NINDS Change in Policy for Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA) Institutional Research Training Grants (T32)

Notice Number: NOT-NS-09-003

Key Dates
Release Date: December 4, 2008

Issued by
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), (

The purpose of this notice is to describe changes in the NINDS-specific policies related to T32 Institutional Training Awards, and to reiterate NINDS-specific policies already in existence. Previously, NINDS requested that applications fit into one of two categories: highly-focused or broadly-based. Highly focused awards could be made for a maximum of 4 training slots per year and broadly-based awards could be made for between four and eight slots per year.  Most current NINDS T32 awards support 4 or fewer training slots per year.

Effective with this notice, this categorization will no longer be used. NINDS will continue to typically make awards for a maximum of 4 training slots per year. However, applicants may now request up to a maximum of 8 slots based on strongly justifiable need (see below).

Starting with May of 2009 submissions, all T32 institutional training grant applications to NINDS should have a focus or theme. The focus or theme may be as broad or narrow as deemed appropriate by the applicant, but should be more focused than, for example, “training in neuroscience.”  Awards will not be made merely to provide funding for a department’s trainees. Rather, all applications should clearly describe the novel and/or expanded training experience that would be enabled by this award. Examples of programmatic approaches might include, but are not limited to, intensive training of a cohort of trainees in a highly specialized research area, integrated training of a mixed population of trainees, such as predoctoral, postdoctoral PhD and MD trainees, integration of basic and clinical research training, or development of a well-integrated training program that combines multiple disciplines (e.g. engineering and neuroscience or chemistry and neuroscience, etc.), which is designed to result in profound, integrated expertise in these multiple disciplines.  

Additional NINDS-specific policies:

  1. Applications may request support for just postdoctoral fellows, just predoctoral fellows or a mix of pre- and post-doctoral fellows. If applicants request and are awarded a mix of pre- and post-doctoral fellows, the ratio of each may be altered each year, with advance permission of the NINDS Director of Training and Career Development, to enable support of the best training candidates. However, if applicants only request support for one or the other category of trainee, or awards are only made for one or the other category, then funding may not be used to support trainees from the unapproved category.
  2. NINDS institutional training grants can be used to support advanced predoctoral students and postdoctoral fellows. In general, the NINDS T32 institutional grant program will not support 1st and 2nd year predoctoral students (NINDS provides significant support for 1st and 2nd year predoctoral students through the Jointly Sponsored Institutional Predoctoral Training Program in the Neurosciences Exceptions to this policy are possible, but will be extremely unusual. Possible exceptions would include programs that involve highly innovative integration of multiple disciplines, where early training in the integrated program is essential to trainee success. Exceptions to this policy require prior written approval; applicants interested in pursuing such an exception should contact the NINDS Director of Training and Career Development before application preparation begins.
  3. In keeping with NRSA guidelines, it is expected that trainees will be supported for the duration described in the application and approved by NINDS, which must be for a minimum of one year, except in certain circumstances (e.g. a trainee receives an individual fellowship, leaves the program, takes leave for health-related reasons, etc.). Only one trainee may be supported by each Full-Time Training Position (FTTP) slot awarded. Thus, if a trainee vacates an FTTP slot after less than a year of funding, the funds that remain associated with that FTTP slot during that fiscal year MAY NOT BE USED to support another trainee.
  4. It is anticipated that most awards will be made for a maximum of 4 FTTP slots. However, up to 8 slots may be requested. Example justifications for more than 4 slots might include: training of a mixed cohort of trainees (e.g. predoctoral, postdoctoral PhDs and MDs), such that limitation to 4 slots would not provide a critical mass of each category of trainee to create an effective program, or the presence of a very large training program with a documented history of successful training in the area for which the funding is requested. In all cases, but especially when more than 4 slots are being requested, strong institutional financial support for the program is encouraged. Applicants who wish to request more than 4 FTTP slots are encouraged to discuss their plans with the NINDS Director of Training and Career Development.
  5. As in the past, a portion of NINDS training grants may be reserved for clinical research training projects or for projects focused on a particular disorder or group of disorders. Moreover, preference may be given to programs that focus on support of trainees with an M.D. or health professional degree, or to programs that integrate basic and clinical research training.
  6. As for all NRSA-supported trainees, trainees with an MD or other health professional degree must have a full time appointment and devote 100% of full time professional effort for a minimum of 9 months to the research training program.
  7. Exceptions to these NINDS-specific policies may be possible under rare and exceptional circumstances; a written waiver from the NINDS Director of Training and Career Development will be required.

Applicants with questions regarding T32 training grants are encouraged to contact the NINDS Director of Training and Career Development prior to submission.


Direct questions about this Notice to:

Stephen J. Korn, Ph.D.
Director of Training and Career Development
Neuroscience Center, Room  2186
6001 Executive Blvd MSC 9531
Bethesda, MD 20892-9531

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