MARC UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT TRAINING IN ACADEMIC RESEARCH (U-STAR) PROGRAM

Release Date:  July 29, 1998

PA NUMBER:  PAR-98-093

P.T.

National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Application Receipt Date: January 10 and May 10

PURPOSE

The Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Program Branch of the Division of
Minority Opportunity in Research (MORE) of the National Institute of General
Medical Sciences (NIGMS) provides research training opportunities that target
students and faculty from minority groups who are underrepresented in the
biomedical sciences, including mathematics.  As part of its ongoing commitment
to the development of prospective underrepresented minority researchers and the
enhancement of their training environment, the MARC Program provides support
directed at underrepresented minority students to improve their preparation for
graduate training in the biomedical sciences.

This revised Program Announcement (PA) for MARC'S new Undergraduate Student
Training in Academic Research (U-STAR) program replaces the existing
junior/senior and freshman/sophomore components of the MARC Honors Undergraduate
Research Training (HURT) Program and supersedes all previous MARC HURT and MARC
U-STAR announcements.

The most significant difference between the MARC U-STAR and MARC HURT programs
is the emphasis on the measurable goals and specific objectives as stated by the
applicant institutions in fulfilling the objectives of this program announcement. 
Institutions submitting renewal applications must comply with the submission
requirements as set forth in this new program announcement.  NIGMS will no longer
accept competing applications from the previous two HURT components.  However,
existing policies and provisions will remain in effect for current MARC HURT
recipients until completion of the non-competitive years of their existing grant
period.

HEALTHY PEOPLE 2000

The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health promotion
and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy People 2000," a PHS-led national
activity for setting priority areas.  This PA, Minority Access to Research
Careers, is related to one or more of the priority areas.  Potential applicants
may obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2000" (Full Report:  Stock No. 017-001-
00474-0 or Summary Report: Stock No. 017-001-00473-1) through the Superintendent
of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402-9325 (telephone
202-512-1800).

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Institutional

Only domestic, non-profit, private or public institutions which offer the
baccalaureate degree and in which student enrollments are drawn substantially
from ethnic minority groups that are underrepresented in the biomedical sciences,
including mathematics, may apply.  For purposes of this program announcement,
underrepresented minority students are individuals belonging to a particular
ethnic or racial group that has been determined by the grantee institution to be
underrepresented in biomedical research.  Nationally, individuals who have been
found to be underrepresented in biomedical research include but are not limited
to US citizens who are African American, Hispanic American, Native American, and
natives of the US Pacific Islands. The training program director at the
institution will be responsible for the selection and appointment of trainees to
receive NRSA support and for the overall direction of the program.  Only one
grant per eligible institution will be awarded. 

Student

The MARC program is open to qualified undergraduate honors students majoring in
the sciences with an expressed interest in a career in biomedical research and
intentions to pursue graduate education leading to a Ph.D., M.D./Ph.D. or other
combined professional degree/Ph.D.

The period of appointment to the MARC U-STAR program is two years at the
junior/senior level. U-STAR programs should be designed for student participation
for up to 24 months.  Appointments of less than nine months are discouraged and
require prior approval from the MARC Branch.  

Freshman and sophomore traineeships are no longer provided.  However,
institutional programs may be designed to include pre-MARC student development
activities to identify and prepare students for the MARC U-STAR program.

Citizenship

To be appointed to a training position supported by an NRSA research training
grant, an individual must be a citizen or non-citizen national of the United
States or must have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence (i.e., in
possession of a currently valid Alien Registration Receipt Card I-551, or must
be in possession of other legal verification of such status).  Non-citizen
nationals are generally persons born in outlying possessions of the United States
(e.g., American Samoa and Swains Island).  Individuals on temporary or student
visas are not eligible. 

MECHANISM OF SUPPORT

Awards under this PA will use the Institutional National Research Service Awards
(NRSA) (T34) mechanism.  The responsibility for planning, direction, execution,
and evaluation of the proposed project lies solely with the applicant
institution.  The maximum initial grant period is five years, with opportunity
for competitive renewal at the end of that period.

Allowable Costs

The requested budget may include costs for stipends, tuition, and fees for
trainees, limited travel for trainees and faculty, and salary support for faculty
involved in MARC training activities.  Funds for trainee-related costs such as
course supplies and equipment essential for research training or faculty costs
for enhancing their professional credentials may be requested with strong
justification.

Stipends:  NRSAs provide funds, in the form of stipends, to MARC U-STAR students. 
A stipend is provided as a subsistence allowance for trainees to help defray
living expenses during their appointment period.  It is not provided as a
condition of employment with either the Federal Government or the awardee
institution.  The current annual stipend for students in their junior/senior year
is $8,988.

No departure from the established NIH stipend schedule may be negotiated by the
institution with the trainee.  The sponsoring institution is allowed to provide
funds to an individual in addition to the stipends paid by the NIH.  Such
additional amounts may be in the form of augmented stipends (supplementation) or
in the form of compensation, such as salary or tuition remission for services
such as serving as a laboratory assistant.  This supplementation to offset the
cost of living may be provided by the awardee institution but must not require
any additional obligation from the trainee.  Federal funds may NOT be used for
supplementation unless specifically authorized under the terms of the program
from which such supplemental funds are to be received. Under no circumstances may
PHS funds be used for supplementation. Trainees MAY NOT be supported by other HHS
programs such as the Minority International Research Training (MIRT) program the
NIH Short Term Summer Research Award, or the Initiative for Minority Student
Development (IMSD) program while they are receiving support from their
institution's MARC U-STAR grant.

Under no circumstances may the conditions of stipend supplementation or the
services provided for compensation interfere with, detract from, or prolong the
trainee's approved NRSA training program.

Educational Loans or the G.I. Bill: An individual may make use of Federal
educational loan funds and assistance under the Veterans Readjustment Benefits
Act (G.I. Bill).  Such funds are not considered supplementation or compensation.

Tuition and Fees: Tuition and fees, including self-only medical insurance, for
the individual in training are allowable trainee costs if such charges are
required of all persons in a similar training status at the institution, without
regard to their source of support.  Family medical insurance coverage is not an
appropriate charge to the MARC U-STAR grant.

Travel:  Trainee travel including attendance at scientific meetings that the
institution determines is necessary to the individual's research training is an
allowable expense.  Faculty travel. is also allowable, however, a strong
justification must be provided in the application.  In addition, support for
trainee travel to a research training experience away from the grantee
institution is permitted.

Training Related Expenses: Research training supplies up to $1,500 per student
may be requested.  Training related expenses may be requested to defray the cost
of other research training expenses such as equipment and supplies.  However,
requests for these expenses must be strongly justified.

Faculty Related Costs: MARC faculty related costs for workshops or to take
courses to enhance their professional skills may be requested.

Administration and Evaluation Costs: Administration costs related to a Program
Director's percent time and effort and costs for a secretary or a program
assistant may be requested. Costs related to an institution's evaluation of its
MARC program may be requested.

Student Development Activities: Costs related to student development activities
that aid freshmen and sophomores may be requested and should be strongly
justified.  However, the MARC U-STAR program will NOT provide tuition, stipends,
and student travel for freshmen and sophomores.  Funds provided for pre-MARC
student development activities MAY NOT be used to compensate freshman and
sophomore students in any form.

Salary Support: Salary support for specifically identified faculty, who are
directly involved in special training activities for MARC students, and whose
responsibilities for training these students extend beyond what is routinely and
normally expected of faculty at the applicant institution may be requested with
significant and strong justification. In general, the MARC program will NOT
provide research support and research salary for faculty.

Facilities and Administration Allowance: A facilities and administration
allowance (indirect cost allowance) based on eight percent of total allowable
direct costs (this excludes tuition, fees, health insurance, and equipment) will
be paid.

Tax Liability

Section 117 of the Internal Revenue Code applies to the tax treatment of all
scholarships and fellowships.  Under that section, non-degree candidates are
required to report all stipends and any monies paid on their behalf for course
tuition and fees required for attendance as gross income.  Degree candidates may
exclude from gross income (for tax purposes) any amounts used for tuition and
related expenses such as fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for
courses of instruction at a qualified educational institution.

The taxability of stipends, however, in no way alters the relationship between
NRSA trainees and institutions.  NRSA stipends are not considered salaries.  In
addition, trainees supported under the NRSA are not considered to be in an
employee-employer relationship with the NIH or the awardee institution.

It must be emphasized that the interpretation and implementation of the tax laws
are the domain of the Internal Revenue Service and the courts.  NIH takes no
position on what the status may be for a particular taxpayer, and it does not
have the authority to dispense tax advice.  Individuals should consult their
local IRS office about the applicability of the law to their situations and for
information on the proper steps to be taken regarding their tax obligations.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

Responsible Conduct of Research

Applicants must describe in detail plans for teaching responsible conduct in
biomedical research to all trainees (attendance mandatory) and provide progress
reports on the type of instruction provided, who attended, and who taught.  This
is mandatory for all U-STAR grant applications.  Applications without plans for
instruction in the responsible conduct or research will be considered incomplete
and may be returned to the applicant without review.

Although NIH does not establish specific curricula or formal requirements, U-STAR
programs are encouraged strongly to consider instruction in the following areas:
conflict of interest, responsible authorship, policies for handling misconduct,
policies regarding the use of human and animal subjects, and data management. 
Within the context of training in scientific integrity it is also beneficial to
discuss the mutual responsibilities of the institution and the students appointed
to the program.

Plans must address the subject matter of the instruction, the format of the
instruction, the degree of faculty participation, trainee attendance, and the
frequency of instruction.  In addition, the rationale for the proposed plan of
instruction must be provided.

The plans will be judged acceptable or unacceptable separately from the overall
merit of the training program on the appropriateness of the topics, format,
participation of faculty, and the frequency and duration of instruction to the
level and type of training being provided.  The plan will be discussed after the
overall determination of merit, so that the quality of the plan will not be a
factor in the determination of the priority score. Regardless of the priority
score, applications with unacceptable plans will not be funded until the
applicant provides a revised, acceptable plan.  Staff within the MARC Branch will
judge the acceptability of the revised plan.

Reporting Requirements

A progress report will be required at the end of each budget period.  A final
report will be required within 90 days after the termination date of the award. 
All progress reports must include information on each student participant
delineating the student's progress and all benefits the student derived from the
program, as well as the training plan for the coming year.  This progress report
must also contain information on MARC graduates, their subsequent schooling
and/or their careers, and the type of instruction provided for training in the
responsible conduct of research, including the topics covered, student attendance
and faculty participation.

TRAINING OBJECTIVES

It is the intent of the MARC U-STAR program to address the current deficiency of,
and the anticipated crisis regarding, the paucity of minority students earning
degrees in biomedical sciences, including mathematics. To this end, the
objectives cited below have been identified.

The objectives of the MARC U-STAR Program are: to increase the number of
competitively trained underrepresented minority students enrolled in programs
that lead to the research doctorate; to strengthen the faculty, science course
curriculum and research training programs in biomedical sciences at minority
serving institutions; and to aid in the development of research training
infrastructure at minority serving institutions.

The MARC Branch recognizes that there are differences in institutional
environments and institutional missions. Therefore, the emphasis of this program
will be on the measurable goals and specific objectives as stated by the
applicant institution in fulfillment of the objective of this program
announcement.

The applicant institution should be able to demonstrate the benefits of the MARC
U-STAR program on the recruitment, development, retention, graduation rates, and
career outcomes of students in the biomedical sciences at the applicant
institution. These data will be used as a baseline to determine progress for
future evaluation of the goals and measurable specific objectives that the
applicant institution proposes.

APPLICATION PROCEDURES

Applications are to be submitted on the grant application form PHS 398 (rev.
5/95).  Application kits are available at most institutional offices of sponsored
research and may be obtained from the Division of Extramural Outreach and
Information Resources, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, MSC
7910, Bethesda, MD 20892-7910, telephone 301/435-0714, email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov.

Minority serving institutions wishing to apply for support under this program
should request application forms, guidelines, special instructions, and
additional information by calling (301) 594-3900 or writing to the MARC Program
Branch Office, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, 45 Center Drive,
Room 2As.37D, MSC-6200, Bethesda, MD 20892-6200.

Submit a signed, typewritten original of the application, including the
Checklist, and three photocopies of the signed application in one package to:

CENTER FOR SCIENTIFIC REVIEW
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
6701 ROCKLEDGE DRIVE, ROOM 1040 - MSC 7710
BETHESDA, MD 20872-7710
BETHESDA, MD 20817 (for express/courier service)

At the time of submission, two additional copies of the application and appendix
must be sent to:

Helen Sunshine, Ph.D.
Office of Scientific Review
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
45 Center Drive, Room 1AS.13, MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD  20892-6200

Application receipt dates are January 10 and May 10 for funding on June 1 of the
following year.

Preparation of the Narrative Section of the Training Program Plan

All training grant applicants are expected to present detailed plans of the
training program organization, criteria for trainee recruitment and selection,
and mechanisms for evaluation of the quality and success of the training effort. 
The application should also give information on the qualifications of the
proposed faculty participants, including their experience as trainers and their
current research programs and support.  Applicants must also describe their
program plans to provide instruction in the responsible conduct of scientific
research.

In the narrative, applicants should define the nature and extent of under-
represented minority student participation in the biomedical sciences at the
applicant institution and the previous history of the MARC U-STAR (formerly the
MARC HURT program) program at the applicant institution (if applicable),
including the uniqueness, coherence, and success of this program at the applicant
institution in sending competitively trained students on to graduate programs
that lead to the research doctorate.

Under a separate heading, GOALS AND SPECIFIC MEASURABLE OBJECTIVES, applicants
should define the goals and specific measurable objectives in narrative or
tabular form (utilizing numbers and/or percentages where appropriate) of the
institution's program and how meeting these institutional goals and objectives
will fulfill the goals of this announcement.  These goals and specific measurable
objectives should be consonant with the institution's vision, mission, and values
and should reflect the institution's particular strengths and commitment.

Applicants should explain their proposed MARC U-STAR program in detail. 
Discussion should include, but is not limited to, an explanation of how their
MARC U-STAR program as designed will significantly strengthen the capability for
training students in the biomedical sciences; the impact of their proposed
program on retention and academic success of students majoring in the biomedical
sciences, including mathematics; how students will be selected and the specific
arrangements for any special extramural activities; and how student participants
will be better prepared for graduate training leading to the research doctorate. 
The application should make clear how each of the proposed programmatic
activities will contribute to the achievement of the stated goals and specific
measurable objectives.

Applicants who request funds for student development activities must specify why
such activities are appropriate for the overall goals of the institution's MARC
U-STAR program.  These applications should describe how the extension of
preparatory training to the freshman and sophomore levels with a combination of
mentoring, tutoring, science preparatory courses, and laboratory experiences
during the academic years and summers is appropriate for this specific
population.  For example, a student development activity may need additional
resources to serve the academic non-research needs of the students.

Academic institutions with other programs for supporting student development and
research training such as a Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) grant,
Bridges to the Future grants, other NRSA training grants, National Science
Foundation grants, or Howard Hughes Medical Institute grants, should define the
relationship between those programs and the MARC U-STAR program.  The application
should delineate the manner in which MARC U-STAR trainees will interact with the
programs of these other sources of support.

Under a separate heading, EVALUATION, the applicant institution should describe
the institution's plans for assessing its proposed program by stating the goals
of the evaluation, the questions that will be addressed by the evaluation design,
and the methods that will be used for analyzing the data.  This evaluation plan
should include the specific analytical tools that are to be used to measure the
impact of the institution's MARC U*STAR program. In this plan, each component
should be linked to a specific goal and measurable objective with an explanation
of how these relate to each other.  Tracking of student participants in the
institution's program must extend to determining the careers/postgraduate school
outcomes of the MARC U-STAR students. In this regard, an institution's past
record, while important, is to be considered a starting point from which the
institution now proposes to grow towards its stated specific measurable goals and
objectives.

The applicant institution should describe specific arrangements for providing
special extramural summer training at universities and laboratories other than
the applicant institution.

REVIEW CONSIDERATIONS

Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed administratively by NIH staff. 
Incomplete and/or unresponsive applications will be returned to the applicant
without further consideration.  Those applications that are complete and
responsive will be evaluated in accordance with the criteria stated below for
scientific and educational merit by appropriate scientific review groups.  The
National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council will provide the second level
of review.

Review Criteria:

1.  Feasibility of the application as defined by the stated goals and specific
measurable objectives;

2.  Qualifications and experience of the Program Director and faculty to carry
out the proposed program;

3.  Appropriateness of the program's plan to meet the goals of this solicitation
as well as the goals and specific measurable objectives which the institution
sets forth;

4.  Availability of honors undergraduate underrepresented minority students in
the participating science departments who are interested in graduate study
leading to the Ph.D. in the biomedical sciences;

5.  Evidence of graduating underrepresented minority students progressing to, and
completing, graduate programs leading to the research doctorate in the biomedical
sciences;

6.  Feasibility of the student development activity, if proposed;

7.  Evidence of institutional commitment and strength of the efforts of the
institution to foster professional development of underrepresented minority
faculty and to train underrepresented minority students in biomedical sciences;

8.  Appropriateness of the administrative plan for managing the proposed program,
including adequacy of space for research training, additional courses and/or
workshops; and the proposed plan for the trainee's off-campus research
experience; and

9.  Appropriateness of the applicant institution's plan for evaluating the impact
of the program, including a system to track the future course of program
participants and their academic and career outcomes.

Additional Review Considerations

10. Acceptability of the Responsible Conduct of Research plan.

AWARD CRITERIA

Award decisions are based on the merit of the applications, availability of
funds, the applicants' abilities to meet the goals and objectives of this PA, and
an acceptable responsible conduct of research plan.  Awards are made only to
institutions with financial management systems and management capabilities that
are acceptable under PHS policy. Awards will be administered under the PHS Grants
Policy Statement.

INQUIRIES

Written and telephone inquiries concerning this PA are encouraged. The
opportunity to clarify any issues or questions from potential applicants is
welcomed.

Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues to:

Adolphus P. Toliver, Ph.D
Division of Minority Opportunities in Research
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
45 Center Drive, Room 2AS.37, MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD  20892-6200
Telephone:  (301) 594-3900
FAX:  (301) 480-2753
Email:  tolivera@NIGMS.NIH.GOV

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Ms. Antoinette Holland
Grants Management Office
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
45 Center Drive, Room 2AN.50B, MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD  20892-6200
Telephone:  (301) 594-5132
FAX:  (301) 480-3423
Email:  HollandA@NIGMS.NIH.GOV

AUTHORITY AND REGULATION

NSRA Institutional Training Grants are made under the authority of Section 487
of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act as amended and administered under Title
42 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 66.  The Catalog of Federal Domestic
Assistance No. 93.880 is applicable to these awards.

The PHS strongly encourages all grant and contract recipients to provide a smoke-
free workplace and promote the non-use of all tobacco products.  In addition,
Public Law 103-227, the Pro-Children Act of 1994, prohibits smoking in certain
facilities (or in some cases, any portion of a facility) in which regular or
routine education, library, day care, health care or early childhood development
services are provided to children.  This is consistent with the PHS mission to
protect and advance the physical and mental health of the American people.


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