What types of educational grants do you provide to individuals, such as scholarships, fellowships, loans, etc.?
The Blue Ribbon Foundation Medical Fellowship program will provide ten medical students each summer with a $5,000 stipend for eight weeks of paid full-time work at ten of the top ME/CFS institutes in the world. The students will assist with research at these sites in such growing research fields as gene expression, Big Data, and translational medicine. They will also shadow doctors as they diagnose and treat patients.
What are the purpose and amount of your scholarships, fellowships, and other educational grants and loans that you award?
The purpose of the fellowships is to educate students on the proper curricular, research, and clinical standards of care for myalgic encephalamyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. Currently, only about 5% of the medical schools in the United States meet all three standards.
The purpose of the fellowship program is to employ qualified medical students in full-time work summer work that supplements their traditional medical education, helps them become more well-rounded doctors, and better prepares them for the type of chronic, complex diseases that are becoming more common in the 21st century.
How is the program is publicized?
The program has been publicized in the national print media and will continue to be publicized through that means. It will be discussed in the documentary film The Blue Ribbon: ME/CFS and the Future of Medicine, produced by the Blue Ribbon Foundation. It will be publicized at screenings and fundraising events associated with the Foundation. Information about the fellowship and how to apply will be available on our website as well.
The program will also be publicized via the listservs and websites of the sponsoring institutions.
What are the specific criteria you use to determine who is eligible for your program?
The Blue Ribbon Foundation Medical Fellowship is open to students in between their first and second years of medical school each summer. The students should have a grounding in the basics of what it means to be a doctor, but do not have to have a full knowledge of all known diseases or interventions, nor must they have a high level of clinical experience. The purpose of the fellowship is to provide supplemental clinical experience in an underserved area of medicine.
What are the specific criteria you use to select recipients?
Applicants are required to submit the application, two essays, a transcript, and two letters of recommendation.
Applicants will be judged based on 1.) the applicant’s academic record (research experience, grades and rigor of coursework) 2.) ability to communicate complex science to the general public 3.) desire to reach underserved patients and 4.) passion for studying neuro-immune illnesses. Names will be removed from the applications and each package will be reviewed by an impartial panel of judges.
How do you determine the number of grants that will be made annually?
The current program calls for ten fellowships each summer, a number that corresponds to the number of acceptable U.S. host sites with ME/CFS experts capable of educating the fellows. They will likely be placed at de-facto “Centers of Excellence” as well as six other sites associated with major experts in the field, medical schools, or teaching hospitals.
How do you determine the amount of each of your grants?
The amount of $5,000 is allotted in two tranches of $2,500 each at the four-week and eight-week marks to pay for the students’ room, board, and incidental expenses. The number is derived from a similar paid internship for medical students sponsored by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. That program pays its interns $5,800 for eight weeks of work during the summer. We used that amount and made a downward adjustment based on the fact that we will be placing interns in locations that have lower cost of living than New York’s high rent prices.
Are there any requirements or conditions that you impose on recipients to obtain, maintain, or qualify for renewal of a grant?
Applicants must be students who will be in between their first and second years of medial school during the fellowship period. Grants are non-renewable.
What are your procedures for supervising the scholarships, fellowships, educational loans, or other educational grants? Do you obtain reports and grade transcripts from recipients, or do you pay grants directly to a school under an arrangement whereby the school will apply the grant funds only for enrolled students who are in good standing? Also, what are your procedures for taking action if the terms of the award are violated?
The Blue Ribbon Foundation reserves the right to terminate fellowship support before the end of the award period if conditions of the fellowship are not maintained. Termination of the fellowship is done by revoking the stipend.
Fellows will be required to submit 1-page progress reports every two weeks about their activities during the fellowship time period. Failure to submit the report the first time will result in a warning. Failure to submit the report not the second occasion will result in termination of the fellowship.
Specific responsibilities and projects will vary by site. Fellows will be required to abide by the rules and regulations of the host university or medical lab. Violations of stated regulations or policies set forth by the sponsoring institution will result in a formal warning. On the second occasion, the fellowship will be terminated.
Who is on the selection committee for the awards made under your program, including names of current committee members, criteria for committee membership, and the method of replacing committee members?
The selection committee will be composed of five people. There will be two representatives from the Blue Ribbon Foundation’s Board of Directors. There will be two medical professionals on the committee, who can be nurses, physician’s assistants, or physicians. Finally, the fifth member of the committee will be a PhD-level laboratory scientist.
The professionals serving on the committee will not be representatives of any of the host sites. We will solicit nominations for committee members and the Board of Directors will choose the committee by vote.
The due date for the Blue Ribbon Fellowship is February 15 each year. The following week the selection committee will convene to narrow down the field to a list of twenty to twenty-five interview candidates.
The committee will split into two groups of two or three members each. They will split the interview pool in half and interview all the candidates over two days during the first week of March. The interviews will be all conducted via phone call or Skype for twenty minutes and five minutes of discussion among the committee members following each interview.