RAMP Application FAQ

ELIGIBILITY

I do not identify as African-American/Black or Latinx. Am I eligible for RAMP?

No. We acknowledge that there are a number of other racial, ethnic and other minority groups that are underrepresented as researchers in the HIV vaccine community. However, the disproportionate impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the African American and Latinx communities in the U.S, combined with structural barriers that have limited career development opportunities for these students, warrant attention by programs such as RAMP.

I attend an osteopathic school of medicine. Am I eligible for RAMP?

No, only students at allopathic medical schools are eligible for RAMP.

I am a US citizen/permanent resident attending medical school in the Caribbean. Am I eligible for RAMP?

No. Only students attending LCME-accredited medical schools in the US and Puerto Rico are eligible.

I am a 4th year medical student. Can I still apply?

If you will still be enrolled in medical school on your project start date, you may apply. Projects may start as early as May of the awarding year.

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PROJECT TIMING

What is the minimum time commitment for a RAMP project?

For a short-term project, a minimum of 8 weeks i.e. 40 days at the site working the equivalent of a full-time position.


Can my project time be split into two or more blocks?

No, RAMP projects must be completed all at once.


I am concurrently enrolled in a Master’s/PhD program. Can I participate in RAMP?

Yes. Applicants are encouraged to discuss concurrent workload with mentor(s), RAMP program staff and academic program staff to ensure there will be enough time for project completion. Note that all Scholars are still expected to work the minimum amount of time and at the equivalent of a full-time position during their project period.


How do I know when my project will start and end?

Project funding through the RAMP Scholar Award can begin any time starting May 1 of the year of award and end no later than December 31 of the following year. Most projects coincide with the summer or academic year starting in the award year. The exact dates of funding will depend on the schedules of the parties involved.

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MENTORS

How do I approach a mentor I’m interested in working with?

The RAMP Project Manager will provide you with a list with mentor contact information. Email the investigator(s) of interest and let them know that you are applying for the RAMP Grant, the project they listed that you are interested in, and then ask if they would be willing to be your mentor. They are expecting to be contacted by students, so it won’t be a surprise. Include your resume/CV and a statement of your interest in the field/project in your message to help the investigator get to know you.

I haven’t heard back from a mentor I contacted.

Mentors are busy like any investigators, so don’t give up if you don’t hear from them right away! Feel free to send a follow-up message or contact the RAMP Project Manager for their phone number. Calling can often be an effective way to get in touch. If you are interested in another mentor, contact the RAMP Project Manager for suggestions.

I’m no longer interested in working with a mentor I’ve contacted.

Let that mentor know you will not be moving forward with them so that they can have capacity to work with other students. Contact the RAMP Project Manager for other mentor suggestions.

Can I contact more than one mentor to explore projects?

Yes. Once you’ve decided which mentor to work with, let the other(s) know you will not be moving forward with them so that they can have capacity to work with other students.

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PROJECT CHOICE AND DEVELOPMENT

How do I decide which project to pursue?

There are a wide variety of project opportunities in RAMP, making decisions difficult. One strategy is to consider either the skills you may be interested in acquiring or strengthening through your project. Another is to think of how you’d like to spend your time: do you want to interact with community members, conduct data analysis, work with samples in a lab, or some combination?

What is the RAMP application development process like?

Developing the application is an iterative process that is driven by the RAMP applicant. The key portion of the application is the project description, which will provide a brief yet thorough overview of the proposed research. Once the applicant and mentor have made contact, they will have an introductory conversation about the project topic and scope. The applicant will then usually have to read and summarize background literature, draft a project proposal, get feedback from the mentor, and repeat. At the same time, the applicant must also draft the other sections of the application and gather required materials. Finally, the applicant and mentor should work closely together to develop the project budget.

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BUDGET

Does the amount of money I request affect how my application is reviewed?

No. Reviewers may make comments or suggestions about the proposed budget, but it is not used to evaluate the application. In other words, funding decisions are made based on scores for the review criteria, not by how much is requested in the budget.


How do I create a budget?

Review the sample budgets on the How to Apply page and closely read the guidance at the top of the budget form. Work closely with your mentor to estimate supply and other costs.

 

How do I budget salary?

Applicants should work with their mentor(s) to determine an appropriate salary based on institutional ranges, applicants’ experience/education, and local cost of living. Salaries are expected to be in the range of $2,500-$4,500 per month based on these factors.

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APPLICATION REVIEW

What are the RAMP review criteria?

RAMP applications are reviewed on the following criteria:

  • The interest of the medical student in HIV/AIDS research or clinical care, and in potentially pursuing a career in HIV vaccine research.

  • Relevant research background or personal experiences such as laboratory research, clinical experiences, strong interest in gaining new research experience, and/or personal experience with HIV/AIDS. Relevant research experience is not a requirement of the program but will be viewed favorably.

  • The student’s ability to successfully complete a large-scale project like RAMP. Demonstrated evidence of qualities such as intellectual rigor, independence, curiosity, responsibility, drive and ability to manage multiple priorities.

  • Scientific significance and innovation balanced with practical feasibility of the proposed research project. The relevance to the overall goals and scientific agenda of the HVTN.

  • The appropriateness of the project considering the student’s level of training and knowledge. Aspects of the proposed research plan, including research question(s), data collection, methods and analysis plan.

  • Support from an HVTN investigator to mentor the applicant.

  • A preliminary mentoring plan that assures the investigator(s) involved in the project can dedicate time to oversee the activities of the student during the RAMP Scholar experience. The plan should detail approaches that will be used to support the academic advancement of the student including, but not limited to, research methods, writing and presentation skills, cultural responsiveness and skills necessary to succeeding in a research environment.