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AFSP Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Innovation Grants on Suicide Research and Prevention

AFSP Suicide Research Grants support studies aimed at increasing our understanding of the causes of suicide and factors related to suicide risk, or that test treatments and other interventions designed to prevent suicide. At least one suicide outcome measure must be included in all grant projects. We also consider studies of treatment feasibility, and studies that add a suicide component (e.g., population or treatment) to an existing grant in another area.

AFSP research priority areas

AFSP suicide research grants program priority areas for 2014–16

  • The high risk period following discharge from an inpatient hospital or emergency department or
  • Assessment and/or intervention in primary care settings.

We aim to fund at least one to two rigorously designed priority area grants among those awarded in each cycle. Our two-year priority period allows for resubmission of unsuccessful applications in the second year. While we encourage applications in the priority areas, we also encourage and welcome all applications related to preventing suicide. In addition we continue to maintain a strong interest in research related to survivors of suicide loss.

The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention has defined its priorities in terms of six questions

  • Why do people become suicidal?
  • How can we better or optimally detect/predict risk?
  • What interventions are effective? What prevents individuals from engaging in suicidal behavior?
  • What services are most effective for treating the suicidal person and preventing suicidal behavior?
  • What other types of preventive interventions (outside health care systems) reduce suicide risk?
  • What new and existing research infrastructure is needed to reduce suicidal behavior?

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Innovation Grants

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Innovation Grants are awarded to investigators who have received a Ph.D., M.D., or other doctoral degree within the preceding six years and have had no more than three years of fellowship support.

Research grants and fellowships are awarded by the AFSP Board of Directors acting on the recommendations of the Chair of the Scientific Council. Each application is reviewed independently by two AFSP Scientific Advisors. The better-scoring applications are subsequently reviewed by a member of the Research Grants Committee, who presents them to the full committee for discussion and prioritization. These are then acted on by the Scientific Council and Board of Directors of AFSP.

Applications are evaluated on the basis of

  • (a) the potential of the research to contribute to the understanding and ultimate prevention of suicide, or to the treatment of suicidal patients,
  • (b) the qualifications, experience and productivity of the applicant,
  • (c) innovation,
  • (d) the facilities available to the applicant for the purpose of the study, and
  • (e) the methodology and demonstrated availability of a sufficient number of patients or subjects to carry out the research.

In addition, the evaluation of Postdoctoral Research Fellowship applications will include consideration of the research training plan and the opportunities provided for the applicant to receive meaningful guidance in carrying out the proposed study and preparing for a career in suicide research.

Source of funds

Funds used for all AFSP research grants and fellowships are obtained from private donations to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Eligibility and conditions

Investigators from all academic disciplines are eligible to apply, and both basic science and applied research projects will be considered, provided that the proposed study has an essential focus on suicide or suicide prevention.

A current grantee may submit a new application as their grant nears completion but it will not be funded until completion of the current grant and submission of a Final Report. New grantees must begin their studies within 6 months of the approved start date. Failure to begin the study within this time frame may result in withdrawal of the grant award.

Postdoctoral Research Fellowships are awarded to individuals who will be receiving training and conducting research at universities and other training institutions in the U.S. and abroad.

Fellowship applicants must have completed all requirements for a Ph.D., M.D., or other doctoral degree prior to the start date of the Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. Individuals who have three or more academic years of postdoctoral research experience prior to the time the Postdoctoral Research Fellowship would begin are not eligible for this award.

An AFSP Postdoctoral Research Fellowship may not be held concurrently with any other postdoctoral fellowship. Additional funds may be secured by the Fellow to support costs associated with the research project.

Although it is the general policy of AFSP that individuals may be the Principal Investigator on only one AFSP grant at a time, individuals holding an AFSP Postdoctoral Research Fellowship are eligible to receive additional funds through an AFSP Pilot Research Grant to support costs associated with the research project (as distinct from salary support or the Institutional Allowance, as described below). Fellows may apply for a Pilot Research Grant at any point during the Fellowship period (See AFSP Policies for Pilot Research Grants).

Recipients of the AFSP Postdoctoral Research Fellowship may not reapply for this award.

Personnel compensated in whole or in part through an AFSP research grant are not considered employees of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, but of the grantee institution. AFSP does not assume any responsibility for the conduct of the research or other acts of the investigators. AFSP grantees are subject to the ethical and scientific policies of the grantee institution.

Description of fellowship


Postdoctoral Research Fellowships are training grants designed to enable young investigators to qualify for independent careers in suicide research. The training can be in either basic or clinical research and must be full-time; that is, Fellows are expected to devote at least 40 hours per week to the training program and may not have any significant clinical or other responsibilities during the funding period.


The application for a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship must be endorsed by the applicant's proposed mentor and by the head of the department in which the training will be received. Both a research proposal and a plan of training must be formulated and agreed upon by the mentor and the applicant and described in detail in the application.

The mentor must have an academic rank of Associate or Full Professor and an established record of suicide research and publication relevant to the applicant's proposed study. Individuals may serve as mentors for no more than two AFSP grantees at a time, whether Young Investigators or Postdoctoral Research Fellows.

Term of Fellowship

If, during the course of the study, a grant recipient experiences delays that will cause the project's duration to last longer than the term of the award (based on the final payment date), a written request for an extension of the grant may be made by the Principal Investigator. These No Cost Extensions can be requested only after the final grant payment has been made. The NCE request will be evaluated in the (original) final quarter of the grant. If approved, the maximum term for such an extension is one year, thus postponing the closing date of the grant, and postponing the due date for the Final Reports. Please note that grant extensions will not normally be granted in cases where the problems or delays being experienced make it unlikely that the project will be successfully completed.

Documents required for request of a No Cost Extension:

  • Letter explaining the cause of the delay and rationale for the extension.
  • Budget detailing expenses to date and use of remaining funds during the NCE period.
  • New timeline outlining projected progress through the end of the new closing date.


At the time the award is made, grantees will be informed of the specific schedule of grant payments. Payments will be made to the investigator's institution in equal amounts, with the first payment made after all required information has been provided to AFSP, and the Principal Investigator has indicated that the grant project is ready to begin. Payments will proceed on schedule as long as the project is not experiencing significant delays, but may be delayed for projects that are not making adequate progress in completing scheduled activities, including reporting. Grantees should understand that the payments to the institution are suspended until proof of progress is made. The PI should inform the institution’s financial officer of the delay, so that the officer also understands that funding will be delayed.

Requirements and Amount

The Postdoctoral Research Fellowship provides an annual stipend of up to $46,000 per year for a two-year period plus an Institutional Allowance of $6,000 per year. The annual stipend may be used only for compensation of the Fellow. Stipend payments for Postdoctoral Research Fellowships are made directly to the recipient institution. The institution may supplement the stipend to offset the cost of living, or may provide compensation in the form of salary or tuition reimbursement for such services as teaching or serving as a laboratory assistant. The conditions of stipend supplementation or compensation may not interfere with or detract from the Fellow's training program

The Institutional Allowance may be used to defray such expenses as research supplies or equipment, health insurance for the Fellow, and travel to scientific meetings.

Application Dates and Notifications

Applications are considered once each year and must be submitted by the deadline. Please visit our website for this year’s date; generally our deadline is in mid-November. Final award letters are issued following review and approval by the Scientific Council, and in turn by the Board of Directors, at their May meeting. These grants, if approved, may begin after October 1st.

Application date
15 Nov 2017
2 years
America United States Mid-Atlantic
Social sciences Gender Studies Psychology & Cognitive Sciences Social Anthropology Sociology Other Medicine
Required post-doc experience: 
between 0 and 6 years
Award granted
US$ 104.000