Skip to Content

FelCom - FARE Rules and Regulations


Who can apply for FARE?
The FARE 2021 competition is open to:

  • Intramural postdoctoral fellows (e.g. IRTA, CRTA, Clinical, Research, and Visiting Fellows) with no more than five years total postdoctoral experience in the NIH intramural research program as of March 16, 2020. Visiting Scientists/Fellows cannot be tenured at their home institute.
  • Postdoctoral-level Special Volunteers (e.g. NRC, NRSA, or Jane Coffin Childs fellowships etc.).
  • Pre-doctoral IRTAs currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program and conducting their doctoral dissertation research at an NIH lab.
  • Graduate students currently registered in the GPP (Graduate Partnerships Program) with the NIH.
  • Please note: Postbac IRTA/CRTAs are NOT eligible for the FARE competition.

Previous FARE winners may apply to FARE 2021 (for details see below). Since FARE awards must be used while you are still at the NIH, please do not apply if you are planning to leave before fiscal year 2021 (i.e. October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021). FARE committee members are not eligible for FARE awards. Questions about eligibility should be addressed to, or to your Institute's Scientific Director.

What data should I present?
The abstract you submit to FARE 2021 should reflect your own current, first-author data, collected while you have been at the NIH. The data must be recent: either unpublished, submitted, accepted, in press, or published in 2020. Please check with your co-authors and mentor before submitting your abstract. FARE abstracts may need to contain more background than would be usual in an abstract for a scientific meeting. Remember that the people evaluating your FARE abstract may not be as knowledgeable as you are in your specific area of research. As the entries will be judged anonymously, your abstract should contain no identifying information (e.g. names, bibliographic references etc.).

How do I apply?
The online application is available at the FelCom FARE webpage,

When do applications need to be submitted?
Electronic applications must be submitted by March 12, 2020 at 5:00 PM ET. Your mentor must then approve your abstract by March 19, 2020 at 5:00 PM ET. It is your responsibility to ensure that both these deadlines are met. No extensions will be granted.

How does the FARE application process work?
All applicants must submit their application and abstract online between February 12 and March 12, 2020 at 5:00 PM ET. The abstract may have a maximum length of 2500 characters, including spaces. The submitted abstract will be automatically emailed to your mentor, who will have until March 19, 2020 at 5:00 PM ET to approve it. Approved abstracts are stripped of identifying information, divided into study sections, and judged by a panel of three pre or post-doctoral fellows and two tenure-track/tenured scientists or staff scientists/clinicians. Winners will be notified by mid-August 2020. Awardees receive an award letter and $1500** in support to attend a scientific conference of their choice (see below). The travel award must be used between October 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021.

**NHLBI Fellows do not receive the $1,500 travel award grant, as NHLBI policy is that fellows should attend all meetings necessary for their career development, and meeting attendance should not depend upon winning a travel award. Please contact Dr. Robert Balaban with questions.

Why does my mentor have to approve the abstract?
The NIH Fellows Committee feels that FARE is part of the mentor/trainee experience, and both will benefit from working together on the abstract. Mentor sign-off is also intended to avoid the possibility of authorship disputes. Mentor approval is carried out electronically. Your mentor will receive a copy of your application via email after you submit it. The mentor will be instructed to use an online form to approve or reject your submission. Your mentor's approval must be received by March 19, 2020 at 5:00 PM ET. Any application not approved by that date will be deleted from the pool. It is your responsibility to communicate this deadline to your mentor, as any deleted abstracts will not be reinstated. You will receive an email notifying you of whether your mentor has approved or rejected your abstract.


What if my mentor rejects my abstract?
If that happens, you have until March 19 at 5:00 PM ET to revise your abstract, resubmit, and get it approved by your mentor. However, after March 12 at 5:00 PM ET, no new abstracts will be accepted. Only abstracts submitted before March 12 at 5:00PM ET pending mentor approval can be revised. It is to your advantage, therefore, to submit your abstract well enough in advance of the deadline to allow for the possibility of modification. There will be no grace period beyond March 19 at 5:00 PM ET to revise a rejected abstract. It is also to your advantage to discuss and finalize the abstract with your mentor prior to submission to avoid possible rejections and then resubmissions.

Can I modify my abstract after my mentor has approved it?
No. Your abstract cannot be modified after it has been approved by your mentor.

How are the abstracts judged?
After receiving the submission, all identifying information is deleted except for an internal tracking number, and the abstract is placed in one of over 40 study sections. The abstracts in each section are judged by a panel of five NIH scientists - past FARE winners or approved postdoctoral fellows and tenured/tenure-track investigators or staff scientists/clinicians. The postdoctoral fellow judges are either members of the NIH Fellows Committee or a FARE winner from the previous year. All judges are from a volunteer pool. Every effort will be made to adhere to the above mentioned panel; however, in the event that all five judges are not able to submit a review in a timely manner, a minimum of three judges will be considered a complete review when necessary. The names of individual judges are not released. If a judge recognizes an abstract, the abstract will be rated by an alternate judge. The judges will select the top 25% of abstracts from each study section, which will be designated as FARE winners. Abstracts are evaluated on four criteria: Scientific Merit, Originality, Experimental Design, and Overall Quality/Presentation. Please refer to the score sheet, for details.

How are abstracts placed in study sections?
All attempts are made to place each abstract in the author's first-choice of study section. However, at times the number of abstracts submitted to a study section exceeds a reasonable number, and abstracts must be moved to their second- or third-choice study section. In this situation, abstracts are placed in the first-choice study section in the order by which they are submitted. Therefore, the earlier you submit, the more likely your abstract will be placed in your first-choice study section.

What if I can't find three study sections that are related to my abstract?
The FARE application requires one to choose three study sections. Study sections are filled in the order that abstracts are submitted. Therefore, if you feel there is only one study section appropriate for your abstract, we encourage you to apply early.

How many awards will be given this year?
The Scientific Directors have generously decided to award 25% of the fellows who apply. Thus, the number of winners is not fixed, but depends on the number of fellows who submit an abstract.

The electronic application form complains that my abstract is longer than 2500 characters. But my word processor claims that it is only 2410 characters.
Your abstract must be 2500 characters or less, including spaces and carriage returns. Some word processing software does not include spaces in its character count. For security reasons, the application automatically converts certain reserved characters to the corresponding HTML entity. For example, it converts the less-than symbol "<" to "<" (excluding the quotation marks). Mentors and judges who view the abstract online would see the "<," but the symbol would count as four (4) of the 2500 allowed characters. For most, this feature of the system is irrelevant, but if your word processing software indicates that your abstract is slightly less than 2500 characters long, but the application form indicates that it is over the limit, you will need to trim your abstract further to get it below the limit.

I want to include special characters in my abstract. How do I do this in the online application?
The electronic application is only able to process simple ASCII characters without formatting. Therefore, many special characters (e.g. Greek letters or subscripts/superscripts) will not appear correctly. If your abstract contains special characters, please spell them out in English (e.g. write "alpha" and "beta" rather than using the special character). In most cases, subscripts and superscripts can be understood if they are in the body of the text. It is probably easiest if you compose your abstract in your normal word processor, then cut and paste it into the box provided on the application. If necessary, contact for more information.

What do I do if there are multiple authors?
There can be only one author per FARE abstract. Remember that you are writing an abstract that describes your current research efforts at the NIH. While you may describe data from a larger research project (i.e. one in which multiple scientists participate on specific parts), you should emphasize the contribution you have made, and place your contributions in context to the larger global project. It would be wise for you to make sure that all who are involved in the larger project agree with your submission of the abstract, in addition to your mentor.

Should I put my name in my abstract?
No. The abstract (and abstract title) should not contain any information that could be used to identify you. Do not include any identifying information about yourself in your title or abstract. Include your name only in the Author Information fields on the first page of the application.

Can I put references or figures in my abstract?
No. The presence of references or figures will disqualify the abstract from the competition.

Am I able to access last year's winning abstracts?
Yes. The list of previous winners from FARE 2012 to FARE 2019 can be found on the FelCom website. You can search the abstracts by IC or by study section:

Can I submit more than one FARE 2020 abstract?
No. Each qualifying fellow may submit only one FARE abstract.

Can I submit an abstract that I have already written for another occasion?
Yes. However, the abstract you submit to FARE 2021 should reflect your own current, first-author data, collected while you have been at the NIH. The data must be recent: either unpublished, submitted, accepted, in press, or published in 2020.

Can I re-submit an abstract that did not win last year?
No. Your abstract can concern the same topic as last year's abstract, but the new abstract must be significantly different (at least 50% of the content and wording) from last year's (i.e. it should reflect current data, not just a rehash of last year's data).

I won a FARE travel award already. Can I compete again this year?
Yes! All previous FARE winners are encouraged to apply again this year. However, your abstract must be significantly different from your previous winning abstract. This means it must be at least 50% different in both content and wording (i.e. it should reflect current data and not simply rehash last year's data). Abstracts of repeat winners will be evaluated by the FARE committee to determine if the new abstract is 50% different - if needed the FARE Committee will ask experts in the field for their input. FARE 2020 winners are also being asked to serve as judges for FARE 2021. Since judges are not allowed to evaluate their own abstracts, we ask that FARE 2020 winners who apply to FARE 2021 submit their abstract to a different study section from the one they will be judging. For example, submit your abstract to a study section relevant to your postdoctoral work, and offer to judge a section related to your graduate work.

Can I transfer my FARE award to someone from the same lab/institute/co-author/Principal Investigator/Staff scientist/Staff Clinicians?
No, you cannot transfer your FARE award. It is specific to the individual FARE winner.

I applied to FARE but did not win, even though the same work has been accepted by a peer-reviewed journal. How can this be?
Your abstract may not have been written appropriately for the FARE competition. Remember that the people evaluating your FARE abstract may not be as knowledgeable as you in your specific area of research. Thus, FARE abstracts may need to have more background than would be usual in an abstract for a scientific meeting or a journal article. It is also important to remember that your abstract is judged on the basis of other submissions as impartially as possible. Not winning the FARE competition has no bearing on, and has no reflection on, the ability to publish your data. The NIH is a world-renowned institution, and all research that is being conducted here is considered important and, in many cases, groundbreaking. Thus, FARE is very competitive.

How do I activate my FARE award?
The process differs between Institutes. Winners should contact their Branch Secretary, their Administrative Officer, or the office of their Scientific Director to learn how to activate their FARE award.

How can I use my FARE award?
Your FARE award** should be used to cover costs related to attending a scientific meeting in the United States during the 2020 fiscal year (October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021). In order for you to use your award, we ask that you present your abstract, either as a poster or a seminar, at the meeting you choose. FARE awards may be used for international scientific meetings only with the approval of your Scientific Director. FARE 2021 winners will also be asked to present a poster of their work during the NIH Research Festival in Fall 2020, and to serve as a judge for FARE 2022.

**NHLBI Fellows do not receive the $1,500 travel award grant, as NHLBI policy is that fellows should attend all meetings necessary for their career development, and meeting attendance should not depend upon winning a travel award. Please contact Dr. Robert Balaban with any questions.

I tried to open the abstract and/or judge application and get the error "The certificate is not trusted..." What is wrong?
Though it would seem otherwise from the pop-up window you are presented with, there is not a problem with our security certificate. The "false positive" error message is a known problem with certain browsers - one that we have no control over. As long as you see "" in the URL you can safely accept the certificate and proceed to the page. The certificate, which is issued to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, is valid and working properly. If you have questions, contact

How is FARE related to the Research Festival?
Although it is not required, FARE winners are highly encouraged to present their submitted research at the Research Festival poster session. Those that do participate in the Research Festival will be given a ribbon to identify them as FARE winners. The FARE results will be announced so that winners will have adequate time to register for the Research Festival.

Is there a common registration for FARE and the NIH Research Festival?
No. You must register for the Research Festival separately from your FARE submission.

How do I get additional help?
Send an email to, and someone will get back to you within 24 hours.