INITIATIVE FOR MINORITY STUDENTS: BRIDGES TO THE DOCTORATE

Release Date:  February 17, 2000

RFA:  GM-00-002

National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  June 1, 2000
Application Receipt Date:       July 17, 2000


PURPOSE

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and the Office of 
Research on Minority Health (ORMH), National Institutes of Health (NIH), 
reannounce opportunities to apply for funding for the Bridges to the Future 
Program.  The Bridges to the Future Program was established in 1992 to 
facilitate specific transitions in the career paths of underrepresented minority 
scientists.  The mission of the Bridges to the Future program is to make 
available to the biomedical science research enterprise and to the nation the 
intellectual talents of an increasing number of underrepresented minority group 
members.  It does so by facilitating the transition of students from associate- 
to baccalaureate-degree granting institutions and from masters to doctoral 
degree-granting institutions.  The program promotes effective inter-
institutional partnerships that lead to improvement in the quality and quantity 
of underrepresented minority students being trained as the next generation of 
scientists.  

This Request for Applications (RFA) solicits new and renewal applications for a 
partnership program involving institutions awarding the masters degree and 
universities awarding the doctoral degree.  A separate RFA describes a program 
targeting the transition from colleges awarding the associates degree to 
institutions awarding the baccalaureate degree.  Former applicants of unfunded 
Bridge proposals may submit revised applications in response to this 
announcement.  Institutions with currently active Bridges grants may submit 
renewal applications.

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 Request for Applications (RFA), 
Initiative for Minority Students:  Bridges to the Doctorate, is related to one 
or more of the priority areas.  Potential applicants may obtain a copy of 
"Healthy People 2000" at http://odphp.osophs.dhhs.gov/pubs/hp2000.


ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

General

Applications may be submitted by domestic, private and public, educational 
institutions, including state or local systems of higher education.  An 
institution may be involved as a partner in more than one Bridge Program, but 
can be the APPLICANT institution for only one Bridge to the Doctoral Degree 
program.  Institutions that submit applications in response to this RFA may 
submit separate applications for support for the Bridge to the Baccalaureate 
Degree Program (RFA GM-00-001) if they meet the eligibility requirements.  
Institutions submitting their own applications may participate in programs with 
other applicant institutions so long as these interactions are consistent with 
institutional resources and their institutional plans. 

Each proposed Bridge program must consist of a partnership between at least two 
institutions.  One must be an institution that offers the masters degree as the 
only post-graduate degree in the sciences within the participating departments 
AND has a significant enrollment of underrepresented minorities.  Another 
partner must be a research university offering doctoral degree programs in areas 
relevant to the biomedical sciences.  Thus, all applications must involve a 
partnership of at least two colleges or universities, but may involve a 
consortium of several institutions and may include several institutions within a 
single state system.
 
One participating institution must be designated as the applicant institution, 
must name the program director, and must submit the application.  Each 
participating institution must name one individual to act as its program 
coordinator.  

Programs developed or modified under this initiative must specifically target 
underrepresented minority graduate students majoring in the sciences, including 
the natural, physical, and behavioral sciences, information sciences, and 
mathematics. For purposes of this RFA, 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 or 
behavioral research.  Historically, individuals who have been found to be 
underrepresented in biomedical or behavioral research include, but are not 
limited to, U.S. citizens who are African American, Hispanic Americans, Native 
Americans and natives of the U.S. Pacific Islands.

Institutions offering both the masters and doctoral degrees may not use funds 
from this program for graduates of their own masters degree programs to enter 
their own doctoral degree programs, even if the student is moving from one 
department, school, or college to another.  The program seeks to promote and 
enhance partnerships BETWEEN institutions.

For additional requirements see: SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

MECHANISM OF SUPPORT

General

Awards under this RFA will use the institutional education project (R25) grant.  
Responsibility for the planning, direction, and execution of the proposed 
project will be solely that of the applicant.  The total project period for 
applications submitted in response to this RFA may not exceed three years.  
Requested direct costs are not to exceed $600,000 for the three-year period.  
Facilities and administrative (F&A) costs will be paid at 8% of the direct 
costs, minus appropriate exclusions.  A budget for each year should be provided.

Allowable Costs

Requests for equipment, supplies, travel, and other expenses should be limited 
to those necessary for program development and must be individually justified.

Requests for funds for evaluation, including salaries, consultant fees, 
technical assistance, and travel, are also allowable.

The budget should include travel funds for the Program Director, a grants 
manager from the grantee institution, and the program coordinators from the 
participating institutions to travel to the Bridges Program Meeting each budget 
year.

Student remuneration is limited to underrepresented minorities matriculated at 
the masters partner institution(s) and may include salary/wages and/or other 
forms of compensation paid in lieu of wages for participation in research 
experiences.  Expenditures for tuition remission (or other forms of compensation 
paid in lieu of wages) are allowable provided the following conditions are met:

o  the student is performing necessary work,

o  there is an employer-employee relationship between the student and the 
institution,

o  the total compensation is reasonable for the work performed, and

o  it is the institution's practice to provide compensation for all students in 
similar circumstances, regardless of the source of support for the activity.

Salaries for students should be requested as an hourly rate, based on the 
prevailing salary scale at the institution.

The proposed budget should include funds to defray the costs of data acquisition 
and data entry into the Electronic Student Tracking and Reporting system (E-
STAR) each year.  E-STAR is a program developed by NIGMS to facilitate the 
administration and evaluation of this program by the grantees and the agency.  
Access to E-STAR is through Internet and the World Wide Web.  Minimum computer 
needs for E-STAR access include an IBM-compatible 386 with 4 meg of RAM, with 
Microsoft Windows(tm) 3.1 and WIN32S or a Macintosh 68020 with 4 meg of RAM; a 
14.4 kb/s modem, and internet access. 

In summary, allowable costs include, but are not limited to, salary, wages, and 
fringe benefits for students and faculty; tuition remission; supplies; equipment 
(including computer hardware); travel; and other expenses.

UNALLOWABLE COSTS:

Stipends, housing, food, tuition (unless as stated above), and fees are not 
allowable costs under this program.  Salary support for faculty to support their 
research is also not allowable.

FUNDS AVAILABLE

An estimated total of $13 million will be available for the term of the awards 
made in response to this solicitation and awards made in response to RFA GM-00-
001 (Bridges to the Baccalaureate).  NIH staff anticipates making a combined 
total of 20 to 40 new and competing continuation awards for these RFAs, if NIH 
receives sufficient numbers of highly meritorious applications and sufficient 
funds for this purpose.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

Background

Many underrepresented minority students enter terminal masters degree programs 
but have the potential to become independent research scientists.  That 
potential needs to be developed through improvement of skills needed to be a 
successful research scientist, challenging curricula, outstanding mentoring, 
active research experiences, guidance and advising, and financial support.  The 
Bridges to the Doctorate program supports partnerships between institutions 
offering terminal masters degrees and research institutions with doctoral 
programs in sciences related to biomedicine.  

Bridges to the Doctorate seeks above all to increase the number of 
underrepresented minority biomedical scientists.  To do so, it is also critical 
to improve the ability of educational institutions to train and graduate 
promising underrepresented minority students in the biomedical sciences, 
including the behavioral, physical and quantitative sciences.  It is the premise 
of the program that this can best be accomplished by developing partnerships 
that support and facilitate underrepresented minority students at a key point in 
their educational careers – the transition to a doctoral program.

Bridges grants are institutional and must reflect institutional plans and 
priorities as well as the collective plans and priorities of the partnership.  
Collaborative agreements should take the form that best fits the needs and 
situations of the institutions involved.  The challenge for the participating 
partners is to create a partnership program, or enhance an existing program, 
that will focus attention and adequate resources to the masters degree-granting 
institution(s) and enhance the academic competitiveness of their graduates in 
the sciences.

Additional Information

Bridges to the Doctorate programs must address the needs and requirements of the 
underrepresented minority graduate students enrolled in the partner masters 
degree program.  Activities which may be supported include, but are not limited 
to, the following:

o  providing research opportunities for masters students at the doctoral. 
institution or in private industrial laboratories (students may receive 
compensation for these activities);

o  establishing a mentoring program for masters students with faculty at the 
doctoral institution;

o  strengthening the research capability of the masters institution (e.g., by 
faculty research collaborations, joint seminar programs, etc.);

o  enhancing the curriculum of the masters institution;

o  enabling and encouraging students from either institution to take classes at 
the other institution; and

o  academic counseling for masters students.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

Applicants should describe the criteria to be used in the selection and 
retention of the student participants as well as the criteria for selecting 
participating faculty.  Applicants with a different existing transition program 
should describe that program and explain the relationship of that program to the 
Bridges to the Doctorate program.  Applicants should describe the methods and 
facilities available for tracking student participants.

Support for Doctoral Training
Students who complete the masters degree and enter the partner doctoral program 
should receive financial support, if needed, from the doctoral institution while 
they are progressing satisfactorily in the doctoral research training programs.  
The Bridges to the Doctorate program does not provide funds to students in the 
doctoral program.  Applicants should describe the type(s) of institutional 
support that would be available to students who transfer into the doctoral 
program.

Evaluation
Evaluation is a mandatory component of every Bridges to the Future Program.  
Each applicant institution must set specific goals and measurable objectives 
that can be used to develop the program and to measure progress.  The NIGMS 
recognizes that minority and minority-serving institutions have diverse 
missions, opportunities, and environments.  Therefore, the emphasis of the 
evaluation activities of the Bridges to the Future Program will be on 
improvement as defined in the specific goals and measurable objectives that the 
applicant institution sets.

Central to each application are (1) a clear statement of program and 
institutional goals and (2) a set of measurable objectives which track progress 
toward those goals, (3) a plan for evaluating whether or not those objectives 
have been met, and (4) a measure of the efficacy of specific interventions.

Unified Plan
If an institution is involved in more than one Bridge Program, the applicant or 
the institution's program coordinator must describe how the various Bridge 
Programs interact and are consistent with the overall goals of the program.  
Institutions with active or pending NIH grants for the Support for Continuous 
Research Excellence (SCORE), Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement 
(RISE), or Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) programs or with other 
sources of funds, such as the National Science Foundation or the Howard Hughes 
Medical Institute, may also apply to the Bridges to the future program.  The 
application must describe how the programs complement each other and how the 
students and faculty supported by each will interact.

Consortium Agreements
Each applicant institution should delineate appropriate agreements and 
consortium arrangements with the other partner institutions consistent with its 
own unified institutional plan.  The following statement, accompanied by 
signatures of the appropriate administrative officials from EACH of the 
collaborating institutions, must be included as part of the application:

"THE APPROPRIATE PROGRAMMATIC AND ADMINISTRATIVE PERSONNEL OF EACH INSTITUTION 
INVOLVED IN THIS GRANT APPLICATION ARE AWARE OF THE NIH CONSORTIUM GRANT POLICY 
AND ARE PREPARED TO ESTABLISH THE NECESSARY INTER-INSTITUTIONAL AGREEMENT(S) 
CONSISTENT WITH THAT POLICY."

In addition, letters signed by the appropriate institutional official and 
program coordinator and acknowledging participation in the program are required 
from each participating institution.

Information on NIH policy regarding consortium agreements can be found at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps/part_iii_5.htm#Consortium

Reporting Requirements
A progress report will be required at the end of each calendar year after the 
award is made.  A final report will be required 90 days after the termination 
date of the award and must include information for each student participant (E-
STAR may be used to satisfy part of these requirements) and a summary of the 
impact of the program.

Student Population and Career Tracking
Applicants should describe the masters institution's success in training 
students in the sciences, including information on the numbers of minority 
students receiving the masters degree and data on subsequent careers or 
education of their graduates.

Applicants should describe a system for tracking the students, including their 
future careers.  Applicants should maintain data to show the impact of this 
program on retention rates, graduation rates, transfer rates to the next higher 
degree program, and graduation rates from the next higher degree programs.  
These data should be compared to those of the non-minority students and the 
minority students who were not in the Bridges program.
 
LETTER OF INTENT

Prospective applicants are requested to submit, by June 1, 2000, a letter of 
intent that includes a descriptive title of the proposed plan, the name, 
address, and telephone number of the program director, the names of other key 
personnel and participating institutions, and the number and title of the RFA.  
Although a letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does not enter 
into the review of subsequent applications, the information that it contains is 
helpful in planning for the review of applications.  It allows NIH staff to 
estimate the potential review workload and to avoid conflict of interest in the 
review.

The letter of intent is to be sent to the program director listed under 
INQUIRIES.

APPLICATION PROCEDURES

The research grant application form PHS 398 (rev. 4/98) is to be used in 
applying for these grants.  These forms are available at most institutional 
offices of sponsored research; 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: 
mailto:grantsinfo@nih.gov.  The forms are also available on at: 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/phs398.html.

The RFA label in the PHS 398 application form must be affixed to the bottom of 
the face page of the application.  Failure to use this label could result in 
delayed processing of the application such that it may not reach the review 
committee in time for review.  In addition, the RFA number and title must be 
typed on line 2 of the face page form, the "YES" box must be marked.  The RFA 
label and line 2 of the application should both indicate the RFA number.  The 
sample RFA label available at: 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/label-bk.pdf has been modified to 
allow for this change.  Please note this is in pdf format.

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

CENTER FOR SCIENTIFIC REVIEW
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
6701 ROCKLEDGE DRIVE, SUITE 1040, MSC 7710
BETHESDA, MD 20892-7710
BETHESDA, MD 20817 (for express/courier service)

Applications must be received by July 17, 2000.  Applications postmarked after 
that date will be returned to the applicant.

REVIEW CONSIDERATIONS

Upon receipt, NIH staff will administratively review applications.  Incomplete 
and/or unresponsive applications will be returned to the applicant without 
further consideration. Appropriate peer review groups will evaluate applications 
that are complete and responsive for scientific and technical merit.  The 
National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council will provide the second level 
of review.

Review criteria:

The goals of NIH-supported research are to advance our understanding of 
biological systems, improve the control of disease, and enhance health.  In the 
written comments, reviewers will be asked to discuss the following aspects of 
the application in order to judge the likelihood that the proposed program will 
have a substantial impact on the pursuit of these goals.  Each of these criteria 
will be addressed and considered in assigning the overall score, weighting them 
as appropriate for each application.  Note that the application does not need to 
be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact 
and thus deserve a high priority score.  For example, an investigator may 
propose to carry out important work that by its nature is not innovative but is 
essential to move a field forward.  New and competing applications will be 
judged for merit according to the following criteria:

(1) Significance: If the aims of the program are achieved, what impact will they 
have on the diversity of the scientific workforce?  Is a thorough evaluation 
plan, including specific goals and measurable objectives, in place?

(2) Approach:  Is the application adequately developed, well integrated, and 
appropriate to the aims of the program?  Does the program address the specific 
needs of the targeted population?  Does the application demonstrate knowledge of 
current literature and practice on effective intervention strategies? Does the 
applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative tactics?  
Does the program make good use of the skills and resources at the participating 
institutions?

(3) Innovation: Does the project employ novel approaches or methods to 
recruiting, retaining, training, or mentoring students?  Does the project 
challenge existing paradigms or develop new methodologies or technologies?

(4) Investigator: Is the program director appropriately trained and well suited 
to carry out this work? Does the program director have the necessary leadership 
skills?  Do the program director and coordinators have the qualifications and 
experience to carry out the proposed program?

(5) Environment: Does the scientific environment in which the work will be done 
contribute to the probability of success? Is there evidence of institutional 
commitment at each institution?  Is the strength of the collaborations 
sufficient to foster professional training of underrepresented minority 
students?

(6) Pool Size:  Are there sufficient numbers of underrepresented minority 
students in the participating science departments who are interested in studying 
further in biomedical science?  Is there evidence that underrepresented minority 
students at the participating institutions progress to higher education?

(7) Administration:  Is the proposed system for tracking program participants 
adequate to monitor the effectiveness of the program?  Is the administrative 
plan, including adequacy of space and other resources, adequate?

AWARD CRITERIA

The anticipated date of award is March 1, 2001.  Award decisions will be based 
on the technical merit of the applications, the geographical distribution of the 
awardee institutions, and diversity of underrepresented minority student 
participants.  Awards can be made only to institutions with financial management 
systems and management capabilities that are acceptable under NIH policy.  
Awards will be administered under the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Schedule

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:    June 1, 2000
Application Receipt Date:         July 17, 2000
Council Review:                   January, 2001
Earliest Anticipated Start Date:  March, 2001

INQUIRIES

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

Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues to:

Irene Eckstrand, Ph.D.
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
45 Center Drive, Room 2AS-25K, MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD  20892-6200
Telephone:  (301) 594-5402
FAX:  (301) 480-2228
Email: EckstraI@nigms.nih.gov

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Antoinette Holland
Grants Management Specialist
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 REGULATIONS

This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance 
No.93.960, Special Minority Initiatives Program.  Awards are authorized by 
sections 301 and 405 of the Public Health Service Act, as amended, and  
administered under PHS grants policies and Federal Regulations 45 CFR Part 74  
or 45 CFR Part 92.  This program is not subject to the intergovernmental  review 
requirements of Executive Order 12372 or Health Systems Agency review.

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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