Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for visiting the BRAINS frequently asked questions page. Please see topics and questions below. If you cannot find an answer to your question here, please e-mail us at


  • What is unique about the BRAINS program?
    • BRAINS differs from other programs by providing longitudinal professional development that specifically targets factors known to impact career persistence and decisions of URMs in science. BRAINS emphasizes peer mentoring, community, the intersection of professional and personal development, and experiences as an member of an underrepresented group in neuroscience. Finally BRAINS not only offers a professional development experience (symposium or webinars), but it also offers follow-up professional development and community building opportunities such as peer mentoring groups. These opportunities foster ongoing connection to the BRAINS community.

  • When is the next round of applications
    • Application for the 2017 BRAINS cohort are currently closed. Applications for the next cohort will be available in 2019.

Fellows versus Affiliates

  • What is the difference between the BRAINS Fellows and Affiliates Programs?
    • All BRAINS participants must apply to the program using the same application process. A subset of applicants will be selected for the Fellows Program which includes an in-person four-day National Symposium followed by virtual peer Mentoring Circles. Fellows also have the opportunity to participate in the Cross-Cohort Symposia. The Affiliates Program includes an online professional development webinar series followed by virtual peer Mentoring Circles.

  • How are Fellows and Affiliates selected?
    • BRAINS applications are evaluated using a rubric grounded in our basic criteria and goals. Sample criteria include access to networks and mentors, access to professional development resources, scientific potential, interest in academic careers, and connection to NINDS's mission. The Fellows Program prioritizes high potential individuals who may be at risk for leaving science and academia due to a lack of professional support and career self-efficacy. The Affiliates Program serves individuals seeking professional development and networks.


  • Who is eligible to participate in BRAINS?
    • Early career Ph.D. scientists who are US citizens or Permanent Residents and in neurosience-related fields from underrepresented groups (including racial and ethnic minorities and people with disabilities). Early career includes postdoctoral researchers, assistant professors, assistant research professors, and other pre-tenure level science positions.
  • Which underrepresented groups are eligible to participate in BRAINS?
    • Eligible racial and ethnic minorities include African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, Hawaiian Natives, and natives of the US Pacific Islands. Individuals with disabilities (defined as those with physical or mental impairment that substantialy limits one or more major life activities) are also eligible for the program.  The funding mechanism that supports the current BRAINS grant states "...for this NINDS Diversity R25 program, diversity includes individuals currently underrepresented in neuroscience research on a national basis (for example see surveys conducted by the Society for Neuroscience Committee on Neuroscience Departments and Programs), including: individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups or individuals with disabilities (see also" See PAR-13-256 for more details. 
  • Must I complete my Ph.D. before applying?
    • Given BRAINS' focus on addressing the critical transition period from graduate studies and post-doctoral positions to permanent research and teaching positions, priority will be given to individuals who have earned their doctoral degrees within the past two to twelve years and who do not have tenure.
  • Are Asians considered underrepresented in neuroscience?
    • For this R25 funded program, NIH does not consider Asians to be an underrepresented group in neuroscience. However, if you are a US citizen or permanent resident and also a member of one of the other groups listed in our eligibility section, you are eligible for the program, and we encourage you to apply.
  • Are women considered underrepresented in neuroscience?
    • For this R25 funded program, NIH does not consider women to be an underrepresented group in neuroscience. However, if you are a US citizen or permanent resident and also a member of one of the other groups listed in our eligibility section, you are eligible for the program, and we encourage you to apply.
  • Are M.D. neuroscientists eligible to participate in BRAINS?
    • M.D. neuroscientists are certainly eligible to attend BRAINS provided other eligibility criteria are met. However, the program is not structured to address the issues unique to M.D. neuroscientists. Rather, the program content's focus is research-based neuroscientists.

Fellows Program

  • When is the next BRAINS Fellows Symposium?
    • The next Fellow Symposium will take place in 2019 outside of Seattle, WA.

  • Do I need to stay for the entirety of the Fellows symposium? Can I attend for just a single day?
    • Given the community we hope to establish through the BRAINS Fellows symposium, all participants, panelists, and facilitators are required to stay for the duration of the event. The BRAINS symposium model provides for for deeper continuity, discussions, networking, and relationship building.

  • What topics will be addressed at the Fellows symposium?
    • The Fellows Symposium will address professional development topics such as mentoring, research funding, time management, mastering teaching, thriving as a neuroscientist who is a member of a group underrepresented in the field, and other topics. Please note that the Fellows Symposium is not designed to address issues related to applying and interviewing for jobs, although some of the symposium panels and discussion might indirectly touch on these subjects.

  • How will housing be arranged at the symposium?
    • Symposium participants will be assigned a roommate and share a large double room with another BRAINS participant. Accessible rooms will be available as needed.

  • How much does the Fellows symposium cost?
    • The symposium costs (lodging and meals) will be covered by the NIH grant. No registration fee will be charged. Participants will be responsible for travel expenses.

  • I have a nursing infant. Can I bring my infant and a family member to take care of my child while I attend the Fellows Symposium?
    • We certainly empathize with the challenge of combining nursing and travel for work. We've been there ourselves! Nevertheless our experience from the various early-career symposia we have run has made it clear that it would be very difficult for participants to take full advantage of the BRAINS experience if children or other family members attend. Our Symposium program runs from approximately 8 am until 8 pm, with lots of time for networking, conversations, and personal reflection. This program is an opportunity to take time to focus on you and creating the career and life you seek. Thus, participants are not able to bring their family with them. If you are accepted to the symposium but cannot attend due to family constraints, you may defer your acceptance to a future BRAINS symposium.

  • I have a nursing infant. What accommodations are available for pumping?
    • The conference site has a room available to pump breastmilk and a refrigerator/freezer to store the milk.

Affiliates Program

  • Can someone still apply and be selected for the Fellows Program after having participated in the Affiliates Program?
    • Yes, as long as the individual continues to meet the eligibility criteria. The person will need to submit a new application when there is another open call for applications.
  • How do people get into the Affiliates Program?
    • Interested individuals must submit an application to the BRAINS program during the open application process. Eligible applicants not selected for the Fellows Program will be invited to the Affiliates Program.


  • How is BRAINS funded?
    • The BRAINS program is funded by NINDS National Institutes of Health grants R25NS076416 and R25NS094094. The program has received funding from 2011-2021.