Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for NIH Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) Program: FIRST Cohort (U54 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:
July 29, 2020
Estimated Publication Date of Funding Opportunity Announcement:
September 09, 2020
First Estimated Application Due Date:
November 09, 2020
Earliest Estimated Award Date:
July 15, 2021
Earliest Estimated Start Date:
August 01, 2021
Related Announcements

RFA-RM-21-025 - NIH Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) Program: FIRST Cohort (U54 Clinical Trial Optional)

NOT-RM-20-022 - Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for the NIH Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) Program: FIRST Coordination and Evaluation Center (U54 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

Issued by

Office of Strategic Coordination (Common Fund)


The purpose of this Notice is to inform the research community that the NIH Common Fund, along with its partner NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices, is planning to issue a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) to support the NIH Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) Program: FIRST Cohort. We expect to re-release this funding opportunity for a total of 3 rounds.

This Notice is being provided to allow potential applicants sufficient time to develop meaningful plans for robust applications to this opportunity.

The FOA is expected to be published in Fall, 2020 with an expected application due date in November 2020.

This FOA will utilize the U54 activity code. Details of the planned FOA are provided below.

Research Initiative Details

The NIH supported biomedical research workforce is more likely to thrive in environments that support equity, diversity, and social justice. The overall program objective of Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) is to create cultures of inclusive excellence at NIH-funded institutions by implementing a set of well-integrated, evidence-based strategies and evaluating their impact on prespecified metrics of institutional culture, inclusion, and diversity. Inclusive excellence is a philosophical approach to higher education administration and processes that means attending to both the demographic diversity of faculty/students and the need for developing climates and cultures in institutions so that all have a chance to succeed in STEMM (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2019. The Science of Effective Mentorship in STEMM (STEMM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine)).

The FIRST Program will provide one funding mechanism with opportunities for Highly Resourced Institutions (HRI) and Limited-Resourced Institutions (LRI) to apply independently or in a partnership arrangement to develop and implement faculty cohort models for the simultaneous hiring of a diverse group of research faculty. LRIs are institutions offering doctorate degrees in the health professions or in a health-related science and have a historical and current commitment to educating underrepresented students, and for institutions that deliver health care services, providing clinical services to medically underserved communities. They must also have received less than $50 million average in annual NIH funds within the three years prior to the time of application (applies Research Centers in Minority Institutions criteria ). Any individual who is competitive for a tenure track faculty position and who has demonstrated a strong commitment to promoting diversity and inclusive excellence is eligible for FIRST faculty positions. Faculty candidates will be required to submit a statement describing their commitment to promoting diversity and inclusive excellence. Institutions will decide how to evaluate this commitment, but some examples include the area of a candidate’s research program, active participation in diversity efforts, mentoring individuals from underrepresented backgrounds, volunteer activities in the community, etc. Selection for the program should be competitive and inclusion in the FIRST cohort will be viewed as a prestigious recognition of outstanding accomplishments both in scientific research and in promoting diversity and inclusive excellence. The program will support activities for faculty to receive multilevel mentoring, sponsorship, professional and research development embedded within institutions that are actively implementing integrated, systems-level approaches for sustainable culture change.

FIRST applicant institutions are encouraged to enhance the diversity of the FIRST faculty cohort by including candidates from groups identified as underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral, and social sciences, some of which are described in NOT-OD-20-031, such as racial and ethnic minorities, those from disadvantaged backgrounds, individuals with disabilities, and women at the faculty level. Institutional cohorts may be comprised of small clusters of scientists within several scientific areas, such as neuroscience, cardiovascular disease, cancer, minority health and health disparities, behavioral, social, or other research areas within the NIH mission either at one institution or at partnering institutions. FIRST Cohort programs will operationalize through three cores Administrative, Faculty Development, and Evaluation cores.

The overall goals and specific measurable objectives that the program expects to accomplish are in the areas of: sustainable institutional culture change; promote inclusive excellence by hiring a diverse cohort of new faculty; faculty development, mentoring, sponsorship, and promotion. Each institution will be responsible for evaluating its own FIRST program. The CEC will be responsible for evaluating the attainment of FIRST goals consortium wide.

Technical Assistance Webinars

Technical assistance workshops regarding application expectations and program goals will be convened after the FOA is published.

Funding Information
Estimated Total Funding

$1.2M total costs for planning year, 20.6M total costs in years 2-4 of the award, and 4.4M total costs in years 5 and 6 of the award.

Expected Number of Awards

4 awards per round, anticipate 3 rounds. 12 awards total.

Estimated Award Ceiling

$300,000 total costs for planning year, $5,158,000 per year for FY 22-24 (years 2-4 of award), $1,100,000 per year for FY25-26 (years 5 and 6 of award)

Primary CFDA Numbers


Anticipated Eligible Organizations
Public/State Controlled Institution of Higher Education
Private Institution of Higher Education

Applications are not being solicited at this time.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Sanya Springfield, Ph.D.

National Cancer Institute (NCI)


Weekly TOC for this Announcement
NIH Funding Opportunities and Notices