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National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR)

Research Fellowship Program (Switzer)


The purpose of this program is to build research capacity by providing support to highly qualified individuals, including those who are individuals with disabilities, to perform research on rehabilitation, independent living, and other experiences and outcomes of individuals with disabilities.

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How To Apply

  • Who Can Apply: Only individuals are eligible to be recipients of Fellowships. Any individual is eligible for assistance under this program who has training and experience that indicate a potential for engaging in scientific research related to rehabilitation and independent living for individuals with disabilities. This program provides two categories of Fellowships: Merit Fellowships and Distinguished Fellowships.
    • Merit Fellowships: are awarded to individuals in earlier stages of their careers in research. To be eligible for a Merit Fellowship, an individual must have either advanced professional training or experience in independent study in an area which is directly pertinent to disability and rehabilitation.
    • Distinguished Fellowships: To be eligible for a Distinguished Fellowship, an individual must have seven or more years of research experience in subject areas, methods, or techniques relevant to disability and rehabilitation research and must have a doctorate, other terminal degree, or comparable academic qualifications.
  • Where to Look for Funding Opportunities and Application Information: Check this list of NIDILRR funding opportunities and application kits
  • When to Look for Funding Opportunities and Application Information: As a rough guideline, check the preceding link between October and April each year.
  • Help in Applying: View the NIDILRR Guide to Applying for some helpful tips.

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  • The Research Fellowship (Switzer) Program accounted for 0.5% of grant program mechanism funding in FY 2015
  • A total of 15 Fellows submitted an annual or final performance report in FY 2015
  • Three of the Fellows self-identified as a racial and/or ethnic minority
  • Switzer Fellows were actively engaged in independent and partnership research, resulting in seven peer-reviewed articles, four measurement tools or technology products, and three information products
  • Switzer Fellows have gone on to hold prominent positions, primarily on the tenure track in academic research institutions, but also in hospital centers or in the private sector for biotechnology companies

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Select Accomplishments for Fiscal Year 2015

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Improving Patient Participation in Inpatient Rehabilitation of Individuals with SCI: Washington University, School of Medicine (Grant # 90SF0003)

Switzer Research Fellow Dr. Alex Wong, a postdoctoral Fellow at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, now at Washington University, presented the background, rationale, and expected results of his Fellowship project at the 2015 OT Summit of Scholars, an investigation into the impact of patient engagement on outcomes of individuals with SCI at one-year post-injury.

His presentation described subgroups of engagement over the course of inpatient rehabilitation, factors associated with changes in engagement, and anticipated relationships with participation in the community.

Dr. Wong’s presentation was intended to benefit rehabilitation educators and researchers by identifying targets of interventions for boosting patient engagement that lead to improved participation outcomes of persons with SCI.

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Kenneth Wood is the NIDILRR contact staff person if you have questions about the Research Fellowship Program.

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Last Modified: 1/30/2017