Emory Ranks First in the U.S. for Students with NIH Predoctoral Fellowships

Currently, 50 Emory students hold a Kirchstein-NRSA predoctoral fellowship from the National Institutes of Health, ranking Emory first in the United States. While young scientists often find applying to the National Institutes of Health for their first research grants to be a significant challenge, Emory's strength in preparing students for this part of scientific life is becoming nationally recognized. 

According to Dr. Keith D. Willkinson, GDBBS Director and faculty member in BCDB and CB, nearly half the applications of Emory students are successful, and there are a number of tangible benefits for students. If their applications are approved, students receive a modest increase in their stipend ($2,000/year). "The grant application process also helps to cement students' feelings of ownership for their projects," Wilkinson says.

"We are committed to expanding professional pathways for our students," says Lisa Tedesco, dean of Laney Graduate School. "We do this by implementing programming and training that is designed to make our students as prepared and competitive as they can be for a full range of collaboration within the biomedical and STEM workforce.

Dr. Anita H. Corbett, faculty member in BCDB and GMB, conducts a grants preparation course for the GDBBS students. "We have excellent trainees and faculty sponsors, we have lots of support from GDBBS and Laney Graduate School, and we require formal training in scientific writing for second-year graduate students," Corbett says.

Dr. Richard A. Kahn, faculty member in BCDB, CB and NS, first developed a required course called "Hypothesis Design and Scientific Writing" for the BCDB program in the late 1990s along with Ken Bernstein (now at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles). Now all GDBBS programs have something similar offered as a class for second-year students.

"We really consider it ["Hypothesis Design and Scientific Writing"] a writing course," says Dr. Lisa Parr, faculty member in Neuroscience, who has been teaching the neuroscience graduate program's equivalent class for several years.
Neuroscience graduate student Karl Schmidt, now in his fifth year, says Parr's instruction helped him develop a proposal for his project with advisor, Dr. David Weinshenker, faculty member in MSP and NS, probing the roles of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine in the brain using optogenetic techniques.

Another graduate student in Neuroscience, Kelly Lohr, is among the 50 Emory students who hold a Kirchstein-NRSA predoctoral fellowship. Ms. Lohr's advisor is Dr. Gary W. Miller.

Click here to read the full article in the Emory News Center.