INITIATIVE FOR MINORITY STUDENTS: BRIDGES TO THE DOCTORATE

Release Date:  August 16, 1999

RFA: GM-99-011

National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  September 15, 1999
Application Receipt Date:  October 21, 1999

PURPOSE

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and the Office of
Research on Minority Health (ORMH), National Institutes of Health (NIH),
reannounce two research initiatives directed at increasing the number of
underrepresented minorities entering careers in biomedical research.  The
programs target two different underrepresented minority student populations -
those in colleges and universities offering only Master of Science (M.S.)
degree programs in biomedically-related sciences and those in two-year junior
or community colleges.  These have been identified as two key transition
points for students considering careers in biomedical research.  This is the
seventh year of this program which seeks to encourage the development of new
and innovative programs and the expansion of existing programs to improve the
academic competitiveness of underrepresented minority students and facilitate
their transition into the next stage towards careers in biomedical research.

This Request for Applications (RFA) solicits new applications for partnership
programs involving institutions awarding the M.S. degree and universities
awarding the Ph.D. degree.  A separate RFA (GM-99-010), describes a program
targeting the transition from two-year colleges awarding the Associate's
degree to institutions awarding the Baccalaureate degree.  Former applicants
of unfunded Bridge proposals are encouraged to submit revised applications
that respond to the prior concerns of the National Advisory General Medical
Sciences Council.

HEALTH PEOPLE 2000

The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health promotion
and disease prevention objectives of "Health People 2000," a PHS-led national
activity for setting priority areas.  This Request for Applications (RFA),
Initiative for Minority Students:  Bridges to the Baccalaureate Degree, is
related to one or more of the priority areas.  Potential applicants may obtain
a copy of "Health People 2000" at
http://www.crisny.org/health/us/health7.html.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

General

Applications may be submitted by domestic, private and public, educational
institutions.  State or local systems of higher education (also hereinafter
referred to as institutions) may submit applications as well.  An institution
may be involved as a partner institution in more than one Bridge Program, but
can be the APPLICANT institution for only one Bridges to the Baccalaureate
Degree and one Bridges to the Doctoral Degree Program.  Institutions with
NIGMS Bridge Program (R25) awards ending on or before September 2000 may
submit competing continuation applications for up to five years of continued
support (see RFA GM-99-012 available from NIGMS staff listed under INQUIRIES).

An institution or system of higher education may submit ONLY ONE application
for this RFA.  Institutions that submit applications in response to this RFA
may also apply for support for a Bridge to the Baccalaureate Degree (RFA GM-
99-010) if they meet the eligibility requirements.  However, a separate
application for each RFA is required.  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. Institutions participating in more than one
application should provided a justification for each.

Programs developed or modified under this initiative must be specifically
designed to 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 uderrepresented 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.

Applications must include a partnership between an institution which offers
the M.S. degree as the only post-graduate degree in the sciences within the
participating departments AND has a significant enrollment of underrepresented
minorities, and one research university providing Ph.D. degree programs in
areas relevant to the biomedical sciences.

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. 
Proposals must include a description of the collaborative arrangement with all
participating institutions.

Institutions offering both the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees may not use funds from
this program for graduates of their own M.S. degree programs to enter their
own Ph.D. 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 two
years.  Requested direct costs are not to exceed $400,000 for the two-year
period.  Indirect costs will be paid at 8% of the direct costs, minus
appropriate exclusions.  A budget for each year should be provided.

This RFA is a one-time solicitation.  Future unsolicited competing
applications will not be accepted.

Allowable Costs

If appropriate, the budget request may be divided into two phases.

The planning phase provides for minor adjustment and/or refinement of the
partnership program (not intended to serve as an opportunity to make major
changes to the plan approved by peer review). The planning phase costs should
be minimal and not exceed a period of six months.

The implementation phase includes the costs of administering and coordinating
the partnership program within and between each of the participating
institutions.  Faculty release time for planning and implementation of the
program and faculty travel related to program development may be requested.

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

Requests for funds to implement an evaluation plan, 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.

Each participating institution is responsible for data acquisition and data
entry into E-STAR each year.  E-STAR (Electronic Student Tracking and
Reporting) is a program developed by NIGMS to facilitate the administration
and evaluation of this program by the grantees and the agency. The budget
should also include funds to defray the costs of data entry.

Access to E-STAR will be through Internet and the World Wide Web (minimum
computer needs for E-STAR: 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. Any computer with Netscape will work).

Student remuneration is limited to underrepresented minorities matriculated at
the MS partner institution(s) and may include salary/wages and/or other forms
of compensation paid in lieu of wages for participation in research
experiences.  Tuition remission (or other forms of compensation paid in lieu
of wages) expenditures 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.

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

UNALLOWABLE COSTS:

Stipends, housing, food, tuition (unless as stated above), and fees are not
allowable costs under this program.

FUNDS AVAILABLE

An estimated total of $9.7 million will be available for the term of the
awards made in response to this solicitation, RFA GM-99-010, and applications
for competing continuations, RFA GM-99-012.  NIH staff anticipate 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

This program seeks to promote the initiation and development of new
transitional programs, as well as the expansion and enhancement of existing
programs between those institutions with departments offering only the
Master's degree as the graduate academic degree in the sciences, and that have
significant enrollments of underrepresented minority students, and research
universities with Ph.D. degree programs.  The objective is to facilitate the
transition of underrepresented minority graduate students into Ph.D. programs
after obtaining their M.S. degree. Students receiving their M.S. degree in one
field of science may pursue a Ph.D. in a different area so long as it is in a
discipline related to the biomedical sciences.

Collaborative agreements should take the form that best fits the needs and
situations of the institutions involved.  The challenge for the program
director, with the help of the participating partners, is to design a new
partnership program, or enhance an existing program, that will focus attention
and adequate resources to the M.S.-granting institution(s) to enhance the
academic competitiveness of their degree programs and graduates in the
sciences.

Additional Information

These transition programs must be designed with special attention to the needs
and special requirements of the underrepresented minority graduate students
enrolled in the M.S. degree program.  They may include, but are not limited
to, the following elements:

o  providing research opportunities for M.S. students at the Ph.D. institution
or in private industrial laboratories (students may receive compensation for
these activities);

o  establishing a mentoring program for M.S. students with faculty at the
Ph.D. institution;

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

o  enhancing the curriculum of the M.S. institution (special courses,
seminars, etc.);

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

o  academic counseling for M.S. students, with a particular focus on
encouraging students to pursue research careers in the biomedical sciences.

o  nontraditional or other professional degree-granting institutions should
describe those modifications or additions to their programs that would
encourage and facilitate Bridge students to enter research careers.

It is an expectation of NIGMS and ORMH that students who enter Ph.D. programs
as a result of this enhancement program will receive support, if needed, while
progressing satisfactorily in Ph.D. research training programs.  Applicants
should describe the type(s) of institutional support that would be available
to such students.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

Applicants should describe the proposed transition program in detail and
explain how its design will meet the goals of this initiative.  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 an existing transition program should describe that
program and explain how it would be altered to meet the goals of this
initiative.  Applicants should describe the methods and facilities available
for tracking student participants.

Evaluation

Institutions should note that evaluation is now a mandatory component of every
Bridges to the Future Program.  Each applicant institution must set its own
specific goals and measurable objectives.  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 which the applicant institution sets
for itself.

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 other 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, 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 the planning phase (if any)
or at the end of the first year, whichever is shorter.  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

The applicant should also describe the M.S. institution's success in training
its students in the sciences, including information on the numbers of minority
students receiving the M.S. degree and data on subsequent careers or education
of their graduates.

The applicant should describe a system by which it would monitor and track the
students participating in this program, including their future careers, in
order to evaluate the success of the program.  The applicant should maintain
data to be able to demonstrate the benefits 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 that
were not in the bridges program.  E-STAR may be used to satisfy part of these
requirements.  A printout or other format of the data will be necessary
because review groups will not have access to E-STAR.

LETTER OF INTENT

Prospective applicants are requested to submit by, September 15, 1999, a
letter of intent that includes a descriptive title of the proposed plan, the
name, address, and telephone number of the program director, the identities 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: 
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 October 21, 1999.  Applications postmarked
after that date will be returned to the applicant.

REVIEW CONSIDERATIONS

Upon receipt, applications will be administratively reviewed 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 technical merit by appropriate peer review groups.  The second
level of review will be provided 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 research
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.

(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 program adequately developed, well-integrated, and
appropriate to the aims of the project? 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 for 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 July 1, 2000.  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:    September 15, 1999
Application Receipt Date:         October 21, 1999
Council Review:                   May 2000
Earliest Anticipated Start Date:  July 1, 2000

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) 594-0943
FAX:  (301) 480-2228
Email:  EckstraI@nigms.nih.gov

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Bryan Clark
Grants Management Specialist
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
45 Center Drive, Room 2AN.44C  MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD 20892-6200
Telephone: 301-594-3915
Fax: 301-480-3423
Email: ClarkB@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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