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Header - Big Data Scientist Training Enhancement Program (BD-STEP)


Does the BD-STEP fellowship come with funding?

You can apply to be a VA funded fellow if you have a PhD. 

 Can I participate if I already have my own funding from other sources?

Yes, you can participate in the fellowship if you have your own funding. You will need to ensure your funding source is aware of your participation and approves of the time commitment.

Where does funding for the program come from?

If you are VA funded, your stipend is provided by the Office of Academic Affiliations.

Do you have to be a US Citizen to participate?

To receive VA funding, you need to be a US Citizen.

Do I need to have my finished my PhD recently to receive funding?

To be eligible, all applicants must have received their terminal degree within the previous 5 years at the time of application.

Do I need to be currently affiliated with an academic institution?

No, you do not need to be currently affiliated with an academic institution. Your site will assist you in becoming affiliated with their local institute.

Do I need to have a background in healthcare?

No, you do not need a background in healthcare. You will work with experience VA clinicians and interdisciplinary researchers to gain valuable clinical exposure and domain knowledge.

Where are the current active BD-STEP sites?

The funded sites are Boston, Durham, Houston, Palo Alto

Do I need to have my scientific and clinical mentors identified prior to applying?

Yes, prior to applying you should identify clinical and scientific/academic mentors. These mentors need to agree to support you during your two years of the BD-STEP fellowship. If you would like to apply to one of the BD-STEP sites but do not have mentors, please contact the site directors at your site of interest and they will assist you with identifying potential mentors. More details on the application process can be found here.

Do I need to be located at one of the active BD-STEP sites to participate in the fellowship?

Yes, if you are an OAA (Office of Academic Affiliations) funded fellow.

Do my mentors for the program need to be located at one of the active sites?

Either your clinical or scientific mentor needs be to affiliated with your BD-STEP site.  However, during the program you may have opportunities to collaborate with researchers and clinicians from other VA sites.

What degree backgrounds are eligible for applying to BD-STEP?

OAA funded BD-STEP Fellows must hold a PhD.  Applicants need to have obtained a PhD in computational or quantitative fields such as engineering, computer science, physical science, or other related disciplines. For example, past fellows have had degrees in Bioengineering, Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, Computational Neuroscience, Computer Science, Economics, Epidemiology and Statistics.

I’m an MD, can I participate in the program?

MDs should have had significant research experience using computational and quantitative tools/methods before applying.   They are not eligible for an OAA stipend.

What kind of computational skills are fellows required to have to join the fellowship?

BD-STEP Fellows should have gained significant experience with programming/data analytics prior to applying for a fellowship.  Fellows typically start the fellowship already being comfortable in one or more programming language/software packages: Matlab, Python, R, SAS, Stata and SQL. 

How long is the fellowship and how much is the yearly stipend?

The fellowship is two years.  The salaries vary per site due to cost of living adjustments. Please contact Kelly Gaynor at for more details regarding fellow stipends.

When does BD-STEP accept applications?

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

What do fellows do after they complete the fellowship?

Fellows have gone on to a variety of positions within the VA, in industry and in government agencies after completing the fellowship.  Examples of past fellows and their current positions will be available on this site soon. 

 How do fellows spend their time during the fellowship?

Fellows split their time 80/20 between research and service projects. Research projects are decided upon by the fellows and their academic and clinical mentors. Examples of research projects can be found here Fellows select service projects from a list of active VA service projects that BD-STEP is helping to support. Service projects make use of fellows’ computational/quantitative and biomedical backgrounds and help foster connections and collaborations across different VA sites.

Is there support available for fellows to attend conferences?

Yes, there is funding available for fellows to attend conferences and participate in additional training activities.

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Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.