2020-2021 MnDRIVE Discoveries Through Industry Partnerships Fellowship in Neuromodulation

January 21, 2020
The deadline for this funding opportunity has passed.


University of Minnesota
MnDRIVE Fellowship in Neuromodulation - Discoveries through Industry Partnerships Fellowship
Graduate ● Postdoctoral ● Resident/Clinical Fellows ● Innovation Fellows
2020-2021 Fellowship Program

Award duration and amount: One year, up to $70,000 (depending applicant type - graduate student, post-doc, resident/clinical fellow, innovation fellow). Award may be applied to stipend, benefits (and tuition in the case of student trainees). Fellowships to start in the summer (after July 1) or fall of 2020.

Deadline to apply is 5:00 PM (CT) January 21, 2020
Recipients will be notified in March, 2020

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION:  Innovation through Collaboration
The University of Minnesota announces this year's commercialization-focused trainee fellowship program in Neuromodulation, the 2020-2021 Discoveries through Industry Partnerships award. Awards are funded by the Brain Conditions core area of the MnDRIVE (Minnesota Discovery, Research and InnoVation Economy) initiative. Fellowships will be awarded to an outstanding individual trainee or trainee team that has a translational and neuromodulation-focused research topic with high commercial potential and a strong collaboration with an industry or commercialization support partner. This funding is intended to equip trainees with unique ‘seed’ funds and foster University-industry collaborations that seek to deliver neuromodulation discoveries and innovations with high commercial potential.

Neuromodulation is a transdisciplinary field focused on treating neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders with technological interventions at an appropriate neural interface that provides a therapeutic response and is non-destructive, reversible, and adjustable. Neuromodulation research integrates basic science, engineering, and clinical disciplines to yield new insights into brain function and develop therapeutic innovations that include electrical, magnetic, optogenetic, and ultrasound technologies. Bringing such innovations to patients leverages different researcher skill sets and partnerships that are essential to accomplish the “Bench to Bedside” goal.

Academic-industry partnerships have been essential building blocks for the commercial medical device and drug therapies industry. Many such innovations are very historic between the University of Minnesota and what is now the surrounding Medical Alley health technology industry (https://www.medicalalley.org/). As traditional funding climates change, the ability to foster strong relations between the University and Industry partners becomes more important to the future of medical research and innovation. Trainees able to identify translational research questions and successfully partner with industry will be uniquely prepared to advance neuromodulation therapies for brain conditions. This fellowship is intended provide trainees with a valuable opportunity to develop their career and skills, and strengthen industry investment in the expertise and resources the University and MnDRIVE have to offer in bringing neuromodulation therapies to patients in need.

MnDRIVE MnDRIVE is a landmark partnership between the University and the state of Minnesota. Discoveries and treatments for brain conditions, a MnDRIVE core area of research and partnership, addresses complex and debilitating brain-related disorders by leveraging university and state investments in medicine and engineering and extending our vibrant partnerships with medical device industries in Minnesota. For more information about the MnDRIVE core area of Discoveries and treatments for brain conditions, go to: https://mndrive.umn.edu/brain. For more information on MnDRIVE please visit: https://mndrive.umn.edu/.

We seek outstanding trainees (masters/PhD students, Postdoctoral fellows, Medical Residents, Clinical Fellows, Medical Device Innovation fellows) or trainee teams who will work collaboratively with an industry or commercialization support partner on a neuromodulation-related project with high commercial potential. Selection will be based on the strength of the applicant’s academic records and work history, relevance of the proposed research to neuromodulation, evidence of past productivity in research or industry, alignment of the training experience with the goals of the MnDRIVE initiative, project quality, commercialization potential, and strength of the industry or commercialization support partnership.

Trainees must be affiliated with the University of Minnesota and mentored by a University of Minnesota faculty for the duration of the one year award period, and must follow University policies and procedures for research and innovation discovery.

The University of Minnesota is an affirmative action/equal opportunity educator and employer.

There are three parts to the application, all must be completed no later than January 21, 2020.

Part 1. Online fellowship application form. Applicant should complete this online fellowship application form no later than January 21, 2020. The application form will request that the applicant provide contact information for themselves and their University of Minnesota mentor and Letters-of-suport writers, and then upload a single PDF containing items 1-12 below (with font no smaller than 11 pt and 0.5 in margins):

1. A PROJECT COVER SHEET with the following:

  • PROJECT SUMMARY (limit - 250 words)
  • STATEMENT OF PROJECT SIGNIFICANCE. Applicants should provide a general statement of the project's significance - 1 to 5 sentences in language appropriate for the general public, for example: Dr. Smith's patient-centered research will lead to improved treatment for the critical motor symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.
  • STATEMENT OF RELEVANCE to MINNESOTA. Applicants should provide a brief statement of the potential of the fellowship training experience and deliverables to contribute to the health and quality of life of the citizens of MINNESOTA and/or the economic vitality of the state - 1 to 4 sentences, use language that is appropriate for the general public. This should specifically emphasize the relevance of the proposed research and training to the citizens of Minnesota. 
  • Names, titles, institutions and contact information (email and phone) of two professional references who will write letters of support for the applicant. 

2. TRAINING EXPERIENCE NARRATIVE (limit = 1.5 pages, font no smaller than 11 pt) that:

  • Provides a succinct description of the research project
  • Describes the skills and techniques that the applicant will learn and relate these to the applicant’s career aspirations.
  • States how the research will advance the field of neuromodulation
  • States how the research aligns with MnDRIVE goals

Applicants applying for a second year of MnDRIVE Discoveries through Industry Partnerships Fellowship funding should also include an additional brief SUMMARY OF PROGRESS & SUCCESS TO DATE on their MnDRIVE fellowship (up to 1/2 page, no smaller than 11 pt font), and indicate whether the current application represents a new project, or continuation of the previous project. A second year of funding is not common.

3. OPTIONAL SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for TRAINING EXPERIENCE NARRATIVE. The applicant may submit the following OPTIONAL information: One image containing up to two graphs or diagrams to support the TRAINING EXPERIENCE NARRATIVE (no more than 1/2 page) and/or one page of bibliographic references.

4. INDUSTRY/COMMERCIALIZATION SUPPORT PARTNER: Identify the industry or commercialization support partner and clearly describe the nature of the collaboration on the project, the collaborator's role and expected specific contributions to the project (limit = 1/2 page).

5. COMMERCIALIZATION POTENTIAL: Discuss the commercial potential for the project. Applicants should: Describe their minimum viable product Identify their customer segments State the value proposition Applicants should include a description of any specific research they have done, or evidence they have gathered that supports the assertion the project has high commercial potential (e.g., customer validation interviews with physicians at the U or in the community, other market analysis, etc.) (limit = 1 page).

6. THERAPEUTIC APPLICATION(S) and CLINICAL OUTCOMES MEASURES. Provide a succinct description of the therapeutic application and clinical pathway for the work described in the Training Experience Narrative. Include the potential clinical outcomes that are thought to be achievable, how the therapeutic impact will be measured, and the basis for their assertion that these are reasonable outcomes and measures (research, interviews with clinicians, etc.) (limit = 1/2 page).

7. PATHWAY to COMMERCIALIZATION: Describe how the project deliverables fit into a pathway to commercialization for a neuromodulation-related product or patient therapy, and explain whether and how the work of the fellowship period will be shepherded through the next steps. The answer to this question should demonstrate that the applicant can see a reasonable path to commercialization, that work done in the fellowship period is necessary to the commercialization of a neuromodulation-product or therapy, and that there is a commitment to advancing the work completed in the fellowship period. (limit = 3/4 page).

8. Indicate the status of IRB or IACUC of protocols (or indicate that IRB or IACUC protocols are not required for the proposed project). If protocols are not yet submitted, or do not yet have approval, the applicant should indicate the anticipated dates for 1) submitting an IRB or IACUC protocol and 2) attaining final approval

9. TIMELINE with KEY MILESTONES and DELIVERABLE(S): Applicants should provide a TRAINING EXPERIENCE TIMELINE with KEY MILESTONES in the award period, and, in 1 or 2 sentences, clearly state the TRAINING EXPERIENCE DELIVERABLE(S) expected at the end of the award period (limit = 1/2 page). If IRB or other approvals are needed, indicate the anticipated dates for obtaining those approvals.

10. RESEARCH SUPPORT additional to fellowship (limit 1/2 page): Applicants should
• Identify the department/center that will serve as their "research home"
• Describe the relevant research support the research home will provide, including laboratory space, equipment, facilities and other physical resources they need to they will need to successfully complete their research
• Describe the support provided by the industry partner or commercialization support partner

11. TEAM DESCRIPTION (limit 3/4 page): Applicant who is applying as part of a TEAM of two or more people who will be supported by the award should:
• Describe the rationale for why more than one person should share the fellowship
• Identify the other team members who will share in the fellowship award
• Describe the roles and contributions of each team member will make to the project/deliverables
• Indicate the proportion of effort each person on the team will contribute during the award period, and the total dollar amounts requested for their support in the award period (Limit - 3/4 page).
Note: Team members paid by the award must be affiliated with the University. Primary applicant is expected to apply significant effort in the fellowship.

12. APPLICANT'S CURRENT CV (and CVs of other TEAM members who will share in the award if applicable). Each CV should be NO LONGER THAN 2 PAGES (CVs longer than 2 pages will be omitted from the materials sent to reviewers), and should include GPA for each educational institution attended.

Part 2. LETTERS OF SUPPORT from two professional references. Applicant should arrange for a LETTERS OF SUPPORT to be submitted by each of two references who can comment on the applicant’s qualifications to contribute to the project (each letter should be no longer than 2 pages). One letter should come from the industry partner, and the other from a professional reference who is not the academic mentor. Letter writers should submit letters by email to mnbc-fel@umn.edu no later than January 21, 2020.

Part 3. LETTER OF CONFIRMATION from U of M faculty mentor. The U of M faculty mentor should send a LETTER OF CONFIRMATION that identifies the applicant,states the project title and confirms that he or she will mentor the applicant during the award period should the applicant receive a fellowship (Letter of Confirmation should be no longer than 1/2 page). U of M faculty mentor should submit letter by email to mnbc-fel@umn.edu no later than January 21, 2020.


Dori Henderson, PhD | Program Manager, MnDRIVE Brain Conditions
Department of Neuroscience | University of Minnesota \6-145 Jackson Hall | Minneapolis, MN 55455|
Direct: 612.626.2321 | Email: hend0054@umn.edu