Notice Request for Information (RFI): Organization and Administration of NIGMS Undergraduate and Pre-Doctoral Diversity Programs

Notice Number: NOT-GM-17-017

Key Dates
Release Date: August 31, 2017
Response Date: October 31, 2017  

Related Announcements
None

Issued by
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)

Purpose

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) seeks input on the organization and administration of its Undergraduate and Pre-doctoral Diversity Programs. The goal of these programs is to enhance the pool of students from underrepresented (UR) groups (NOT-OD-15-053) who matriculate in and complete Ph.D. degree programs in the biomedical sciences and become leaders of the U.S. biomedical research enterprise. This Request for Information (RFI) will assist NIGMS in identifying, developing and implementing strategies that will lead to more effective and efficient organization and administration of the Institute’s Undergraduate and Pre-doctoral Diversity Programs.

Background
NIGMS has a longstanding commitment to training the next generation of biomedical scientists and supports training of students from UR groups through a variety of institutional training and student development programs including Bridges to the Baccalaureate and Bridges to Doctorate, Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE), Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (U-STAR), Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD), and Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP). For the purposes of this RFI, these programs will be referred to as NIGMS Undergraduate and Pre-doctoral Diversity Programs (UPDPs). Some of these programs, such as Bridges to Baccalaureate and MARC U-STAR, support undergraduates, while Bridges to Doctorate supports graduate students, and others (e.g., RISE and IMSD) support both undergraduate and graduate students. An analysis of the current landscape of NIGMS-funded institutions shows that some have one program while others have more than one at the same time. In some cases, there is overlap of the training activities of these programs, making it difficult to measure program-specific outcomes for undergraduate and/or graduate participants.

NIGMS currently uses either a research education (R25) or Ruth L. Kirschstein Institutional National Research Service Award (NRSA) training grant (T34) activity code to provide support for the UPDPs. The R25 activity code which is used by the Bridges, RISE, IMSD and PREP programs, allows salary support for undergraduate students, while the T34 activity code which is used for the MARC U-STAR  program, provides support in the form of student stipends as per NRSA guidelines. Further, the NRSA training activity codes (T32 and T34 grants) allow partial tuition payments for undergraduate and graduate students while the R25 activity code allows tuition payments to graduate students only. As part of NIGMS’ overall strategic plan to ensure that its research training and education resources are used effectively and efficiently to support the most impactful programs, the Institute plans to transition the funding of the Bridges, RISE, and IMSD programs from the R25 activity code to the NRSA training grant activity code. In addition, NIGMS is exploring ways to minimize the duplication of programs/resources, and more efficiently and effectively promote the development of a well-trained and diverse biomedical research workforce.

It is important to note that the funding activity codes (R25, T32, T34, etc.) used to support a program provides a general framework for how the funds may be used but does not dictate the specific objectives, expectations, approaches or review considerations for the program. These are determined by the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for each program. Thus, a T32-supported pre-doctoral diversity program would be distinct from the Institute’s general pre-doctoral T32 training programs and a T34-supported undergraduate diversity program could be developed that has distinct goals and target institutions from the MARC U-STAR program.

Information Requested
NIGMS is seeking input from key extramural community stakeholders, including students, undergraduate faculty, biomedical graduate faculty, scientific societies, and academic institutions, as well as from the public, on the organization of NIGMS undergraduate and pre-doctoral diversity programs. Information is sought for each of the areas identified below and for any other topics that may inform the potential issue/reissue of new and/or existing FOAs.

Topics that could be addressed include, but are not limited to, the following areas:

1)  The potential challenges and opportunities created by changing NIGMS R25 programs to NRSA    
training (T) grant activity codes, and strategies for overcoming any potential challenges.

2)  The potential advantages or disadvantages of having a single, unified NIGMS-funded
undergraduate or pre-doctoral diversity program vs. multiple NIGMS-funded diversity programs at
a given institution.

3)  Strategies that could be used to build effective intra- and inter-institutional networks that minimize
unnecessary duplication, leverage existing resources, and create synergies to more efficiently and
effectively promote the development of a well-trained and diverse biomedical research workforce.

4)  Any other comments or recommendations regarding NIGMS programs that support the training of
students from UR groups.

How to Submit a Response
Responses to this RFI will be accepted through October 31, 2017. All comments will be anonymous and must be submitted via a web form at https://www.research.net/r/UPT_Diversity_Programs

Responses to this RFI are voluntary.  The Government is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information provided and respondents will not receive individualized feedback.  This RFI is for planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the United States Government.  NIGMS will use the information submitted in response to this RFI at its discretion. NIGMS does not intend to make any type of award based on responses to this RFI or to pay for either the preparation of information submitted or the United States Government's use of such information.

The information submitted will be analyzed and may be shared internally, appear in reports or be reflected in future solicitations, as appropriate and at the Government's discretion.  Proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should not be included in your response.  The Government reserves the right to use any non-proprietary technical information in any resultant solicitation(s) or other activities.  No basis for claims against the U.S. Government shall arise as a result of a response to this request for information or from the Government's use of such information.

Inquiries

Please direct all inquiries to:

Shiva P. Singh, Ph.D.
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Telephone: 301-594-3900
Email: singhs@nigms.nih.gov