NEW Funding Opportunity: MnDRIVE Neuromodulation Discoveries through Industry Partnerships Fellowship

June 5, 2020
The deadline for this funding opportunity has passed.

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

Award duration and amount:  One year, up to $70,000 (depending applicant type - graduate student, post-doc, clinical 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) June 5, 2020
Recipients will be notified in late June, 2020

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION.  The University of Minnesota announces a commercialization-focused trainee fellowship program in Neuromodulation for 2020-2021. The fellowship is funded by the Brain Conditions area of the Minnesota Discovery and Research InnoVation Econnomy (MnDRIVE) initiative. Fellowships will be awarded to an outstanding individual trainee or trainee team that has a translational and neuromodulation-focused research project with high commercial potential and a strong collaboration with an industry or commercialization support partner. The fellowship offers unique ‘seed’ funds with which to foster University-industry collaborations intent on delivering 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 ( 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: For more information on MnDRIVE please visit:    

CRITERIA FOR SELECTION.  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. 

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Applicants will be asked to identify faculty mentors to support their work during the award period. Applicants should give careful consideration to the diverse expertise and perspectives (e.g., technical, commercialization, clinical, etc.)  needed for a successful training experience. Applications where the applicant, commercialization partner and U of M faculty mentor(s) do not provide the needed complement of expertise to ensure a high quality training experience will not be considered for funding.

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

APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS.  There are three parts to the application, all must be completed and submitted no later than June 5, 2020.

Part 1.  Online fellowship application form.   Applicants should complete this online fellowship application form no later than June 5, 2020.  The application form will request that the applicant provide contact information for themselves and their University of Minnesota mentor and Letters-of-support writers, and then upload a single PDF containing items 1-14 below (with font no smaller than 11 pt  and 0.5 in margins):  

1. A PROJECT COVER SHEET with the following:

  • APPLICATION TYPE (graduate student -masters, graduate student - PhD, post-doc, clinical fellow, medical resident, Medical Devices Innovation Fellow)
  • 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. PROJECT NARRATIVE (limit = 1.5 pages, font no smaller than 11 pt) that provides a succinct description of the research project.  

 3. OPTIONAL SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for PROJECT 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 .5 page) and/or one page of bibliographic references.

4. TRAINING PLAN DETAIL (limit = 3/4 page, font no smaller than 11 pt).  Applicant should:  

    • Describe the new skills and techniques that the applicant will learn, and relate these to the applicant’s career aspirations, include a brief description of the mentor or mentors' contributions to training, and briefly describe the applicant’s plan for meeting with mentor(s). 
    • State how the research will advance the field of neuromodulation.
    • States how the research aligns with MnDRIVE goals.
  • State how the research will advance the field of neuromodulation.
  • State how the research aligns with MnDRIVE goals.

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

6. RESEARCH SUPPORT  (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 or office space, equipment, facilities and other physical resources the applicant will need to successfully complete their research.

7.  ADDITIONAL SUPPORT DISCLOSURE:  If applicable, the applicant should indicate whether they expect to receive pay or other compensation beyond the MnDRIVE support for their proposed project or other work during the reporting period (including compensation from the industry/commercialization support partner, other University of Minnesota sources, etc.). 

8. 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). 

9. 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).

10. 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).

11. IRB or IACUC PROTOCOLStatus:   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 have been submitted and approved, indicated their titles, the PI under whom they have been submitted, and the most recent date of approval.   If protocols are not yet submitted, or have been submitted but do not yet have approval, the applicant should  indicate the PI under whom the protocols are to be submitted and the anticipated dates for 1) submitting an IRB or IACUC protocol and/or 2) attaining final approval.  

12. TIMELINE with KEY MILESTONES and DELIVERABLE(S):  Applicants should provide a 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.

13. TEAM DESCRIPTION if applicable (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 and provide a 2 page CV for each. 
  • 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.  

14. 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 LETTER 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 should also articulate their role in the project, and the other from a professional reference who is NOT a mentor for this fellowship. Letter writers should submit letters by email to no later than June 5, 2020.

Part 3.  LETTER(S) OF CONFIRMATION from U of M faculty mentor(s). The U of M faculty mentor(s) should send a LETTER OF CONFIRMATION that identifies the applicant, states the project title, confirms that he or she will mentor the applicant during the award period should the applicant receive a fellowship, and briefly indicates what mentoring support and resources will be provided.   (Letters of Confirmation should be no longer than 3/4 page).  U of M faculty mentor(s) should submit letter(s) by email to no later than June 5, 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:

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