed Administrative Coordinating Center (ACC).
  • Number of Awards: The number of awards in 2024 may be up to 20, which is contingent upon NIH appropriations and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.
  • Award Budget: Award budgets are composed of salary supporting trainee’s effort between 25% to 100% and travel budget for a trip to the TOPMed annual meeting held in Washington, D.C.'s metro area, as well as an additional trip to a relevant national/international conference if trainee presents poster or oral presentation. The direct cost should not exceed $70,000 and the indirect cost will be at 10% of direct cost.
  • Period of Performance: The award project period is one year.
  • Deliverables: Confirmation of obtaining access to all data necessary for the project, quarterly progress reports, final datasets along with documentation/metadata, and final report (or publication ready manuscript).

Eligible Individuals: Any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research is invited to apply. Individuals from diverse backgrounds, including underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, and women are always encouraged to apply for NIH support (see, e.g., NOT-OD-20-031). Applicants should be doctoral students, post-doctoral fellows, or early-career faculty investigators (i.e., those performing hands-on analysis work). Specifically, early-career investigators are defined as:

  • New Investigator. An investigator who has not previously competed successfully for substantial, independent funding from NIH.
  • Early-stage Investigator. A program director/principal investigator who has completed their terminal research degree or end of post-graduate clinic training, whichever date is later, within the past 10 years and who has not previously competed successfully as PD/PI for substantial NIH independent research award.

Applicants at any stage who intend to use the fellowship to support someone else to perform the majority of analysis work, are ineligible to apply.

To apply, create an applicant account here: CREATE APPLICANT ACCOUNT

If you have already created an applicant account, or are a current TOPMed member, access the application form here: APPLICATION FORM

Eligible Organizations: 

Higher Education Institutions, including:

  • Public/State Controlled Institutions of Higher Education
  • Private Institutions of Higher Education

The following types of Higher Institutions are always encouraged to apply for NIH support as Public or Private Institutions of Higher Education:

  • Hispanic-serving institutions
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
  • Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs)
  • Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions
  • Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs)

Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education:

  • Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)
  • Nonprofits without 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)

For-Profit Organizations:

  • Small Businesses
  • For-Profit Organizations (Other than Small Businesses)

Governments:

  • Eligible Agencies of the United States Federal Government

Foreign Institutions:

  • Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are not eligible to apply, with the exception of those foreign institutions that have received funds from major NIH Common Fund initiatives on genomics/data science (e.g., H3Africa and DS-I Africa).

Proposal Timeline

  • Solicitation Open Date: July 30, 2024 
  • Informational Webinar Session: August 19, 2024, 2:00pm ET. 
  • Frequently Asked Questions Posted: August 28, 2024
  • Proposal Due Date: October 29, 2024, 5:00PM EDT
  • Scientific Review Meeting: Week of December 2, 2024
  • Award Notification: February 15, 2025

Proposal Requirements

Applicants must submit their completed application through the TOPMed website application form. To apply, create an applicant account here: CREATE APPLICANT ACCOUNT

If you have already created an applicant account, or are a current TOPMed member, access the application form here: APPLICATION FORM

Section of Application

Page Limits

(11pt Font)

Title of Proposal

Proposer’s name, institution, and email address, eRA Commons ID (if available)

Mentor’s name, institution, and email address, eRA Commons ID (if available)

 

Abstract

0.5

Applicant's Background and Goals for Fellowship Training, and an option to explain how the fellowship may contribute to or promote inclusive excellence and diversity in science and workforce

3

(Option) Describe the dataset if there is lack of details of it in public.

2

Research Training Plan

  • Specific Aims (up to 1 page)
  • Significance
  • Research Strategy (bench work should not be proposed)
    • Design
    • Analysis
    • Dissemination

4

Respective Contributions to your project(s)

1

Working environment and institution’s commitment to the applicants career development

1

Mentor responsibility/support letter

  • Mentoring plan
  • Training history
  • An applicant may have more than one mentor. A mentor can be the person under whom the applicant is working; or an expert in or outside applicants’ institution who provides guidance in any specific area of the project.

3

Budget:

  • Provide a budget using the downloadable template. The award is to be used for salary support and conference travel only. Indirect costs must not be more than 10%.

 

Attachments

  • Biosketch of applicant and mentor(s)

 

Overall Impact

Reviewers will provide an overall impact score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood that the fellowship will enhance the candidate’s potential for, and commitment to, a productive independent scientific research career in a health-related field, in consideration of the scored and additional review criteria.

Scored Review Criteria

Reviewers will consider each of the review criteria below in the determination of scientific merit, and give a separate score for each. An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact.

Fellowship Applicant:

  • Are the candidate’s academic record and research experience of high quality?
  • Does the research project reflect a significant contribution of the candidate to the originality of the project idea, approach and/or hypotheses relative to the career stage of the candidate?
  • Does the candidate have the potential to develop into an independent and productive researcher, and help promote workforce diversity and inclusion?
  • Does the candidate demonstrate commitment to a research career in the future?

Sponsors, Collaborators, and Consultants:

  • Are the sponsor(s’) research qualifications (including recent publications) and track record of mentoring individuals at a similar stage appropriate for the needs of the candidate?
  • Is there evidence of adequate research funds to support the candidate’s proposed research project and training for the duration of the research component of the fellowship?

Research Training Plan:

  • Is the research project consistent with the candidate’s stage of research development?
  • Is the proposed research project of high scientific quality, and is it well integrated with the proposed research training plan?
  • Has the candidate presented strategies to ensure a robust and unbiased approach, as appropriate for the work proposed?
  • Does the training plan provide adequate opportunities to present and publish research findings and meet with scientists in the community at national meetings as the work progresses?
  • Will the training plan provide the professional skills needed for the candidate to transition to the next stage of his/her research career?

Training Potential:

  • Are the proposed research project and training plan likely to provide the candidate with the requisite individualized and mentored experiences in order to obtain appropriate skills for a research career?
  • Does the training plan take advantage of the candidate’s strengths and address gaps in needed skills? 
  • Does the training plan document a clear need for, and value of, the proposed training?
  • Does the proposed training have the potential to serve as a sound foundation that will clearly enhance the candidate’s ability to develop into a productive researcher?

Institutional Environment & Commitment to Training:

  • Are the research facilities, resources and training opportunities adequate and appropriate? 
  • Is there appropriate institutional commitment to fostering the candidate’s mentored training?
  • Does the institutional and/or lab environment provide appropriate and sufficient opportunities for the candidate to gain the professional skills needed for a successful research career?

 

Questions

Please submit questions to the TOPMed Administrative Coordinating Committee (topmed-admin@westat.com) with the following subject line: TOPMed Fellowship.

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