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F32 vs Faculty funded post doc

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hamsterpants

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Hello again, it's me, Hamsterpants. I would like some advice for the next stage of my journey.

I'm currently on internship at a research-strong AMC, which has been a great fit for me. So much so that I would like to stay here for post-doc. After seeing that post-doc options are currently limited due to funding, I decided to submit an F32 to work with someone here whose research aligns closely with my future directions. I submitted in Dec. and study section meets in March.

However, as this is by no means a guaranteed option (especially as the F32 was rather hurriedly put together), I have decided to apply to advertised (research) post-doc positions that were good fits. I recently had an initial phone interview, which went well. The lab's work and my research foci overlap considerably and I also believe there would be a good fit interpersonally. Although I hoped not to have to move again so soon, it sounds like an exciting opportunity to take the next step in my research career.

For this position, there does not seem to be a set deadline or notification date and there will be at least one additional follow-up interview, but at what point should I tell potential PI's about the F32 submission (if at all)? Assuming an offer was made (by this PI or another), what would you do? Take the position and forget about the grant or ask to wait until grant is reviewed?

What do you see as the pros or cons of either choice? It would be wonderful to have the freedom of the F32 but my ultimate goal is a post-doc that fits (and a salary so that I can eat and feed my cat)

Any advice would be warmly appreciated.

Happy New Year!

HP
 

LM02

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The timing of an F32 application on internship year makes it very difficult to pursue as an option. In my experience as a faculty member at an AMC (and former F32 awardee), it only really works if you have a solid back-up option at the institution through which you submitted the proposal. Without that, you will either have to take a really big risk by waiting to hear (at which point, the big postdoc recruitment season will be behind you) OR apply for postdocs that require a decision well in advance of study section.

As nice as it is to have on your CV, an F32 can be a bit of a pain. Unlike an F31 that is awarded to people with the more protected student status, the F32 can put people in a strange place administratively with their institutions. At some places, they will find sneaky ways to draw on your small budget to cover fringe and benefits. Others will tax awardees on their benefits. Some will not consider you student, staff, or faculty, thereby placing you in a strange no-man's land. The budget is really small as it is, making it challenging to do much, and with no paid staff time. On an investigator-funded postdoc, you may have similar opportunities for publishing and grant writing without the extra hassles.

In an ideal world - without a solid back-up with your current mentor - you could consider and even accept a postdoc elsewhere. And then if your F32 gets a fundable score, either try to negotiate moving it or simply decline. It will still be on your CV as a successful grant submission.
 
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hamsterpants

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The timing of an F32 application on internship year makes it very difficult to pursue as an option. In my experience as a faculty member at an AMC (and former F32 awardee), it only really works if you have a solid back-up option at the institution through which you submitted the proposal. Without that, you will either have to take a really big risk by waiting to hear (at which point, the big postdoc recruitment season will be behind you) OR apply for postdocs that require a decision well in advance of study section.

As nice as it is to have on your CV, an F32 can be a bit of a pain. Unlike an F31 that is awarded to people with the more protected student status, the F32 can put people in a strange place administratively with their institutions. At some places, they will find sneaky ways to draw on your small budget to cover fringe and benefits. Others will tax awardees on their benefits. Some will not consider you student, staff, or faculty, thereby placing you in a strange no-man's land. The budget is really small as it is, making it challenging to do much, and with no paid staff time. On an investigator-funded postdoc, you may have similar opportunities for publishing and grant writing without the extra hassles.

In an ideal world - without a solid back-up with your current mentor - you could consider and even accept a postdoc elsewhere. And then if your F32 gets a fundable score, either try to negotiate moving it or simply decline. It will still be on your CV as a successful grant submission.


Thank you, these are very helpful thoughts. My F32 would be using an existing dataset but it does sound like it comes with many challenges.
 

Ollie123

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Don't take something you aren't happy with, but I would never recommend planning life around a grant getting funded on a first submission. And right away - would you be able to coast there for 6 months to a year AFTER the review date waiting for the grant? My projected K start date was October and we just got the JIT. This is not uncommon.

This goes double since it's just secondary data analysis anyways. Unless you proposed something super crazy that requires high end computing resources...You can still do the project elsewhere, at any point, with minimal funding. You wouldn't be giving up much.
 
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LM02

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Don't take something you aren't happy with, but I would never recommend planning life around a grant getting funded on a first submission. And right away - would you be able to coast there for 6 months to a year AFTER the review date waiting for the grant? My projected K start date was October and we just got the JIT. This is not uncommon.

This goes double since it's just secondary data analysis anyways. Unless you proposed something super crazy that requires high end computing resources...You can still do the project elsewhere, at any point, with minimal funding. You wouldn't be giving up much.

100% agreed.

Given that this is a secondary data analysis, you could view this is a great opportunity to pursue the collaboration with your current mentor beyond internship (regardless of funding outcome), while also pursuing more secure postdoc options beyond that institution.
 
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hamsterpants

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Thank you both. I have always appreciated your viewpoints on this forum. The grant would be an opportunity for me to learn fMRI pre-processing and analysis but your points still hold. My proposed sponsor cannot support me if there were to be a resubmission and even if funded on the first, the project start date may leave me with no funds for several months (unfortunately this hamster has no family resources or other income). Anyway, thanks to you both. The NRSA is starting to look like a less attractive option, although I am still glad I submitted as it has greatly clarified my next steps.
 

stw2010

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Hello again, it's me, Hamsterpants. I would like some advice for the next stage of my journey.

I'm currently on internship at a research-strong AMC, which has been a great fit for me...

Happy New Year HP! Wanted to chime in. I too did my internship at a research strong AMC (really enjoyed it and wanted to stay) and decided to submit an F32 -- so thought I would share my experience.

At my site there were T32 post doc positions that I also applied for as "back ups" to my grant because I wanted to stay. These positions were not guaranteed to current interns by any means but I know there was this unsaid -- prioritization of current interns but since nothing was outright said or promised -- I still applied to outside postdocs. These post docs were all research focused and did not use APPA CAS.

This worked to my advantage is some regards as some sites started reviewing apps and making decisions later, like March. This is helpful because I was able to know the score on my grant to make a more educated guess as to it's funding.

However most T32 postsocs interviewed earlier. I did not mention my grant submission during interviews. Once they expressed interest in extending me an offer, I then would discuss with them the timeline they needed to hear back from me. If a short time frame was provided, I was pretty candid with them about my grant submission and when I would know more (after getting my score).

I did this only because I wanted to stay at my current institution and I knew that in addition to the grant I submitted, I also applied to the T32s offered by my institution. It was risky but ultimately a decision you need to make about what you want. For example, say you did accept this outside PIs position but you got scored extremely well on the first submission -- what would you do?

My grant was funded on the first submission (so possible) -- though I recognize this is rare and I was quite lucky. Best of luck!
 
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hamsterpants

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Happy New Year HP! Wanted to chime in. I too did my internship at a research strong AMC (really enjoyed it and wanted to stay) and decided to submit an F32 -- so thought I would share my experience.

At my site there were T32 post doc positions that I also applied for as "back ups" to my grant because I wanted to stay. These positions were not guaranteed to current interns by any means but I know there was this unsaid -- prioritization of current interns but since nothing was outright said or promised -- I still applied to outside postdocs. These post docs were all research focused and did not use APPA CAS.

This worked to my advantage is some regards as some sites started reviewing apps and making decisions later, like March. This is helpful because I was able to know the score on my grant to make a more educated guess as to it's funding.

However most T32 postsocs interviewed earlier. I did not mention my grant submission during interviews. Once they expressed interest in extending me an offer, I then would discuss with them the timeline they needed to hear back from me. If a short time frame was provided, I was pretty candid with them about my grant submission and when I would know more (after getting my score).

I did this only because I wanted to stay at my current institution and I knew that in addition to the grant I submitted, I also applied to the T32s offered by my institution. It was risky but ultimately a decision you need to make about what you want. For example, say you did accept this outside PIs position but you got scored extremely well on the first submission -- what would you do?

My grant was funded on the first submission (so possible) -- though I recognize this is rare and I was quite lucky. Best of luck!

Thanks stw2010! Nice seeing you here too. There is also a T32 mechanism here but it looks like there will not be available slots for this upcoming year (unless one of the current individuals decides to leave). But that would be a good back-up to have, I just feel I need to be risk-averse.

I guess if I am extended an offer (which hasn't happened yet), I will then discuss timeline etc as you did. I still have a final interview so hopefully that will shed some light on things. If I did accept an offer before I get scored, even if the grant scored "11" :), I would just pat myself on the back and add it to my CV (but stick with and honor my original decision). I'm just not sure how much to reveal and when. I'm sure any of my choices could work out fine, I just don't want to burn any bridges.

That's awesome that you were funded on the first try! It's nice to know that the F32 works out well for some folks. It definitely clarified some of my research plans so it was a learning experience at the least.
 
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