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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 or a master’s degree in a relevant field. 

 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 must be a US Citizen.

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

To be eligible, all applicants must have received their degree within the previous five 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 health care?

No, you do not need a background in health care. You will work with experienced 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, MA; Durham, NC; Houston, TX and Palo Alto, CA

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

Yes, you should identify clinical and scientific/academic mentors prior to applying. These mentors must 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 Office of Academic Affiliations (OAA)-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 to be affiliated with your BD-STEP site.  However, you may have opportunities to collaborate with researchers and clinicians from other VA sites during the program.

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

OAA funded BD-STEP Fellows must hold a master’s degree or PhD.  Applicants must have obtained a master’s or PhD in computational or quantitative fields such as engineering, computer science, physical science, economics, public health or a related discipline. 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 significant experience with programming/data analytics prior to applying for a fellowship. Fellows typically start the fellowship already comfortable with 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?

Post-master’s fellows participate in the fellowship for one year and post-doc fellows participate for  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 Department of Veterans Affairs(VA), in industry and in other government agencies after completing the fellowship.  Examples of past fellows and their current positions can be found here.  

 How do fellows spend their time during the fellowship?

Fellows split their time 75/25 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 have been vetted by the BD-STEP Coordinating Center. Service projects make use of fellows’ computational/quantitative and biomedical backgrounds and help foster connections and collaborations across different VA sites. Example of past service projects can be found here.

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. Past events that fellows have travelled to can be found here.

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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.