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I asked Dr. Vivian Szymczuk, the NICHD Clinical Fellow Rep, about the most pressing issue facing clinical fellows recently. Her answer in short: ramifications from an inability to interact regularly with others due to the pandemic. This likely resonates with clinical and basic science fellows alike. During my chats with this year’s Intramural Research Fellowship recipients, all of them—every single one—indicated that interactions with their peers and mentors helped them write a winning grant proposal.  

The takeaway message from this issue of The NICHD Connection is to form a group of mentors and peers, and then reach out to your network when needed. More often than not, your colleagues want to help. An extra set of eyes on a grant application, one more set of ears to listen to a complex clinical presentation, another story to relate to—these go a long way to forming the connections needed to sustain a science career, or at least make your fellowship a happy and fruitful one!

The Rep Report and April announcements contain plenty of activities to help you get started on forming that valuable network. And don’t forget, the NICHD Office of Education is in your corner with plentiful resources and important career guidance.

Your Editor in Chief,
Shana R. Spindler, PhD

This is a newsletter for NICHD fellows, by NICHD fellows. Please send your questions, comments, and ideas to our editor at