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10 pointers for the last mile of the EMBO-YIP application

Arun Shukla & Shantala Hari Dass

The Young Investigator Programme (YIP), offered by the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), is open to young investigators in the life sciences who have started their independent research groups within the last 4 years. YIP facilitates and supports the career advancement of these early-career scientists via opportunities to network and collaborate. The call for application for EMBO-YIP is currently open and closes on 1 April, 2021.

Arun K. Shukla, Associate Professor at Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT‑K) and an EMBOYI shares his 10 pointers for the last mile of the application process with Shantala Hari Dass. Arun’s lab at IIT‑K utilises a multifunctional approach to look at activation and signalling of GPCRs with the hope to improve therapeutic approaches for human diseases.

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Here are 10 things to keep in mind as you work on your EMBO-YIP application.

  1. Double-check: Go through the application process. All the details about the process, different stages and well-crafted guidelines are available at this link. The applicant should go through this a couple of times to get familiar with all the requirements. Ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria. Applicants should have been an independent Principal Investigator (PI) for at least one year but less than four years, and have at least one corresponding author research paper published (or, at least formally accepted) from her/​his independent laboratory. Please refer to the detailed application guidelines for relaxations in the four-year criterion in case of maternity and paternity leave. Those who have already crossed four years of being an independent PI but are within six years of the same can apply to the EMBOGI program instead.
  2. Plan: Be aware that the application process has multiple stages and plan accordingly. There is a pre-application followed by the full application and interview for the shortlisted applicants. Reference letters are required at the pre-application stage itself. Therefore, identify and request the referees well in advance.
  3. Recommendation letters: Three letters are required, and the referees should directly submit them using the link provided to them. Although former supervisors can serve as referees, it may also be a good idea to have at least one (or more) letters from the leaders in your field of research. They may be able to comment specifically on your research outcomes, which can make your application stronger.
  4. Achievements: The primary selection criterion for EMBOYIP is scientific excellence, and the applications are assessed primarily based on the publication track record, a demonstrated ability to have established an independent and ambitious research program reasonably distinct from PhD and postdoctoral work, potential to emerge as a leader in the research domain, and the research environment at the host institution.
  5. Highlight: The full application requires a two-page write-up on your research program including the ongoing work, future directions, and long-term vision. The applicants may use this space to highlight the importance, novelty and innovation of their research program. In addition, the full application also requires the details of current research funding support, key research personnel working in your laboratory, and a brief description of the host institute to underline the feasibility of running an ambitious research program.
  6. Ongoing research program: EMBOYIP is primarily an opportunity to interact and network with peers in the broad domain of life sciences, and there are additional benefits as outlined in the program booklet. It also includes some research funding support but the applicant is expected to have sufficient research funding to sustain and develop the independent research program. Therefore, it is important that the existing research funding support (extramural and intramural) if clearly highlighted and explained.
  7. Host institution and collaborative network: The applicants should clearly underscore the suitability of the host institution for running an ambitious research program with specific mention of infrastructure and a conducive environment for interdisciplinary work. Applicants should also outline key research collaborations (national and international) to demonstrate the comprehensive and interdisciplinary nature of their research program.
  8. Review and refine: Once you have put together your application, take a step back for a few days and then review it carefully. Do this a few times to finetune your application.
  9. Inputs: Pick 2 – 3 (or more) senior scientists with experience in writing proposals who will be willing to critically read through your application package. Ask them to be brutally honest with their feedback. As with the reference letter, do give them sufficient time to carry out this exercise. Also, share the application package with your peers and request them to give it a careful read for science and writing. Note: Make sure that you select people with whom you are comfortable sharing your research proposal.
  10. Ask: If you have any additional queries about any aspect of the application process, feel free to email EMBOYIP staff members for clarification. If you would like to discuss any technical aspects of the application or get feedback on your application, feel free to contact Arun or other EMBO YIs in India.

    The details of the next call can be found here. For any other details and clarification write to yip@​embo.​org.

    Watch the recording of our webinar on EMBO Schemes for Young Investigators here.