HEAL Initiative: Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Limited Competition to Support Mentorship of Junior Investigators
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:

April 9, 2021

First Available Due Date:
June 12, 2021
Expiration Date:
June 13, 2021

Related Announcements

PA-20-193 - Midcareer Investigator Award in Patient-Oriented Research (Parent K24 Independent Clinical Trial Required)

Issued by

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

National Eye Institute (NEI)

National Institute on Aging (NIA)

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)

National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)

National Cancer Institute (NCI)

All applications to this funding opportunity announcement should fall within the mission of the Institutes/Centers. The following NIH Offices may co-fund applications assigned to those Institutes/Centers.

Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR)


This Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) provides an opportunity for researchers funded by the Helping to End Addiction Long-Term (HEAL) initiative to devote more time to patient-oriented research and mentoring. For the purposes of the K24 award, patient-oriented research is defined as research conducted with human subjects for which an investigator (or colleague) directly interacts with human subjects. This area of research includes: 1) therapeutic interventions, and 2) clinical trials. NIH ICs participating in HEAL are issuing this notice to highlight their interest in receiving applications from HEAL investigators for a K24 award.

The NIH defines a mentor as experienced scientist who can help guide the research of junior investigators and challenge them to develop independence as researchers.

The objectives of mentoring include enhancing a mentee’s approach to scientific investigation, developing their critical thinking and communication skills and assisting with their progression within the research community.

Mentoring responsibilities involve helping junior investigators to define research goals, supporting the achievement of those goals, and discussing and evaluating progress throughout training. A mentor should provide constructive and timely feedback, support training, networking and professional development opportunities, and acknowledge a mentee’s contribution to research.

The award is intended to provide protected time for established investigators supported by the HEAL Initiative to simultaneously engage in patient-oriented HEAL research and mentoring, so that they receive clinically relevant research experience through participation in the HEAL grant.


While there is an urgent need for more research to establish best practices in clinical pain management, there is a limited workforce pipeline of clinical pain researchers to meet NIH’s long-term goals of providing effective non-opioid options for the treatment of pain conditions.

Challenges to entry into the field of clinical pain research have constricted growth in this field. Continued expansion is at greater risk with the high departure rate of senior investigators and mentors who are retiring from the field.

The Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee has identified the crucial need for a new generation of mentors in clinical pain research to enhance innovative research and ensure continuity of well-trained clinical pain investigators.

The challenge of attracting and training new researchers provides an impetus to give HEAL principal investigators and eligible co-investigators opportunities to mentor a new generation of diverse and highly skilled clinical pain researchers.

Leveraging HEAL Initiative funding for the mentoring of junior investigators would encourage an interest in the field of clinical pain management and may lead to innovative research projects that would expand the field of pain research. Increasing the number of clinical researchers, especially research from diverse background, trained in high-quality clinical pain research is a critical step toward achieving the goals of HEAL, encouraging future innovative clinical pain research, and ensuring a robust workforce pipeline within clinical pain management research.

Research Objectives

These K24 awards will fund protected time to engage in patient-oriented research and mentor junior investigators (early career investigators, residents, or post-doctoral fellows), to provide them with the tools and skills needed to gain expertise in the area of clinical pain research.

Applicants should develop a mentoring plan tailored toward specific junior investigators, with activities such as the following:

  • Fostering the research interests and experiences of residents and fellows
  • Programs that draw Ph.D. laboratory-based and translational scientists into more clinical research
  • Advising trainees and junior investigators on NIH submissions
  • Guiding early investigator career development
  • Other mentoring activities as appropriate

Table of IC-Specific Information, Requirements and Staff Contacts

NIH Institute or Center Contacts

Institute/Center Specific Information

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

Scientific Program Contact:

Laura Wandner, Ph.D.


Grants Management Contact:

Chief Grants Management Officer, NINDS


NINDS Specific Information

NINDS K24 applicants must have funding through one of the following HEAL clinical pain programs: the Effectiveness Research Network (ERN), Pragmatic Studies for Pain Management Without Opioids (PRISM), the Back Pain Consortium (BACPAC), Hemodialysis Opioid Prescription Effort Consortium (HOPE), Early Phase Pain Investigation Clinical Network (EPPIC-Net), or biomarker research teams.

Additional requirements:

  • The HEAL grant must be active; HEAL grants under a no-cost extension do not qualify.
  • NIH will only accept one application per investigator and one application per HEAL grant.
  • Proposed mentorship activities must be within the scope of the HEAL grant.
  • Percent effort put into mentoring should not affect the contribution to the HEALgrant.
  • Only new K24 applications will be accepted, not type-2 renewals or revisions.
  • The total project period may not exceed 3 years.
  • At the time of the K24, sufficient time should remain on the qualifying HEAL research project grant that the K24 project period will overlap by at least two years with the HEAL research project grant support (excluding any period of no-cost extension). If the K24 period will exceed the project period of funded, independent research grant support, a plan for continued independent research support should be provided in the K24 application.

Applicants who might normally be considered beyond the “mid-career” phase, such as full professors, are eligible for this K24 opportunity.

Investigators that have identified mentees from diverse backgrounds, or plan to do so, are encouraged to apply.

Applications are expected to include a mentoring plan and explain how the mentees will gain clinically relevant experience through participation in the HEAL grant project. The recipient will be directly responsible for overseeing the planning of individualized career development with junior investigators.

Awardees are encouraged to identify activities that junior investigators will access and participate in that are able to contribute to accelerating planning, implementation, and completion of HEAL research projects.

The mentoring plan is expected to describe new mentoring activities that will be undertaken.. Existing or ongoing programs, courses or curriculums would not be an eligible use for this funding. This opportunity is not meant to fund activities related to basic or translational science.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to provide a timeline and detailed set of measurable goals for the mentoring and research plans that benchmark progress anticipated to be achieved each year of the award.

Awardess will be expected to report on their mentees' progress in their RPPRs, including for example, peer reviewed publications, NIH grant submissions, career development promotion and other benchmarks.

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact their HEAL program official to determine eligibility and to discuss their interests in this program.


All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed, with the following additional instructions:

  • The total budget for all years of the proposed project must be requested in Budget Period 1. Do not complete Budget Periods 2 or 3. They are not required and will not be accepted with the application.
  • Applicants must use the non-modular R&R Budget.
  • Applicants may request up to $300,000 in direct costs for the entire project period. Direct costs should include salary of mentor(s) as well as the $50,000 per year (direct costs) allowed for expenses associated with mentoring activities.
  • R&R Budget:
    • All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed, with the following additional instructions:
    • Budget Period 1: Direct Costs
      • Direct Costs less Consortium F&A: This number must not exceed $300,000.
    • Budget Justification:
      • Personnel Justification: Since a primary objective of this NOSI is for experienced HEAL investigators to devote time to patient-oriented research and mentoring junior investigators, the investigator must indicate theaspects of the HEAL research in which junior investigators will participate. If participating mentees have not been individually identified, please provide the number and academic level of those to be involved. If there are any Collaborators or Consultants for the project, provide their names, organizational affiliations, and the services they will perform.

Salary Support: Up to the maximum legislative salary cap plus fringe benefits per year, for up to 25% effort.
Research Support: Up to $50,000 per year.


If you are interested in learning more about this NOSI, please join our webinar on Wednesday May 12th at 1:00PM EST.

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Application and Submission Information

This notice applies to the standard due date on June 12, 2021 and expires on June 13, 2021.

  • The following funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) or their reissued equivalents must be used for submissions for this initiative.

Activity Code


First Available Due Date


PA-20-193 – Midcareer Investigator Award in Patient-Oriented Research (Parent K24 Independent Clinical Trial Required)

Standard Due Date (June 14, 2021 since June 12, 2021 is a Saturday)

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and PA-20-193 must be followed, with the following additions:

  • Application Due Date(s) – Applications will be accepted through June 14, 2021 (Due to June 12, 2021 Standard Due Date falling on a Saturday), by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization. This Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) expires on June 13, 2021.
  • For funding consideration, applicants must include “NOT-NS-21-026” (without quotation marks) in the Agency Routing Identifier field (box 4B) of the SF424 R&R form. Applications without this information in box 4B will not be considered for this initiative.
  • Investigators planning to submit an application in response to the NOSI should contact their assigned HEAL PO to get approval to submit this NOSI.
  • Investigators planning to submit an application in response to the NOSI are strongly encouraged to contact the appropriate Institute or Center contact listed in the NOSI to discuss the proposed project in the context of the parent award. Questions specific to this NOSI should be sent to the contact listed in the NOSI.

Although NINDS is not listed as a Participating Organization in all the FOAs listed above, applications for this initiative will be accepted.

Applications nonresponsive to terms of this NOSI will be withdrawn from consideration for this initiative.


Please direct all inquiries to the contacts in Section VII of the listed funding opportunity announcements with the following additions/substitutions:

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Laura Dover Wandner, PhD
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Tel: 301-318-8070

Review Contact(s)

Examine your eRA Commons account for review assignment and contact information (information appears two weeks after the submission due date).

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Chief Grants Management Officer
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS))
Email: ChiefGrantsManagementOfficer@ninds.nih.gov  

Weekly TOC for this Announcement
NIH Funding Opportunities and Notices