Career Guidance for Trainees

This program does not support biomedical research projects proposed by individual investigators.

Conference Calls and Learning More

Conference calls will be held on February 2, 2018 and February 15, 2018 to provide general information similar to that found in this online material. Calls will all be held at 2:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. The dial in number for these calls is 800-311-9406 and password is BWF. The conference calls are meant to provide a broad sense of the program. Potential applicants are always encouraged to contact the program officer, Victoria McGovern, directly at 919-991-5112 or to talk more specifically about proposals.


Moving from training to satisfying employment, whether within academe or in other realms, can require skills not always learned at the bench. Surveys show that what employers want from potential Ph.D. job applicants is what graduate education means to provide: deep knowledge, hands-on experience, ability to ask meaningful questions and find answers to them, experience managing projects, capacity to work independently, initiative, entrepreneurialism, and an advanced ability to communicate clearly about complex things. Helping trainees understand, acquire, and demonstrate skills that make them ready for complex careers should be the goal of submitted projects.

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund will support pilot projects that demonstrate practical approaches to readying scientists for career transitions. Projects may be meant to enhance trainees’ understanding of jobs beyond the Academy, or of career trajectories within academe, or of the flexibility of scientists’ intellectual skill set.

This fifth call for proposals is open to both single institutions and institutions working in partnerships. Academic institutions, professional societies, and advocacy organizations are among the appropriate drivers of proposals. Only non-profit institutions may be supported by BWF’s award, but non-profits may involve for profit organizations in their proposals. Proposals in which professional societies serving different fields or sectors collaborate with one another are encouraged, as are proposals between different Units or Schools within an academic institution.

We aim to advance good ideas that have the potential to be deployed at larger scales. FASEB’s Individual Development Plan, a tool that helps structure key conversations between trainee and advisor, and Preparing Future Faculty, a program that provides trainees opportunities to observe and experience faculty responsibilities, are two examples of high impact programs that started small and spread. By citing them as examples, we mean to encourage potential applicants to think big. In these proposals, send us ideas that could change how an organization like yours thinks about readying trainees for successful, fulfilling, happy careers that reflect the value of a scientific education.


The Career Guidance for Trainees (CGT) program provides grants of $30,000 - $50,000 over a one-year period to support demonstration projects that will model affordable approaches to improving trainees’ readiness for stable, fulfilling careers, whether by clarifying and improving their basic “Ph.D.-level” skills, by helping them identify how they can best use their skills and interests to serve the needs of potential employers, by providing them approaches to thinking through their career options, or by other strategies.

It is anticipated that the average project budget will be $30,000, not to exceed $50,000 per award. $300,000 has been set aside to fund this group of pilot projects.