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Postdoctoral fellow Pathway to Academic Careers (PAC) program 


To identify and retain talented postdoctoral scholars from underrepresented backgrounds who are seeking to move into research and tenure track faculty positions in Academic Programs and Centers that have initiated formal strategies to increase diversity.

Support Provided

  • A postdoctoral appointment for a scholar from a traditionally underrepresented group at the NIH salary rate for postdocs for a period of 1 year with the possibility of renewal for a 2nd year.
  •  Discretionary funds ($1500/year) to support professional development activities during the appointment.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Postdoc is from a population that is underrepresented in the extramural scientific workforce that has traditionally had fewer opportunities to experience education and research opportunities to pursue a graduate degree and enter the academic scientific workforce (See link for descriptions and definitions of each).
  • Racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in biomedical research: Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders;
  • Individuals with disabilities, defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
  • Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, defined as those who meet two or more of the following criteria:
    • Were or currently are homeless
    • Were or currently are in the foster care system
    • Were eligible for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program for two or more years
    • Have/had no parents or legal guardians who completed a bachelor’s degree
    • Were or currently are eligible for Federal Pell grants
    • Received support from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) as a parent or child
    • Grew up in one of the following areas: a) a U.S. rural area, as designated by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), or b) a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services-designated Low-Income and Health Professional Shortage Areas
  • In the final year of a doctoral degree or post-doctoral fellowship program at HHD, another PSU college, or another university.
  • Priority will be given to candidates who have already established a working relationship with a faculty member/department/center at Penn State (e.g., completed a PhD program, funded T32 postdoc, other research appointment in a laboratory), who are actively competing for extramural post-doctoral fellowship funding (if such an extramural award is made, the
  • PAC application will be voided), and who are planning for academic research careers.
  • A funded PAC scholar must submit at least one extramural postdoctoral support application within the first 12 months of college support to be considered for a second year of PAC funding (if such an extramural award is made, the PAC extension application will be voided).

Application Process

  • Applications should be jointly submitted by the postdoctoral candidate and faculty research mentor to the Associate Dean for Research, and include:
    • Candidate’s Research Plan for the fellowship period (2 pages maximum)
    • Summary of long-term professional goals (1 page maximum)
    • Candidate’s Professional Development Plan for the fellowship period (2 pages maximum). The plan should consider experiences and skill-building related to teaching, learning, and student engagement as well as professional service in addition to research professional development.
    • Summary of any past or current efforts to obtain pre- or post-doctoral fellowship or research support from other funders.
    • Narrative describing the research program’s overall strategy to increase diversity of the postdoctoral population and how this support fits into the strategy.
    • Statement of support from the Department Head or Center Director.
  • In approving applications, the college will consider the extent to which this funding is part of a more comprehensive unit strategy to increase recruitment and retention of underrepresented postdoctoral scholars.
  • Applications are due by April 1 and units will be informed of availability of support by May 1.