Extramural Loan Repayment Program for Health Disparities Research (LRP-HDR)

Notice Number: NOT-OD-11-087

Update: The following update relating to this announcement has been issued:

Key Dates
Release Date: June 21, 2011

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) (www.nimhd.nih.gov)
Office of Extramural Programs, Division of Loan Repayment (www.lrp.nih.gov)

Application Period
Annually: from September 1 through November 15, at 8:00 PM EST.

This Notice replaces NOT-OD-10-108, and provides program specific information for Extramural Loan Repayment Program for Health Disparities Research (LRP-HDR).  The overall purpose of the extramural LRP is the recruitment and retention of highly qualified health professionals as research investigators to careers in research.  Additional detailed Information about each LRP is provided at http://www.lrp.nih.gov/about_the_programs/index.aspx.  The NIH invites qualified health professionals who contractually agree to engage in NIH mission-relevant research for at least two years, and who agree to engage in such research for at least 50 percent of their work schedule (not less than 20 hours per week based on a 40-hour work week), to apply for participation in the extramural LRP.  Extramural LRPs provide for the repayment of educational loan debt of up to $35,000 annually for qualified health professionals performing research within the mission of NIH at domestic, non-profit, or government entities.  LRP applications will be accepted annually from September 1 through November 15, 8:00 p.m. EST.  Applications must be submitted electronically using the NIH Loan Repayment Program Website, www.lrp.nih.gov.

LRP-HDR Program Objective
The objective of the LRP-HDR is the recruitment and retention of highly qualified health professionals to research careers that focus on minority health or other health disparity issues.

The Program serves as an avenue for NIH and the NIMHD to engage and promote the development of research programs that reflect the variety of issues and problems associated with disparities in health status.  In addition, the Director, NIMHD, is statutorily required to ensure that not fewer than 50 percent of the contracts are awarded to qualified health professionals that are members of health disparities populations. This requirement highlights the need for the involvement of a cadre of culturally competent health professionals in minority health and other health disparities research.

“Health disparity populations” are determined by the Director of NIMHD, after consultation with the Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and are defined as populations where there is significant disparity in the overall rate of disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity, mortality, or survival rates as compared to the health status of the general population.   The following populations have been designated as health disparity populations: Blacks/African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders and the medically underserved, i.e., individuals from the Appalachian region.

“Health disparities research” is defined as basic, clinical, or behavioral research on a health disparities population (including individual members and communities of such populations) including the causes of such health disparities and methods to prevent, diagnose and treat such disparities.

“Medically underserved” refers to individuals that lack access to primary and specialty care either because they are socioeconomically disadvantaged and may or may not live in areas with high poverty rates or because they reside in rural areas.  The term also refers to individuals that reside in geographic areas where the Index of Medical Underservice (IMU) is 62 or less.  The Health Resource Services Administration (HRSA) criteria designate a service area with an IMU of 62 or less as a “medically underserved area (MUA)”. The IMU is a weighted score derived from four variables: the ratio of primary medical care physicians per 1,000 population, infant mortality rate, percentage of population below the federal poverty level, and percentage of the population age 65 years or over.   

“Minority health conditions” refers to all diseases, disorders, and other conditions (including mental health and substance abuse) that are unique to, more serious, or more prevalent in racial and ethnic minorities, for which the medical risk factors or types of medical interventions may be different, or research involving such populations as subjects or data on such individuals is insufficient.

“Minority health disparities research” is defined as basic, clinical, or behavioral research on minority health conditions, including research to prevent, diagnose, and treat such conditions.

Eligible Applicants
All eligible individuals, including women, individuals from underrepresented groups, and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply for loan repayment.

Eligibility criteria with regard to participation in the extramural LRPs include the following:

The following individuals are ineligible for participation in the extramural LRPs:

Funds Available
The NIMHD intends to commit approximately $11 million annually to fund LRP-HDR contracts.

Where to Obtain Additional Information
Please see the LRP website at http://www.lrp.nih.gov, send an email to lrp@nih.gov, or call the Division of Loan Repayment Information Center toll free at (866) 849-4047.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to pay attention to Institute or Center (IC) specific funding priorities, and also to discuss their career interests with an IC scientific liaison (contact), using this link: LRP Contacts Website.  LRP applications for Health Disparities are exclusively assigned to the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). 

All applicants are encouraged to Check out the following webinar for application tips and guidance from LRP Director Dr. Milton Hernandez.

Annual Receipt, Peer Review, and Review Schedule
Upon receipt, applications for both initial and renewal awards will be reviewed for eligibility and completeness.  Incomplete or ineligible applications will not be considered.  Applications that are complete and eligible will be forwarded for peer review.  

Application Materials (New and Renewal Applicants)
The following information is furnished by applicants or others on behalf of applicants (forms are completed electronically using the LRP Website:  www.lrp.nih.gov), and must be submitted annually from September 1, through November 15, 8:00 p.m. EST.

Applicants electronically transmit the following to the NIH Division of Loan Repayment: 

Research supervisors or mentors electronically transmit the following to the NIH Division of Loan Repayment:

Recommenders electronically transmit recommendation forms to the NIH Division of Loan Repayment.  
Information is obtained from Individuals who can comment on the research skills and the abilities of the applicant.  This includes the applicants’ research supervisor or most recent mentor and includes the following:  

Institutional contacts electronically transmit a certification to the NIH Division of Loan Repayment that:

Renewal Applications
Loan repayment recipients who wish to extend their loan repayment should reapply the year before the current contract ends.  LRP renewal contracts are available for one- and two-year periods and are based upon the same criteria as the initial application plus two additional criteria – an assessment of research accomplishments, and development of an individual as an independent investigator.  An explanation of research accomplishments during the initial award period is required.  Progress toward development as an independent investigator is a major factor in awarding renewal of loan repayment support.  Renewal LRP awards are competitive and submission of a renewal application does not assure the award of loan repayment.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their career interests with an NIH Institute or Center scientific liaison provided at this site: LRP Contacts Website.

Evaluation Criteria
Applications for the extramural LRP are evaluated against the following criteria as related to the likelihood that the applicant will continue in a career focused on research in one of the above five program areas:

Applicant’s potential to pursue a career in research, including:

Quality of the overall environment to prepare the applicant for a research career, including:

For renewal applications (also known as type 2 applications), progress under the previous project period is an additional evaluation criterion:

Program Administration Details
Under the LRP, the NIH will repay a portion of the extant qualified educational loan debt incurred to pay for the researcher’s undergraduate, graduate, and/or health professional school educational expenses.  Failure to fulfill the terms of the LRP contract will result in termination of the LRP, or could be considered a breach of contract.  The penalty for a breach of contract is $7,500 for every month of unfulfilled service or a minimum of $31,000, whichever is higher.

LRP service obligation and NRSA service payback cannot overlap, and permission to defer NRSA payback must be obtained prior to receipt of LRP funding. 

The NIH will repay lenders for the extant principal, interest, and related expenses (such as the required insurance premiums on the unpaid balances of some loans) of educational loans from a U.S. government entity, academic institution, or a commercial or other chartered U.S. lending institution, such as banks, credit unions, savings and loan associations, not-for-profit organizations, insurance companies, and other financial or credit institutions which are subject to examination and supervision in their capacity as lending institutions by an agency of the United States or of the State in which the lender has its principal place of business, obtained by participants for the following:

  1. Undergraduate, graduate, and health professional school tuition expenses.
  2. Other reasonable educational expenses required by the school(s) attended, including fees, books, supplies, educational equipment and materials, and laboratory expenses.
  3. Reasonable living expenses, including the cost of room and board, transportation and commuting costs, and other living expenses as determined by the Secretary.

Repayments are made directly to lenders, following receipt of (1) the Principal Investigator, Program Director, or Research Supervisor's verification of completion of the prior period of research, and (2) lender verification of the crediting of prior loan repayments, including the resulting account balances and current account status.  The NIH will repay loans in the following order, unless the Secretary determines that significant savings would result from a different order of priority:

  1. Loans guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
  2. Loans guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Education:
  3. Loans made or guaranteed by a State, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or a territory or possession of the United States
  4. Loans made by academic institutions
  5. Private ("Alternative") Educational Loans:

The following loans are NOT repayable under this program:

  1. Loans not obtained from a U.S. or other government entity, academic institution, or a commercial or other chartered U.S. lending institution such as loans from friends, relatives, or other individuals, and non-educational loans, such as home equity loans.
  2. Loans for which contemporaneous documentation (current account statement, and promissory note or lender disclosure statement) is not available.
  3. Loans that have been consolidated with loans of other individuals, such as a spouse or child.
  4. Loans or portions of loans obtained for educational or living expenses, which exceed a reasonable level, as determined by the standard school budget for the year in which the loan was made, and are not determined by the LRP to be reasonable based on additional contemporaneous documentation provided by the applicant.
  5. Loans, financial debts, or service obligations incurred under the following programs, or other programs that incur a service obligation that converts to a loan on failure to satisfy the service obligation:
  6. Delinquent loans, loans in default, or loans not current in their payment schedule
  7. PLUS Loans to parents (PLUS Loans disbursed to graduate and professional students on or after July 1, 2006 quality for repayment)
  8. Loans that have been paid in full
  9. Loans obtained after the execution of the NIH Loan Repayment Program Contract (e.g., promissory note signed after the LRP contract has been awarded).  This provision does not apply to qualifying loan consolidations.

Before the commencement of loan repayment, or during lapses in loan repayments, due to administrative complications, Leave Without Pay (LWOP), or a break in service, LRP participants are wholly responsible for making payments or other arrangements that maintain loans current, such that increases in either principal or interest do not occur.  The LRP contract period will not be modified or extended as a result of LWOP or a break in service.  Penalties and/or fees assessed to participants failing to maintain current payment status may not be considered for reimbursement.

LRP payments are NOT retroactive.  Loan repayment will commence after a loan repayment contract has been executed, expected to be no earlier than July through September annually. 

Required Federal Citations
Awards are made pursuant to the Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-525) that added Section 485G of the Public Health Service Act (42 USC 287c-33).  The Federal Debt Collections Procedures Act of 1990, contained in Public Law 101-647, requires that an individual who has a judgment lien against his/her property for a debt to the United States shall not be eligible to receive funds directly from the Federal government in any program, except funds to which the debtor is entitled as a beneficiary, until the judgment is paid in full or otherwise satisfied (28 U.S.C. 3201). 

Weekly TOC for this Announcement
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