NINDS Competitive Postdoctoral Fellowship Award (NCFA)

Photo of a poster presentation at a scientific meeting.

The NINDS Intramural Competitive Fellowship Award (NCFA) is the NINDS Intramural equivalent of the NINDS F32 Individual NRSA Training Grant.  This Fellowship is for postdoctoral Fellows within their first year of a designated laboratory (Lab/Branch/Section or Unit) of the NINDS Intramural Program or within 12-months of starting an NINDS Fellowship appointment within a designated lab.  The applicant can be a first, second or third year postdoc but he or she must not be beyond the first year of their appointment in the sponsoring NINDS laboratory. The goal being once a postdoc joins a laboratory, the Fellow should be able to come up with a project quickly and finish the training within 3-years. When moving to a new training environment, this would start over with a new project and 3-year training period.

The NCFA is written according to the current NINDS Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) for Training of Postdoctoral Fellows F32 Program Announcement  and F32 guidelines, on F32 forms with just a few modifications.  The NCFA is reviewed by a NINDS training study section alongside extramural career development grants and are evaluated according to the F32 review criteria found in the Program Announcement and F32 grant application guidelines.  Presently the review is being done by the NINDS NST-2 study section alongside extramural F32 applicants.

Candidates must have a Ph.D. or M.D. degree. U.S. citizenship is not required.  

The NINDS study section will evaluate the candidate, the proposed basic or clinical research plan, the training plan, and the suitability of the host laboratory (Lab/Branch/Section or Unit) for carrying out the proposed research and the training plan. Preliminary data is strongly discouraged, review is focused on the ideas, originality, creativity, rigorous research and training plan. The award period is for three-years.  Awardees are required to submit a 1-2 page progress report at the end of each year of the project . Reports should be sent to the Director of Training, Yvette Pittman.

For each receipt date, only one application per sponsoring Principal Investigator (PI) may be submitted. 

This fellowship award requires a three-step approval process.

Step 1:  Permission to write an application: A postdoctoral Fellow interested in applying for a NINDS Intramural Competitive Fellowship Award (NCFA) must have approval from his/her PI, and must obtain approval from the Scientific Director before writing the application. To request permission, the Fellow should send an e-mail to Dr. Yvette Pittman, with a copy of the e-mail to the PI mentor and Caren Collins, and include the Fellow’s CV, an abstract of the proposed work and a rationale for why the lab is suitable for carrying out the proposed research and training, and endorsement from the mentor. If approval to write an application is granted, further instructions will be provided concerning application requirements and the submission process. Currently there is a limit of five-applications per cycle. Requests for intent to apply should be sent a minimum of two-months before the receipt deadline, if not sooner, to allow time for proper preparation and a pre-submission review.

Step 2:   Pre-submission review of the application one-month prior to the official receipt date:  If approved to write an application, the candidate will submit the application for pre-submission review one-month prior to the final submission deadline.  Based on this review,  the Training Director will determine whether or not the application will move forward for final submission.  For the pre-submission review, the candidate will submit an electronic copy of the complete application to Caren Collins.

Step 3:  Official submission,  if approved for final submission, the candidate will submit the final electronic application and one hard copy to Caren Collins before midnight on the designated receipt date. 

Amount of Award: The operating budget of the mentoring PI will be supplemented to cover the Fellow's research activities, and the Fellow’s pay will be increased by 6%, subject to NIH policy governing the Fellow’s pay mechanism and approval by the required NIH authorities. Candidates from the labs of NINDS Adjunct Faculty are eligible to participate though award funding from NINDS is reduced by 50% with the expectation the IC of the respective Adjunct Faculty will fund the remaining 50%.

NCFA Submission Deadlines
Pre-submission Deadline Final Submission Deadline/Receipt Date
May 10, 2021 June 9, 2021
September 14, 2021 October 14, 2021
January 10, 2022 February 9, 2022
May 7, 2022 June 8, 2022

The NCFA deadlines coincide with the deadlines posted for the NINDS F32. If a deadline falls on a Saturday, the preceding Friday will apply; if a deadline falls on a Sunday, the following Monday will apply. For more information or questions regarding the NCFA please contact Caren Collins at or 301-435-2232.