Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Interventions Designed to Change the Culture to Mitigate or Eliminate Sexual Harassment in the Biomedical Research Enterprise
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:

July 20, 2021

First Available Due Date:
October 13, 2021
Expiration Date:
October 14, 2023

Related Announcements

PAR-21-269 - Research on Interventions that Promote the Careers of Individuals in the Biomedical Research Enterprise (R01 - Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

NOT-OD-21-165 - Notice of Early Termination of NOT-OD-21-068

Issued by

Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH)

National Eye Institute (NEI)

National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)

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

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)

National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)

National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

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.

Sexual and Gender Minority Research Office (SGMRO)


The purpose of this Notice is to inform potential applicants of the NIH’s interest in supporting research on interventions designed to change the culture to mitigate or eliminate sexual harassment in the biomedical research enterprise. This notice aligns with the Anti-Sexual Harassment policy statements released by NIH as well as recommendations made in the December 2019 Report from the Working Group to the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) on Changing the Culture to End Sexual Harassment, which were endorsed by the ACD.


The cumulative effect of sexual harassment has a significant devastating and costly impact on individuals and the nation. The loss of talent has consequences for advancing the nation's economic and social well-being and its overall public health, as well as damaging costs to the individuals and their families. The costs to individuals and institutions are considerable. The abused may face the loss of a job, promotion, or privileges if they refuse the harasser. The unwelcome advances can create a hostile workplace such that the individual may feel the need to leave a position or career. Additionally, harassment contributes to an unsettled situation for those who are not directly involved but who have regular interactions with both the target and harasser. There are emotional, physical, mental, and legal consequences, which may have a direct impact on individual performance and career advancement, as well as social and fiscal impacts on the institutional setting, students, and co-workers.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) report, Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, demonstrates the urgent need to develop new partnerships to address this challenging problem. A 2003 meta-analysis found that 58 percent of women in academia faced sexually harassing behavior. A report on sexual assault reports that 63% of sexual assaults are not reported, with false reports being as low as 2 – 10 percent. The NASEM study found that the most prevalent risk factor for sexual harassment is related to institutional culture or climate of tolerance.

This systemic problem will require a long-term change in the culture of the scientific enterprise, the behavior of scientists and administrators, and perhaps a fundamental restructuring of the research environment. Trainees (students, postdoctoral fellows, medical residents, and clinical fellows), early-career faculty, and foreign scientists deserve special attention due to power differentials, career-stage vulnerability, and residency considerations.

Research Objectives

The NIH is encouraging applications to test interventions aiming to lessen or eliminate sexual harassment in the biomedical research enterprise. The objective of this Notice is to invite applications associated with PAR-21-269 “Research on Interventions that Promote the Research Careers of Individual in the Biomedical Research Enterprise (R01 – Clinical Trial Not Allowed)”. The FOA encourages the use of evidence-based practices and recognizes the need for more hypothesis-driven research to test biomedical training, mentoring, and networking interventions for efficacy and replicability across career stages and at a range of institution types to provide insights into the factors contributing to success. Through this funding announcement, NIH intends to enhance the evidence base for effective, high-impact, scalable interventions that will improve the understanding of the factors contributing to success, including the social and behavioral factors involved in the advancement of individuals pursuing independent academic biomedical research careers.

This NOTICE emphasizes an interest in a broad range of studies providing generalizable and reproducible results regarding interventions to mitigate and eliminate sexual harassment in the biomedical research workforce. NIH defines sexual harassment as “a form of harassment that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.” Examples of harassing and threatening conditions or behaviors include, but are not limited to:

  • Repeated attempts to establish an unwanted relationship
  • Sharing sexually inappropriate images or videos, such as pornography, with others in the workplace
  • Sending suggestive letters, notes, texts, or e-mails
  • Displaying inappropriate sexual images in the workplace
  • Telling lewd jokes or sharing sexual anecdotes
  • Making inappropriate sexual gestures
  • Staring in a sexually suggestive or offensive manner or inappropriate whistling
  • Making sexual comments about appearance, clothing, or body parts
  • Inappropriate touching, including pinching, patting, rubbing, or purposefully brushing up against another person
  • Making offensive comments about or asking questions about someone's sexual behavior or history, sexual orientation, or gender identity

The NIH is encouraging the community to develop interventions to help mitigate this risk.

Studies testing interventions in this context may include, but are not limited, to the following:

  • Interventions aimed at educating the research community about what sexual harassment is, what it looks like, and how to address it.
  • Interventions tailored to different types of organizations and climates that improve the health and safety of biomedical researchers, e.g.:
    • Safety walks and/or checklists for leadership to assess workplace climate
    • Bias training
    • Bystander intervention training
    • Bridge funding
    • Legal assistance
    • Provision of matching institutional or non-restricted funds for international students
  • Interventions that include procedures and policies that model and promote a positive climate that cultivates respect, civility, and safety.
  • Interventions that test the validity and effectiveness of current policies to mitigate or eliminate sexual harassment. These interventions focus on the effects of changing sexual harassment policy, training, enforcement, administrative review procedures, and processes among departments or institutions.
  • Interventions to reduce risk factors for sexual harassment in academic science, engineering, and medicine such as perceived tolerance; male-dominated work settings; hierarchical power dynamic; increased focus on symbolic compliance with Title VII and Title IX.
  • Interventions to change/modify the perception and attributions of sexual harassment.
  • Interventions should consider approaches that recognize the cumulative way in which different forms of social identities (e.g. persons of color, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, intersex status, race, ethnicity, immigration status, age, ability status (physical, hearing, and intellectual), and socioeconomic status) interact to influence the experience of the individuals.

There remains a clear need for research on the methods used to study sexual harassment in the biomedical research workforce, e.g. are they sufficient, inclusive, and reliable? Investigators interested in the development of models, analytical tools, data, and metrics that can inform science policy, the optimization of the scientific enterprise, the advancement of the scientific basis of science innovation and implementation policy should consider the Science of Science Policy Approach to Analyzing and Innovating the Biomedical Research Enterprise (SCISIPBIO) program jointly sponsored by the National Institute on General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

NOTE: Applications proposing/describing projects involving and/or conducting research on animals are not appropriate for this funding opportunity. Also, applications conducting literature reviews are not appropriate.

Application and Submission Information

This Notice applies to application due dates on or after September 13, 2021, and subsequent receipt dates as well as any renewals of the parent FOA.

Submit applications for this initiative using the following funding opportunity announcement (FOAs) or any reissues of these announcements through the expiration date of this Notice.

  • PAR-21-269 Research on Interventions that Promote the Research Careers of Individual in the Biomedical Research Enterprise (R01 – Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and the funding opportunity announcement used for submission must be followed, with the following additions:

  • For funding consideration, applicants should include “NOT-OD-21-150” (without quotation marks) in the Agency Routing Identifier field (box 4B) of the SF424 R&R form.

Note: Investigators planning to submit an application in response to this NOSI are strongly encouraged to contact and discuss their proposed research (aims) with an Institute program officer listed on this NOSI and/or on the listed funding opportunity announcements well in advance of the chosen application receipt date.

Although ORWH 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)

Lisa Begg, Dr.P.H., RN
Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH)

Telephone: 301-496-3975


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