Catalyst 2021 is a being planned with in-person and virtual activities, and we will continue to assess factors around COVID-19 (health and safety as a top priority, state-by-state and national recommendations and regulations, travel advisories, etc.) that may impact the answer to this question.
During the six-month program, participating fellows and faculty will be located in one of three hubs — Boston, Memphis, or Salt Lake City. Some of the fellows and faculty will be from the local VA and some from outside the VA. Throughout the Catalyst process, fellows will work in small teams, supported by faculty and external advisors with diverse backgrounds. Team meetings, workshops and presentations will be held virtually as needed (via Zoom) which has worked well for Catalyst programs since social distancing commenced in March 2020. Depending on the disposition of the pandemic in each of the three hubs, in-person meetings may be possible. If so, fellows and faculty will meet in appropriately arranged meeting rooms in accordance with public health guidance in each of the three locations. But regardless of the requirements for social distancing over the course of the program, many of the meetings will be virtual to allow for cross-site collaboration on projects.
We are also planning what we call intensifications. Each hub is planning to host a “week-long”, in-person intensification (Monday for travel, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for Catalyst activities, and Friday for travel). If needed, the activities for intensifications will be translated to virtual experiences.
Application process key dates
- Friday, August 14
LIVE Information Session Webinar, 10am-11am EDT
- Tuesday, August 25
LIVE Information Session Webinar, 4pm-5pm EDT
See the information session recording
- Tuesday, September 1
Application deadline, 11:59pm MDT
- Week of September 14
Interview invitations to be sent
- Wednesday, September 23
Interviews, 10am-4pm (EDT)
- Week of October 1
Fellows’ acceptances announcement
- Friday, October 2 – Wednesday, October 14
Fellows garner supervisor support and respond to Catalyst offer
- Wednesday, October 14
Deadline to respond to Catalyst acceptance offer
- Week of November 9
Catalyst Fellows Onboarding Materials to be sent
- Monday, January 4, 2021
First Catalyst Session, 10am-1pm (EST)
In 2021, Boston, Memphis, and Salt Lake City are the locations of Catalyst Hubs. These cities were selected in conjunction with the U.S. Veteran’s Health Administration. They are areas that are rich in VA innovation, and have colleges and universities, hospitals and medical centers, and health and technology businesses. Participants from each hub should live or work in close enough proximity to the cities that they can regularly meet in person (when allowable under COVID guidelines).
Each Catalyst hub will have some VA fellows and faculty along with non-VA fellows and faculty. The model is designed to increase interdisciplinary collaboration and to expand connection in the biomedical innovation ecosystem locally and across hubs.
Documents and information you will need to submit in the Application Form include:
- Curriculum Vitae (required)
- Reference letters (recommended)
- Reference contacts (required)
- Application questions (previewed below)
The objective of these questions is to know more about you and your experiences. Remember that Catalyst will guide and train you to identify and validate unmet needs, define solutions, and design new research projects with high translational potential during the program. You are not applying with an existing project to the Catalyst program; you are applying as a talented and passionate individual with valuable skills to make an impact in healthcare.
Please list your core competencies, including domains of expertise and experience (75 word max)
Help us understand your CV in context. Tell us about one or two of your non-classroom, professional or research experiences—describe your role in understanding challenges, applying learnings, and influencing outcomes. (150 word max)
Logical reasoning skills are foundational to the Catalyst process. Please tell us about a past research or professional experience where the application of logical reasoning skills were critical.
Please tell us why you are interested in being a Fellow in the Catalyst 2021 Program (75 word max).
What else should we know about you? (Optional)
Fellows are expected to attend the following activities:
- Sessions: Weekly sessions will run on Mondays from 10am ET to 1pm ET from January 4th to June 28th, 2021. Weekly sessions will be offered virtually.
(Sessions will not run in this format during the three intensifications described below.)
- Intensifications: Fellows are required to participate in the following activities (dates on the website):
Intensification I, in Boston: 1/12/21 – 1/14/21 -Theme: Need generation/validation
Intensification II, in Salt Lake City: 3/8/21 – 3/10/21 -Theme: Solution Generation
Intensification III, in Memphis: 5/11/21 – 5/13/21 - Theme: Plan Generation
Fellows are expected to dedicate an average of 10-15 hours/week or 20% time to the regular weekly activities of the program, including Sessions, personal work and teamwork – personal and team work in a flexible schedule format.
For the Intensifications, Fellows are expected to work full time.
If you have a full-time job (or you are currently committed to a full-time activity) and you are willing to reduce your current activity dedication (temporarily, during the program) to participate in Catalyst 2021, you will need your current supervisor’s support, if accepted, before committing to the program. The VA will have a procedure for this, which will be shared when acceptances are sent out.
You can provide your supervisor with information about the program, and explain the value of your participation in Catalyst for your current organization. We can also help you with talking points for that if needed.
After the first 6 months of the program, Fellows transition to Phase 2. Some projects transition in weeks, others in months. During the transition, Faculty and teams form working groups that meet regularly to assess the projects’ progress and determine next steps. Phase 2 is concerned with executing the research plan—doing the work to implement the solution.
In Phase 2, follow-on funding will be pursued for those projects that are found to be viable and promising. In particular, our partners are committed to seriously considering funding of projects that emerge from Catalyst Phase 1..
Opportunities to continue working on the project with 20% effort or higher will be determined on an individual basis. This is also the point at which additional individuals (PIs, students, etc.) are recruited to execute the project.
Catalyst 2021 is organized in a way that is not likely to generate Intellectual Property during the program. IP considerations would arise during the execution of the research projects (if Fellows execute them). MIT and the VA have resources available to Fellows for more information as it becomes relevant.