Junior Members News - September 2011

By Andrea Vereda, MD





My Experience with a WAO Fellowship: What I Learned about Successful Grant Applications

Four years ago (already!), I had the chance to obtain a WAO Long-Term Research Fellowship. I would like to share my experience and personal tips in hopes it will be of use to other junior allergists/immunologists in future grant applications.

I decided to study legume allergy. Why? Many of my peanut allergic patients differed from the published peanut allergic patients. Furthermore, I wanted to study lentil allergy in depth because it is a common source of food allergy in my country of Spain.

I identified Dr. Hugh Sampson’s department at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City as being an internationally acclaimed center for food allergy research, so I contacted Dr. Sampson to explain my project. He considered the project interesting and allowed me to join his team to perform the research.

Once the project was accepted by the WAO Research Committee, there was still a lot of paperwork to do. The U.S. visa requirements were not simple: prove your financial, health and professional situation; explain your mission and purposes in the United States, etc… (but it was really worth it!).

During my stay in New York City, I was not allowed to see patients, but I participated in service meetings and interacted with the entire staff, which was enlightening. The international environment of the lab, with its welcoming and helpful atmosphere, tolerated all type of English accents, and was encouraging for all of us! The experience was really enriching. I carried out very interesting experiments (and published two papers in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, a high impact journal). I met incredible people and widened my experience as an allergist.

These practical suggestions might help other junior allergists/immunologists with grant applications:

  • Define your field of interest, as well as the aspects you would be interested in studying: Why is it particularly interesting?
  • Develop a feasible and realistic project that can be performed within the timeframe or your planned fellowship.
  • Identify the outstanding experts in the field. Use PubMed, Congress programs, books, etc.
  • Contact the experts. The upcoming World Allergy Congress in Cancún, México will be a great opportunity to meet the experts.
  • Prepare an approach to the expert in a very interactive, positive and productive way:
    • Why should they be interested in your research?
    • How are their institutions going to be in a “win-win” situation with you if you get the fellowship?
    • Why should they be interested in you going to their lab and not someone else? What can you offer that others can not?
  • Follow exactly all of the indications and requirements for the grant application (paperwork, deadlines, etc).
  • Be careful; some of the mandatory elements are not obtained immediately (ex. TOEFL results are available only 2-3 weeks later).

Good luck with all of your grant prospects. See you in Cancún at the WAO Junior Member Group meeting and activities!

Not a member yet? Click here to join the WAO Junior Members Group now!