Frequently Asked Questions: Mentored Research Awards

Get answers to frequently-asked questions about the Mentored Research Awards.

Below are a list of questions from prospective applicants to our Mentored Research Award program.

If you have a question that is not addressed below, please email us at

PI Eligibility Questions

Q: I'm an Assistant Professor at Brown Medical School.  Does this disqualify me?

A: Junior faculty at the Alpert Medical School are eligible for this award.

Q: I'm an Associate Professor but have not had significant external funding. Am I eligible?

A: While this award is primarily designed for those a more junior levels (Instructor or Assistant Professor), if you feel there may be specifics about your situation and background that would make you eligible for an exception, please contact us at to discuss this in more detail.

Q: Would having a VA Career Development Award make me ineligible for this award?

A: An applicant with a prior or current VA Career Development Award would be considered ineligible for a Mentored Research Award.

Q: I have a Master’s degree and am not a clinician. Would I qualify for a Mentored Research Awards or are they intended for practitioners?

A: The Mentored Research Awards are not intended solely for practitioners; however, applicants must possess a health-professional or research doctoral degree to be eligible.

Q: I am a current or prior recipient of a K-award.  Am I eligible?

A: Current or prior K-awardees are ineligible for a Mentored Research Award

Q: Is there a cutoff on the maximum number of years a position can be held to still be considered junior faculty?

A: There is no cutoff for the number of years to be considered junior faculty. Any Brown University or URI faculty member with the appointment of Instructor, Investigator, or Assistant Professor (or equivalent) may apply.

Q: Can a Mentored Research Award have more than one PI?

A: No, our MRA awards are for a single PI only.  

Mentor Questions

Q: Does my project need a mentor?

A: Yes, all projects are required to have at least one mentor.

Q: How important is it that the mentor(s) are from a different department in order to create a trans-disciplinary proposal and application?

A: The mentor does not need to be from a different department. Please note that a team of mentors is allowed, but only a primary mentor is required and must be named at the time of the preliminary application submission. The mentors selected will be evaluated to make sure they make sense for the project and the applicant.

Q: Is it expected that mentors be more senior faculty rather than junior faculty?

A: Mentors are expected to be at the Associate Professor or Professor rank (or equivalent) unless there is good reason to have an Assistant Professor (or equivalent) as a mentor (e.g., unique expertise in relevant methodology or research technique). Ultimately, the reviewers will look at the mentoring team on the whole to ensure it makes sense for both the proposed research and the applicant.

Q: How many mentors are typically included on a training team?

A: This depends on the investigator and the proposed project. The mentor(s) on the team should make sense to what is being proposed. All projects must have at least one mentor, and the size of the mentor team should not impede the project.

Proposal and Submission Questions

Q: UFUNDS access

A: Brown faculty should be able to access UFunds using their University credentials. If you are not Brown faculty, or are not able to access UFunds, please email to receive UFunds access. UFunds requires a Google email address.

Q: How do I know if I am part of an Underrepresented minority group/ a group given priority?

A: We use the NIH definition of underrepresented minority groups. More information can be found here.

Q: Are the references expected to be in the same one-page research summary or a separate page?

A: References should be uploaded as a separate file. They are not part of the one-page overview.

Q: To confirm: Letters of support from the department chair and mentor are not required for the pre-application, correct?

A: That is correct. Letters are not required until full proposal submission (unless otherwise specified).

Q: Is it okay to include an additional letter in my preliminary application from my mentors stating their support for the application, or alternatively to give a brief proposal about my training plan?

A: There is an opportunity to upload Additional Files in UFunds. Since letters of support and training plans are not required until the invited full proposal stage, it cannot be guaranteed that reviewers will appreciate the additional materials or consider them when scoring the preliminary application. You may consider having the mentor indicate support within the personal statement of the biosketch. You may also consider alluding to your training plan in the personal statement of your biosketch.

Q: Do you have any successful applications that prospective applicants are allowed to view?

A: Yes. You can find examples of successful preliminary applications on our Application Resources page.

Review Process Questions

Q: Who reviews the applications for the Mentored Research Awards?

A: Reviews of preliminary applications are conducted by members of Advance-CTR Professional Development Core's Steering Committee, which is composed of senior faculty across Brown, Brown School of Public Health, URI, and the hospital affiliates (Lifespan, Care New England, Providence VA). Review of full proposals are conducted by the same committee; however, if a proposal's content area is not within the expertise of the committee, then external reviewers with the appropriate expertise will be involved.

Q: Is the selection committee looking for people with prior translational research experience, or is that tended to be viewed as the purpose of the award?

A: The only requirement is that the applicant has prior academic research experience. If an applicant does not have prior translational research experience, it is expected the applicant will opt for a more rigorous training program as part of the award. The committee looks at applicants on the whole along with the proposed research project to make their selections.

Q: For the Preliminary Application, are reviewers looking for specifics about the mentorship and training plan, or is it meant to primarily outline the research project?

A: The Preliminary Application is intended to primarily outline the research project. In the invited full proposal, applicants will also submit a mentoring agreement with the letter of support from their mentor and have the ability to include more information about the training plan.

Budget & Funding Restriction Questions

Q: Can I devote more than 50% effort in my budget?

A: Yes, as long as you do not exceed the salary cap of $90,000.

Q: My salary means that 50% effort exceeds the salary cap of $90,000. Can I devote less effort or use some of the $25,000 for research expenses to remedy this?

A: No, you must devote at least 50% effort. If this means you would exceed the salary cap, your department would need to cost-share to cover the gap.

Q: My salary means that 50% effort is less than $90,000. What can I do with the additional funds?

A: You can either use the funds to increase your effort to a higher percent and/or use the funds for other research related expenses (in addition to the $25,000 already earmarked in the RFA for those expenses).

Q: Can a study be conducted outside of RI?

A: Research could be conducted outside of RI; however, funding from this IDeA mechanism of support cannot leave the state of Rhode Island except when used to cover fee-for-service products or consultant fees. Additionally, it is worth noting that it is a review criterion for Advance-CTR pilot projects whether the project addresses a health priority in RI, as defined by the RI Department of Health.

Other Questions

Q: Could you provide more information or links to websites about what constitutes Clinical and Translational Research?

A: The following NIH definitions apply for the purpose of this award:

  • Clinical research comprises studies and trials in human subjects as defined by NIH Regulations and Policies.
  • Translational research includes research that aims to convert basic research advances to practical applications in humans, and research aimed at the adoption of best practices in community healthcare.

Q: What is considered too ambitious in terms of a research plan?

A: Reviewers will be assessing for feasibility based on the allotted performance period, funds available, and the background of the investigator as well as mentor(s). It is up to the applicant, with support from mentors, to determine what a feasible research plan would be.