FAQ

Below are frequently asked questions about the BRAINS program. If you cannot find an answer to your question here, please email us at brains@uw.edu.

FAQ Topics:

General

Fellows versus Affiliates

Eligibility

Fellows Program

Affiliates Program

Miscellaneous

General

What is unique about the BRAINS program?

BRAINS differs from other programs by providing longitudinal professional development in community that specifically targets factors known to impact career persistence and decisions of scientists from groups underrepresented and marginalized in the neuroscience. BRAINS emphasizes community, the intersection of professional and personal development, experiences as a member of an underrepresented group in neuroscience and peer coaching. Finally, BRAINS not only offers a professional development experience (symposium or virtual workshops), but it also offers follow-up professional development and community building opportunities such as Peer Coaching Circles, cross-cohort events, and virtual gatherings. These opportunities foster ongoing connection to the BRAINS community.

When is the next round of applications?

Applications for the next BRAINS cohort will open in early March 2024. If you have any questions about applying to BRAINS, please contact us at brains@uw.edu.

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Fellows versus Affiliates

What are the BRAINS program pathways?

The BRAINS program recognizes that people have different needs at this transitional early-career stage. Thus, the program includes two participant pathways: Fellows and Affiliates. Both pathways establish a counterspace foundation, build a cohort-based community, enhance participants’ career skills, connect participants with senior scientists, and offer structured ongoing engagement. The Fellows pathway begins with an in-person, four-day national symposium. The Affiliates pathway launches through an online virtual workshop series. Both the Fellows and Affiliates foster and extend their BRAINS experiences through virtual Peer Coaching Circles with members of their cohort, and are both invited to attend ongoing BRAINS activities such as a cross-cohort symposium and virtual gatherings. 

How do you apply to the BRAINS Fellows and Affiliates Pathways?

Applicants apply to the BRAINS program using the same application. All eligible applicants will be invited to either the Fellows or Affiliates pathway.

How are Fellows and Affiliates selected?

BRAINS applications are evaluated using a rubric grounded in our eligibility criteria and program goals. Sample selection criteria include access to networks and mentors, access to professional development resources, scientific potential, interest in academic careers, and connection to NINDS's mission. The Fellows Program serves participants who have not, to date, experienced sufficient community, access to mentors and networks, and/or professional development opportunities. Thus, the Fellows Program focuses on individuals for whom participation may have the most positive differential impact. Not all eligible applicants want, need, or are able to participate in the intensive Fellows experience. Eligible applicants who do not join the Fellows Program are invited to join the Affiliates Program

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Eligibility

​Who is eligible to participate in BRAINS?

Early career Ph.D. scientists in neuroscience-related fields who are US citizens or Permanent Residents (unless strongly justified on the basis of exceptional relevance to NIH and approved by our funding agency) and are from underrepresented groups (see below). Early career includes postdoctoral researchers, assistant professors, assistant research professors, and other pre-tenure level science positions.

Which underrepresented groups are eligible to participate in BRAINS?

Eligible racial and ethnic identities include African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, Hawaiian Natives, and natives of the US Pacific Islands. In addition, following NIH guidance, we recognized that underrepresentation can vary from setting to setting; individuals from racial or ethnic groups that can be demonstrated convincingly to be underrepresented in their field are also eligible and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Individuals with disabilities (defined as those with physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities) are also eligible for the program.   

Must I complete my Ph.D. before applying?

Applicants must have completed their Ph.D. by the time their program pathway begins. Given BRAINS' focus on addressing the critical transition period from graduate studies and post-doctoral positions to permanent research and teaching positions, priority will be given to eligible individuals who have earned their doctoral degrees within the past two to twelve years and who do not have tenure. 

Are Asians considered underrepresented in neuroscience?

In general Asians are not considered underrepresented in neuroscience. In 2020 NIH issued a Notice on NIH’s Interest in Diversity which recognizes that underrepresentation varies from setting to setting. Therefore, individuals from racial or ethnic groups that can be demonstrated convincingly to be underrepresented within their field, including some Asians, may be considered eligible. Cases will be evaluated on an applicant-by-applicant basis in partnership with our program officer.

Are women eligible for BRAINS?

The BRAINS programmatic content and design intentionally attend to social identity and intersectionality. Women and non-binary individuals who are members of marginalized racial and ethnic or are individuals with disabilities are eligible for BRAINS. 

Are M.D. neuroscientists eligible to participate in BRAINS?

M.D. neuroscientists are certainly eligible to attend BRAINS provided other eligibility criteria are met. However, the program is not structured to address the issues unique to M.D. neuroscientists. Rather, the program content's focus is research-based neuroscientists.

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Fellows Program

When is the next BRAINS Fellows Symposium?

The next Fellows Symposium will be September 26-29, 2024.

Do I need to stay for the entirety of the Fellows Symposium? Can I attend for just a single day?

Given the community we hope to establish through the BRAINS Fellows symposium, all participants, panelists, and facilitators are required to stay for the duration of the event. The BRAINS symposium model provides for deeper continuity, discussions, networking, and relationship building.

What topics will be addressed at the Fellows Symposium?

The Fellows Symposium will address professional development topics such as mentoring, research funding, time management, mastering teaching, thriving as a neuroscientist who is a member of a group underrepresented in the field, and other topics. Please note that the Fellows Symposium is not designed to address issues related to applying and interviewing for jobs, although some of the symposium panels and discussion might indirectly touch on these subjects.

How much does the Fellows Symposium cost?

The symposium costs (lodging and meals) will be covered by the NIH grant. No registration fee will be charged. Participants will be responsible for travel expenses. 

I have a nursing infant. Can I bring my infant and a family member to take care of my child while I attend the Fellows Symposium?

We certainly empathize with the challenge of combining nursing and travel for work. We've been there ourselves! Nevertheless our experience from the various early-career symposia we have run has made it clear that it would be very difficult for participants to take full advantage of the BRAINS experience if children or other family members attend. Our Symposium program runs from approximately 8 am until 8 pm, with lots of time for networking, conversations, and personal reflection. This program is an opportunity to take time to focus on you and creating the career and life you seek. Thus, participants are not able to bring their family with them. If you are accepted to the symposium but cannot attend due to family constraints, you may defer your acceptance to a future BRAINS symposium or choose to join the Affiliates pathway which launches with a virtual workshop series.

I have a nursing infant. What accommodations are available for pumping?

The symposium site has a room available to pump breastmilk and a refrigerator/freezer to store the milk.

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Affiliates Program

When is the next BRAINS Affiliates Virtual Workshop Series?

The next Affiliates Virtual Workshop Series will be in Fall 2024. 

Can someone still apply and be selected for the Fellows Program after having participated in the Affiliates Program?

Yes, as long as the individual continues to meet the eligibility criteria. The person will need to submit a new application when there is another open call for applications.

How do people get into the Affiliates Program?

Interested individuals must submit an application to the BRAINS program during the open application process. All eligible applicants will be invited to either the Fellows or the Affiliates pathway.

What topics will be addressed in the Affiliate Virtual Workshop Series?

The Affiliates Virtual Workshop Series will address professional development topics such as mentoring, time management, thriving as a neuroscientist who is a member of a group underrepresented in the field, and other topics. Please note that the Affiliates program is not designed to address issues related to applying and interviewing for jobs, although these topics may arise during the virtual Peer Coaching Circle discussions.

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Miscellaneous

How is BRAINS funded?

The BRAINS program is funded by NINDS National Institutes of Health grants R25NS076416 and R25NS094094. The program has received funding from 2011-2026.

BRAINS has also received funding support from the Washington Research Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Program in Public Understanding of Science and Technology, the Simons Foundation, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, and the Allen Institute.

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