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 Mental Health (NIMH)

Funding Opportunity Title

Mental Health Research Dissertation Grant to Enhance Workforce Diversity (R36)

Activity Code

R36 Dissertation Award

Announcement Type

Reissue of PAR-12-103

Related Notices
  • June 21, 2016 - Notice of Information Concerning Expected Level of Effort for PAR-15-181. See Notice NOT-MH-16-017.
  • NOT-OD-16-004 - NIH & AHRQ Announce Upcoming Changes to Policies, Instructions and Forms for 2016 Grant Applications (November 18, 2015)
  • NOT-OD-16-006 - Simplification of the Vertebrate Animals Section of NIH Grant Applications and Contract Proposals (November 18, 2015)
  • NOT-OD-16-011 - Implementing Rigor and Transparency in NIH & AHRQ Research Grant Applications (November 18, 2015)
  • October 27, 2015 - Notice of Correction to Award Information for PAR-15-181. See Notice NOT-MH-16-001.
Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number

PAR-15-181

Companion Funding Opportunity

None

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

93.242

Funding Opportunity Purpose

The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to enhance the diversity of the mental health research workforce by providing dissertation awards in all research areas within the strategic priorities of the NIMH to individuals from diverse backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social sciences research. This two-year award supports the completion of the doctoral research project.

Key Dates
Posted Date

April 9, 2015

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

July 21, 2015

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

Not Applicable

Application Due Date(s)

August 21, 2015, December 21, 2015, April 22, 2016, August 22, 2016, December 22, 2016, April 27, 2017, August 22, 2017, December 22, 2017, April 23, 2018, by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization. All types of non-AIDS applications allowed for this funding opportunity announcement are due on these dates.

Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.

AIDS Application Due Date(s)
Scientific Merit Review

November 2015, March 2016, July 2016, November 2016, March 2017, July 2017, November 2017, March 2018, July 2018

Advisory Council Review

January 2016, May 2016, October 2016, January 2017, May 2017, October 2017, January 2018, May 2018, October 2018

Earliest Start Date

April 2016, July 2016, December 2016, April 2017, July 2017, December 2017, April 2018, July 2018, December 2018

Expiration Date

May 8, 2018

Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not Applicable

Required Application Instructions

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF424 (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.

There are several options to submit your application to the agency through Grants.gov. You can use the ASSIST system to prepare, submit and track your application online. You can download an application package from Grants.gov, complete the forms offline, submit the completed forms to Grants.gov and track your application in eRA Commons. Or, you can use other institutional system-to-system solutions to prepare and submit your application to Grants.gov and track your application in eRA Commons. Learn more.

Problems accessing or using ASSIST should be directed to the eRA Service Desk.
Problems downloading forms should be directed to Grants.gov Customer Support.
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
Description

The NIH has an interest in   diversity in the NIH-funded biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social sciences workforce (see NOT-OD-15-053). Research shows that diverse teams working together and capitalizing on innovative ideas and distinct perspectives outperform homogenous teams. Scientists and trainees from diverse backgrounds and life experiences bring different perspectives, creativity, and individual enterprise to address complex scientific problems. There are many benefits that flow from a diverse NIH-supported scientific workforce, including: fostering scientific innovation, enhancing global competitiveness, contributing to robust learning environments, improving the quality of the researchers, advancing the likelihood that underserved or health disparity populations participate in, and benefit from health research, and enhancing public trust.

In spite of tremendous advancements in scientific research, information, educational and research opportunities are not equally available to all. NIH encourages institutions to diversify their student and faculty populations to enhance the participation of individuals from groups identified as underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences. 

NIMH is committed to recruiting and retaining in its research workforce talented individuals from the diverse fabric of U.S. society. In 2008, a workgroup of the National Advisory Mental Health Council issued a report (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/advisory-boards-and-groups/namhc/reports/investing-in-the-future_42525.pdf) highlighting the need for enhancing the diversity of the mental health research workforce.  Diversity has meant creating opportunity, especially the opportunity for people from underrepresented backgrounds who bring different perspectives and who may solve problems in new ways. By promoting programs to enhance workforce diversity, the NIMH aims to enlist the full spectrum of perspectives and knowledge to work on the mysteries of brain and behavior so as to accomplish the mission of the NIMH.

Although the NIH currently provides 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 and others provide strong evidence that low representation remains an important problem. At NIMH, the workforce is receiving doctoral degrees in neuroscience, genetics, clinical psychology, and other related fields, yet recent national data on U.S. citizen/permanent resident recipients of the doctorate demonstrate a continuing need to enhance diversity in those disciplines (Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities; http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/sed/).  For example, of those earning a neuroscience doctorate in 2013, <1% were Native American, 2% were Black/African American, and 6% were Hispanic/Latino.  Of those earning a doctorate in genetics in 2013, <1% were Native American, 3% were Black/African American, and 4% were Hispanic/Latino.  Similarly, among those earning a doctorate in clinical psychology in 2013, <1% were Native American, 4% were Black/African American and 8% were Hispanic/Latino.

To help address this need, the R36 program seeks to improve the research career preparedness of individuals from underrepresented groups by providing funding support to complete the dissertation. Doing so would help these individuals obtain the necessary qualifications to establish and lead a research program in NIMH-relevant fields and pursue  postdoctoral and faculty positions. This FOA provides assistance at a particularly critical juncture in their doctoral training, a period during which institutional support often declines or terminates altogether. The R36 program provides support to complete mental health-related dissertation research and includes funds not readily or sufficiently available in NRSA predoctoral (F31) programs, which limit support to stipends, tuition and fees, and institutional allowance. The R36 program is available to predoctoral students from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical research who are in good standing in accredited research doctoral programs in the United States (including Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories or possessions; see Section III for additional information regarding eligibility for this program).

The R36 program meets a specific need by supporting dissertation stage research that utilizes state-of-the-art design, methods, and analytic techniques, and incorporates the highest level of scientific rigor and sound experimental practice (see http://www.nimh.nih.gov/research-priorities/policies/enhancing-the-reliability-of-nimh-supported-research-through-rigorous-study-design-and-reporting.shtml). The NIMH encourages applications for dissertation research support across all research areas supported by NIMH. Applicants for this R36 program are expected to propose a well-defined dissertation project that addresses research areas relevant to the NIMH mission and strategic research priorities (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/research-priorities/strategic-objectives/index.shtml). For AIDS-related applications, the dissertation project should align with the research priorities of the most recent, annual Trans-NIH Plan for HIV-Related Research (http://www.oar.nih.gov/strategicplan/) and the priorities of the NIMH Division of AIDS Research (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/organization/dar/index.shtml).

In addition, for applicants conducting intervention development research, it is important that the proposed research is consistent with NIMH's emphasis on an experimental therapeutics approach to intervention development and testing. Throughout all phases of intervention development and testing (i.e., from the development of novel interventions through effectiveness testing), NIMH places a strong emphasis on the relationship between underlying disease processes and the mechanisms of action through which an intervention produces therapeutic change. Research projects that propose intervention development studies should examine a hypothesized mechanism of action or proximal target based on evidence of disease processes and a clear hypothesis about how an intervention directed at changing that mechanism or proximal target could lead to improvement of a clinical endpoint or endpoints (e.g., symptom, symptom cluster), as well as address issues of safety and tolerability.  For a more complete description of abovementioned approaches, applicants are strongly encouraged to review the associated NIMH Notices and funding opportunity announcements listed at http://www.nimh.nih.gov/funding/opportunities-announcements/clinical-trials-foas/index.shtml.

Programmatic Evaluation

Within seven years of publication of this FOA, NIMH will assess the program’s overall outcomes and gauge its effectiveness in enhancing diversity of the mental health research workforce.   The overall evaluation of the Mental Health Research Dissertation Grant to Enhance Workforce Diversity (R36) program will be based on core metrics that may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Number and percentage of program participants who complete graduate or professional doctoral degrees in mental health-related sciences
  • Completion of graduate or professional doctoral degrees by gender, race/ethnicity, and disability
  • Distribution of completed graduate or professional degree fields of study among participants
  • Distribution of graduate degree fields of study by gender, race/ethnicity, and disability
  • Number and percentage of program participants who apply for postdoctoral training/research opportunities in mental health-related sciencesPursuit of postdoctoral training/research opportunities by gender, race/ethnicity, and disability
  • Publication of research arising from the dissertation project and/or authorship of other scientific publications relevant to mental health
  • Number and percentage of program participants who obtain independent faculty positions in mental health-related sciences

Upon the completion of this evaluation, the NIMH will determine whether to (a) continue the program as currently configured, (b) continue the program with modifications, or (c) discontinue the program.

Section II. Award Information
Funding Instrument

Grant: A support mechanism providing money, property, or both to an eligible entity to carry out an approved project or activity.

Application Types Allowed

New
Resubmission

The OER Glossary and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide provide details on these application types.

Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards

The number of awards is contingent upon NIH appropriations and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.

Award Budget

The Mental Health Research Dissertation Grant to Enhance Workforce Diversity (R36) allows for budget requests to cover, per year,  a salary consistent with the current fiscal year National Research Service Award (NRSA) predoctoral stipend level (http://grants.nih.gov/training/nrsa.htm#policy) and up to $15,000 for additional expenses such as fringe benefits (including health insurance for self and family members), travel to scientific meetings, and dissertation research costs in accordance with institutional policies.

With the exception of costs associated with the dissertation (i.e., dissertation credits), no funds may be used to pay tuition or fees. Other specific costs not allowed on dissertation research grants are equipment, alterations/renovations, space rental, contracting or consortium costs, dissertation defense or deposit fees, membership fees and faculty or consultant effort. This listing is not exhaustive, and the applicant institution should contact NIMH staff regarding any other cost item being considered. For more information on allowable and unallowable costs, see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/policy.htm.

Award Project Period

The total award project period may not exceed two years, but must be no less than 12 months.

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

  • Public/State Controlled Institutions of Higher Education
  • Private Institutions of Higher Education

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

    • Hispanic-serving Institutions
    • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
    • Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs)
    • Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions
    • Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs)

Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education

  • Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)
  • Nonprofits without 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)

For-Profit Organizations

  • Small Businesses
  • For-Profit Organizations (Other than Small Businesses)

Governments

  • State Governments
  • County Governments
  • City or Township Governments
  • Special District Governments
  • Indian/Native American Tribal Governments (Federally Recognized)
  • Indian/Native American Tribal Governments (Other than Federally Recognized)
  • Eligible Agencies of the Federal Government
  • U.S. Territory or Possession

Other

  • Independent School Districts
  • Public Housing Authorities/Indian Housing Authorities
  • Native American Tribal Organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments)
  • Faith-based or Community-based Organizations
  • Regional Organizations

In addition, eligible institutions must have a doctoral degree-granting program in the candidate's area of study. The applicant institution must be the institution at which the PD/PI is pursuing doctoral studies.

Institutions must have staff and facilities available on site to provide a suitable environment for performing high-quality research.  The research training should occur in a strong research environment that has appropriate human and technical resources and is demonstrably committed to research training in the research area proposed by the PD/PI.

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 allowed.

Required Registrations

Applicant Organizations

Applicant organizations must complete and maintain the following registrations as described in the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide to be eligible to apply for or receive an award. All registrations must be completed prior to the application being submitted. Registration can take 6 weeks or more, so applicants should begin the registration process as soon as possible. The NIH Policy on Late Submission of Grant Applications states that failure to complete registrations in advance of a due date is not a valid reason for a late submission.

  • Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) - All registrations require that applicants be issued a DUNS number. After obtaining a DUNS number, applicants can begin both SAM and eRA Commons registrations. The same DUNS number must be used for all registrations, as well as on the grant application.
  • System for Award Management (SAM) (formerly CCR) – Applicants must complete and maintain an active registration, which requires renewal at least annually. The renewal process may require as much time as the initial registration. SAM registration includes the assignment of a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) Code for domestic organizations which have not already been assigned a CAGE Code.
  • eRA Commons - Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the eRA Commons registration. Organizations can register with the eRA Commons as they are working through their SAM or Grants.gov registration. eRA Commons requires organizations to identify at least one Signing Official (SO) and at least one Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) account in order to submit an application.
  • Grants.gov – Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the Grants.gov registration.

Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD(s)/PI(s))

All PD(s)/PI(s) must have an eRA Commons account.  PD(s)/PI(s) should work with their organizational officials to either create a new account or to affiliate their existing account with the applicant organization in eRA Commons. If the PD/PI is also the organizational Signing Official, they must have two distinct eRA Commons accounts, one for each role. Obtaining an eRA Commons account can take up to 2 weeks.

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(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s)) is invited to work with his/her organization to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for NIH support.

Eligible PD/PIs include predoctoral students at the dissertation stage of training with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research. The applicant must have an approved dissertation proposal (at the time of award), show evidence of high academic performance in the sciences, and a commitment to a career as an independent research scientist, or as an independent physician-scientist or other clinician-scientist (dual-degree training).  

The applicant must have a baccalaureate degree and be currently enrolled in a PhD or equivalent research degree program (e.g., EngD, DNSc, DrPH, DSW, PharmD, PsyD, ScD), a formally combined MD/PhD program, or other combined professional/clinical and research doctoral (e.g., DDS/PhD) in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical sciences.

For the purpose of this announcement, institutions are encouraged to identify applicants who will enhance diversity on a national basis. As indicated in Section I, the NIH is particularly interested in encouraging the recruitment and retention of the following classes of individuals:

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 data at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/showpub.cfm?TopID=2&SubID=27), and the report Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering). The following racial and ethnic groups have been shown to be underrepresented in biomedical research: Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders.

B. Individuals with disabilities, who are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, as described in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended. See NSF data at, http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/2013/pdf/tab7-5_updated_2014_10.pdf.

C. Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, 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.
  2. Individuals who come from an educational environment such as that found in certain rural or inner-city environments that has demonstrably and directly inhibited the individual from obtaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to develop and participate in a research career.

Literature shows that women from the above backgrounds (categories A, B, and C) face particular challenges at the graduate level and beyond in scientific fields. (See, e.g., Inside the Double Bind, A Synthesis of Empirical Research on Undergraduate and Graduate Women of Color in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics http://her.hepg.org/content/t022245n7x4752v2/fulltext.pdf).

  • For the purposes of this program, the disadvantaged background category (C1 and C2) is not applicable.

Multiple PD/PIs are not allowed.

By the time of the award, the individual must be a citizen or a non-citizen national of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence (i.e., possess a valid Permanent Resident Card USCIS Form I-551 or other legal verification of such status).

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

Applicant organizations may submit more than one application, provided that each application is scientifically distinct.

The NIH will not accept duplicate or highly overlapping applications under review at the same time.  This means that the NIH will not accept:

  • A new (A0) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of an overlapping new (A0) or resubmission (A1) application.
  • A resubmission (A1) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of the previous new (A0) application.
  • An application that has substantial overlap with another application pending appeal of initial peer review (see NOT-OD-11-101).

In addition, the NIH will not accept a resubmission (A1) application that is submitted later than 37 months after submission of the new (A0) application that it follows.  The NIH will accept submission:

  • To an RFA of an application that was submitted previously as an investigator-initiated application but not paid;
  • Of an investigator-initiated application that was originally submitted to an RFA but not paid; or
  • Of an application with a changed grant activity code.
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, including Supplemental Grant Application Instructions 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.

Page Limitations

All page limitations described in the SF424 Application Guide and the Table of Page Limits must be followed with the following additional requirement:

The attachment "Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research" is limited to 1 page.

Instructions for Application Submission

The following section supplements the instructions found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and should be used for preparing an application to this FOA.

SF424(R&R) Cover

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

SF424(R&R) Project/Performance Site Locations

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

 
SF424(R&R) Other Project Information

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

Other Attachments: Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research: All applications must include a plan to fulfill NIH requirements for instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). The plan must address the five, required instructional components outlined in the NIH policy: 1) Format - the required format of instruction, i.e., face-to-face lectures, coursework, and/or real-time discussion groups (a plan with only on-line instruction is not acceptable); 2) Subject Matter - the breadth of subject matter, e.g., conflict of interest, authorship, data management, human subjects and animal use, laboratory safety, research misconduct, research ethics; 3) Faculty Participation - the role of the mentor(s) and other faculty involvement in the instruction; 4) Duration of Instruction - the number of contact hours of instruction; and 5) Frequency of Instruction – instruction must occur during each career stage and at least once every four years. Document any prior instruction during the applicant’s current career stage, including the inclusive dates instruction was last completed. See also NOT-OD-10-019. Applications lacking a Plan for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research will not be reviewed.  The description of the plan for the Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research is limited to one page; applications exceeding this limit will not be reviewed.

SF424(R&R) Senior/Key Person Profile

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed. 

Biographical Sketches: Biographical Sketches must be provided for the PD/PI and the dissertation project advisor. Follow the recommended format of the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/424/index.htm.

The advisor's Biographical Sketch should document the experience, resources, and time available to supervise and mentor the PD/PI so that he/she will complete the dissertation in a timely manner.

R&R Budget

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

R&R Subaward Budget

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

PHS 398 Research Plan

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

Letters of Support: All letters must be combined into a single pdf file.

Letter of Certification: The faculty advisor, dissertation committee chair, or university official directly responsible for supervising the dissertation research must submit a letter certifying that the PD/PI meets the eligibility criteria for this award.

Advisor and Reference Letters: The faculty advisor and at least one other member of the dissertation committee must submit letters, each no longer than 2 pages, that assess (a) the doctoral candidate’s progress to date; and (b) the candidate’s commitment to mental health-related research and her/his prospect of becoming an independent investigator in this area.

Resource Sharing Plan: Individuals are required to comply with the instructions for the Resource Sharing Plans as provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

All applications submitted for the January 25, 2015 due date or after are expected to comply with the NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy as detailed in NOT-OD-14-111, as applicable.

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. A copy of an official transcript of the applicant's graduate school record must be included in the Appendix.

Planned Enrollment Report

When conducting clinical research, follow all instructions for completing Planned Enrollment Reports as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide. 

PHS 398 Cumulative Inclusion Enrollment Report

When conducting clinical research, follow all instructions for completing Cumulative Inclusion Enrollment Report 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 applications before the due date to ensure they have time to make any application corrections that might be necessary for successful submission.

Organizations must submit applications to 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. NIH and Grants.gov systems check the application against many of the application instructions upon submission. Errors must be corrected and a changed/corrected application must be submitted to Grants.gov on or before the application due date.  If a Changed/Corrected application is submitted after the deadline, the application will be considered late.

Applicants are responsible for viewing their application before the due date 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.

6. Other Submission Requirements and Information

Applications must be submitted electronically following the instructions described in the SF424 (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. If you encounter a system issue beyond your control that threatens your ability to complete the submission process on-time, you must follow the Guidelines for Applicants Experiencing System Issues.

Important reminders:

All PD(s)/PI(s) must include their eRA Commons ID in the Credential field of the Senior/Key Person Profile Component of the SF424(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. See Section III of this FOA for information on registration requirements.

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 System for Award Management. 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 and compliance with application instructions by the Center for Scientific Review, NIH. Applications that are incomplete or non-compliant will not be reviewed.

In order to expedite review, applicants are requested to notify the NIMH Referral Office by email at nimhreferral@mail.nih.gov when the application has been submitted. Please include the FOA number and title, PD/PI name, and title of the application.

Post Submission Materials

Applicants are required to follow the instructions for post-submission materials, as described in NOT-OD-13-030.

Section V. Application Review Information

Important Update: See NOT-OD-16-006 and NOT-OD-16-011 for updated review language for applications for due dates on or after January 25, 2016.

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.

This particular FOA is designed to facilitate completion of a doctoral research project and dissertation in a research area relevant to the NIMH mission and research priorities, as articulated in the NIMH Strategic Plan. Because the Research Plan component is restricted to 6 pages, a dissertation research grant application will not have the same level of detail or extensive discussion found in an R01 application. Accordingly, reviewers should evaluate the conceptual framework and general approach to the problem, rather than methodological details and preliminary data. Appropriate justification for the proposed work may be provided through literature citations, data from other sources, or from investigator-generated data. Preliminary data are not required.

Overall Impact

Reviewers will provide an overall impact 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. For example, a project that by its nature is not innovative may be essential to advance a field.

Significance

Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field? If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice be improved? How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field? Significance should be evaluated within the context of a doctoral dissertation: to what extent will successful completion of the project help the PD/PI to advance his/her research career goals?

Investigator(s)

Are the PD(s)/PI(s), collaborators, and other researchers well suited to the project? If Early Stage Investigators or New Investigators, or in the early stages of independent careers, do they have appropriate experience and training? If established, have they demonstrated an ongoing record of accomplishments that have advanced their field(s)? 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? Does the PD/PI show promise as a research investigator in areas relevant to the application, as evidenced in his/her Biographical Sketch and letters of support? Is the advisor(s) appropriately qualified to provide guidance as needed, i.e. do they have sufficient experience and resources to provide the necessary supervision and mentoring? Has the faculty advisor indicated that sufficient time will be allocated to guide and support the PD/PI so that he/she will complete the dissertation in a timely manner?

Innovation

Does the application challenge and seek to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms by utilizing novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions? Are the concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions novel to one field of research or novel in a broad sense? Is a refinement, improvement, or new application of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions proposed? Innovation should be considered within the context of the doctoral dissertation: Is the level of innovation appropriate for the PD/PI’s career stage?

Approach

Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project? Are potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented? If the project is in the early stages of development, will the strategy establish feasibility and will particularly risky aspects be managed?  Does the project reflect the PD/PI’s strong grasp of sound experimental design? Is there evidence of a high level of scientific rigor and knowledge about the proposed area of study?

If the project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, are the plans to address 1) the protection of human subjects from research risks, and 2) inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion or exclusion of children, justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed?

Environment

Will the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Are the institutional support, equipment and other physical resources available to the investigators adequate for the project proposed? Will the project benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, subject populations, or collaborative arrangements? Is there sufficient institutional support to foster completion of the project in a timely manner, as evidenced by the letters of support?

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 score, but will not give separate scores for these items.

Protections for Human Subjects

For research that involves human subjects but does not involve one of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate the justification for involvement of human subjects and the proposed protections from research risk relating to their participation according to the following five review criteria: 1) risk to subjects, 2) adequacy of protection against risks, 3) potential benefits to the subjects and others, 4) importance of the knowledge to be gained, and 5) data and safety monitoring for clinical trials.

For research that involves human subjects and meets the criteria for one or more of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate: 1) the justification for the exemption, 2) human subjects involvement and characteristics, and 3) sources of materials. For additional information on review of the Human Subjects section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Human Subjects.

Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children 

When the proposed project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, the committee will evaluate the proposed plans for the inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion (or exclusion) of children to determine if it is justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed. For additional information on review of the Inclusion section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Inclusion in Clinical Research.

Vertebrate Animals

The committee will evaluate the involvement of live vertebrate animals as part of the scientific assessment according to the following five points: 1) proposed use of the animals, and species, strains, ages, sex, and numbers to be used; 2) justifications for the use of animals and for the appropriateness of the species and numbers proposed; 3) adequacy of veterinary care; 4) procedures for limiting discomfort, distress, pain and injury to that which is unavoidable in the conduct of scientifically sound research including the use of analgesic, anesthetic, and tranquilizing drugs and/or comfortable restraining devices; and 5) methods of euthanasia and reason for selection if not consistent with the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia. For additional information on review of the Vertebrate Animals section, please refer to the Worksheet for Review of the Vertebrate Animal Section.

Biohazards

Reviewers will assess whether materials or procedures proposed are potentially hazardous to research personnel and/or the environment, and if needed, determine whether adequate protection is proposed.

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

Not Applicable

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 score.

Responsible Conduct of Research

Taking into account the circumstances of the PD/PI, including level of experience, the reviewers will address the following questions. Does the plan satisfactorily address the format of instruction, e.g., lectures, coursework, and/or real-time discussion groups? Does the plan include a sufficiently broad selection of subject matter, such as conflict of interest, authorship, data management, human subjects and animal use, and laboratory safety? Does the plan adequately describe the role of the sponsor/mentor or other faculty involvement in the student's instruction? Does the plan meet the minimum requirements for RCR, i.e., eight contact hours of instruction every four years? Plans and past record will be rated as ACCEPTABLE or UNACCEPTABLE, the summary statement will provide the consensus of the review committee.

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) Genomic Wide Association Studies (GWAS) /Genomic Data Sharing Plan.

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 the NIMH, in accordance with NIH peer review policy and procedures, using the stated review criteria. Assignment to a Scientific Review Group will be shown in the eRA Commons.

As part of the scientific peer review, all applications:

  • May undergo a selection process in which only those applications deemed to have the highest scientific and technical merit (generally the top half of applications under review) will be discussed and assigned an overall impact score.
  • Will receive a written critique.

Applications will be assigned to the appropriate NIH Institute or Center. Applications will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications . Following initial peer review, recommended applications will receive a second level of review by the National Advisory Mental Health Council. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

  • Scientific and technical merit of the proposed project as determined by scientific peer review.
  • Availability of funds.
  • Relevance of the proposed project to program priorities.
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.

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 terms and conditions found on the Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants website.  This includes any recent legislation and policy applicable to awards that is highlighted on this 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.

Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award

Not Applicable

3. Reporting

When multiple years are involved, awardees will be required to submit the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) annually and financial statements as required in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

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.

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.

This FOA targets the timely awarding of the doctoral degree.  In the Final Progress Report, the PD/PI must provide information on the status of his/her dissertation research project, the actual or anticipated dissertation defense date, the actual or anticipated graduation date, and postdoctoral career plans (e.g., if he/she has accepted a job or postdoctoral research position, and if so, what it is).

Section VII. Agency Contacts

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

Application Submission Contacts

eRA Service Desk (Questions regarding ASSIST, eRA Commons registration, submitting and tracking an application, documenting system problems that threaten submission by the due date, post submission issues)
Telephone: 301-402-7469 or 866-504-9552 (Toll Free)
Finding Help Online: http://grants.nih.gov/support/index.html
Email: commons@od.nih.gov

Grants.gov Customer Support (Questions regarding Grants.gov registration and submission, downloading forms and application packages)
Contact CenterTelephone: 800-518-4726
Web ticketing system: https://grants-portal.psc.gov/ContactUs.aspx
Email: support@grants.gov

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

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Please see: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/funding/training/contacts-for-research-training-and-career-development-programs.shtml

Peer Review Contact(s)

David Armstrong, PhD
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Telephone: 301-443-3534
Email: armstrda@mail.nih.gov

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Tamara Kees
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Telephone: 301-443-8811
Email: tkees@mail.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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