|Frequently Asked Questions|
What makes the Sarnoff program unique?
What else is notable about the Sarnoff Program?
Is this only for future cardiologists?
What kinds of cardiovascular research are allowed? What if I'm interested in something clinical?
Do I need any previous research experience?
What if I do have previous research experience?
Do I have to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to apply?
When is the deadline?
At what point during medical school do most students participate?
What is the minimum amount of time required to do the program?
When does the program year start?
How many people from each school can apply?
Do you need to attend an Ivy League medical school?
No. We encourage applications from all U.S. medical schools. The purpose of the program is to give students an opportunity to experience basic, translational or clinical research and foster future careers in academic investigation.
Does your school have to nominate you?
No. However, as discussed below, a faculty member from your medical school must serve as your Sponsor.
Do I need to have a Sponsor? Why? How do I find a Sponsor at my medical school? Does s/he have to be engaged in cardiovascular medicine and/or in basic science?
You do need a Sponsor, and the rationale underscores Sarnoff's focus on mentorship. A Sponsor is vital in helping you through the application process both by writing a letter of recommendation as well as by providing assistance with and feedback on your essays. Additionally, your Sponsor may be able to help you select a laboratory in which to complete your Sarnoff Fellowship. Please note that your Sponsor does not have to be affiliated with the Sarnoff Cardiovascular Research Foundation, and does not have to be involved specifically in cardiovascular science or basic science. Rather, s/he should be a faculty member who can comment on your interest in research and potential for benefit from a Sarnoff Fellowship. Also note that your Sponsor cannot serve as your Preceptor for the year. There are faculty members at many of the medical schools throughout the country who are affiliated with the Foundation, either as Alumni, current and former Sponsors, Preceptors, Board or Committee members. If you are having trouble identifying someone at your school, please contact our Executive Director, Dana Boyd, at dboyd@SarnoffFoundation.org. We will be happy to help you find a Sponsor.
Aside from the Sponsor, who else is involved in the application process and beyond?
There are several individuals involved in shepherding you through the application process and, if successful, your Sarnoff research year. The Sponsor is your counselor and advocate from your home institution. If selected as a finalist, you will be interviewed by members of the Sarnoff Scientific Committee. Once accepted as a Sarnoff Fellow, you are assigned an Advisor, who is a senior cardiovascular scientist and a member of the Sarnoff Scientific Committee. S/he will assist you in selecting the right research opportunity, and will track your progress closely over the course of your Sarnoff Fellowship year. The Preceptor is the investigator in whose laboratory or research group you will spend your research year.
What do I write about in the essay? What if I am interested in a field in which I don't have experience? How do I find a topic I'm interested in? Should I write about a topic that I intend to investigate during my Fellowship year?
This is where your Sponsor can help provide guidance. You can write about any cardiovascular topic that you find interesting, including epidemiology and health policy, or clinical, translational, or basic science. You might find a topic of interest during a medical school lecture, while caring for a patient on the wards, during discussions with a faculty member or mentor, or by reviewing a cardiovascular journal. You do not need to have any personal research experience on the topic, and this essay is not meant to define your future project should you become a Sarnoff Fellow. The purpose of the essay is to give the Scientific Committee an opportunity to see your scientific reasoning and ability to approach a scientific question, as well as to learn about what types of research interest you.
When do you conduct the interviews? What is the purpose of the interview?
Finalists are invited to interviews with the Scientific Committee on the first Saturday of March in Boston. Travel expenses will be paid for by Sarnoff. The purpose is for the Scientific Committee members to meet with applicants and to discuss their interests in research and the impact a Sarnoff Fellowship may have on their careers.
If I am accepted, may I defer my Fellowship for a year?
No. If you are unable to participate in the year for which you are selected, you will have to reapply the following year.
If I am not accepted, may I reapply the following year?
What is the stipend for Sarnoff Fellows?
A stipend of $32,000 is provided.
Is the stipend taxable?
Generally yes, but check with your accountant or tax professional for definitive advice.
What other benefits are provided?
Other benefits include:
What about my student loans?
Check with your school's financial aid office or registrar. Most schools have a status that allows you to take a year to perform research while remaining matriculated and maintaining student status.
Do I need to have a lab or Preceptor picked out before I apply?
Absolutely not. In fact, we encourage Fellows to be open-minded and to visit several labs before making their choice, a process that starts after the Fellowship has been awarded. To this end, Fellows are provided with an allowance for travel expenses related to finding a Preceptor and laboratory.
How do I go about selecting a Preceptor?
You will be assigned an Advisor from the Scientific Committee, based on your specific interests. Your Sponsor and Advisor will help you to identify several potential laboratories that are doing leading work in the field you wish to pursue. You will be funded to travel to various labs to meet with the principal investigators, allowing you to find the best project and environment for you. In addition, you will have access to a fund of knowledge from other Scientific Committee members and former Fellows (Alumni) who may have worked previously in the lab.
Do I have to go to another institution?
Fellows are required to conduct their research year at an institution not affiliated with their medical school. Rare exceptions may be granted for extenuating circumstances. The purpose of this requirement is to expose the Fellow to a new academic environment and to ensure that the Fellow is able to work in the best laboratory or research group in his/her field of interest. If personal circumstances make leaving the home institution a significant hardship, the applicant must detail the circumstances and the potential hardship. Exceptions will be granted on an individual basis. If an exception is granted, the medical student will be expected to investigate labs in the same geographical vicinity as his/her medical school. If there are other suitable laboratories in the applicant's geographical area, the applicant will be expected to spend the research year in one of those venues.
How does the Scientific Committee help?
The Scientific Committee carries out the process of reviewing applications and interviewing and selecting students. Once accepted, each Fellow is assigned an Advisor from the Scientific Committee. The Advisor provides the opportunity for a one-on-one mentoring relationship that will continue throughout the year and after the Fellowship has ended. The Scientific Committee Advisor acts as the Fellow's advocate and maintains contact with the Preceptor. Among the many duties of the Advisor is to conduct a site visit, during which the Advisor visits the Preceptor's laboratory, to ensure that a favorable research and mentorship environment exists. Additionally, the Fellow has access to other members of the Scientific Committee, who can provide additional guidance and advice.
What kind of research groups or labs can I select?
We take a broad view of cardiovascular science. (See section on "What is considered cardiovascular research?") Any laboratory or investigator conducting leading work in basic, translational, or clinical research in a cardiovascular-related field may be considered. This also may include laboratories that conduct research in epidemiology, health policy, and clinical trials. Keep in mind that your Sponsor and Advisor are important resources in evaluating the range of options available to you.
What does 'lifetime commitment' mean?
Involvement in the Sarnoff community extends beyond just a year of research. Fellows have continued access to a large network of Sarnoff affiliates, including current and former Scientific Committee members, Sponsors, Preceptors, and Alumni. Each spring, we conduct an Annual Scientific Meeting (funding for travel and lodging are provided for all Alumni). We also hold regional events for Sarnoff Fellows, Alumni and affiliates. These gatherings serve as opportunities for continued mentorship and guidance regarding career development, and allow for the rekindling of friendships and professional affiliations. This concept of "family" remains unique to the Sarnoff Fellowship.
What if I am interested in a second year?
Fellows may apply for an additional year of funding from the Sarnoff Foundation to support continuation of their research project.