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Community-Engaged Research Core Faculty Fellowship Program

The Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s Community-Engaged Research Core (CERC) Faculty Fellowship Program is accepting applications for the 2024-2025 program.

The CERC Faculty Fellowship Program offers training and mentorship to early-career investigators (ECI) across the Penn State campuses who are interested in advancing their community-engaged research expertise. Community-engaged research includes the active involvement and participation of community stakeholders in the research process, such as recruitment/retention strategies, survey development, and dissemination of research findings across an array of audiences (e.g., scientific and general public). Stakeholders can include communities and their members, patients, clinicians, researchers, purchasers, payers, industry, hospitals and health systems, training institutions and policymakers, among others.

The degree of stakeholder involvement in research is typically determined beforehand and falls on a continuum of possibilities, from collaborating fully in all aspects of the research process to being involved in a targeted part of the research study. The fellowship is for ECIs desiring a learning experience and mentoring in the science and practice of community-engaged research. In addition to mentorship and research experience, fellows will become part of the CERC team, attending regular CERC team meetings, and working with the team on CERC activities and consultations as part of the experience. 

The CERC Faculty Fellowship program has a total budget of $66,000 available to fund up to 3 awards.  The program will provide salary support for each awardee up to an equivalent of two course buyouts (1 per semester) or 0.10 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) over the course of the Fellowship (July 1, 2024 – June 30, 2025). During the fellowship, it is expected that awardees will:

  • receive training on community-engaged research from an experienced mentor in this space identified by the awardee;
  • conduct a pilot study or be a part of a study that engages a community (research with the PA Commonwealth community will be prioritized);
  • participate in CERC team meetings, which take place monthly, and in CERC services (e.g., consultations and community engagement studios); and
  • participate in CTSI sponsored presentations and workshops on community-engaged research.

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Program Details and Application Process

Eligibility Expand answer

An early-career investigator at any Penn State campus interested in advancing their community-engaged research expertise is eligible to apply.

Application Expand answer

The application should be no more than four single-spaced pages (at least 11-point size font, at least 0.5 inch margins) and include:

  1. Title of project
  2. Applicant’s goals for the faculty fellowship
    • Describe the research area, its significance and how community stakeholders will be involved. Explain the need for increased community stakeholder involvement in the program of research.
    • Describe prior/existing relationship (if any) of the applicant, mentor, or Penn State with the community targeted by the proposed research.
    • Explain why the Fellowship is needed to advance the fellow’s expertise and research program, and how the mentor will assist with it.
  3. Activity plan
    • Describe the activities planned to be undertaken during the fellowship, how these activities will advance the goals of the fellowship and the fellow.
    • Describe the deliverables planned to be accomplished during the Fellowship (presentations, publications, grant proposals, etc.) and their timeline.
    • Mentorship Plan: Describe the prior/existing relationship between the applicant and the Mentor, and plans for its continuation beyond the Fellowship’s duration. Describe the actual activities that the mentor and mentee will do together and provide a general description of the mentee’s research that the mentoring will help advance.
    • Explain how the fellowship will lead to a proposal for external funding.
  4. Budget
    • Submit the cost of two course buyouts (or equivalent) at campus-established, in-state rate or, where appropriate, particularly for clinicians, cost of 0.1 FTE (not to exceed the current National Institutes of Health (NIH) salary cap of $212,100) plus fringe (36%) for an entire academic year (12 months). Departmental matching of time is encouraged but not required. The requested budget cost should be confirmed in the letter of support from the applicant’s department chair.
    • Funds to support Mentor’s effort, up to $3,000, are available; these funds are not available to support the mentor’s or awardee’s research projects.
  5. Additional application attachments (not included in the four-page limit)
    • Applicant’s NIH Biographical sketch (up to five pages, following the current NIH guidance).
    • Mentor’s NIH Biographical sketch (up to five pages, following the current NIH guidance).
    • Mentor’s Letter of Support. The mentor letter should affirm the applicant’s proposed training and mentoring plan, and deliverables, and indicate the mentor’s willingness to serve as a mentor, and if they request salary support from the available $3,000 designated for mentor funds.
    • Letter of Support from the applicant’s department chair.
Review Criteria Expand answer
  • Merits of the proposal, including its innovation, significance and relevance to CERC’s mission.
  • Community-engaged research focused on communities within the Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s catchment area and/or Pennsylvania commonwealth. Fellowship applications that include a research proposal working with an established community partnership with CERC or Penn State (e.g., Northern Dauphin County, Harrisburg, etc.) are highly encouraged.
  • Qualifications, commitment and clarity of roles for the applicant and the primary mentor
  • Clarity, rigor and feasibility of the work plan.
  • Likelihood of an external proposal resulting from fellowship.
  • Strength of institutional/departmental and primary mentor support and commitment.
  • Priority will be given to ECIs who require additional training and/or pilot data to advance their scientific careers.
Progress Reports Expand answer

Awardee is required to provide a progress report mid-year (by Dec. 1, 2024) and a final report no later than 30 days after the end of the fellowship, describing progress made, accomplished deliverables and the plan and timeline for an external grant proposal.

How to Apply Expand answer

Interested eligible researchers should submit their application as a pdf to no later than 11:59PM ET (Eastern Time) on Oct. 1, 2023. The selected fellow will be notified by Nov. 30, 2023. Projects are expected to begin on July 1, 2024.

Questions or Comments

For more information, visit or email Miriam Miller at

Past Fellows