Clarification and Update Notice for AHRQ Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institutional Award (K12) RFA-HS-12-001

Notice Number: NOT-HS-12-005

Key Dates
Release Date: January 4, 2012

Issued by
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)


This Notice is to inform the scientific community that AHRQ is clarifying the following criteria regarding scholar eligibility, salary support, recruitment/placement, and research development support justification noted in the AHRQ Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institutional Award (K12) RFA-HS-12-001(see

Scholar Eligibility and Salary Support

Under “Other-Special Eligibility Criteria” in Section III, it is noted that all appointed scholars are required to devote 100 percent professional effort to the program, in accordance with the policies of the sponsoring organization.  AHRQ will provide salary for each scholar of up to $90,000 annually plus associated fringe benefits, based on the each scholar’s institutional base salary.  Please note, grantees may also supplement a scholar’s salary from non-Federal funds provided the supplementation does not carry any additional obligations on the part of the scholar.  An organization can determine what amount of salary supplementation, if any, will be provided according to its own formally established policies.   Scholars may also seek limited part-time employment incidental to and separate from their career development program appointment.  Compensation for these activities must be in accordance with institutional policies, must not be required, and must be supported by acceptable accounting records that reflect the employer-employee relationship distinct from appointment as a K12 scholar.  Under these conditions, the funds provided as compensation (salary, fringe benefits) for services rendered, such as teaching or clinical care, are not considered supplementation to the K12 salary and fringe benefits allowed.  Under no circumstances may the conditions of compensation interfere with, detract from, or prolong the scholar’s career development program. The program director must approve all instances of employment to verify that the circumstances will not detract from or prolong the approved career development program.

With further regard to scholar eligibility and salary support levels, note there are no specific requirements that scholars need to be postdoctoral fellows or junior faculty or that persons of differing ranks (e.g., fellow vs. junior faculty) must be provided the same level of salary support.  It is only stated that “post-doctoral research career development  is for individuals who have received a Ph.D., M.D., D.D.S., D.M.D., D.C., D.O., D.V.M., O.D., D.P.M., Sc.D., Eng.D., Dr. P.H., D.N.Sc., D.P.T., Pharm.D., N.D., D.S.W., Psy.D., or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited domestic or foreign institution.”  Scholars are not trainees, they are salaried employees.  Further, as stated in Section II (Award Information), it is noted that “AHRQ will provide salary and fringe benefits for the K12 scholars of up to $90,000 annually plus associated fringe benefits. The total salary requested must be based on a full-time, 12-month staff appointment and on institutional policies for salaries paid to individuals in similar positions, regardless of source of funds.  If full-time, 12-month salaries are not currently paid to comparable staff members, the salary proposed must be appropriately related to the existing salary structure.”

All scholars appointed to this grant can move on to individual mentored career development support grants upon completion of their two-year appointment on the K12 grant.   Any scholar appointed to an AHRQ-supported K12 program or an AHRQ-supported individual mentored career development may not exceed a total of five years of AHRQ mentored career development support

Scholar Recruitment/Placement and Research Development Cost Justification 

In order to foster nation-wide recruitment of scholars, AHRQ will allow principal investigators additional time for activation of initial appointment of all individual scholars on each grant.  Initial appointment of scholars must be made by January 1, 2013.

Regarding appointment of scholars and justification of their requested salaries and research development support costs, we understand that not all scholars will be named upon submission of the application or start of the grant.  To the extent that individuals and their salary levels and research development costs are known at the time of application, they should be individually included and justified.  In lieu of this level of specificity, applicants may provide a more general justification for these costs within the guidelines of allowable components.  As much detail as possible, however, is necessary in order to provide reviewers with a sense of anticipated needs/demand (e.g., What are average salary and tuition needs, average mentoring needs, average statistical support and computing needs, average insurance needs, average travel needs, etc.? If these needs vary by the types of scholars anticipated, what is the anticipated mix of the components required for how many of each type of scholar requested in the budget?  All of these estimates should be based on the institution’s anticipated pool of candidates). 


Inquiries concerning this Notice may be directed to the Scientific Contact listed in the FOA.

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