Department of Health and Human Services

Part 1. Overview Information
Participating Organization(s)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Components of Participating Organizations

National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)

Funding Opportunity Title

Bridges to the Doctorate Program (R25)

Activity Code

R25 Education Projects

Announcement Type

Reissue of PAR-07-410

Related Notices

  • August 30, 2012 - This PAR has been reissued as PAR-12-276.
  • September 2, 2011 - Notice to clarify the number of awards allowed for PAR-11-279. An institution may hold only one Bridges to the Doctorate grant award. See Notice NOT-GM-11-114.
  • August 11, 2011 - Notice of Application Submission Date Extension. See Notice NOT-GM-11-109.
  • August 3, 2011 - See Notice NOT-GM-11-108. Notice to indicate that there will be one receipt date for all applications, which is September 25, 2011

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number

PAR-11-279

Companion FOA

None

Number of Applications

Only one application per institution (normally identified by having a unique DUNS number or NIH IPF number) is allowed.Section III. 3. Additional Information on Eligibility.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s)

93.859

FOA Purpose

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) issued by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), encourages Research Education Grant (R25) applications from institutions that propose to increase the pool of master’s degree students from underrepresented backgrounds who go on to research careers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, and who are trained and available to participate in NIH-funded research. This initiative promotes partnerships/consortia between colleges or universities granting a terminal master’s degree with institutions that offer the doctorate degree. The program expects that the joint efforts of doctorate degree-granting and master’s degree-granting institutions will foster the development of a well-integrated institutional program that will provide students from underrepresented groups with the necessary academic preparation and skills to enable their transition and successful completion of the Ph.D. degree in biomedical and behavioral sciences.

Key Dates
Posted Date

July 26, 2011

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

August 25, 2011

Letter of Intent Due Date

Not Applicable

Application Due Date(s)

October 31, 2011 (per NOT-GM-11-109). Previously September 25, 2011; (January 25, 2012, May 25, 2012 Dates have been removed per NOT-GM-11-108) by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization.

AIDS Application Due Date(s)

Not Applicable.

Scientific Merit Review

Standard Dates

Advisory Council Review

Standard Dates

Earliest Start Date(s)

July 1, 2012

Expiration Date

November 1, 2011 (per NOT-GM-11-109). Previously September 26, 2011 per NOT-GM-11-108), Original Date: September 8, 2012

Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not Applicable

Required Application Instructions

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide except where instructed to do otherwise (in this FOA or in a Notice from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts). Conformance to all requirements (both in the Application Guide and the FOA) is required and strictly enforced. Applicants must read and follow all application instructions in the Application Guide as well as any program-specific instructions noted in Section IV. When the program-specific instructions deviate from those in the Application Guide, follow the program-specific instructions. Applications that do not comply with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.

Table of Contents

Part 1. Overview Information
Part 2. Full Text of the Announcement
Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
Section II. Award Information
Section III. Eligibility Information
Section IV. Application and Submission Information
Section V. Application Review Information
Section VI. Award Administration Information
Section VII. Agency Contacts
Section VIII. Other Information

Part 2. Full Text of Announcement

Section I. Funding Opportunity Description

The NIH recognizes a unique and compelling need to promote diversity in the biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social sciences research workforce. The NIH expects efforts to diversify the workforce to lead to the recruitment of the most talented researchers from all groups; to improve the quality of the educational and training environment; to balance and broaden the perspective in setting research priorities; to improve the ability to recruit subjects from diverse backgrounds into clinical research protocols; and to improve the Nation's capacity to address and eliminate health disparities.

Although the NIH currently provides multiple opportunities to develop research careers and improve participation for individuals from groups with low representation in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, reports from the National Science Foundation (NSF), (see http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/) and others provide strong evidence that diversity remains an important problem that the entire research enterprise must actively address.

There is abundant evidence that the biomedical and educational enterprise will directly benefit from broader inclusion. Recent studies have supported the argument that diversity enhances the quality of education in multiple settings. Studies have suggested that racially and culturally concordant scientific staff may be more successful in recruiting individuals from minority groups into clinical trials. Racially similar physician-patient dyads also may be related to greater patient satisfaction in ways that could enhance communication and participation in clinical research settings. There is limited evidence that individuals who have participated in the NIH administrative supplement program preferentially conduct research in areas related to health disparities or minority health. There is no question that the need for a diverse workforce permeates all aspects of the nation's health-related research effort.

The NIGMS Bridges to the Doctorate Program provides the opportunity to increase the pool of students from groups underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral sciences who go on to research careers in these fields, and who are available to participate in NIH-funded research. The program promotes partnerships/consortia between colleges or universities granting a terminal master’s degree with institutions that grant Ph.D. degrees in biomedical and behavioral sciences. The Bridges to the Doctorate Program expects that the joint efforts of master's degree-granting and doctorate degree-granting institutions will foster the development of a well-integrated institutional program that will provide students from underrepresented groups with the necessary academic preparation and skills to enable their transition and successful completion of the doctorate degree in biomedical and behavioral sciences.

Background

Nationally, approximately 9-12% of students who enter Ph.D. degree programs do so through the master’s degree program and in California, this number is close to 40% for the California State University graduates who complete their Ph.D. degrees at the University of California campuses (see UC and CSU Faculty Summit notes at http://www.ucop.edu/acadadv/agep/events/index.html). Many programs supported by the NIGMS, other Institutes of NIH, other agencies of the federal government, and private foundations promote the matriculation of baccalaureate graduates directly into Ph.D. programs; however, studies show that students from underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines are more likely than majority students to enter master’s degree programs (Stassun et al., 2010. The Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD Bridge Program: A Model for Broadening Participation of Underrepresented Groups in the Physical Sciences through Effective Partnerships with Minority-Serving Institutions. J. Geosci Educ. 58, p.135).

The Bridges to the Doctorate program provides an opportunity to develop new, or expand existing, effective institutional programs to address this loss of underrepresented students at a critical stage of the educational pathway, namely the transition from a master’s degree program to Ph.D. degree completion in biomedical and behavioral sciences. NIGMS anticipates that carefully planned interventions at this key point of the educational pathway will strengthen the supply of underrepresented biomedical and behavioral science graduates, a necessary step in increasing diversity in professional personnel engaged in the NIH-funded biomedical and behavioral research enterprise.

Goals and Objective

Nationally, the long-term goal of the Bridges to the Doctorate Program is to increase the pool of master’s degree students from groups underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral sciences who go on to research careers in these fields, and who are trained and available to participate in NIH-funded research. The short-term goal of the program is to increase the number of students who transition from a terminal master's degree-granting institution to a doctorate degree-granting institution, with subsequent career advancement in the biomedical and behavioral sciences.  The specific objective of this program is to develop and implement an integrated plan of individual and institutional activities that will increase students’ preparation and skills as they advance academically in the pursuit of the doctorate degree in biomedical and behavioral sciences.

The national program expectations over a ten-year period are as follows:

Program Components

Bridges applications are institutional in nature and therefore they must reflect the plans and priorities of the participating institutions as well as the collective plans and priorities of the partnerships/consortia. Collaborative agreements should be designed to fit the needs and situations of the institutions involved. The challenge for the participating institutions is to create a partnership program, or to enhance an existing program, that will focus attention and adequate resources on the institution(s) granting master’s degrees and so enhance competitiveness of its (their) science graduates and science programs. Since an effective partnership requires close interactions, the proposed partnership/consortium should be composed of no more than three institutions, including the lead applicant institution.

The proposed Bridges to the Doctorate program must select and employ well-integrated strategies, rooted in education research, that provide students what they need to progress to the next stage of the science education pathway. For example, analysis of successful science programs by Jolly, Campbell, and Perlman entitled “Engagement, Capacity and Continuity: A Trilogy for Student Success” (GE Foundation, September 2004) concluded that three factors must be present for students to succeed in the sciences and be able to continue in the education pipeline. These factors are: 1) student engagement in the sciences, i.e., awareness, interest and motivation; 2) knowledge and skills needed to advance to increasingly more rigorous content in the sciences and quantitative disciplines; and 3) presence of a well-designed system where the skills, knowledge and information that students need to move to more advanced levels are provided at each earlier, less advanced level. These three factors are interdependent and each is necessary.

The Bridges to Doctorate Program recognizes the heterogeneity of institutional settings and institutional missions. Therefore, each application must provide baseline data on enrollment, transfer and subsequent graduation of its UR students in biomedical and behavioral sciences. Specific aims must be based on this self-assessment and must be consonant with the Bridges to the Doctorate goals and objective. The specific aims may include, but are not limited to the following: improvements in the writing and presentation skills of students; increase in retention and graduation rates (individual and institutional); and increase in the number of students transferring to and successfully completing the Ph.D. degree in biomedical and behavioral sciences. The program outcome measures and impact on the participating institutions should be presented relative to baseline data.

Nationally, underrepresented groups (UGs) in the biomedical and behavioral sciences include: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders, and individuals with disabilities (see reports from the National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics: Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering and the National Research Council, Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel: Addressing the Nations Changing Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists Washington, DC, 2000).  However, an applicant institution/organization may consider other groups as underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral research agenda of this country as long as such groups are uniformly considered in all of its local policies.  For example, if an institution or organization considers a certain group as underrepresented for all of its employment/hiring practices, student admittance practices, etc., then that group(s) should also be considered for participation in this program.

Each Bridges to Doctorate application must include an evaluation plan to collect and analyze data that would clearly demonstrate the value of the proposed program activities to achieving the institution’s specific objectives. The evaluation should provide information useful to the Program Director and the participating institutions for modifying/improving the program as necessary, and for institutionalizing the most effective activities supported by the Bridges to the Doctorate program. The plan for data collection and analysis must include relevant evaluation metrics and and indicators, and must identify the selected evaluator and provide his/her biographical sketch (see Section IV, Evaluation Plan).

 Applicants should note that all NIGMS training and career development programs periodically undergo evaluation and assessment. The evaluation of NIGMS’ overall Bridges to the Doctorate program is distinct from each individual award’s outcome evaluation.  While both address “success”, they differ in scope (individual award vs. national program, different timelines) and metrics (PD/PI defined vs. programmatic goals specified below).  The evaluation of the overall Bridges to the Doctorate program will be carried out seven years after the release of this FOA, and will be based on the metrics that will include, but are not limited to:

The findings of this evaluation determine whether the Bridges to the Doctorate program is continued as configured, continued with modifications or discontinued.  Should the findings indicate that the program is no longer needed or is ineffective, then NIGMS may consider terminating the program.

Applicants must incorporate all of the following elements into the Bridges to Doctorate application:

Applicants are strongly advised to review the Bridges Programs Answers to Frequently Asked Questions section on the NIGMS website (http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Minority/Bridges/FAQs.htm), and use the table formats provided in this FOA (also available at the NIGMS/MORE/ Bridges website, http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Research/FeaturedPrograms/Minority/Bridges/sampletables.htm) to summarize the required information in the Bridges to the Doctorate application.

Section II. Award Information
Funding Instrument

Grant

Application Types Allowed

New
Renewal
Resubmission
The OER Glossary and the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide provide details on these application types.

Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards

 Because the nature and scope of the proposed research education program will vary from application to application, it is anticipated that the size and duration of each award will also vary. Although the financial plans of the NIGMS provide support for this program, awards pursuant to this funding opportunity are contingent upon the availability of funds and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.

The total amount awarded and the number of awards will depend upon the numbers, quality, duration, and costs of the applications received. Although there are no specific budget limitations, the requested direct costs must be reasonable, well documented, fully justified and commensurate with the scope of the proposed program.

Allowable Costs:  Allowable costs must be consistent with NIH policy and be reasonable, allocable, well documented and fully justified for the research education program proposed in the application. Grant funds may not be used to supplant funds otherwise available at the applicant institution, nor can they be used to circumvent or supplement funds provided to individuals supported by Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) programs.

Award Budget

The total amount to be awarded is approximately $3.0 million (total costs) per year for new and renewal applications for Bridges to the Doctorate program. Application budgets are not limited, but need to reflect actual needs of the proposed project.

Award Project Period

The total project period for an application submitted in response to this FOA may not exceed 5 years.    

Other Award Budget Information
Personnel Costs

Individuals designing, directing, and implementing the research education program may request salary and fringe benefits appropriate for the person months devoted to the program. Salaries requested may not exceed the levels commensurate with the institution's policy for similar positions and may not exceed the congressionally mandated cap. (If mentoring interactions and other activities with students/participants are considered a regular part of an individual's academic duties, then any costs associated with the mentoring and other interactions with students/participants are not allowable costs from grant funds).

Salary support for the PD/PI (or combination of multiple PDs/PIs) is limited to up to 1.2 person months (i.e., 10% on a 12-month basis), depending on person months devoted to the administration of the program. A program coordinator at the lead applicant institution is allowed as long as his/her role in the program implementation is clearly defined and significantly different from the role(s) of the PD(s)/PI(s). Limited support for the administrative/clerical staff, associated distinctly with the program at the lead applicant institution that is not normally provided by the applicant organization, is also allowed when specifically identified and justified. The total salary support for the program coordinator and the administrative/clerical staff (combined) is limited to up to 6.0 person months (i.e., 50% on a 12-month basis), depending on person months devoted to the administration of the program.

Salary support for the program coordinator(s) at each partner institution is limited to 0.9 person months (i.e., a total of 7.5% on a 12-month basis) per partner institution, and up to a maximum of 1.8 person months (i.e., 15% on a 12-month basis) for program coordinators from all partner institutions combined, depending on person months devoted to the administration of the program. The application must identify the program coordinator(s) (include their biographical sketches), and their duties and responsibilities must be well described in the budget, and must include a strong justification.

Participant Costs

Participants may be paid if specifically required for the proposed research education program and sufficiently justified. Participant costs must be itemized in the proposed budget.

Allowable participant costs depend on the educational level/career status of the individuals to be selected to participate in the program.

Individuals supported by NIH training and career development mechanisms (K, T, or F awards) may receive, and indeed are encouraged to receive, educational experiences supported by the R25 mechanism, as participants, but may not receive salary or stipend supplementation from a research education program.

Because the R25 mechanism is not intended as a substitute for an NRSA institutional training program (T32), costs to support full-time participants (supported for 40 hours/week for a continuous, 12-month period) are not allowable.

Bridges students are allowed to receive salary and fringe benefits consistent with the institutional salary policies for employees in similar positions. Graduate (master’s degree) students may receive compensation in accordance with the NIH policy for graduate student compensation (see: NOT-OD-02-017). Amounts for Bridges participants must conform to the established, consistently applied salary and wage policies of the institution and reflect the percentage of time/effort devoted to the program.

Applications must clearly indicate the number of Bridges students from each participating master’s degree institution and the total number of Bridges students who would receive support during the academic year and summer.

This support in the form of salary/wages is limited to Bridges students from the master’s degree-granting institution(s). Students may be supported on Bridges funding for up to two years provided their academic progress toward transfer to the Ph.D. degree program is on track and satisfactory. In order for the Bridges students to receive this compensation, the following conditions must be met:

  • The student must belong to an underrepresented group (see Section III, Participants) as identified and documented by the applicant institution, must be a U.S. citizen or non-citizen national or permanent resident, and must be enrolled full-time in biomedical or behavioral science fields at the partner master’s degree institution;
  • The student is actively participating in student-development and research education activities, including seminars/workshops, and thesis research during the academic year and summer, etc. supported by the Bridges program;
  • There is an employee-employer relationship between the student and the institution; and
  • The total compensation is reasonable and commensurate with the institution’s support scale for the work performed, and the institution provides compensation for all students under similar circumstances, regardless of the source of support for the activity.
  • Master’s programs that do not require a thesis are not excluded from the Bridges to the Doctorate program. However, Bridges participants are expected to have a research experience during the academic year or summer.

Applicants may request Bridges student support for up to 20 hours per week during the academic year while they are fulfilling their course requirements, and up to 40 hours/week during the summer if no courses are being taken.

Bridges students in the master’s degree program are allowed tuition remission as part of a compensation package. The tuition cost must be itemized, as appropriate, in Section F (Other Direct Costs) under Other Program-Related Expenses (see below).

Bridges-supported students may not concurrently hold another federally sponsored stipend or fellowship, or other federal award that duplicates Bridges support.

While cost sharing is not required, the applicant institution should show that funds for program activities are not merely being

substituted for institutional resources.

Other Program-Related Expenses

Consultant costs, equipment, supplies, travel for key persons, and other program-related expenses may be included in the proposed budget. These expenses must be justified as specifically required by the proposed program and must not duplicate items generally available at the applicant institution.   

Support for faculty from the master’s and doctoral institutions jointly developing new/advanced courses or updating existing courses that are critical to the competitive academic preparation of students at the master’s degree institution is allowed, but these costs must be reasonable, well documented, and fully justified and commensurate with the scope of the proposed program. Applications requesting support for developing courses at the master’s institution(s) must provide a plan to institutionalize these courses within a reasonable time period, but no later than two years after the activity is initiated.

 (see Section IV, Institutional Environment and Commitment).

Support for faculty from the doctoral institution serving as visiting lecturers, offering lectures and/or laboratory courses in areas in which expertise needs strengthening at the master’s institution is allowed, but these costs must be reasonable, well documented, and fully justified and commensurate with the scope of the proposed program.

Support for faculty from the master’s degree-granting institution for developing or implementing special academic developmental activities is allowed, but these costs must be reasonable, well documented, and fully justified and commensurate with the scope of the proposed program.

Support for faculty/consultants/role models (including Bridges alumni) to present research seminars and workshops on communication skills, grant writing, and career development plans at the master’s degree institution(s) may be included, but these costs should be reasonable and well justified.

Costs of advising, counseling and tutoring of transfer students at the doctoral institution are allowed, but these costs must be reasonable, well documented, and fully justified and commensurate with person/months effort devoted to the program.

Costs associated with the development of a Bridges Program web site at the applicant/partner institution(s) are allowed, but these costs must be reasonable, well documented, and fully justified and commensurate with the scope of the proposed program.

Applications requesting support for: a) developing a Bridges Program web site, and/or b) advising, counseling and tutoring of transfer students must provide a plan to institutionalize these activities within a reasonable time period, but no later than two years after the activity is initiated (see Section IV, Institutional Environment and Commitment).

Cost for collection and analysis of program data is allowed; however, if the evaluator is an employee of an institution within the consortium, the cost must be included in the category of key personnel salary (effort listed in person months).

Travel expenses are allowed for the PD/PI(s) and program coordinator(s) to attend NIGMS-organized MORE Program Directors meetings, and should be included in each year’s budget. Travel costs for faculty research mentors at the master’s and doctoral institutions are limited to attending national scientific meetings if the faculty member is accompanying Bridges students who are presenting at the meeting.

Bridges student travel is limited to domestic scientific conferences. Applicants may also request support for travel (mileage expenses) of Bridges students to participate in special academic development activities (e.g., thesis research) and summer research internships at the partner doctoral institution if the distance between the master’s degree institution and the doctoral institution is more than 50 miles (round-trip).

Research supplies for Bridges students (not to exceed $3,000/student/year) and limited tuition costs of Bridges students for taking one to two courses/year at the partner doctoral institution may be requested.

Indirect Costs

Indirect Costs (also known as Facilities & Administrative [F&A] Costs) are reimbursed at 8% of modified total direct costs (exclusive of tuition and fees and expenditures for equipment, and consortiums in excess of $25,000), rather than on the basis of a negotiated rate agreement.

NIH grants policies as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement will apply to the applications submitted and awards made in response to this FOA.

Section III. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants

Eligible Organizations

Higher Education Institutions

The following types of Higher Education Institutions are always encouraged to apply for NIH support as Public or Private Institutions of Higher Education:

The master’s degree-granting institutions in the Bridges to the Doctorate Program must offer a terminal master’s degree with a strong focus on biomedical and behavioral sciences as their highest degree and have a large pool, as determined by the applicant institution, of master’s degree-seeking students from underrepresented groups to be eligible to apply as an applicant institution. 

Master’s degree-granting institutions currently supported by the Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) program that have a significant master’s degree component to their RISE program (e.g., RISE Option II or III) must describe the rationale and need for an additional student development program, indicate the number of master’s degree students involved in the RISE program, and provide evidence of a large pool of students from underrepresented groups who are enrolled in their master’s degree programs in biomedical/behavioral sciences.

A college/university that has a substantial enrollment of master’s degree students in biomedical/behavioral sciences, but also offers a doctoral program in unrelated disciplines (e.g., education) is eligible to apply as a lead applicant institution or participate as a partner institution. However, institutions offering both master’s and doctoral degrees may not form partnerships within their own institution for graduates of their own master’s degree programs to enter their own doctoral programs, even if a student is moving to another department, school, or college. The program seeks to promote and enhance partnerships BETWEEN institutions.

Each proposed Bridges to the Doctorate program must consist of a partnership/consortium composed of at least two institutions, including the lead applicant institution. One must be an institution that offers the master’s degree as the only graduate degree in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. Another institution must be a college or university granting the Ph.D. degree in biomedical and behavioral sciences. Two different scenarios are allowed for these partnerships: a) one Ph.D.-granting institution as the lead applicant institution partnering with up to two master’s degree institutions, or b) one master’s degree-granting institution as the lead applicant institution partnering with up to two Ph.D.-granting institutions. An eligible applicant or partner institution may participate in more than one Bridges to the Doctorate partnership if such multiple partnerships are strongly justified by the potential to magnify the programs’ and institution’s outcomes.

In the Bridges to the Doctorate grant application only one of the participating institutions may be designated as the lead APPLICANT institution. The lead applicant institution is responsible for financial matters in grant management and should be experienced in, and have the infrastructure for, managing NIH grants. This institution must name the Program Director and submit the application. The other institutions in the consortium must each name one individual as the Program Coordinator.

The sponsoring institution must assure support for the proposed program. Appropriate institutional commitment to the program includes the provision of adequate staff, facilities, and educational resources that can contribute to the planned program.

Institutions with existing Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) institutional training grants (e.g., T32) or other Federally funded training programs may apply for a research education grant provided that the proposed educational experiences are distinct from those training programs receiving NIH support. In many cases, it is anticipated that the proposed research education program will complement ongoing research training occurring at the applicant institution.

Foreign Institutions

Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are not eligible to apply.
Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are not eligible to apply.
Foreign components, as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, are not allowed.

Required Registrations

Applicant organizations must complete the following registrations as described in the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide to be eligible to apply for or receive an award. Applicants must have a valid Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number in order to begin each of the following registrations.

All Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD/PIs) must also work with their institutional officials to register with the eRA Commons or ensure their existing eRA Commons account is affiliated with the eRA Commons account of the applicant organization.

All registrations must be completed by the application due date. Applicant organizations are strongly encouraged to start the registration process at least four (4) weeks prior to the application due date.

Eligible Individuals (Program Director/Principal Investigator)

Any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as the Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) is invited to work with his/her organization to develop an application for support. Individuals from diverse backgrounds, including underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, and women are always encouraged to apply for NIH support.

For institutions/organizations proposing multiple PDs/PIs, visit the Multiple Program Director/Principal Investigator Policy and submission details in the Senior/Key Person Profile (Expanded) Component of the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide.

The PD/PI should be an established investigator in the scientific area in which the application is targeted and capable of providing both administrative and scientific leadership to the development and implementation of the proposed program. The PD/PI will be expected to monitor and assess the program and submit all documents and reports as required.

The PD/PI must have a regular full-time appointment (i.e., not adjunct, part-time, retired, or emeritus) at the applicant institution, and should have research, teaching, student counseling and/or academic administrative experience and an interest in promoting biomedical and behavioral science education among students from underrepresented groups.

The PD/PI will be expected to monitor and assess the program and submit all documents and reports as required (See Reporting in Section VI).

2. Cost Sharing

This FOA does not require cost sharing as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

3. Additional Information on Eligibility

Number of Applications

Only one application per institution (normally identified by having a unique DUNS number or NIH IPF number) is allowed.

NIH will not accept any application in response to this FOA that is essentially the same as one currently pending initial peer review unless the applicant withdraws the pending application. NIH will not accept any application that is essentially the same as one already reviewed.Resubmission applications may be submitted, according to the NIH Policy on Resubmission Applications from the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide.

Sponsoring Institution

The sponsoring institutions in the Bridges to the Doctorate partnership/consortium must assure support for the proposed research education program. Appropriate institutional commitment to the program includes the provision of adequate staff, facilities, and educational resources that can contribute to the planned research education program. It also includes a commitment by the senior leadership of the institutions in the partnership to the broader principles of diversity, and to the training, education and success of underrepresented students. 

Preceptors/Mentors

Researchers from diverse backgrounds, including racial and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, and women are encouraged to participate as preceptors/mentors. Mentors should have research expertise and experience relevant to the proposed program. Mentors must be committed to continue their involvement throughout the total period of the mentee’s participation in this award.

Participants

Applications must describe the intended participants, and the eligibility and/or specific educational background characteristics that are essential for participation in the proposed research education program. Identify the career levels essential for participation in the planned program.

Bridges students are those students who will receive support in the form of salaries/wages under this program. These students must belong to one or more of the underrepresented groups, must be U.S. citizens or non-citizen nationals or permanent residents and must be enrolled full-time in biomedical or behavioral science fields at the participating master’s degree institution(s). (A non-citizen national is a person who, although not a citizen of the United States, owes permanent allegiance to the U.S. This is generally a person born in a land that is not a state but that is under U.S. sovereignty, jurisdiction, or administration -- for example, American Samoa.)  An individual lawfully admitted for permanent residence must possess an alien registration receipt card (I-551) or other legal verification of such status prior to appointment to the Bridges grant. Individuals on temporary visas, those seeking asylum, or refugees are not eligible for support from the Bridges Program.

For the purpose of this FOA, individuals underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences include the following classes of participants:

A. Individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown by the National Science Foundation to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis (see the report Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering, 2007, p. 262). The following racial and ethnic groups have been shown to be underrepresented in biomedical research: African Americans, Hispanic Americas, Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, Hawaiian Natives, and natives of the US Pacific Islands. In addition, it is recognized that underrepresentation can vary from setting to setting; individuals from racial or ethnic groups that can be convincingly demonstrated to be underrepresented by the grantee institution should be encouraged to participate in this program

B. Individuals with disabilities, who are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

C. Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who are defined as:

  1. Individuals who come from a family with an annual income below established low-income thresholds. These thresholds are based on family size; published by the U.S. Bureau of the Census; adjusted annually for changes in the Consumer Price Index; and adjusted by the Secretary for use in all health professions programs. The Secretary periodically publishes these income levels at http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/index.shtml. For individuals from low income backgrounds, the institution must be able to demonstrate that such participants have qualified for Federal disadvantaged assistance or they have received any of the following student loans: Health Professions Student Loans (HPSL), Loans for Disadvantaged Student Program, or they have received scholarships from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Scholarship for Individuals with Exceptional Financial Need.
  2. Individuals who come from a social, cultural, or educational environment such as that found in certain rural or inner-city environments that have demonstrably and recently directly inhibited the individual from obtaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to develop and participate in a research career.

Recruitment and retention plans related to a disadvantaged background (C1 and C2) are most applicable to high school and perhaps to undergraduate candidates, but would be more difficult to justify for individuals beyond that level of academic achievement. Under extraordinary circumstances the PHS may, at its discretion, consider an individual beyond the undergraduate level to be from a disadvantaged background. Such decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, based on appropriate documentation.

Applicants may also include and identify any other categories that institutional policies have determined to be underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral research fields with a strong rationale, appropriate references, and official validated documentation.

It is the responsibility of the applicant institution to establish the qualifications of students prior to their appointment in the Bridges Program.

Consortium Agreement

Applications must include a letter of commitment or intent (see Section IV, Consortium Arrangements) signed by a representative of each participating institution’s central administration, the program director(s) from the lead applicant institution, and the program coordinator(s) from each partnering institution. Applications submitted without the Consortium Agreement letter may be delayed in the review process or not reviewed. The consortium agreement letter does not count toward the 25-page limit of the Research Education Program Plan.

Unless strongly justified on the basis of exceptional relevance to NIH, research education programs should be used primarily for the education of U.S. citizens and permanent residents only are allowed to participate.

Section IV. Application and Submission Information

1. Requesting an Application Package

Applicants must download the SF424 (R&R) application package associated with this funding opportunity using the “Apply for Grant Electronically” button in this FOA or following the directions provided at Grants.gov.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, except where instructed in this funding opportunity announcement to do otherwise. Conformance to the requirements in the Application Guide is required and strictly enforced. Applications that are out of compliance with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.

For information on Application Submission and Receipt, visit Frequently Asked Questions – Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.

Required and Optional Components

The forms package associated with this FOA includes all applicable components, mandatory and optional.  Please note that some components marked optional in the application package are required for submission of applications for this FOA. Follow the instructions in the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide to ensure you complete all appropriate “optional” components.

Page Limitations

All page limitations described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and the Table of Page Limits must be followed.

SF424 (R&R) Other Project Information Component

Follow all instructions provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide with the following modifications:

Facilities & Other Resources

Describe the educational environment, including the facilities, laboratories, participating departments, computer services, and any other resources to be used in the development and implementation of the proposed program. List all thematically related sources of support for research training and education following the format for Current and Pending Support.  

Data Tables (Uploaded via the Other Attachments section)

Applicants are encouraged to use the suggested table formats available at the NIGMS/MORE/ Bridges website, http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Research/FeaturedPrograms/Minority/Bridges/sampletables.htm to provide the data required in the Research Education Program. These data tables should be included in the Other Attachments section of the Other Project Information Form. .

The filename provided for each “Other Attachment” will be the name used for the bookmark in the electronic application in eRA Commons.

SF 424(R&R) Senior/Key Person Profile Expanded Component

Key Personnel must include the PD/PI (or multiple PDs/PIs, if applicable) and the program coordinator (if any) from the lead applicant institution, program coordinator(s) from the partner institution(s), program evaluator (if the evaluator is an employee of an institution within the consortium) as well as any other key persons (such as those involved in developing, implementing, directing, monitoring, evaluating, etc., who are integral to the proposed research education program) participating in the research education program.

R&R Budget Component

Follow all instructions provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide with the following modifications:

Travel: include travel for Bridges participants in this section

PHS 398 Research Plan Component

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed, with the additional instructions described below:

The Research Strategy section must be used to upload the Research Education Program Plan, which must include the following components described below: Proposed Research Education Program, which includes Proposed Student Development Activities, Institutional Environment and Commitment, which includes Partnership's Vision for the Future, Program Director/Principal Investigator, Program Faculty/Staff, Program Participants, Plan for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research, Evaluation Plan, and Preliminary Studies/Progress Report. These components combined must be within the 25-page limit of the Research Education Program Plan.

Introduction

The Introduction is required and permitted only for resubmissions. The introduction must provide detailed information regarding the changes to the proposed project in response to the comments provided by reviewers in the summary statement of the previous application. The introduction should not exceed three pages.

Specific Aims

The application must address the overall goals and specific measurable objectives, including anticipated milestones defined as intermediate steps toward the objectives, that the consortium institutions expect to accomplish in preparing underrepresented master’s degree students to pursue research careers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences and in striving to achieve the Bridges to Doctorate goals and expectations as described in the research education objectives (see Section I). These aims must be presented as expected improvement (with timeline) over the current baseline, and the baseline must be clearly defined. The specific aims section should not exceed one page.

Proposed Research Education Program (Component of Research Education Program Plan)

While the proposed research education program may complement ongoing research training and education occurring at the applicant institution, the proposed educational experiences must be distinct from those research training and research education programs currently receiving federal support. When research training programs are on-going in the same department, the applicant organization should clearly describe the distinction between the intended participants in the proposed research education program and the research training supported by the training program. The information should include a description of the education and/or career levels of the planned participants.    

The proposed research education program should reflect the institutional scope of the program and be presented as an integrated set of student developmental activities that enhance academic excellence and promote timely progression of students to the next academic/career step. Applicants are encouraged to use the suggested  table formats  available at the NIGMS/MORE/ Bridges website, http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Research/FeaturedPrograms/Minority/Bridges/sampletables.htm to provide the data required in the Research Education Program. These data tables should be included in the Other Attachments section of the Other Project Information Form.

Proposed Student Development Activities

Provide programmatic detail on the proposed developmental activities; these activities must address the needs and requirements (as identified by the institutional self assessment) of the UR students who are enrolled full-time at the participating master’s degree institution(s) and must be designed to improve their competitiveness to transfer and complete the Ph.D. degree in biomedical/behavioral sciences.

Describe the criteria and procedures for identification, selection and retention of Bridges students into the program and for the selection of participating faculty. Provide a brief rationale for, and a detailed description of each activity proposed and the role of faculty/personnel involved. Describe how each activity will contribute toward realization of the specific aims. Give a brief account of the equipment, space, and other resources available to implement the activity. Briefly outline the proposed schedule. Discuss any perceived impediments to implementing the proposed activities and alternative strategies to achieve the specific aims.

Proposed student development activities may include, but are not limited to, the following:

Applications proposing mentored research experiences during the academic year/summer must demonstrate that participants will have meaningful research experiences in the laboratories of investigators who are actively engaged in biomedical/behavioral research and who have peer-reviewed publications. The MORE Division expects that the proposed summer research experience will be at least 8 weeks in duration.

The application should describe a system for monitoring Bridges students progress throughout the graduate school and postdoctoral experiences, including their retention, transfer, and successful completion of the Ph.D. degree.

Institutional Environment and Commitment (Component of Research Education Program Plan)

Describe the institutional environment, reiterating the availability of facilities and educational resources (described separately under “Facilities & Other Resources”), that can contribute to the planned Research Education Program. Evidence of institutional commitment to the research educational program is required. A letter of institutional commitment must be attached as part of Letters of Support. Appropriate institutional commitment should include the provision of adequate staff, facilities, and educational resources that can contribute to the planned research education program.    

Provide a brief description of the following to address the Institutional Environment:

Describe the institutional environment of the applicant and partner institutions, including facilities and educational resources that can contribute to the planned Research Education Program.  Evidence of institutional commitment to the research educational program is required. Appropriate institutional commitment should include the provision of adequate staff, facilities, and educational resources that can contribute to the planned research education program. The applicant must also provide information that:

A letter of institutional commitment must be attached at line item 14 (Letters of Support).

Partnership’s Vision for the Future and Anticipated Value of the Proposed Bridges Program to the Participating Institutions

The applicants should briefly describe:

Program Director/Principal Investigator (Component of Research Education Program Plan)

Describe arrangements for administration of the program, provide evidence that the Program Director is actively engaged in research and/or teaching in an area related to the mission of NIH, and can organize, administer, monitor, and evaluate the research education program, as well as evidence of institutional and community commitment and support for the proposed program.   

The PD/PI assumes responsibility for the overall execution of the Bridges to the Doctorate program, and is typically responsible for the selection of students and the coordination and implementation of developmental education and mentoring activities. The PD/PI is the principal contact with the Bridges program/MORE/NIGMS at the institution and prepares and submits in a timely manner the required reports, e.g., annual progress reports, changes in program activities if any, etc. The PD/PI works with the program coordinator(s) at the partner institution(s) and program evaluator (see below) to monitor and evaluate the progress of individual program elements and the overall functioning of the Bridges to the Doctorate Program.  

Program Faculty/Staff (Component of Research Education Program Plan)

Describe the characteristics and responsibilities of the participating faculty; provide evidence that the participating faculty and preceptors are actively engaged in research or other scholarly activities related to the mission of NIH.    

Provide evidence that they have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to conduct the proposed student development activities. Include a list of the participating faculty research mentors at the master’s and doctoral institutions and provide evidence that they are actively engaged in biomedical/behavioral research and publish. Provide a biographical sketch for each of these faculty mentors and include their past record in training and mentoring underrepresented students. Applicants are encouraged to use the suggested Table 2 format available at the NIGMS/MORE/ Bridges website, http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Research/FeaturedPrograms/Minority/Bridges/sampletables.htm) to provide the required information.

Program Participants (Component of Research Education Program Plan)

Where the proposed program involves participants, provide details about the pool of expected participants, their qualifications, recruitment strategies and sources of applicant pool, etc.  

Provide the institutional baseline data (average number over the previous three to five year period) on the enrollment, transfer and graduation of students in biomedical and behavioral sciences-related disciplines. Applicants should note that for the purpose of this FOA, underrepresented students are defined as members of any of the following groups: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from socially, culturally, economically, or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds that have inhibited their ability to pursue a career in health-related research. Applicants may include and identify other categories of individuals with low representation in the biomedical and behavioral sciences with a strong rationale, approprieate references, and official validated documentation. Applicants are encouraged to use the suggested Table 3 format available at the NIGMS/MORE/ Bridges website, http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Research/FeaturedPrograms/Minority/Bridges/sampletables.htm) to provide the following specific information:

Plan for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research (Component of Research Education Program Plan)

Every participant supported by this Research Education grant must receive instruction in the responsible conduct of research. All applications must include a plan to provide such instruction. The plan must address five components (format; subject matter; faculty participation; duration of instruction; and frequency of instruction) as detailed in NOT-OD-10-019. Renewal (Type 2) applications must, in addition, describe changes in formal instruction over the past project period and plans for the future that address any weaknesses in the current instruction plan. All participating faculty who served as course directors, speakers, lecturers, and/or discussion leaders during the past project period must be named in the application.

Applications lacking a plan for instruction in responsible conduct of research may be delayed or not accepted for review. An award cannot be made if an application lacks this component. The background, rationale and more detail about instruction in the responsible conduct of research can be found in NOT-OD-10-019. If such instruction is not appropriate for the proposed research education program, then the PD/PI must provide a strong justification for its exclusion.

Evaluation Plan (Component of Research Education Program Plan)

A plan must be provided for program evaluation. Benchmarks should be specified, and specific plans and procedures must be described to capture, analyze and report short or long-term outcome measures that would determine the success of the research education program in achieving its objectives. Where appropriate, applicants are encouraged to include plans to obtain feedback from participants to help identify weaknesses and to provide suggestions for program improvements. The inclusion of evaluation instruments (in the Appendix) is encouraged.

The specific purpose of the evaluation is to provide information on the Bridges Program progress toward increasing the number of master’s degree students from underrepresented groups who go on to complete competitive Ph.D. programs, and ultimately enter research careers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. Thus, the focus of evaluation should be on the following:

The evaluation plan must identify the selected evaluator and present his/her credentials. The evaluation may be done through the institution’s evaluation office, or if an evaluator is not an employee of an insitution within the consortium, an external evaluator may be included as a consultant. In general, the evaluator must have formal training and experience in evaluation methodology and statistics as demonstrated by publications and/or reports in the field. His/her responsibilities usually include preparing reports and recommendations for the PD(s)/PI(s) and institutional administrators; interacting with Bridges staff, staff from other campus-wide student training/student development programs, and institutional officials for the collection of data and exchange of information; and making recommendations for the future direction of the program.

Preliminary Studies (Component of Research Education Plan)
/Progress Report (Component of Renewal Application)

For new applications, briefly describe and summarize any analysis of institutional vision and outcomes as well as significant progress within the last five years of institutional and externally sponsored programs that have encouraged and helped train underrepresented students at the participating institutions.

For renewal applications, a detailed Progress Report must be included. Applications with more than one previous funding cycle must provide information on the past two consecutive funding cycles. In the report, state the original goals and specific measurable objectives, anticipated milestones and outcomes, as well as a summary of the specific accomplishments of the Bridges to the Doctorate program in the context of the previous application’s baseline.

Describe the overall institutional impact of the Bridges program as a result of program-supported activities in areas such as courses/curricular enhancements, faculty and student development, developing/strengthening of alliances and articulation agreements, increase in student retention rate, improvement of student academic achievement including GPA, and increase in the number of students transferring to and successfully completing the doctorate degree in biomedical and behavioral sciences.

Applicants are encouraged to use suggested Table 4 and 5 formats (available at the NIGMS/MORE/ Bridges website, http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Research/FeaturedPrograms/Minority/Bridges/sampletables.htm) to provide data on student outcomes, including the following:

Describe what has been learned through the program evaluation and what has been added, modified or deleted as a result of program evaluation. If nothing, so indicate. 

Describe any previously funded Bridges activities that are now continuing (or will continue) on institutional funds. If none, so indicate.

Applications Involving Multiple Institutions

The Bridges to the Doctorate Program involves multiple institutions. One of the participating institutions must be designated as the lead applicant institution and funding for the other institution(s) in the partnership must be requested via a subcontract to be administered by the applicant institution.  When submitting a detailed budget, the applicant institution should submit its budget using the Research & Related Budget component.  All other institutions should have their individual budgets attached separately to the Research & Related Subaward Budget Attachment(s) Form. See Section 4.8 of the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide for further instruction regarding the use of the subaward budget.

Consortium Arrangements

The consortium arrangements between the participating master’s and doctorate degree-granting institutions should be designed to facilitate a seamless transition of master’s degree students into the Ph.D. degree programs of the doctorate degree-granting institution(s).  Each consortium should be composed of no more than three institutions, including the lead applicant institution, in order to focus attention and adequate resources on the participating master’s degree institution(s).

Applications must include a Consortium Agreement letter of intent or commitment [attach it at line item 14 (Letters of Support)] acknowledging each institution’s participation in the proposed Bridges to the Doctorate program. The letter must outline each institution’s respective role in administering the program, and these roles must be consistent with the goals and objectives of the proposed Bridges program. This letter is to be signed by a representative of each participating institution’s central administration, the program director(s) from the lead applicant institution, and the program coordinator(s) from each partnering institution.

The Consortium Agreement letter must also include the following statement:

"The appropriate programmatic and administrative personnel of each organization involved in this grant application are aware of the NIH consortium agreement policy and are prepared to establish the necessary inter-institutional agreement(s) consistent with that policy."

Information on the NIH Policy regarding consortium agreements is available at this site: http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps/part_iii_5.htm#consortium.

Resource Sharing Plans

Individuals are required to comply with the instructions for the Resource Sharing Plans (Data Sharing Plan, Sharing Model Organisms, and Genome Wide Association Studies; GWAS) as provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

Appendix

Do not use the appendix to circumvent page limits. Follow all instructions for the Appendix as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

3. Submission Dates and Times

Part I. Overview Information contains information about Key Dates. Applicants are encouraged to submit in advance of the deadline to ensure they have time to make any application corrections that might be necessary for successful submission.

Organizations must submit applications via Grants.gov, the online portal to find and apply for grants across all Federal agencies. Applicants must then complete the submission process by tracking the status of the application in the eRA Commons, NIH’s electronic system for grants administration.

Applicants are responsible for viewing their application in the eRA Commons to ensure accurate and successful submission.

Information on the submission process and a definition of on-time submission are provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

4. Intergovernmental Review (E.O. 12372)

This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.

5. Funding Restrictions

All NIH awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Pre-award costs are allowable only as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Bridges to the Doctorate applications must present an integrated set of student-development activities, and therefore a single consolidated budget is required. Each item in the budget must be clearly justified. Bridges grant awards include some restrictions as to how the funds may be used. The following account summarizes the non-allowable costs under the Bridges to the Doctorate program.

Unallowable Costs include:

6. Other Submission Requirements and Information

Applications must be submitted electronically following the instructions described in the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide.  Paper applications will not be accepted.

Applicants must complete all required registrations before the application due date. Section III. Eligibility Information contains information about registration.

For assistance with your electronic application or for more information on the electronic submission process, visit Applying Electronically.

Important reminders:
All PD/PIs must include their eRA Commons ID in the Credential field of the Senior/Key Person Profile Component of the SF 424(R&R) Application Package. Failure to register in the Commons and to include a valid PD/PI Commons ID in the credential field will prevent the successful submission of an electronic application to NIH.

The applicant organization must ensure that the DUNS number it provides on the application is the same number used in the organization’s profile in the eRA Commons and for the Central Contractor Registration (CCR). Additional information may be found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

See more tips for avoiding common errors.

Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness by the Center for Scientific Review, NIH. Applications that are incomplete will not be reviewed.

Post Submission Materials

Applicants are required to follow the instructions for post-submission materials, as described in NOT-OD-10-115. with the following modifications:

·         For the purpose of this FOA, follow submission instructions for institutional training and training-related grants (T32, T34, etc).

Section V. Application Review Information

1. Criteria

Only the review criteria described below will be considered in the review process. As part of the NIH mission, all applications submitted to the NIH in support of biomedical and behavioral research are evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the NIH peer review system.

Overall Impact

Reviewers will provide an overall impact/priority score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the research field(s) involved, in consideration of the following review criteria and additional review criteria (as applicable for the project proposed).

Scored Review Criteria

Reviewers will consider each of the review criteria below in the determination of scientific merit, and give a separate score for each. An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact.

Significance

Does the proposed research education program address an important problem or critical question in research education or other critical issues?  How will implementation of the proposed program advance the objectives of the proposed program?  Are the proposed goals and specific aims consonant with the recognized needs of the participating institutions? If the aims of the application are achieved, will the proposed program significantly improve the institutional baseline number of underrepresented master’s degree students that transfer to doctoral institutions, complete the Ph.D. degree, and subsequently pursue research careers in the biomedical/behavioral sciences 

Investigator(s)

Are the PD/PIs, collaborators, and other researchers appropriately trained and well suited to the proposed research education program? Is the PD/PI an established investigator in the scientific area in which the application is targeted and capable of providing both administrative and scientific leadership to the development and implementation of the proposed research education program?  If Early Stage Investigator or New Investigator, or in the early stages of an independent career, does the PD/PI have appropriate experience to lead the program?  If the project is collaborative or multi-PD/PI, do the investigators have complementary and integrated expertise; are their leadership approach, governance and organizational structure appropriate for the project?  Is there evidence that an appropriate level of effort will be devoted by the program leadership to ensure the program's objectives? For mentored research experiences, is there an adequate number of appropriate, research-active faculty mentors available at the participating institution(s)? Does the proposed evaluator have the appropriate background and credentials?  

Innovation

Is the proposed research education program characterized by innovation and scholarship?  Does the proposed program challenge and seek to shift current research education paradigms or clinical practice; address an innovative hypothesis or critical barrier to progress in the field?  Are the proposed concepts, approaches, methodologies, tools, or technologies novel for this area?  Does this proposed program duplicate, or overlap with, existing research education, training and/or career development activities currently supported at the applicant institution or available elsewhere?  Adaptations of existing research education programs may be considered innovative under special circumstances, e.g., the addition of unique components and/or a proposal to determine portability of an existing program?  

Approach

Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the proposed research education program?  Are potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented?  If the program is in the early stages of development, will the strategy establish feasibility and will particularly risky aspects be managed?  If called for, is the proposed plan for evaluation and/or dissemination of the education program sound and likely to provide data on the effectiveness of the education program?  Is there evidence that the program is based on sound research concepts and educational principles?  Is the approach feasible and appropriate to achieve the stated research education goals?  If the proposed program will recruit participants, are the recruitment, retention, and follow-up activities adequate to ensure a highly qualified and diverse participant pool? 

If the program involves clinical research, are the plans for 1) protection of human subjects from research risks, and 2) inclusion of minorities and members of both sexes/genders, as well as the inclusion of children, justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed?  

Environment

Will the scientific/educational environment in which the proposed research education program will be conducted contribute to the probability of success?  Are the institutional commitment and support, equipment and other physical resources available to the investigators adequate for the program proposed?  Will the program benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, subject populations, or collaborative arrangements?  Is there evidence of appropriate collaboration among participating programs, departments, and institutions?  If multiple sites are participating, is this adequately justified in terms of the research education experiences provided? Are adequate plans provided for coordination and communication between multiple sites (if appropriate)?  Do(es) the doctorate degree-granting institution(s) have a track record of enrolling, retaining and graduating Ph.D. students who pursue research careers in biomedical and behavioral research fields?  How well and in what ways does this program interact with other research education and research training programs at the participating institutions? Are the partnership arrangements reasonable and are they likely to facilitate the seamless transition of students from the master’s degree programs to the Ph.D. degree programs at the partner doctoral institution(s)?  Is there evidence of academic and financial support for transfer students at the participating doctoral institution(s)?   

Additional Review Criteria

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will evaluate the following additional items while determining scientific and technical merit, and in providing an overall impact/priority score, but will not give separate scores for these items.

Protections for Human Subjects

Generally not applicable. Reviewers should bring any concerns to the attention of the Scientific Review Officer.  

Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children 

Generally not applicable. Reviewers should bring any concerns to the attention of the Scientific Review Officer.  

Vertebrate Animals

Generally not applicable. Reviewers should bring any concerns to the attention of the Scientific Review Officer.  

Biohazards

Generally not applicable. Reviewers should bring any concerns to the attention of the Scientific Review Officer.  

Resubmissions

For Resubmissions, the committee will evaluate the application as now presented, taking into consideration the responses to comments from the previous scientific review group and changes made to the project.

Renewals

For Renewals, the committee will consider the progress made in the last funding period. Additionally, the committee will consider progress in the Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research and the following:

Revisions

Not applicable.

Additional Review Considerations

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will consider each of the following items, but will not give scores for these items, and should not consider them in providing an overall impact/priority score.

Recruitment & Retention Plan to Enhance Diversity

Not Applicable.

Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research

Taking into account the specific characteristics of the research education program, level of participant experience, and the particular circumstances of the participants, the reviewers will address the following questions.  Does the plan satisfactorily address the format of instruction, e.g. lectures and/or real-time discussion groups?  Do plans include a sufficiently broad selection of subject matter, such as conflict of interest, authorship, data management, human subjects and animal use, laboratory safety?  Do the plans adequately describe how faculty will participate in the instruction?  Do the plans ensure participants will receive instruction (or in the case of more senior level participants, provide instruction) for an appropriate amount of time given the length of the research education experience?  Plans and past record will be rated as ACCEPTABLE or UNACCEPTABLE, and the summary statement will provide the consensus of the review committee.

Applications from Foreign Organizations

Not applicable..

Select Agent Research

Reviewers will assess the information provided in this section of the application, including 1) the Select Agent(s) to be used in the proposed research, 2) the registration status of all entities where Select Agent(s) will be used, 3) the procedures that will be used to monitor possession use and transfer of Select Agent(s), and 4) plans for appropriate biosafety, biocontainment, and security of the Select Agent(s).

Resource Sharing Plans

Reviewers will comment on whether the following Resource Sharing Plans, or the rationale for not sharing the following types of resources, are reasonable: 1) Data Sharing Plan; 2) Sharing Model Organisms; and 3) Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS).

Budget and Period of Support

Reviewers will consider whether the budget and the requested period of support are fully justified and reasonable in relation to the proposed research.

2. Review and Selection Process

Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by (an) appropriate Scientific Review Group(s) convened by NIGMS , in accordance with NIH peer review policy and procedures, using the stated review criteria. Review assignments will be shown in the eRA Commons.

As part of the scientific peer review, all applications:

Applications will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications submitted in response to this FOA. Following initial peer review, recommended applications will receive a second level of review by the appropriate national Advisory Council or Board. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

For renewal applications: Past performance of the Bridges to the Doctorate Program in achieving its stated goals and objectives, in the context of institutional baseline and NIGMS-MORE Division expectations during the prior project period(s).

3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

After the peer review of the application is completed, the PD/PI will be able to access his or her Summary Statement (written critique) via the eRA Commons

Information regarding the disposition of applications is available in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Section VI. Award Administration Information

1. Award Notices

If the application is under consideration for funding, NIH will request "just-in-time" information from the applicant as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement General.

A formal notification in the form of a Notice of Award (NoA) will be provided to the applicant organization for successful applications. The NoA signed by the grants management officer is the authorizing document and will be sent via email to the grantee’s business official.

Awardees must comply with any funding restrictions described in Section IV.5. Funding Restrictions. Selection of an application for award is not an authorization to begin performance. Any costs incurred before receipt of the NoA are at the recipient's risk. These costs may be reimbursed only to the extent considered allowable pre-award costs.      

Any application awarded in response to this FOA will be subject to the DUNS, CCR Registration, and Transparency Act requirements as noted on the Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants website.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

All NIH grant and cooperative agreement awards include the NIH Grants Policy Statement as part of the NoA. For these terms of award, see the NIH Grants Policy Statement Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart A: General  and Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart B: Terms and Conditions for Specific Types of Grants, Grantees, and Activities. More information is provided at Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants.

Evaluation

In carrying out its stewardship of human resource-related programs, the NIH may request information essential to an assessment of the effectiveness of this program. Accordingly, participants are hereby notified that they may be contacted after the completion of this award for periodic updates on various aspects of their employment history, publications, support from research grants or contracts, honors and awards, professional activities, and other information helpful in evaluating the impact of the program.

3. Reporting

The Non-Competing Continuation Grant Progress Report (PHS 2590) and financial statements  as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement are required annually. Continuation support will not be provided until the required forms are submitted and accepted.Programs that involve participants should report on education in the responsible conduct of research. Awardees are encouraged to use Sample Tables 1 and 2 to report Institutional/Bridges Outcomes and Current Status of Bridges Program Participants, respectively (http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Research/FeaturedPrograms/Minority/Bridges/sampletables.htm).

The progress report must include the outcome data on students in biomedical and behavioral sciences in the context of the institutional baseline and the applicant’s goals and objectives:

Describe what has been learned through the program evaluation and any changes made in the program as a result of the evaluation..

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Transparency Act), includes a requirement for awardees of Federal grants to report information about first-tier subawards and executive compensation under Federal assistance awards issued in FY2011 or later.  All awardees of applicable NIH grants and cooperative agreements are required to report to the Federal Subaward Reporting System (FSRS) available at www.fsrs.gov on all subawards over $25,000.  See the NIH Grants Policy Statement for additional information on this reporting requirement. 

Failure by the grantee institution to submit required forms in a timely, complete, and accurate manner may result in an expenditure disallowance or a delay in any continuation funding for the award.

Other Reporting Requirements

A final progress report, invention statement, and the expenditure data portion of the Federal Financial Report are required for closeout of an award as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Section VII. Agency Contacts

We encourage inquiries concerning this funding opportunity and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants.

Application Submission Contacts

Grants.gov Customer Support (Questions regarding Grants.gov registration and submission, downloading or navigating forms)
Contact Center Phone: 800-518-4726
Email: support@grants.gov

GrantsInfo (Questions regarding application instructions and process, finding NIH grant resources)
Telephone 301-435-0714
TTY 301-451-5936
Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov

eRA Commons Help Desk(Questions regarding eRA Commons registration, tracking application status, post submission issues)
Phone: 301-402-7469 or 866-504-9552 (Toll Free)
TTY: 301-451-5939
Email: commons@od.nih.gov

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Michelle R.J. Hamlet, Ph.D.
Program Director, MORE Special Initiatives Branch
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), NIH
45 Center Drive, Room 2AS.43C, MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD 20892-6200
Telephone: 301-594-3900
Fax: 301-480-2753
Email: hamletm@mail.nih.gov

Peer Review Contact(s)

Helen R. Sunshine, Ph.D.
Chief, Office of Scientific Review
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), NIH
45 Center Drive, Room 3AN.12, MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD 20892-6200
Telephone: 301-594-2881
Fax: 301-480-8506
Email: sunshinh@nigms.nih.gov

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Ms. Lori Burge
Grants Management Officer
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), NIH
45 Center Drive, Room 2AN.50B, MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD 20892-6200
Telephone: 301-451-3781
Fax: 301-480-2554
Email: burgeL@nigms.nih.gov

Section VIII. Other Information

Recently issued trans-NIH policy notices may affect your application submission. A full list of policy notices published by NIH is provided in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Authority and Regulations

Awards are made under the authorization of Sections 301 and 405 of the Public Health Service Act as amended (42 USC 241 and 284) and under Federal Regulations 42 CFR Part 52 and 45 CFR Parts 74 and 92.


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NIH Funding Opportunities and Notices


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