Gene Therapy Grants for Non-U.S. Scientists, and Help the GrantDoctor Select Grant Resource Topics


How can I find general gene therapy grants for foreign postdocs in the U.S.?

Help the GrantDoctor Select Grant Resource Topics

Dear GrantDoctor,

I am starting a postdoc in the U.S.A. I cannot apply for many U.S. fellowships since I am not a U.S. citizen. How can I find fellowship for Europeans that are doing their postdoc in the U.S.A.? How can I find general gene therapy grants and fellowships? I could only find fellowships that are specialized for a certain disease.


Dear Oded,

If you're going for "general" gene therapy grants, then I'm afraid you've got your work cut out for you! The National Science Foundation (NSF) does offer grants on both eukaryotic and microbial genetics through their Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences. A program director there told me that because these particular awards are made to applicants' institutions, both postdoctoral and faculty investigators can apply, regardless of citizenship or nationality. (Typically, university officials sign off on the application and submit it on behalf of the applicant to the federal agency.)

However, before you dash off and begin writing up a proposal, first contact NSF's Genetics Program Directors to check whether your research project is a good match for this program. This is particularly important in this instance because as a general rule, the NSF does NOT fund applications that have a medical or health-related focus. They'll fund research on, for example, the development of new vectors or gene constructs for plants--such as those that introduce bacterial pesticides in plants--or the mechanisms of gene regulation, DNA repair, genetic interactions, molecular evolution, and genomics. But they seldom support gene therapy projects involving human or animal subjects.

In today's research climate, locating grants that do not relate in some specific way to human health or medicine can be difficult. This is especially true when you're applying for gene therapy research funds from associations, societies, and foundations, each of which will have a defined focus or objective. So if you do decide to broaden your search for funds by applying to such organizations, it would be a good idea to put your research into context. Describe, for example, how public and scientific communities can benefit from your research. If your research involves mutations in muscle genes, can you show that your basic research will better explain and understand certain muscle disorders or diseases? As long as the links are not too far-fetched, tying your research to potential downstream health benefits can be useful.

Finally, you might also want to search GrantsNet for grants and fellowships for postdocs that do not require U.S. citizenship. And please check out my previous responses to questions from non-U.S. citizens (like this one from my 14 July column), as well as my guide to searching for funds.

Good luck!

--The GrantDoctor

GrantDoctor Resources?

Dear Readers,

I mentioned last time that I intend to pool my resources and provide you with one-stop centers of information addressing the questions that I'm asked most often.

For example, perhaps the most common request is that from scientists wanting to come to the United States to continue their research. Like Oded, they are in search of grants for non-U.S. citizens. A one-stop package of resources will enable such scientists to find the information they need more easily. Similarly, American scientists wishing to study abroad will be able to find out what they need to do and how to get organized.

But what other kinds of resources would you like to see in the GrantDoctor column? Would lists of U.S. institutions that fund different disciplines help? Would you like to know which agencies award the highest number of grants each year? Success rates of applicants?

Let me know what kinds of resources you'd like to see here, and I'll do my best to make sure they find a spot in this column.

Thank you,

--The GrantDoctor

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