Funds for Canadian Postdocs in the U.S. and Finding a Grant Editor


1. Where can a Canadian get funds to do a postdoc in the U.S.?

2. I need to find a freelance editor to help me with a grant application.

Dear GrantDoctor,

I'm a Canadian citizen planning on going to the U.S. next year for a postdoc. Most funding agencies will offer postdoc fellowships only to American citizens, landed immigrants, or permanent residents. I am none of the above. Where can I find out about funding opportunities for someone in my situation?

Many thanks,


Dear Andrea,

Perhaps you were looking only at U.S. funding agencies. The Grant Doctor found several Canadian programs that will support your desire to postdoc in the U.S.

If you're working in the natural sciences, the obvious choice is a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) postdoctoral fellowship. NSERC postdoctoral fellowships are available to all Canadian citizens who either recently received or will soon receive a Ph.D. from a Canadian university, and who wish to pursue postdoctoral research in a field supported by the NSERC. The fellowships pay $35,000 (Canadian) annually for up to 2 years, and they allow you to study either in Canada or "at universities and research centres abroad." Hurry up--applications are due (on NSERC Form 200) on 15 November. The biomedical equivalent of the NSERC postdoctoral fellowship program is the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) postdoctoral fellowship program. Like the NSERC award, the CIHR postdoctoral fellowship is available to Canadian citizens who wish to study either in Canada or abroad. This fellowship, too, pays a stipend of $35,000 Canadian annually to new postdocs. After 2 years, the stipend increases to $45,000. CIHR fellowships will support you for up to 3 years, but you have even less time to apply for this one: The deadline is 1 November.

A wealth of other opportunities exists in the biomedical sciences, most, but not all, for disease-specific research. See the sidebar for a few examples, and GrantsNet for a more complete listing. Simply specify "Initial Ph.D. Postdoc" and check the box "Limit to awards without U.S. citizenship requirements."

Foundation-sponsored Postdoc Grants for International Disease-Specific Research

  • International Agency for Research on Cancer Fellowships for Research Training in Cancer

  • Dystonia Medical Research Foundation Dystonia Fellowship

  • American Institute for Cancer Research Post Doctoral Grant Awards

  • Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation Research Grants

  • American College for Neuropsychopharmacology/Bristol-Myers Squibb Graduate Education Program Awards

A handful of programs exist for grants that are not for specific diseases. The Life Sciences Research Foundation solicits money from corporations and uses it to fund postdoctoral fellowships for research in any area of the life sciences. Stipends begin at $30,000 (U.S.) per year and continue, at an incrementally higher rate, for up to 3 years. It gets better: The total award is for $50,000 annually; you decide how to spend the balance, after your stipend is paid. Fellowships are available to scholars of any nationality, as long as they study at a U.S. institution.

As a woman, you qualify for International Fellowships from the American Association for University Women (AAUW). Contact the AAUW. Your chances of winning an award will be improved if your research promises to have a positive impact on the lives of women and girls in your country of origin. Here, too, applications are due 15 November, so get busy.

There's a ton of possibilities, and most of them have rather specific requirements or preferences. So take the time to sift through the lot of them and find one or two that fit you like a good hockey stick. Good luck, eh?

--The GrantDoctor

Dear GrantDoctor,

I am preparing a R01 application. Do you know anyone who can provide professional grant reading and editing services for a reasonable price?


Hong Yu, Ph.D.

Dear Dr. Yu,

First check out Next Wave's R01 Toolkit. It includes the distilled wisdom of many experienced people. It can greatly enhance your chances of getting an NIH R01 grant. But it won't help you with your grammar.

Any freelance writer or editor can provide you with basic editing at a reasonable price. If all you want to accomplish is to improve the quality of the writing, it doesn't matter much whether they have grant-writing experience. Los Angeles is veritably teeming with underemployed freelance writers. Check the yellow pages, or call your local free weekly newspaper for leads.

If you prefer to have someone with a science background (not a bad idea ...) there are lots of freelance science writers around as well; good sources of information include the National Association of Science Writers (NASW) and the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA).

These sources may also be able to provide you with information on the next level of freelance service: experienced grant writers and grant-writing consultants. These folks will be able to provide far more than basic editing. An experienced and capable grant writer will help you avoid common errors and produce a grant proposal that employs the grant-writing "best practices" laid out in the R01 Toolkit. This will greatly improve your chances of success.

The GrantDoctor is currently compiling a list of experienced freelance grant writers and editors. So far the list is short, but keep posted--we'll put it up when it's longer.

Finally, don't forget about your own universities resources. You university's grants office will have plenty of experience submitting grants to NIH. They probably have someone on staff who can help you.

If you do decide to hire a freelancer, be willing to pay them well. Valuable professional service doesn't come cheap, and writing biomedical research grants is a highly specialized, demanding line of work. You get what you pay for. Best Wishes,

--The GrantDoctor

Due to the high volume of questions received, The GrantDoctor cannot answer all queries on an individual basis. Look for an answer to your question published in this column soon! Thank you!

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