Fellowship Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to frequently asked questions about the Hollings Fellowship Program are below. If you have additional questions, please email us at HCC-Fellowship@musc.edu.

Sometimes applicants focus on just the science and the research project, but the training plan — the mentor’s plan for training and the research environment — is equally important, so equal weight should be given to the training plan. Your mentor should pay particular attention to the instructions in the Application Guidelines about the letter of support. The letter will carry stronger weight if there are specifics — a sort of individual development plan — about how your mentor will help you train and develop into a better scientist and how you will be prepared to progress in your research career.

More information for Graduate mentors

More information for Postdoc mentors

Yes. If your project has cancer relevance, even in the broadest sense, you should apply if you’re interested. Funding is not restricted to certain areas. If you are uncertain about how your project aligns with the cancer center, please contact us. The fellowship committee will be happy to take a look and give you some feedback.

Awards are made for two years with the second year being contingent on sufficient progress being achieved in Year 1. Fellows are required to submit progress reports around the 10 month point of the first year. In your application, your project’s aims should focus on what you believe can be accomplished in two years.

Selecting a mentor with the right qualifications is essential. If your mentor is junior faculty with limited training experience, adding a more senior co-mentor with a stronger training record might be advantageous. The mentor’s support letter should include detailed information about the role the co-mentor will play in your training (e.g. special expertise, frequency of meetings, etc.).  The co-mentor should also submit a letter of support.

Having a co-mentor at MUSC can make it easier to interact on a regular basis, but a co-mentor doesn’t have to be here. The main objective is to set the trainees up to succeed by having a mentoring team built around them.

If you are a Graduate Fellow, your department will pay for you to have student health insurance. If you are a Postdoctoral Fellow, Hollings will pay the employer portion of the regular health insurance at MUSC.

Interviews are NOT part of the process, so shining through your proposal, biosketch, and references is key. The more you can put your own imprint on this and show your own ideas, the better. The more weight that the trainees and students carried in putting the proposal together, the more impressed the reviewers will be.

Your application and reference letters will initially be assigned to three or four reviewers with expertise in your research area. These reviewers will read your entire application carefully and provide preliminary scores which are used to rank the applications for the study section. This same cadre of reviewers will present information and lead discussion about your application at the formal study section which is composed of a broader range of scientists. After discussion your application will receive final scoring.

Some projects don't need it at all because it’s not really relevant OR it may be extremely important. You should state any data, measurements, etc., you will need to collect and a plan for collecting them. If necessary for accuracy, you should contact the Biostats team at the email address provided in the Application Guidelines.

No. Anyone can apply, but their visa status and type may impact if they can be a fellow, how their stipend payment is made, etc. Once the study sections are complete and the potential awardees are selected, the international office reviews this information for all non-citizen applicants deemed fundable by the Fellowship Committee.

There is no format specific format for these additional reference letters. In general, the letter writer should provide an assessment of the applicant's qualifications and training potential based on their own experience as a collaborator, teacher, previous mentor, committee member, etc. For Postdoctoral Fellow applicants, a letter from the Ph.D. thesis mentor is highly recommended as one of the two additional letters. For Clinical Fellow applicants, a letter from the training program director is required.

The applicant's Biosketch should use the NIH's standard "fellowship" format that is found at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/forms/biosketch.htm. Links to instructions and samples for predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowship biosketches can be found there.