Career Awards at the Scientific Interface

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you pay indirect costs?
No.

How do I determine if I am eligible to submit a pre-proposal application; what is the first step?
Check the eligibility criteria for the CASI program.  In addition, an eligibility quiz has been created to assist you in determining whether or not you are eligible to apply for this award.  Successful completion of the quiz will take you directly to the pre-proposal application.  You will be notified upon conclusion of the quiz if you are eligible to continue the application and apply for the grant.

Do I need to be nominated by my institution to submit a pre-proposal application?
No. Prior to 2010, candidates for this award had to be nominated by a North American degree-granting institution.  Eligible candidates may now self-nominate by submitting a pre-proposal application by the pre-proposal deadline.

Can I contact BWF to determine my eligibility?
It is the responsibility of applicants to read the published guidelines and FAQs to determine eligibility and to take the online eligibility quiz before contacting BWF staff. The FAQs are updated regularly in response to questions received. BWF staff will do their best to respond to every inquiry, but will prioritize those questions that are not already clearly addressed in the published guidelines. Please do not contact BWF to ask if we can make an exception to clearly stated guidelines.

Which Ph.D. fields are eligible?
Candidates must hold a Ph.D. degree in one of the fields of mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science, statistics, or engineering. This includes related areas of physical, mathematical, computational, theoretical, and engineering science. Exceptions will be made only if the applicant can demonstrate significant expertise in one of these areas, evidenced by publications, undergraduate major, or masters degree.

My Ph.D. is in biochemistry/biophysics/biology/cell biology/etc. Am I eligible?
Possibly. The Career Awards at the Scientific Interface program is designed to support those working in biology with backgrounds in the physical/mathematical/computational or engineering sciences. If you can show evidence of significant accomplishment or competence in one of those areas (i.e., papers published, advanced coursework, or undergraduate major), and if your proposal draws on that background, you are eligible. You will need to make a case that your work is truly interdisciplinary, and making use of non-biological approaches.

My Ph.D. is in chemistry. Am I eligible?
Yes, as long as you meet the other eligibility criteria, and can demonstrate that your work is truly interdisciplinary.

I have an engineering degree/background? Can I apply to the program?
Yes – as long as you meet all other eligibility requirements, you can apply.

I hold an M.D. Am I eligible to apply to the CASI program?
Possibly.  If you hold both an M.D. and a Ph.D., and your Ph.D. is in one of the fields of mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science, statistics, or engineering, you are eligible. This includes related areas of physical and computational science. Exceptions will be made only if the applicant can demonstrate significant expertise in one of these areas, evidenced by publications, undergraduate major, or masters degree.  In addition, you cannot have spent more than 48 months in postdoctoral research since receipt of your Ph.D.  If you hold an M.D. without also holding a Ph.D., you are not eligible to apply to this program, but you may want to consider applying to BWF’s Career Awards for Medical Scientists.

Can I send my CV/biosketch to BWF to determine eligibility?
Due to the high volume of inquiries, BWF cannot evaluate candidate CVs/biosketches. Please read the eligibility requirements and FAQs carefully, and take the online eligibility quiz before contacting BWF. If your situation is not addressed in the guidelines or FAQs, you may contact us for clarification.

What date should I use as having received my Ph.D.?
You can use either the date of your Ph.D. defense or the date your degree was conferred by your institution.

My work experience since receiving my Ph.D. exceeds the 48-month limit. However, my work has not always been as a postdoc. At present, I am working in a postdoctoral position. Am I eligible?
If your entire work experience since receiving your Ph.D. has been in any scientific research field (including outside academia) and exceeds 48 months, you are not eligible. However, if part of your work experience was not in a science research field, and your scientific work experience doesn’t exceed 48 months, you are eligible.

I’m a U.S. temporary resident. Am I eligible for the award?
Possibly. If you are a temporary U.S. resident and you hold a valid U.S. visa that allows you to remain in the U.S. during the postdoctoral period of the grant, you are eligible. If a grant is awarded and your visa does not allow for such a stay, BWF may terminate the grant. BWF will not intercede on behalf of non-citizens whose stay in the U.S. may be limited by their visa status. If you are invited to submit a full application, your institution must verify your immigration status as part of your application.

I hold a J-1 or H1B visa. Am I eligible?
Possibly. As long as your visa is valid and will allow you to remain in the U.S. during the postdoctoral period of the grant, you are eligible.  If a grant is awarded and your visa does not allow for such a stay, BWF may terminate the grant. BWF will not intercede on behalf of non-citizens whose stay in the U.S. may be limited by their visa status. If you are invited to submit a full application, your institution must verify your immigration status as part of your application.

I am a temporary resident of Canada. Am I eligible to apply?
Possibly. If you are a temporary Canadian resident and you hold a valid visa that allows you to remain in Canada during the postdoctoral period of the grant, you are eligible. If a grant is awarded and your visa does not allow for such a stay, BWF may terminate the grant. BWF will not intercede on behalf of non-citizens whose stay in Canada or the U.S. may be limited by their visa status. If you are invited to submit a full application, your institution must verify your immigration status as part of your application.

I have applied for permanent residency in the United States, and I have not received my green card. Am I eligible for the award?
Possibly. If you are a temporary U.S. resident and you hold a valid U.S. visa that allows you to remain in the U.S. during the postdoctoral period of the grant, you are eligible. If a grant is awarded and your visa does not allow for such a stay, BWF may terminate the grant. BWF will not intercede on behalf of non-citizens whose stay in the U.S. may be limited by their visa status. If you are invited to submit a full application, your institution must verify your immigration status as part of your application.

I am a postdoc at an independent research institute. Am I eligible for a career award?
Possibly.  Two criteria must be met in order for you to be eligible – (1) your research institute must be a non-profit institution (501(c)(3) or equivalent) in the U.S. or Canada, and (2) your primary postdoctoral mentor must hold an appointment at an accredited, degree-granting institution in the U.S. or Canada that will provide support for your application. The degree-granting institution is who the grant would be awarded to, on your behalf.  If both of these criteria are met, you are eligible to apply.  With the exception of eligible postdoctoral fellows at the National Institutes of Health, pre-proposals will not be accepted from federal facilities.  These policies are non-negotiable.

The eligibility requirements mention that a candidate must be based at a non-profit institution [501(c)(3) or equivalent] in the U.S. or Canada. What is a 501(c)(3)?
According to the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, a 501(c)(3) organization is an American tax-exempt, nonprofit organization.  Almost all degree-granting institutions are classified as such, as are most research institutes.  You will need to check with your institutional officials, usually called the grants and contracts office or the sponsored programs office, etc., to confirm your institution’s classification. BWF cannot make this determination for you.

My title is not "postdoctoral fellow".  Am I eligible for the award?
Possibly.  You are eligible if (1) you have at least 12 months, but not more than 48 months of postdoctoral research experience, including time as, for example, an instructor, research associate, or non-tenure track research faculty, and (2) you meet all other eligibility requirements.

I have two postdoc mentors. Can I still apply?
Yes. One of the mentors will need to be the primary mentor.  The primary mentor will be the one who will sign off on the pre-proposal application form.

What if I am planning to start a faculty position in the fall after the pre-proposal deadline and before the full application deadline?
This award cannot be made to a tenure-track faculty member, because it is a transition award. If you are planning to start a faculty position before the award begins you are not eligible to apply.

What if I am planning to start a faculty position in the spring after the full application deadline and before the interview?
This award cannot be made to a tenure-track faculty member, because it is a transition award.  If you are planning to start a faculty position before the award begins you are not eligible to apply.

I hold, or have accepted, a NIH K99 award.  Can I apply for this program?
No.

I have applied to the NIH K99 program, but the awards have not been selected. Can I apply to the BWF CASI program?
Yes. However, awardees cannot receive funding simultaneously from both a K99 and a CASI award.

Do I need a commitment from a university for a faculty appointment to apply for this award?
No.  The purpose of the award is to help postdoctoral scientists obtain a faculty appointment at an institution of their choosing.  Candidates may be applying for faculty positions at the same time of application, but if you currently hold or have accepted, either verbally or in writing, a tenure-track faculty appointment, you are not eligible.

I am based at a North American non-profit institution, but my primary postdoctoral mentor doesn't hold a faculty appointment at an accredited, degree-granting North American institution. Can I apply to this program?
No.  An eligible candidate’s primary postdoctoral mentor must hold such an appointment.

My primary postdoctoral mentor holds a faculty appointment at an accredited, degree-granting North American institution, but I am not based at a non-profit North American institution. Am I eligible for the award?
Possibly. You are eligible to apply only if you are a postdoctoral researcher at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) or HHMI's Janelia Farm Research Campus, and meet all other eligibility requirements.  The NIH/Janelia Farm will support these award recipients during the postdoctoral years, and BWF will support them for the faculty portion of the award only.

I have not yet decided whether I will pursue a full-time career in research as an independent investigator at a North American degree-granting institution. Can I apply to this program?
No.

Can I submit more than one application?
No.

I have publications from my graduate (and undergraduate) studies, but I am not a first-author on any of them.  Am I eligible to apply?
No.  You must have at least one first-author publication to be eligible to apply for this program.  This includes papers on which "first authorship" is shared.

I have submitted a first-author manuscript from my graduate (or undergraduate) studies, but it has not yet been published.  Am I eligible to apply?
Possibly.  If the manuscript is accepted for publication or in press, you are eligible to apply – otherwise you are not eligible.

After submitting a pre-proposal, can I change my mentor or institution if I am invited to submit a full proposal?
Invitations to submit a full application are based on the information submitted in the pre-proposal. The training environment (mentor and institution) is an important part of this consideration, thus they cannot be changed for the full proposal.

I may be changing institutions to complete additional postdoc training after I’ve submitted a pre-proposal. Can I still submit a pre-proposal?
Invitations to submit a full application are based on the information submitted in the pre-proposal. The training environment (mentor and institution) are an important part of this consideration, and therefore cannot be changed after submitting the pre-proposal. Thus, if you move to a new institution after submitting the pre-proposal, you will not be able to submit a full application, even if invited to do so.

Are the BWF application deadlines firm?
Yes, both the pre-proposal and the full application deadlines are firm.

Do I need to submit a pre-proposal application prior to submitting a full application?
Yes. All applicants to the program must submit a pre-proposal application first. Everyone who submits a pre-proposal will not necessarily be submitting a full application. Pre-proposals will be reviewed by the Interfaces in Science Advisory Committee and selected candidates will be invited to submit a full application.

Can I submit a paper application?
No. BWF requires that all applications for this program be submitted electronically. Paper applications will not be accepted.

Can I submit more than one (1) pre-proposal application?
No.

When will I be notified as to whether I have been selected to submit a full application?
Applicants who submitted pre-proposals will be notified via email by November 14, 2017, whether they have been selected to submit a full application.

Can letters of collaboration be included in the pre-proposal application?
No, letters of collaboration are not part of the pre-proposal.  If extra materials such as collaboration letters are included, your pre-proposal application will be rejected out of fairness to other applicants.

Do I need to submit a proposed budget with my pre-proposal application?
No, a budget is not part of the pre-proposal.  If extra materials such as a budget are included, your pre-proposal application will be rejected out of fairness to other applicants.

I have two postdoc mentors at two different institutions. Does it matter which one is the primary mentor?
Yes. If your mentors are at two different institutions, the primary mentor should be the one located at the institution where you will be doing the proposed work (the institution entered in the "Institutional Information" page of the online application) and who holds a faculty appointment at an accredited degree-granting institution in North America.

Can I add a postdoc mentor if I am invited to submit a full application?
You may add a mentor, but may not change the primary mentor whose name is associated with your pre-proposal.

I plan to change institutions to complete additional postdoc training after I've submitted a pre-proposal application. If I'm invited to submit a full application, can I change the institution on the full application to my new institution?
No. The institution submitted in the pre-proposal and in the full application must be the same. Invitations to submit a full application are based on the information submitted in the pre-proposal. If you move to a new institution after submitting the pre-proposal application, you will not be able to submit a full application, even if invited to do so.

I am a temporary resident. What documentation is required to verify my residency status?
BWF doesn’t require documentation of your visa paperwork. If you are invited to submit a full application, your institution must verify your immigration status as part of your application. More information will be provided if an invitation is sent to you.

My visa is not valid for more than one year but I need a new “position offer” to get a new visa. Do you ask for a valid two-year visa (for the postdoc period) when submitting the pre-proposal application?
We understand that not all U.S. visas will cover the full two years of postdoc for the award. For this reason, we are not asking for a valid two-year visa when submitting the pre-proposal application. If you are invited to submit a full application, BWF requires that your institution certify that you hold a current valid U.S. visa and that the institution will manage your residency status during the postdoctoral period of the award (perform all necessary paperwork to extend visa status). More information will be provided if an invitation is sent to you.

Do I need to complete an application in one session?
No, you can start an application and return at a later time to complete the application.  When beginning a new application, you are required to establish a log-in and password.  At any time during the application process, you may click the "save and finish later" button, exit the application, and return at a later time.  Saved applications are accessed through a different link than the one used to begin the initial application.  You may access saved applications on the BWF grant application system until it has been submitted.  Please note that all pre-proposal applications must be submitted by September 6, 2017 at 4:00 p.m., Eastern Time.

How do I return to an incomplete application that I saved, but have not yet submitted?
To access a saved application, click the “Access your saved proposal” button in the right navigation column.

Can I receive a copy of my online application form?
You can print a copy of your application as you are completing the online application form by clicking the "Printer Friendly Version" link at the top of the page. You may also click the "Email Draft" link to email a copy of the application. Please note that BWF will not accept emailed applications.

What is the Pre-proposal Form?
The Pre-proposal Form is an attachment that must be completed and uploaded to the pre-proposal application prior to submission.  It requires re-entry of some of the information from the online application and provides signature lines for the applicant and the primary postdoctoral mentor.  In addition, it includes fields where the applicant can provide (1) an essay of the proposed work, and (2) a list of up to five of the applicant's top publications.

How do I access the Pre-proposal Form?
The three-page pre-proposal form can be accessed on the Forms and Resources page on this website.

Who needs to sign the Pre-proposal Form?
The applicant and the applicant's primary postdoctoral mentor must sign the pre-proposal form.  Scanned signatures and e-signatures are accepted.  Typed names are not accepted.

What is an e-signature?
BWF considers an electronic signature (or e-signature) to be either an image of a person’s actual signature (a scanned signature) or an official digital signature. Typing a person’s name or initials into a form is not acceptable.

How can I obtain an e-signature on the pre-proposal form?
Obtaining an e-signature can be handled one of three ways:

  1. Use Adobe Acrobat to create an e-signature or digital signature. Even though the image appears as a typed name this is acceptable since there is a visible indication that the document was digitally signed. If a typed name without such an indication is submitted, it will not be acceptable.
  2. Insert a scanned image of the person’s signature in the appropriate place in the form.
  3. Complete the pre-proposal form, print it, sign it, then scan it back into your system as a PDF file. The signatures should appear on the scanned image.

How do I submit the pre-proposal form?
After completing the pre-proposal template, including the required signatures, upload and attach the form to the online pre-proposal application.  The form will then be submitted electronically with the application.  Faxed, emailed, or hard copy documents will not be accepted.

Can the pre-proposal form be sent separately (i.e., faxed or emailed)?
No.  The pre-proposal form must be uploaded and attached to your online application, then submitted electronically by the pre-proposal application deadline.  Faxed, emailed, or hard copy documents will not be accepted.

What types of information should be included in the essay of proposed work?
The essay of proposed work should be written to a group of well-educated scientists who are not necessarily experts in your field – in the style of a "Scientific American" article. Describe the work being proposed, including the interdisciplinary nature of the work, how your approach to the problem is distinct, and the degree to which the proposed work will open new fields of inquiry. Be sure to mention your interdisciplinary background/training.

Can I include figures, tables, graphs, diagrams, and/or pictures in the section of the pre-proposal form asking for an essay of the proposed work?
No.

Do I need to include references in the essay of the proposed work?
No. References are not required in the pre-proposal and should not be included.  If you are invited to submit a full application, references can be included at that time.

Can I include submitted manuscripts in the list of publications?
No.  Only papers that have been published or are "in press" (accepted for publication) should be included.  When entering this information on the form, be sure to use the appropriate format (indicated on the preproposal form).

I have publications where I am one of more than three authors. Since only three authors can be listed for a publication on the pre-proposal form, how should I list multiple authors?
When you wish to list a publication with more than three authors:

  1. If you are a middle author – list the first author, yourself as an author, the last author, then ‘et.al.’
  2. If you are the first author – list yourself, one of the middle authors, the last author, then ‘et.al.’
  3. If you are the last author – list the first author, one of the middle authors, then yourself, then ‘et.al.’

I have publications from my graduate (and undergraduate) studies, but they are not necessarily relevant to the research I am proposing in the pre-proposal application.  Should I include them on the pre-proposal application form?
Yes.  Up to five of your top publications should be included on the pre-proposal application form, even if they are not relevant to the research being proposed.  When entering this information on the form, be sure to use the appropriate format (indicated on the form).

To whom should my recommendation letter be addressed?
The letter of recommendation should be addressed to the CASI Advisory Committee and must be uploaded to your application by the letter writer prior to submission by the deadline. Faxed, emailed, or hard copy letters will not be accepted.

What should be included in the recommendation letter?
The primary postdoctoral mentor should describe your qualifications and potential for contributing to biomedical science, highlighting specific skills or expertise in a scientific discipline other than biology. The letter should also describe the research environment in which you will work, his/her mentoring plan for you, the number of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in his/her lab, and the supporting services to be provided by the institution.

How can I submit my recommendation letter?
Since the recommendation letter must remain confidential, the recommender (your primary postdoc mentor) must upload his/her own letter, as a PDF file, directly into your application before the application deadline. For this process to work properly, you must send an email from within your application to your primary postdoctoral mentor requesting the letter. The email will contain a link that is specific to your application and your primary postdoctoral mentor. For detailed instructions on how to request a confidential letter from your primary postdoctoral mentor, see Applicant Instructions for Requesting a Confidential Letter.

Can the recommendation letter be sent separately?
No. Letters of recommendation must be converted to PDF files and uploaded by the letter writer prior to submission of your pre-proposal application. An application can only be submitted when it is complete; therefore, it is highly recommended that the recommendation letter be uploaded to the application a week before the deadline. Faxed, emailed, or hard copy letters will not be accepted.  

I have two postdoctoral mentors. Can I submit two recommendation letters?
Only one recommendation letter may be submitted with your pre-proposal application. This letter should be from the person designated as your primary postdoctoral mentor in the application. However, if both mentors wish to write and sign one letter, that is acceptable. Two letters will not be accepted.

What is a “signature block”?
A signature block is found at the end of a letter and includes the letter writer’s name, title(s), department(s), and institution. It is usually found just after the closing of the letter (e.g., just after the word “Sincerely,’ or ‘Yours truly,’) and just under the letter writer’s signature. Here’s an example of a signature block:

Jane Smith, Ph.D.
Chair and Professor, Department of Physics
ABC University

I’m having trouble using the online application system to request a confidential letter from my primary postdoctoral mentor. What should I do?
For detailed instructions on how to request a confidential letter, see Applicant Instructions for Requesting a Confidential Letter. For help with troubleshooting problems with this process, see Troubleshooting the Confidential Letters Process. If you’re still experiencing difficulties after reviewing these two documents, contact Tiffanie Taylor, Program Associate or Ruth Reynolds, Program Assistant.

My primary postdoctoral mentor is having trouble uploading his/her confidential recommendation letter to my application. What should I do?
For detailed instructions on how to upload a confidential letter, see Recommender Instructions for Uploading a Confidential Letter. For help with troubleshooting problems with this process, see  Troubleshooting the Confidential Letters Process. If your primary postdoc mentor is still experiencing difficulties after reviewing these two documents, ask him/her to contact Tiffanie Taylor, Program Associate or Ruth Reynolds, Program Assistant.

I completed my application. How do I submit?
Once the application has been completed and all attachments have been uploaded, click the "Review and Submit" button at the bottom of the last page of the application. Review your application. If the application is not missing required items, a “Submit” button should be available at the bottom of the page. If a submit button is not available, the application is missing (one or more) required fields or attachments. Any missing items should be noted in red near the top of the page. Once you have completed all required items and clicked the “Submit” button, you will receive an email confirmation. If you do not, please contact BWF immediately at 919-991-5116.

Can I change my application once submitted?
No. Once your application is submitted, it cannot be changed.

I forgot my user ID/password. What should I do?
For a forgotten password or user ID, access the BWF system log-in screen and click the forgotten password link.

If I have questions about a particular program guideline or the electronic application, whom can I contact for help?
For problems with the electronic application, please contact Tiffanie Taylor.