Scholars Program Information

The Foundation for SMFM and the American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Foundation (AAOGF) seek to identify future academic physician leaders in the field of obstetrics and gynecology and to stimulate their scholarly development, through the support of advanced scientific training. The Scholarship Award is to be used in an academic Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the United States or Canada to provide research training and experience for a candidate of proven ability who exhibits significant talent, original thought, and evidence of dedication to an academic career. Research training may be either laboratory-based or clinical, and focus on basic or translational research, disease pathogenesis, diagnostics, interventions or epidemiology. Download the full application booklet here.

The Award
The total annual funding for each scholar is $120,000. Sufficient funds to support travel to the annual fellows’ retreat must be set aside. The balance of funds may be used for salary, technical support, and supplies. The award is co-sponsored by AAOGF and the Foundation for SMFM and is under the direction of the AAOGF Research Scholars Advisory Committee and the Foundation for SMFM Scholarly Activities Committee.

The award is intended to fund three consecutive years of research training. The initial award is for one year and is renewable annually for two additional consecutive years of research training, based on satisfactory progress of the scholar in meeting programmatic requirements and the availability of funds. Only one year of the three funded years may be part of a subspecialty fellowship-training program. Indirect costs are not provided. Recipients must agree to provide career development follow up after the conclusion of the scholarship on an annual basis and as requested.

It is expected that the scholarship training will be conducted at the same institution for the entire period of funding. Transfer of institutions or change of mentors during the period of funding must receive the prior approval of AAOGF and the Foundation for SMFM. Unexpended funds must be returned to the sponsoring organization unless approval is granted for an extension of the training period.

Application Requirements
Candidates must have been awarded an M.D. degree and must be eligible for the certification process of ABOG at the time of the award. This award is not intended to fund clinical training leading to specialty or subspecialty certification. However, applicants who are in their second year of an ABOG-approved fellowship can apply the first year of this award to a 3rd research training year that meets the requirements leading to ABOG subspecialty certification. In any case, applicants who have completed or are undertaking subspecialty training must have completed such training or be in the second or third year of an ABOG-approved training program at the time application is made. In addition, candidates for the FSMFM/AAOGF scholarship must be members of SMFM.

Because of the desirability of early training in scientific principles, residency programs possessing the necessary flexibility and resources are urged to notify their residents of the availability of these scholarships.

At least 75% of the candidate’s efforts should be spent in research training and conduct of research, which may occur in facilities either within or outside of the sponsoring Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Collaborative efforts with other departments e.g., Pharmacology, Molecular and Cell Biology, Genetics, Immunology, Biochemistry, or Epidemiology would be a desirable part of the program.

Applications for the subsequent academic year will be accepted only if the application is received electronically by July 3. There is no application form; however, an application format is provided below. The application must be countersigned by both the candidate and the chair of the sponsoring department. The following material must be provided for the application to be considered:

  1. A description of the candidate’s qualifications, including a curriculum vitae, bibliography, prior training, past research experience, evidence of completion of residency training in obstetrics and gynecology or expectation of completion of residency training in obstetrics and gynecology prior to the start of the award. The basis for the sponsoring department’s selection of the candidate should be clear, including any future plans for development and faculty appointment or placement.
  1. A comprehensive description of the proposed training program, including planned didactic experience, and formal didactic courses. The latter should include at least two formal graduate level courses in areas relevant to the scholar’s area of interest. Applicants who have completed master’s degree or Ph.D. coursework have fulfilled this requirement and are not required to enroll in formal didactic courses, but should take courses that expand knowledge related to the research field. Classes must include an exam and a passing grade documented by a letter signed by the course director. Additional components can include: structured conferences, specific laboratory responsibilities, and the extent of non-research related clinical responsibilities. Since it is assumed that ongoing experience in a research project is an essential part of the training, this research project should be described in detail using an NIH grant format but should not exceed 6 pages, using Arial 11 point font, and including all figures and tables but not bibliography. The goals of the training program and the means of evaluation of productivity and success in meeting these goals must be clearly stated.
  1. A description of departmental resources appropriate to the training, including the full-time faculty member responsible for serving as the training mentor must be provided. The mentor’s NIH biosketch and a separate list of all past trainees are required.
  1. The proposed mentor must provide a detailed mentoring plan that includes methods of assessment, expected milestones, and remediation plans if training targets are not met. In addition, a list of any other faculty members with whom the trainee will work, with particulars of their past experience in mentoring and their time commitment to this undertaking, should be included. Finally, please make note of available research space, equipment and library materials as well as an account of prior training experience within the unit and the existence of other departmental support resources.
  1. A list of other research grants, training grants, or scholarships previously or currently held by the applicant. Please include a list of all applications for funding by the candidate that are currently pending review. Candidates who currently hold an R01, K award, including BIRWCH, WRHR, or other K12 awards, are not eligible. However, AAOGF/Pregnancy Foundation scholarship awards do not preclude applying for supplemental research funding from other sources (including R21, R03, or a T32 award) the acceptance of which would not jeopardize continued funding or renewal of this award. Such applications are in fact encouraged and plans for pursuing such subsequent research funding should be addressed in the application. If the applicant has questions regarding their eligibility, they should contact the Scholar’s Committee Chair.
  1. A budget should be provided. As noted, the award may be used for salary support of the scholar, purchase of equipment and supplies, technician salaries and/or services and travel related to research training. Planned expenditures should be listed under the following headings: salaries (by individual), supplies, equipment, services, and travel. Please note that no indirect costs will be paid.
  1. Documentation of approvals from the Institutional Review Board (Human Subjects) and if applicable, from the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee can follow NIH “just in time” approval rules. Following granting of the award no funding will be released until full documentation of the necessary approvals is received by AAOGF and the Foundation for SMFM, if applicable.

Evaluation of Applications

The evaluation of applications will be conducted by committee(s) and will be based on:

  1. The scholarly, clinical and research qualifications/promise of the candidate, including evidence of the candidate’s commitment to an investigative career in academic maternal-fetal medicine/obstetrics in the United States or Canada.
  1. Qualifications of the sponsoring department and mentor(s) with respect to research experience, grant track record, prior research mentoring, adequacy of opportunity for appropriate collaborative relationships, facilities and other appropriate resources.
  1. The overall quality of the mentoring plan.
  1. Ascertainment that 75% of time and effort of the candidate will be dedicated to the research training and conduct of research.
  1. The quality of the research project including evidence that the applicant is either performing an originally conceived project or taking on an area of interest of the mentor that represents a significantly new direction.
  1. The accuracy and completeness of the application.
  1.  A personal interview will be required as part of the evaluation process, with half of the cost to be borne by the sponsoring department. After an initial review, the most competitive applicants (4 to 6) may be invited for the interview. The Committee may also elect to interview the mentor via a telephone conference
  1. Women and minority candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.
  1. The Committee reserves the right not to make a selection if no applications meet the standards of the Committee for acceptance.

Monitoring of Scholars

The recipient of the award must submit interim progress reports by March 15 of the first and second years of award, and a final report by June 1 of the third year of award. All three reports should be countersigned by the faculty mentor and should include a monetary accounting of the funds awarded. The reports at the end of the first and second years should detail the candidate’s achievements and the prospects for progress in the succeeding year(s). The reports should include any significant changes in departmental resources, which might affect the program, such as change of mentor or collaborators, altered funding, change of chairman, etc. Changes in the program that deviate from the original application require the approval of the AAOGF Scholar’s Committee and the Foundation for SMFM if applicable. The recipient of the FSMFM/AAOGF Award must send reports to both the Foundation for SMFM and AAOGF.

In the spring following receipt of the award, a member of the AAOGF or Foundation for SMFM Committees will schedule a structured site visit for the respective scholar.  The scholar must provide site visitors with a progress report prior to the site visit.  Prior to the visit, the scholar will receive specific metrics that must be addressed during the time of the site visit. The FSMFM/AAOGF Scholar will also meet with representatives of the Scholarly Activities Committee at the SMFM Annual Meeting to discuss progress.

The FSMFM/AAOGF Award is separated into stages with a rigorous evaluation process between the stages.  Stage I will conclude at the completion of the first site visit and review of the first progress report.  The progress report and site visit must demonstrate that the scholar is meeting the specific research aims as outlined in the grant application, as well as, meeting the mentor’s milestones defined at the outset of the award. If the scholar has not made sufficient progress, funding may be continued for a limited period (e.g. 6 months) and the scholar given notice that improvements must be made. A scholar given a limited extension for remediation will be asked to submit an interim progress report and a repeat site visit may be required before authorization is given for additional funding. Stage II will consist of continuation of funding in year two and year three based on annual progress reports demonstrating sufficient progress toward completing the remaining project objectives.

Scholars are expected to attend an annual retreat and to present the progress of their work. Funds must be set aside from the award to support attendance at the retreat. Failure to attend the retreat may jeopardize renewal of funding.

Preparation and submission of an extramural grant request with the assistance of the scholar’s mentor is viewed as an essential element of the training experience and is an expected outcome of the scholarship.

Following completion of the scholarship, the awardees will be invited to the annual meeting of the American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society (AGOS) to present a paper about the work accomplished during the award period. This presentation is a requirement for successful completion of the scholarship. The FSMFM/AAOGF Scholars are expected to submit abstracts concerning the work accomplished during the period of the award for peer review by the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

Inquiries regarding the program should be directed to:
Samuel Parry, MD
Chair, Scholarly Activities Committee
Foundation for SMFM
Phone: (215) 662-7641

Tina Seliber
Senior Program Manager, Scholarly Activities Committee
Foundation for SMFM

Phone: (202) 888-1426