INITIATIVE FOR MINORITY STUDENTS:  BRIDGES TO THE DOCTORATE

Release Date:  January 15, 2001

RFA:  RFA-GM-01-003

National Institute of General Medical Sciences
 (http://www.nigms.nih.gov)

Application Receipt Dates:  May 14 and November 14, 2001

PURPOSE

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and the National 
Center for Research on Minority Health (NCRMH), National Institutes of Health 
(NIH), re-announce 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 initiative involving institutions awarding the masters degree 
and universities awarding the doctoral degree.  A separate RFA describes an 
initiative 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 2010

The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health 
promotion and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy People 2010," a PHS-
led national activity for setting priority areas. This Request for 
Applications (RFA), Bridges to the Doctorate, is related to one or more of 
the priority areas. Potential applicants may obtain a copy of "Healthy People 
2010" at http://www.health.gov/healthypeople/.

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-01-002) 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.  
It is advisable that the applicant institution has experience in and the 
infrastructure for managing grants.  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 Americans, Hispanic American, Native American 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 National Institutes of Health 
institutional education project (R25) grant award mechanism.  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 over the course of 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 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 Washington, DC metropolitan area 
for the Bridges Program Meeting each 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.

Tuition remission is an allowable cost for graduate students only.  The cost 
for tuition for a specific course may be requested for undergraduate students 
provided it is directly related to research training.  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 
megabytes of RAM, with Microsoft Windows(tm) 3.1 and WIN32S or a Macintosh 
68020 with 4 megabytes of RAM; a 14.4 kilobytes/second 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 $20 million will be available for awards made in 
response to this solicitation and awards made in response to RFA GM-01-002 
(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  establishing a mentoring program for masters students with faculty at the 
doctoral institution;

o  enhancing the curriculum of the masters institution;

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

o  providing academic counseling for masters students;

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

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

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.

Responsible Conduct of Research

Students who are part of the Bridges to the Doctorate program must receive 
instruction in the responsible conduct of research.  Applications must 
include a description of a program to provide formal or informal instruction 
in scientific integrity or the responsible conduct of research.  Although the 
NIH does not establish specific curricula or formal requirements, all 
programs should 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 graduate 
students. The application should address the content, rationale, and format 
of the instruction, the degree of faculty participation, student attendance, 
and the frequency of instruction.

Support for Doctoral Training

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.

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.

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/archive/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 project period 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.  A Financial Status Report is due 90 
days after the termination date of the project period.

INCLUSION OF WOMEN AND MINORITIES IN RESEARCH INVOLVING HUMAN SUBJECTS

It is the policy of the NIH that women and members of minority groups and 
their sub-populations must be included in all NIH-supported biomedical and 
behavioral research projects involving human subjects, unless a clear and 
compelling rationale and justification are provided indicating that inclusion 
is inappropriate with respect to the health of the subjects or the purpose of  
the research.  This policy results from the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 
(Section 492B of Public Law 103-43). 

All investigators proposing research involving human subjects should read the 
UPDATED "NIH Guidelines for Inclusion of Women and Minorities as Subjects in 
Clinical Research," published in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts on 
August 2, 2000 
(http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-00-048.html); 
a complete copy of the updated Guidelines are available at  
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/women_min/guidelines_update.htm:  The 
revisions relate to NIH defined Phase III clinical trials and require: a) all 
applications or proposals and/or protocols to provide a description of plans 
to conduct analyses, as appropriate, to address differences by sex/gender 
and/or racial/ethnic groups, including subgroups if applicable; and b) all 
investigators to report accrual, and to conduct and report analyses, as 
appropriate, by sex/gender and/or racial/ethnic group differences.

INCLUSION OF CHILDREN AS PARTICIPANTS IN RESEARCH INVOLVING HUMAN SUBJECTS

It is the policy of NIH that children (i.e., individuals under the age of 21) 
must be included in all human subjects research, conducted or supported by 
the NIH, unless there are scientific and ethical reasons not to include them.  
This policy applies to all initial (Type 1) applications submitted for 
receipt dates after October 1, 1998.

All investigators proposing research involving human subjects should read the 
"NIH Policy and Guidelines" on the Inclusion of Children as Participants in 
Research Involving Human Subjects that was published in the NIH Guide for 
Grants and Contracts, March 6, 1998, and is available at the following URL 
address: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not98-024.html

Investigators also may obtain copies of these policies from the program staff 
listed under INQUIRIES.  Program staff may also provide additional relevant 
information concerning the policy.

URLS IN NIH GRANT APPLICATIONS OR APPENDICES

All applications and proposals for NIH funding must be self-contained within 
specified page limitations.  Unless otherwise specified in an NIH 
solicitation, internet addresses (URLs) should not be used to provide 
information necessary to the review because reviewers are under no obligation 
to view the Internet sites.  Reviewers are cautioned that their anonymity may 
be compromised when they directly access an Internet site.

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: 
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 November 14 or May 14, 2001.

REVIEW CONSIDERATIONS

Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed for completeness by the CSR ad 
for responsiveness by NIGMS.  Incomplete and/or non-responsive applications 
will be returned to the applicant without further consideration.  
Applications that are complete and responsive to the RFA will be evaluated 
for scientific and technical merit by an appropriate peer review group 
convened by NIGMS.  As part of the initial merit review, all applications 
will receive a written critique and undergo a process in which only those 
applications deemed to have the highest scientific merit, generally the top 
half of the applications under review, will be discussed, assigned a priority 
score, and receive a second level review by the National Advisory General 
Medical Sciences Council.

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 provide details and 
rationale for the activities that will enhance the academic preparation of 
the targeted population(s) of students?  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 qualified 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

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

Application Receipt Date:         May 14, 2001      November 14, 2001
Council Review:                   October, 2001     May, 2002
Earliest Anticipated Start Date:  January, 2002     July, 2002

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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