Damon Runyon Quantitative Biology Fellowship Award Overview

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Program Description  |  Funding  | Eligibility | Terms of the Award | Confidentiality Agreements 
Reporting  | Publications  | Forms for Awardees |  Application Guidelines

Program Description

Computational biologists apply theoretical principles and develop analysis and inference methods to decipher and understand biological systems. They are experts in quantitative approaches, data science and algorithms, while also having in-depth knowledge of complex biological processes. Particularly in cancer biology, there is a growing need for computational biology leaders with expertise and understanding in both quantitative and biological sciences.
 
Exceptional quantitative scientists experience a strong pull from the technology industry, and may not have a background in biology, so special attention is needed to recruit and train these scientists in biological research. One way to address this area is by creating a new funding mechanism with a specific emphasis on data science (rather than simply including data scientists as part of an existing award program).
 
This award program is designed to encourage quantitative scientists (trained in fields such as mathematics, computer science, physics, engineering, or related) to pursue research careers in computational biology under the joint mentorship of leaders in both computational science (“dry lab”) and cancer biology (“wet lab”)*. By investing in this area, Damon Runyon will bring additional attention to the importance of these specially trained scientists for making meaningful progress in cancer biology.
*In rare unique circumstances, the Quantitative Biology Fellowship Award Committee may consider an applicant working with one Mentor. The Mentor must have strong interdisciplinary expertise in both a fully fledged dry lab and a fully fledged wet lab. Please contact the Foundation to seek approval before applying.

Selection and Review

The Quantitative Biology Fellowship Award Committee, comprised of leaders in the field, will review applications and select awardees for approval by the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation’s Board of Directors.
Applications will be evaluated by the following criteria:

  • The quality of the applicant, their commitment to pursuing a research career as a computational biologist, and potential to excel in cancer research.
  • The capacity of the mentorship team (two required) to provide a robust training experience that will accelerate the development of the applicant’s scientific skills and prepare them to independently conduct high quality, innovative cancer-related research. Each Mentor (one in a “dry lab” and one in a “wet lab” setting) must have generated a proven track record in the successful training of other scientists.
  • The qualifications, experience and productivity of both the applicant and the Mentors.
  • The quality of the research proposal (importance of the problem, originality of approach, appropriateness of techniques and clarity of presentation).

Funding

The award will be for a period of three years. Funding will be allocated to the awardees’ primary institution each year for support of the scientist. Funds are to be used for stipend and/or research expenses. No part of this grant can be used for indirect costs or institutional overheard.

Year of Award Stipend Expenses
Year 1 $76,000 $2,000
Year 2 $78,000 $2,000
Year 3 $80,000 $2,000

 

EXPENSE ALLOWANCE

The $2,000 expense allowance is awarded to the laboratory in which the Fellow is working and can be used by the Fellow for his/her educational and scientific expenses. With written request to the Foundation from the Fellow, the expense allowance may be used to defray the cost of health benefits. The Fellow determines how they would like to spend the money with approval from their Mentor. It is not an allowance for institutional overhead, postdoctoral scholar registration fees or postdoctoral fellowship taxes. Institutions may not automatically deduct any fees from this allowance without the Fellow’s approval. If you have any questions on how the money may be spent, please contact the Foundation (212.455.0520 or awards@damonrunyon.org).

DEPENDENT CHILD ALLOWANCE

The Foundation will provide a Dependent Child Allowance of $1,000 per child per year. (There is no allowance for a spouse.) Eligible Fellows must submit a dependent child allowance form and provide a copy of the birth or adoption certificate for each child. Payment of this allowance will be included in the initial payment to the host institution, or in the award year the child is born/adopted, and annually thereafter on the anniversary of the award activation date.

DEBT REPAYMENT PROGRAM

The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation will retire up to $100,000 of any qualifying medical school debt still owed by the awardee. Payment will be made annually over the course of the award.
Note: Qualified candidates must first apply to the NIH Loan Repayment Program in order to be eligible for loan repayment from Damon Runyon (see Terms of the Award below).

Eligibility

Open to quantitative scientists with an interest in the intersection between computational biology, data science and cancer research. Applicants must have completed one or more of the following degrees or its equivalent: MD, PhD, MD/PhD, DDS, DVM, DO. The applicant must include a copy of his/her diploma to confirm date of conferral. (If an applicant has not yet received his/her PhD diploma but has successfully completed all PhD requirements, including PhD defense, they may submit a letter from the graduate school explicitly stating such, with the date of the successful PhD defense and date of degree conferral.) Applicants require two committed Mentors, one from the field of computational science (“dry lab”) and one from the area of cancer biology (“wet lab”)*
*In rare unique circumstances, the Quantitative Biology Fellowship Award Committee may consider an applicant working with one Mentor. The Mentor must have strong interdisciplinary expertise in both a fully fledged dry lab and a fully fledged wet lab. Please contact the Foundation to seek approval before applying.

Level 1: Basic and physician-scientists must have received their degrees no more than five years prior to the application deadline date* and may apply at any time prior to their initial assistant professorship appointment (or equivalent). Awardees are expected to devote 100% of their time to Damon Runyon-supported research activities. No other postdoctoral fellowships can be held concurrently. Candidates holding or awarded NIH K awards at the time of application are not eligible to apply.
*The applicant must include a copy of his/her diploma to confirm date of conferral. (See Deadlines chart.)

Level 2: Physician-scientist applicants (MD, MD/PhD, DDS, DVM, DO or the equivalent) must have completed their residencies and clinical training, must be board eligible in the United States at the start date of the Damon Runyon Fellowship, and be able to devote at least 80% of their time to Damon Runyon-supported research activities. Applicants may not have had more than five years of postdoctoral laboratory research experience and may apply at any time prior to their initial assistant professorship appointment (or equivalent); postdoctoral fellows, clinical fellows and clinical instructors are eligible to apply. No other postdoctoral fellowships can be held concurrently. Candidates holding or awarded NIH K awards at the time of application are not eligible to apply. Candidates holding institutional K12 awards may apply but must turn-back K12 funding if they are awarded a Damon Runyon Quantitative Biology Fellowship.
 
The proposed research must be conducted at a university, hospital or research institution.

Candidates working in a structured postdoctoral research program at a for-profit institution may apply. If awarded, the for-profit institution will pay the Fellow's salary directly. (If the institutional salary is less than that received by Damon Runyon Fellows, Damon Runyon will supplement that amount to equal the stipend of other Damon Runyon Fellows.) Awardees will have all the privileges and responsibilities extended to other Damon Runyon Fellows, and are required to adhere to the guidelines and policies of the Fellowship Award.

Postdoctoral training in the same institution in which the applicant received his/her degree is discouraged, particularly if it is in the same department. (If either situation applies, the applicant must address the reason(s) in his/her application.) Proposals to continue training in the laboratory where the applicant received his/her PhD will not be considered. Proposals that are direct extensions of graduate work will not be funded.

Candidates applying to work in foreign-based or United States government laboratories may be awarded a fellowship if the program represents an unusual opportunity for postdoctoral training.

Foreign candidates may apply to do their research only in the United States.

Terms of the Award

All awardees must adhere to the terms of both our award statement and our invention policy.

Please note: The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation will not modify the terms of its policies at the request of individual institutions. Policies have been approved by our Board of Directors, and we do not have the resources to negotiate separately with the many institutions that receive our support.

All awards are made to the sponsoring institution for support of the designated Fellow. An award does not constitute an employer-employee relationship between the Foundation and the recipient. Supplementation of stipends is permitted from either the host institution or Mentor’s grants, but not by any other fellowship awards or grants. The total stipend should not exceed the level of support for other professionals at the same level of training in that institution.

Fellows are permitted to obtain additional awards or grants to cover research expenses only. Fellows are not permitted to hold any other award or grant that supplements their stipend. Fellows are required to seek approval from the Foundation before applying for any other award or grant. Budgetary overlap is not allowed. Therefore, it is critical that all current and pending grant support for your research be reported to the Foundation and the relationship of that support to the Damon Runyon funded project be explained.

Damon Runyon Fellowship awards are intended for full-time research.

Physician-scientists must devote their principal time (at least 80 percent) to Damon Runyon-supported research activities. Activities constituting the remaining 20 percent of time should be clearly specified in the application and in the annual progress report.

Damon Runyon Fellows are not permitted to pursue additional degrees during the course of their fellowship.

The Damon Runyon Foundation will allow up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave for birth/adoptive parents consistent with their institution’s policy. The Foundation must be notified in advance of the leave.

MEDICAL SCHOOL LOAN REPAYMENT PROGRAM FOR PHYSICIAN-SCIENTISTS

The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation (the “Foundation”) encourages more physicians to pursue research careers.  As part of this award program, the Foundation will pay up to $100,000 of outstanding medical school loans of Damon Runyon Fellowship Award recipients pursuant to the below policy.

Note: Qualified candidates must first apply to the NIH Loan Repayment Program in order to be eligible for loan repayment from Damon Runyon.

Qualifying loans: Debt incurred for tuition and direct educational expenses during medical school and any interest thereon.  (Loans for general items or living expenses [e.g., housing, transportation, and consumables] do not qualify for this program.)  Loans must be from a government entity, academic institution, or commercial or chartered lending institution.  Qualifying medical school loans, which have been combined or refinanced with non-qualifying loans, will be partially eligible based on the ratio of eligible and ineligible expenses included.

Eligibility and amount of support: Up to $100,000 debt will be paid in the aggregate over the four-year award period not to exceed $25,000 in any one-year period, if the following conditions are met:

(i) Participants in this program must submit documentation regarding the loans (e.g., receipts and supporting documents for tuition and directly related expenses, loan agreements, and payment information) to the Foundation within one month of acceptance of a Fellowship Award to determine whether they qualify for this program. Documentation of loan status and payment information must be provided to the Foundation annually, no later than one month prior to the award renewal date, as a condition of continued participation.
(ii) Participants enrolled in NIH-sponsored loan repayment programs or any other debt relief programs must disclose the details of such agreements to the Foundation.
(iii) Participants must agree to refund all amounts paid under this loan repayment program if they terminate the Fellowship Award prior to completion of the four-year term.

Payments: For each year of eligibility, the Foundation will pay directly to each lender an amount representing the total payments owed by the participant for all qualifying loans for that year up to an aggregate maximum of $25,000 (“Annual Debt Payments”).  If the participant has qualifying loans with annual payments in excess of $25,000, the Foundation, in its discretion, will determine which loans it will pay.

Consolidated loans: Participants must submit the loan agreement for consolidated loans as well as loan agreements for each of the underlying loans.

Leave without pay: Loan repayments will not be made during leaves of absence unless written permission is granted by the Foundation.

Obligations not qualifying for repayment: (i) Loans not obtained from a government entity, academic institution, or a commercial or other chartered lending institution such as loans from friends, relatives, or other individuals.  (ii) Delinquent loans, loans in default, loans not current in their payment schedule, or loans already repaid.  (iii) Late fees, penalty fees, additional interest charges, or collection costs.

Reimbursement for increased income tax liabilities: Loan repayments made to lenders represent taxable income to program participants.  This income will be reported annually to the IRS and may result in an increase in participants’ Federal, State, and Local tax liabilities.  To offset tax liability increases, the Foundation will approximate the added liability using the applicable tax rates each year and pay this amount directly to the participant at the time of each repayment (“Additional Tax Payment”).  For purposes of the foregoing, the assumed tax rate shall be determined by the Foundation, in its sole discretion, and may or may not equal the tax rate that actually applies to the participant.

Payback Agreement: If a participant in this program terminates their Fellowship Award prior to the end of the award term, the Foundation shall, in its sole discretion, be entitled to require repayment by the participant of all Annual Debt Payments and Additional Tax Payments.  The Foundation reserves the right to waive this payback requirement if the participant continues to conduct cancer research after early termination of the Fellowship Award.  This payback will be paid over the same period of time and in the same amounts as the initial payments by the Foundation.

Should the Fellow and/or Mentor wish to discontinue the project, leave the designated institution or modify any aspect of the award, they must seek approval from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation in advance. Failure to comply with this requirement may jeopardize any future awards to the institution and/or Mentor by the Foundation.

Confidentiality Agreements

Fellows may not enter into confidentiality agreements that prevent or delay them from publishing and/or presenting their Damon Runyon-supported research.

Reporting

SCIENTIFIC

Second- and third-year funding of awards is contingent upon satisfactory review of the annual progress reports. All reports are kept strictly confidential. The reports serve as an auditing tool to monitor research progress and assure that the Fellow's research is on target with the funded project.
At the end of the 11th and 23rd months of funding, the Fellow must submit a detailed progress report that includes:

  1. A summary of research performed during the award year and evaluation of the results. The summary should be technical, but targeted to a general scientific audience. It should be sufficiently detailed such that the Fellow's research activities over the award year are clearly articulated. The report should include a statement highlighting the relation between computational work and cancer research. Figures and references may be included if appropriate. The report must be signed by both the Fellow and the Mentor. The report should not exceed three pages.
  2. A brief, lay abstract of research performed during the award year, including how the research is relevant to cancer. The lay summary should not exceed one page.
  3. A bibliography of publications from the award year (submit pdf copies of publications).
  4. A request for Open Access fee reimbursement, if applicable.
  5. A list of conferences and seminars attended and presentations given during the award year.
  6. A brief description of collaborations and partnerships related to the Damon Runyon-funded research, with either academic and/or industry scientists. Please identify your collaborator(s) and their academic/industrial affiliation(s).
  7. A brief summary, from the Mentor, assessing the Fellow’s scientific progress and professional development.
  8. A completed intellectual property disclosure form.
  9. A completed expense allowance usage form.

At the completion of the fellowship, the Fellow must submit a detailed progress report that includes:

  1. A summary of research performed during the period of the Fellowship and evaluation of the results. The summary should be technical, but targeted to a general scientific audience. It should be sufficiently detailed such that the Fellow's research activities over the award period are clearly articulated. The report should include a statement highlighting the relation between computational work and cancer research. Figures and references may be included if appropriate. The report must be signed by both the Fellow and the Mentor. The report should not exceed three pages.
  2. Two abstracts (one lay and one scientific) of their accomplishments over the term of the award.
  3. A bibliography of all publications resulting from the research (submit pdf copies of publications).
  4. A request for Open Access fee reimbursement, if applicable. 
  5. A list of conferences and seminars attended and presentations given during the award year.
  6. A brief description of collaborations and partnerships related to the Damon Runyon-funded research, with either academic and/or industry scientists. Please identify your collaborator(s) and their academic/industrial affiliation(s).
  7. A statement indicating how the Damon Runyon award made a difference to the Fellow.
  8. A statement of future plans.
  9. An up-to-date curriculum vitae.
  10. A brief summary, from the Mentor, assessing the Fellow’s scientific progress and professional development.
  11. A completed intellectual property disclosure form.

FINANCIAL

The institution's financial officer must maintain a separate account including receipts for each fellowship, and this account must be available for audit by representatives of the Foundation. Reports of expenditures on forms provided by the Foundation must be submitted within 60 days of the end of each award year. Any unexpended expense allowance may be carried over to the next award year, but any unexpended stipend must be returned to the Foundation at the end of each fellowship year. Upon termination or expiration of the fellowship, a final report of expenditures, with the refund of any unexpended balance, must also be submitted within 60 days.
Financial Expenditure Report Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Please use the Damon Runyon Fellowship Financial Expenditure Report form.
  2. Indicate any carry-over of the previous year’s expense allowance in the second row as an amount received in addition to the current year’s $2,000 allowance.
  3. If the expense allowance was used for travel, please provide the following details:
    a. name and location of scientific meeting or conference attended
    b. dates of meeting/conference
    c. use of funds; restricted to registration fee, lodging, meals, transportation (if by train or plane, must be coach class ticket only).
  4. If the expense allowance was used for supplies, please provide a list of the general categories of the supplies. If any one piece of equipment purchased costs $1,500 or more, please provide the name of the item, date of purchase, and price.
  5. The only allowable purchases that may be listed in the “other” category are:
    a. health insurance (if requested by the Fellow)
    b. scientific subscriptions
    c. contact our office for approval of any items not listed here
  6. The Foundation requires that the Dependent Child Allowance be reported as received in the annual financial report but does not require reporting on how the allowance is spent.

Publications, Presentations and Websites

Publications (including abstracts of presentations at scientific or clinical meetings) resulting from projects supported by the Foundation must carry the following acknowledgment: "[Name of Awardee] is a Damon Runyon Fellow supported by the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation (DRQ-#[___])."

Contact awards@damonrunyon.org if you do not know your DRQ.

Awardees should identify themselves as Damon Runyon Fellows, particularly when presenting their work at professional conferences and on their websites. Download a copy of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation logo for inclusion in Power Point presentations, posters, and on your website.

Damon Runyon-Dale F. Frey Award for Breakthrough Scientists

At the end of the Fellowship, there are often a select few Damon Runyon Fellows who have greatly exceeded the Foundation’s highest expectations. To catapult their research careers—and their impact on cancer—the Foundation will make an additional investment in these exceptional individuals by selecting them as recipients of the Damon Runyon-Dale F. Frey Award for Breakthrough ScientistsDamon Runyon Fellows are eligible to apply for the Dale F. Frey Award one time only, in the third year of their award.

Forms for Awardees

Award Statement
Award Acceptance Form
Loan Repayment Form
Dependent Child Allowance Form
Expense Allowance Usage Form
Expenditure Report Form
Invention Policy
Intellectual Property Disclosure Form
Progress Report Form- Year 1
Progress Report Form- Year 2
Progress Report Form- Final

CONTACT INFORMATION

Award Programs | 212.455.0520 | awards@damonrunyon.org

See Application Guidelines

 

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