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?
Review eligibility in the Request for Proposal. If you believe you are eligible, you will need to take the eligibility test to access the pre-proposal.

Do I need to be nominated by my institution to submit a pre-proposal application?
No.

Can I contact BWF to determine my eligibility?
It is the responsibility of applicants to read the published guidelines and FAQs to determine eligibility. 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. You must have this exception approved by the program officer before applying; do not presume you will be given exception.

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 60 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 before contacting BWF.

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 60-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 60 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 60 months, you are eligible.

I’m a  temporary resident of the U.S. or Canada. Am I eligible for the award?
Possibly. If you are a temporary U.S.or Canadian resident and you hold a valid visa that allows you to remain in the U.S. or 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 the U.S. or Canada 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. We make the grant to the degree-granting institution 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 60 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 can certify the pre-proposal application form and provide a recommendation letter. Only one recommendation letter can be submitted.  If necessary, your primary and secondary mentor can provide a joint letter to be submitted by the primary mentor.

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.

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.

If one of my publications gets accepted after the pre-proposal or full application deadline, how can I inform the Advisory Committee of this?
Once the deadlines pass, you can no longer amend your application, which includes updating a publication or adding a publication.

After submitting a pre-proposal, can I change my mentor or institution if I am invited to submit a full proposal?
No. 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.

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.

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 date stated in the Request for Proposal.

Can letters of collaboration be included in the pre-proposal application?
No.

Do I need to submit a proposed budget with my pre-proposal application?
No.

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 you will enter on the "Institutional Information" page of the online application) This mentor should also hold 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 you may not change the primary mentor whose name is associated with your pre-proposal.

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 close" button, exit the application, and return at a later 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 "PDF the application" button on the application home page.   

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 preproposal 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 application form). Pre-prints, however, such as bioRxiv or arXiv.org, are allowable as one of your five publications.

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 in the pre-proposal application, 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 or Word document, 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 the CASI Pre-Proposal.

Can the recommendation letter be sent separately?
No. Letters of recommendation must be 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 at least a week or more 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 the CASI Pre-Proposal. If you’re still experiencing difficulties after reviewing this document, contact Melanie Scott, Senior Program Associate.

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. If your primary postdoc mentor is still experiencing difficulties after reviewing this document, ask him/her to contact Melanie Scott, Senior Program Associate.

I completed my application. How do I submit?
Once the application has been completed and the mentor has completed the letter of recommendation and certification information, click "Validation Status" on the application side bar. Review your application. If the application is not missing required items, click "Save and Close" and you will be redirectred to the application home page. On the right side panel, there is a submit button. If a submit button is not available, the application is missing (one or more) required fields or attachments. 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 919-991-5107.

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 Melanie Scott.