Skip to main content

Click below to access example proposals for the NSF, NIH, and AHA fellowships.

The links below allow you to download successful predoctoral fellowship proposals awarded recently to UNC graduate students.  These files are intended only for the information of UNC students competing for similar fellowships.  After clicking on a link you will be asked to sign in using your UNC ONYEN and password.  All files are secured PDFs meaning that the text can not be copied to the clipboard and the pages can not be printed.  Please note that personal identifiers of the PI (student) and faculty mentors have been redacted and bibliographies have been removed.  Please do not share files with others after downloading them, but please do spread the word to other UNC students and faculty that this resource exists so they can download the examples for themselves.

NIH F31 Mechanism (3 deadlines per year on April 8, August 8, and December 8)

Click here to go to a UNC One Drive Folder with all the F31 example files

  • NIH NRSA F31 example 1  This 9 page document contains the abstract, narrative, specific aims, and 6 page research strategy for a successful F31 submitted in 2013.  The proposal is to study cell polarity in yeast.
  • NIH NRSA F31 example 2  This is an example of an F31 proposal that was initially rejected in 2011 and later funded after resubmission in 2012.  Pages 2-14 constitute the first unsuccessful submission (pages 15-20 are the reviewer critiques).  Pages 21-34 are the resubmission (pages 35-43 are the reviewer comments for the funded resubmission).  The topic is DNA replication origin licensing.  It contains the abstract, aims, narrative, research strategy, training plan, and career goals for both submissions.
  • NIH NRSA F31 example 3 This example F31 was first submitted in 2013 (pages 1-57) but not funded.  It was resubmitted and funded in 2014.  It contains the entire submitted grant package including budget, facilities and equipment, abstract, proposal, training plan, reviewer comments, etc for both submissions.  It is on the topic of osteoarthritis imaging.
  • NIH NRSA F31 example 4. This proposal was funded upon resubmission in 2013.  It is on the topic of nuclear body formation as it relates to gene expression.  It is a good example of a basic science project (model organism is D. melanogaster) funded via the F31 mechanism.  This particular example contains almost all submitted files (abstract, narrative, proposal, training plan, sponsor info, etc), but it does not contain the reviewer comments.
  • NIH NRSA F31 example 5. This proposal was funded upon resubmission in 2012.  It is on the topic of tissue regeneration and aging.  The file contains the abstract, narrative, proposal and training plan.
  • NIH NRSA F31 Example 6. This proposal was funded in 2015 and contains the entire submission packet (minus overtly identifying elements, which are redacted).  The topic is atherosclerosis and genetic determinants of cholesterol metabolism.
  • NIH NRSA F31 Example 7. This proposal was funded in 2015.  Pages 1-32 were the original proposal which was initially not funded.  The student resubmitted (pages 33-63) but in the end the original submission was chosen for funding.
  • NIH NRSA F31 Example 8. This is a complete application submitted in Dec 2014 and funded in 2015.  It is on the topic of intestinal stem cell biology.  The training plan written by the sponsor is on pp 36-41.  The summary statement and reviewer comments are on pp 42-52.
  • Example of Sponsor Information file.  This file contains a successful example of the description of the training and mentoring plan that is written by the sponsor (ie the student’s PI). It is an oft-overlooked, yet crucial part of the F31 application.  Other examples of this vital part of the application are found on page 96-101 of example 3, pages 31-34 of example 4, pages 48-52 in Example 6, and pages 57-62 in Example 7 above.
  • NIH F-series trainee biosketch example
  • Worksheet showing required components of an F31 application
  • Slides from F31 workshop – Patrick Brandt
  • Videocast and powerpoint slides from a panel discussion with NIH fellowship reviewers.
  • Article about the resubmission process written by a successful F31 applicant 
  • GRE’s are no longer to be reported in trainee biosketch as of July 2015


American Heart Association (one deadline per year usually in July)

  • American Heart Association example 1  This proposal to study the genomics of cardiovascular disease was funded in 2013.  It contains the Research plan, Career Goals, Sponsor Training Plan, Co-sponsor Training Plan, and Reviewer Critiques.
  • American Heart Association example 2 This proposal to study thyroid hormone’s effect on the heart was funded in 2012.  The file contains the personal statement and successful proposal.
  • American Heart Association example 3 This proposal to study integrins and endothelial cell function was funded in 2013.  The entire proposal and reviewer comments are included.
  • American Heart Association example 4  This file contains the proposal, training plan, and reviewer comments for a successful application that was funded in 2013.  The proposal is not directly related to heart disease, but it does have some relation to neurodegenerative disease (AHA recently absorbed the American Stroke Association). This example is useful for those who have to stretch a little in order to tie into AHA’s mission.

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (one deadline per year in November)

  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowship example 1 This proposal on mRNA splicing and stability was funded in 2012. It contains the personal statement, research plan and rating sheet from reviewers.
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowship example 2  This proposal on beta glucuronidase structure and function was first submitted, but not funded in 2011.  It was revised, resubmitted and funded in 2012. The file contains the personal statement, research plan and rating sheet from reviewers for both the unsuccessful and successful submission..
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowship example 3 This file contains 3 proposals from the same student.  On the third attempt in 2012 the student was successful.  The first proposal aimed to study the structure of key proteins involved in retroviral proliferation.  The second sought to determine the structure of the  protein-RNA interface.  The third (and successful) proposal was titled Tertiary structure of a small parasitic RNA genome.  The entire proposal and reviewer critiques are included for all three submissions.
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowship example 4  This file contains the personal statement, previous research essay and proposal for a funded GRFP investigating the repair of complex DNA lesions.