Graduate Mentor Information

The Hollings Fellowship review process closely resembles that of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), both for the mentee and mentor. Mentors’ materials should be prepared as though the reviewers have no knowledge of their track records.

Requirements for mentor's letter of support

The current mentor's letter should address the following:

  • The mentor’s previous training record, including the number of current and previous students and trainees.
  • A list of previous students/trainees and their current positions: name, position in lab, dates of training, current position.
  • An evaluation of the applicant’s potential as a cancer scientist.
  • Specific training plans for the applicant’s development as a cancer scientist. This should be a plan suitable for NIH F31 applications.
  • For graduate applications, the mentor must include a statement committing $2,000 to cover student health insurance from either the mentor or the department.
  • Letters should be submitted in confidentiality to by 5 p.m. on January 12, 2024.

Review criteria


  • Does the sponsor's research and training record indicate that the candidate will receive outstanding training in the proposed research area and have the opportunity to publish high quality papers and present research data at national meetings as the project progresses?
  • Is there evidence of a match between the research and clinical interests (if applicable) of the candidate and the mentor?
  • Does the mentor demonstrate an understanding of the candidate’s training needs as well as the ability and commitment to assist in meeting these needs?

Training Potential and Research Training Plan

  • Are the proposed research project and training plan likely to provide the candidate with the requisite individualized and mentored experiences in order to obtain appropriate skills for a research career?
  • Does the training plan take advantage of the candidate’s strengths and address gaps in needed skills? Does the training plan document a clear need for, and value of, the proposed training?
  • Does the proposed training have the potential to serve as a sound foundation that will clearly enhance the candidate’s ability to develop into a productive researcher?
  • Is the proposed research project of high scientific quality, and is it well integrated with the proposed research training plan?
  • Is the prior research that serves as the key support for the proposed project rigorous?
  • Has the applicant included plans to address weaknesses in the rigor of prior research that serves as the key support for the proposed project?
  • Has the applicant presented strategies to ensure a robust and unbiased approach, as appropriate for the work proposed?
  • Based on the mentor’s description of his/her active research program, is the candidate’s proposed research project sufficiently distinct from the sponsor’s funded research for the candidate’s career stage?
  • Is the research project consistent with the candidate’s stage of research development?
  • Is the proposed time frame feasible to accomplish the proposed training?