Department of Health and Human Services
Part 1. Overview Information
Participating Organization(s)

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

NOTE:  The policies, guidelines, terms, and conditions stated in this announcement may differ from those used by the NIH.  Where this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) provides specific written guidance that may differ from the general guidance provided in the grant application form, please follow the instructions given in this FOA. Also note that AHRQ has different page limits than NIH for the application Research Strategy, which can be found within each individual FOA.

Components of Participating Organizations

Office of Extramural Research, Education and Priority Populations (OEREP)

Funding Opportunity Title

AHRQ Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (K08)

Activity Code

K08 Clinical Investigator Award (CIA)

Announcement Type

Reissue of PA-13-039

Related Notices
  • May 10, 2017 - New AHRQ "FORMS-E" Grant Application Forms and Instructions Coming for Due Dates On or After January 25, 2018. See NOT-HS-17-015.
Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number

PA-17-232

Companion Funding Opportunity

None

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s)

  93.226  

Funding Opportunity Purpose

This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) solicits individual Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development (K08) grant applications from applicant organizations.  The overall goal of AHRQ-supported career development programs is to help ensure that a diverse pool of highly trained health services researchers are available in adequate numbers and in appropriate research areas to address the mission and priorities of AHRQ. 

Key Dates
Posted Date

March 29, 2017

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

March 31, 2017

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

Not Applicable

Application Due Date(s)

Standard dates apply or Month(s) Day(s), Year(s), by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization.

Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.

AIDS Application Due Date(s)

Not Applicable.

Scientific Merit Review

Generally, four months after receipt date.

Advisory Council Review

Not Applicable

Earliest Start Date

Generally, four months after merit review.

Expiration Date

July 13, 2022

Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not Applicable

Required Application Instructions

It is critical that applicants follow the Career Development (K) Instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, except where instructed to do otherwise (in this FOA or in a Notice from the AHRQ Grants Policy Notices). Conformance to all requirements (both in the Application Guide and the FOA) is required and strictly enforced. Applicants must read and follow all application instructions in the Application Guide as well as any program-specific instructions noted in Section IV. When the program-specific instructions deviate from those in the Application Guide, follow the program-specific instructions. Applications that do not comply with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.


There are several options available to submit your application through Grants.gov to NIH and Department of Health and Human Services partners. You must use one of these submission options to access the application forms for this opportunity.

  1. Use the NIH ASSIST system to prepare, submit and track your application online.
  2. Use an institutional system-to-system (S2S) solution to prepare and submit your application to Grants.gov and eRA Commons to track your application. Check with your institutional officials regarding availability.

  3. Go to Grants.gov to download an application package to complete the application forms offline or create a Workspace to complete the forms online; submit your application to Grants.gov; and track your application in eRA Commons.
Learn more about the various submission options.

Table of Contents

Part 1. Overview Information
Part 2. Full Text of the Announcement

Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
Section II. Award Information
Section III. Eligibility Information
Section IV. Application and Submission Information
Section V. Application Review Information
Section VI. Award Administration Information
Section VII. Agency Contacts
Section VIII. Other Information

Part 2. Full Text of Announcement
Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
Purpose

The objective of the  AHRQ Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (K08) is to support an intensive mentored research career development experience, comprised of didactic study and/or mentored research opportunities in health services research, for individuals with clinical doctoral degrees (e.g., MD, DDS, DMD, DO, DC, OD, ND, DVM, PharmD, or PhD in clinical disciplines) through the provision of salary and research support over a sustained period of “protected time” (3-5 years).  The expectation is that, through this sustained period of research career development and training, awardees will launch independent research careers and become competitive for new research project grant (e.g., R01) funding.

The award may be used by candidates with different levels of prior research training and at different stages in their career development.  For example, a candidate with limited experience in health services research may use an award to support a career development experience that includes a designated period of didactic training followed by a period of closely supervised research experience. A candidate with previous health services research experience and training may not require extensive additional didactic preparation, and may use an award to support a career development experience that focuses on an intensive, supervised research experience.

Applications must be responsive to AHRQ’s mission, which is to produce evidence to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable and affordable, and to work within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and with other partners to make sure that the evidence is understood and used.  Within the mission, AHRQ’s specific research priority areas of focus are described at:  http://www.ahrq.gov/funding/policies/foaguidance/index.html.

The research sponsored and conducted by AHRQ develops and presents scientific evidence regarding all aspects of health care in the United States. It addresses issues of organization, delivery, financing, utilization, patient and provider behavior, outcomes, effectiveness and cost. It evaluates both clinical services and the system in which these services are provided. These scientific results improve the evidence base to enable better decisions about health care, including such areas as disease prevention, appropriate use of medical technologies, improving diagnosis and treatment in cost-effective ways, long-term care, and reducing disparities based on race, ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic status.  AHRQ welcomes any area of health services research relevant to AHRQ's priority areas as a mentored K08 research project topic. 

Applicants are strongly encouraged to focus on topical areas unique to AHRQ, demonstrating how expected results can be used or made available for use to enhance healthcare quality. Results should be directly relevant to stakeholders, such as providers and practitioners, administrators, payers, consumers, policymakers, and insurers.

Candidates are encouraged to address health services research issues critical to AHRQ priority populations, including: individuals living in inner city or rural (including frontier) areas; low-income and minority groups; women, children, the elderly; and individuals with special health care needs, including those with disabilities and those who need chronic or end-of-life health care.

Candidates must conduct mentored K08 research projects which focus on health care delivery in the United States. AHRQ will not accept international health care research projects.

Special Note: To ensure that applications are responsive to AHRQ's priorities as well as FOA requirements, consultation with AHRQ staff prior to application submission is encouraged.

See Section VIII. Other Information for award authorities and regulations.

Section II. Award Information
Funding Instrument

Grant: A support mechanism providing money, property, or both to an eligible entity to carry out an approved project or activity.

Application Types Allowed

New
Resubmission

The OER Glossary and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide provide details on these application types.

Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards

The number of awards is contingent upon AHRQ appropriations and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications. Future year amounts will depend on annual appropriations.

Award Budget

Award budgets are composed of salary and other program-related expenses, as described below.

Award Project Period

The total project period may not exceed 5 years.

Other Award Budget Information
Salary

AHRQ will contribute up to $90,000 direct costs per year toward the salary of the career award recipient. Further guidance on budgeting for career development salaries is provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.  

The total salary requested must be based on a full-time staff appointment. The salary must be consistent both with the established salary structure at the institution and with salaries actually provided by the institution from its own funds to other staff members of equivalent qualifications, rank, and responsibilities in the department concerned.

The K08 award requires candidates to devote a minimum of nine person-months (75% of full-time professional effort) to conducting health services research, with the following exception:

Applicants for the AHRQ individual mentored career development award who have had three years of a mentored experience on another Federally-funded career development grant, such as those noted above, can request a minimum of 50% effort for two years. The remaining effort may be devoted to clinical, teaching, or other research pursuits and activities consistent with the objectives of the award. 

The salary must be consistent both with the established salary structure at the institution and with salaries actually provided by the institution from its own funds to other staff members of equivalent qualifications, rank, and responsibilities in the department concerned.  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.  Fringe benefits, based on the sponsoring institution’s rate and the percent of effort, are provided in addition to the salary.

The sponsoring institution may supplement the AHRQ salary contribution up to a level that is consistent with the institution's salary scale.  However, supplementation may not be from Federal funds unless specifically authorized by the Federal program from which such funds are derived. In no case may PHS funds be used for salary supplementation.  Institutional supplementation of salary must not require extra duties or responsibilities that would interfere with the purpose of the K08 award.  Under expanded authorities, however, institutions may re-budget funds within the total costs awarded to cover salaries consistent with the institution's salary scale. The total salary, however, may not exceed the legislatively mandated salary cap.

K08 award recipients are encouraged to obtain funding from AHRQ or other Federal sources either as a named PD/PI on a competing research grant award or cooperative agreement or as sub-project director on a competing multi-project award.  At the time the research grant is awarded, the effort required on the K08 award may be reduced, with prior AHRQ approval, to no less than six person-months (50% full-time professional effort) at the grantee organization and replaced by effort from the research award so that the total level of research commitment remains at nine person-months (75% full-time professional effort) or more for the duration of the award.  A reduction in effort will result in recalculation of salary provided by the grant. To be eligible for salary support from peer-reviewed research awards from any Federal agency:

  • The  K08 award recipient must be the PD/PI on a competing AHRQ or NIH research grant application (R01, R03, R15, R21, R34, or equivalent application from another Federal agency) or a sub-project director on a competing multi-component research or center grant or cooperative agreement application (P01, P50, U01, etc. or an equivalent application from another Federal agency).  These specified grant mechanisms are for illustrative purposes and not meant to be inclusive.  If necessary, the recipient should contact AHRQ Staff for clarification or additional information.
  • The K08 award must be active when the competing research grant application is submitted.
  • The K08 award must be in its final two years of a five-year award or final year of a four-year award before the reduction in effort to six person-months (50% full-time professional effort) is permitted.  If a reduction in effort is proposed, the awarded and committed levels of funding will be adjusted accordingly.

See Section III. 3. Additional Information on Eligibility.

Other Program-Related Expenses

AHRQ will contribute $ 25,000 direct costs  per year toward the research development costs of the award recipient, which must be justified and consistent with the stage of development of the candidate and the proportion of time to be spent in research or career development activities.

Only the following types of expenses are allowable as research development costs:  a) tuition and fees related to career development; b) research expenses such as supplies, equipment, and technical personnel working with research data; c) travel to project-relevant research meetings or training; and d) statistical services including personnel and computer time.  All expenses must be directly related to the proposed research career development and must be individually justified.

Salary for mentors, secretarial and administrative assistants, etc. is not allowed.

Indirect Costs

Indirect Costs (also known as Facilities & Administrative [F&A] Costs) are reimbursed at 8% of modified total direct costs.

These projects are being funded pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 299a(b)(1), which provides that AHRQ may provide training grants in the field of health services research.

All applications submitted and AHRQ grants made in response to this FOA are subject to 45 CFR Part 75 (Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for HHS Awards; http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?node=pt45.1.75) , the HHS Grants Policy Statement (see http://www.ahrq.gov/funding/policies/hhspolicy/index.html), and the terms and conditions set forth in the Notice of Award.

Section III. Eligibility Information
1. Eligible Applicants
Eligible Organizations

Higher Education Institutions

  • Public/State Controlled Institutions of Higher Education
  • Private Institutions of Higher Education

The following types of Higher Education Institutions are always encouraged to apply for AHRQ support as Public or Private Institutions of Higher Education:

  • Hispanic-serving Institutions
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
  • Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs)
  • Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions
  • Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs)

Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education

  • Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)
  • Nonprofits without 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)

Governments

  • State Governments
  • County Governments
  • City or Township Governments
  • Special District Governments
  • Indian/Native American Tribal Governments (Federally Recognized)
  • Indian/Native American Tribal Governments (Other than Federally Recognized)
  • Eligible Agencies of the Federal Government
  • U.S. Territory or Possession

Other

  • Independent School Districts
  • Public Housing Authorities/Indian Housing Authorities
  • Native American Tribal Organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments)
  • Faith-based or Community-based Organizations
  • Regional Organizations

AHRQ’s authorizing legislation does not allow for-profit organizations to be eligible to lead applications under this research mechanism.  For-profit organizations may participate in projects as members of consortia or as subcontractors only.  Because the purpose of this program is to improve healthcare in the United States, foreign institutions may participate in projects as members of consortia or as subcontractors only.  Applications submitted by for-profit organizations or foreign institutions will not be reviewed.  Organizations described in section 501(c) 4 of the Internal Revenue Code that engage in lobbying are not eligible.

HHS grants policy requires that the grant recipient perform a substantive role in the conduct of the planned project or program activity and not merely serve as a conduit of funds to another party or parties. If consortium/contractual activities represent a significant portion of the overall project, the applicant must justify why the applicant organization, rather than the party(s) performing this portion of the overall project, should be the grantee and what substantive role the applicant organization will play. Justification can be provided in the Specific Aims or Research Strategy section of the PHS398 Research Plan Component sections of the SF424 (R&R) application.  There is no budget allocation guideline for determining substantial involvement; determination of substantial involvement is based on a review of the primary project activities for which grant support is provided and the organization(s) that will be performing those activities.

Foreign Institutions

Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are not eligible to apply.
Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are not eligible to apply.

Required Registrations

Applicant Organizations

Applicant organizations must complete and maintain the following registrations as described in the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide to be eligible to apply for or receive an award. All registrations must be completed prior to the application being submitted. Registration can take 6 weeks or more, so applicants should begin the registration process as soon as possible. The NIH Policy on Late Submission of Grant Applications states that failure to complete registrations in advance of a due date is not a valid reason for a late submission.

  • Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) - All registrations require that applicants be issued a DUNS number. After obtaining a DUNS number, applicants can begin both SAM and eRA Commons registrations. The same DUNS number must be used for all registrations, as well as on the grant application.
  • System for Award Management (SAM) (formerly CCR) – Applicants must complete and maintain an active registration, which requires renewal at least annually. The renewal process may require as much time as the initial registration. SAM registration includes the assignment of a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) Code for domestic organizations which have not already been assigned a CAGE Code.
  • eRA Commons - Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the eRA Commons registration. Organizations can register with the eRA Commons as they are working through their SAM or Grants.gov registration. eRA Commons requires organizations to identify at least one Signing Official (SO) and at least one Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) account in order to submit an application.
  • Grants.gov – Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the Grants.gov registration.

Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI)

The PD/PI must have an eRA Commons account.  PD/PI should work with their organizational officials to either create a new account or to affiliate their existing account with the applicant organization in eRA Commons. Obtaining an eRA Commons account can take up to 2 weeks.

Eligible Individuals (Program Director/Principal Investigator)

Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI):  Any candidate with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as the Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) is invited to work with his/her mentor and organization to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for AHRQ support. Multiple PDs/PIs are not allowed.

The K08 award is also available to promote research workforce diversity by providing enhanced research career development opportunities.  This funding opportunity may support individuals who propose to embark in health services research training.  Eligible individuals who have had a hiatus in their research career because of illness or pressing family circumstances may also apply.

Citizenship and Residency:  By the time of award, the candidate must be a citizen or a non-citizen national of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence (i.e., possess a currently valid Permanent Resident Card USCIS Form I-551, or other legal verification of such status). Non-citizen nationals, although not U.S. citizens, owe permanent allegiance to the U.S.  They are usually born in lands that are not states but are under U.S. sovereignty, jurisdiction, or administration.  Individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible.

Degree Type:  Candidates for the K08 award must have a clinical doctoral degree. Such degrees include, but are not limited to, the MD, DO, DDS, DMD, OD, DC, PharmD, ND (Doctor of Naturopathy), and DVM.  Individuals with the PhD or other doctoral degree in clinical disciplines such as clinical psychology, nursing, clinical genetics, speech-language pathology, audiology or rehabilitation are also eligible.

Individuals holding the PhD in a non-clinical discipline who are certified to perform clinical duties should contact AHRQ concerning their eligibility for a K08 award.

Individuals are eligible for a K08 award if they have been, or currently are, the PD/PI of an NIH or AHRQ R03 or R21 grant or a Federal or non-Federal award that duplicates the provisions or research goals of an R03 or R21 grant.   

Individuals are NOT eligible if they:

  • Have simultaneously submitted or have an application pending peer review for any other Federal career development award, or a research project grant (R01).  However, individuals may concurrently submit an application for an AHRQ or NIH Small Grant (R03) or Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21);
  • Have simultaneously submitted or have an application pending peer review for any non-Federal research grant, contract, or cooperative agreement over $100,000 direct costs per year;
  • Have been or are currently a PD/PI on any other Federal mentored career development awards.  Individual scholars supported on institutional K12 grants are eligible to apply for a 2-year K08 award provided that the support is not concurrent.  However, in such instances the combined support requested for the K08 award and the total time spent on the K12 grant cannot exceed five years;
  • Have been or are currently a PD/PI on a Federal research grant (such as R01, R29, P01) or subproject leaders on Program Project (P01) and Center Grants (P50); and/or
  • Have been or are currently a PD/PI on peer-reviewed non-Federal research grants, contracts or cooperative agreements over $100,000 in direct costs per year.

AHRQ Maximum Federal Career Development (K) Award Term:  

All candidates for AHRQ individual mentored career development grants are limited to a total of five years of mentored career development support.  If the candidate has been a scholar appointed to any Federally-funded institutional mentored career development program (from mechanisms including, but not limited to the K12 and KL2), the time appointments on these grants count toward the total five year AHRQ time limitation.  For example, an individual who has been appointed to an NIH or AHRQ K12 or KL2 institutional mentored career development grant for three years can request only two years of individual career development support on an AHRQ K08 grant.  The minimum allowable time requested for all other applicants to AHRQ’s individual mentored career development grants remains at three years per instructions in this announcement. 

2. Cost Sharing

This FOA does not require cost sharing.

3. Additional Information on Eligibility
Number of Applications

Applicant organizations may submit more than one application, provided that each application is scientifically distinct, and each is from a different candidate.

AHRQ will not accept duplicate or highly overlapping applications under review at the same time. An individual may not have two or more competing AHRQ career development applications pending review concurrently. In addition, AHRQ will not accept:

  • A new (A0) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of an overlapping new (A0) or resubmission (A1) application.
  • A resubmission (A1) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of the previous new (A0) application.
  • An application that has substantial overlap with another application pending appeal of initial peer review (see NOT-OD-11-101).

Level of Effort

At the time of award, the candidate must have a “full-time” appointment at the academic institution. With the exception noted below, candidates are required to commit a minimum of 75% of full-time professional effort (i.e., a minimum of 9 person-months) to their career development and research training during the mentored phase. Candidates may engage in other duties as part of the remaining 25% of their full-time professional effort not covered by this award, as long as such duties do not interfere with or detract from the proposed career development program.

Exception.  Applicants for the AHRQ individual mentored career development award who have had three years of a mentored experience on another Federally-funded career development grant, such as those noted above, can request a minimum of 50% full-time professional effort (i.e. a minimum of 6 person-months) for two years. The remaining effort may be devoted to clinical, teaching, or other research pursuits and activities consistent with the objectives of the award. 

Candidates who have VA appointments may not consider part of the VA effort toward satisfying the full time requirement at the applicant institution. Candidates with a full-time VA appointment are not eligible to apply. 

The sponsoring institution may supplement the AHRQ salary contribution up to a level that is consistent with the institution's salary scale.  However, supplementation may not be from Federal funds unless specifically authorized by the Federal program from which such funds are derived. In no case may PHS funds be used for salary supplementation.  Institutional supplementation of salary must not require extra duties or responsibilities that would interfere with the purpose of the K08 award.  Under expanded authorities institutions may re-budget funds within the total costs awarded to cover salaries consistent with the institution's salary scale. The total salary rate, however, may not exceed the legislatively mandated salary cap.

K08 award recipients are encouraged to obtain funding from AHRQ or other Federal sources either as a named PD/PI on a competing research grant award or cooperative agreement or as sub-project director on a competing multi-project award during the final two years of the K08 award under certain circumstances. 

To be eligible for salary support from peer-reviewed research awards from any Federal agency, all of the following criteria must be met:  First, the  K08 award recipient must be the PD/PI on a competing AHRQ or NIH research grant application (R01, R03, R15, R21, R34, or equivalent application from another Federal agency) or a sub-project director on a competing multi-component research or center grant or cooperative agreement application (P01, P50, U01, etc. or an equivalent application from another Federal agency).  These specified grant mechanisms are for illustrative purposes and not meant to be all-inclusive.  If necessary, the recipient should contact AHRQ Staff for clarification or additional information. Second, the K08 award must be active when the competing research grant application is submitted.  Third, the K08 award must be in its final two years of a five-year individual award or the final year of a four-year individual award.

At the time the competing research grant is awarded, the grantee may request that effort devoted to the K08 award be reduced to no less than six person-months (50% full-time professional effort) at the grantee organization and replaced by effort from the research award so that the total level of research commitment remains at a minimum of nine person-months (75% full-time professional effort) for the duration of the K08 award.  AHRQ prior approval is required before effort may be reduced on the K08.  Note that a reduction in effort on the K08 will result in recalculation of salary provided by the K08 award.

Salary support for research effort over and above that devoted to the K08 may not be obtained from Federally-funded projects unless authorized by the Federal program from which such funds are derived.

Mentor(s)

The candidate must identify and name in the application a primary mentor who will supervise the proposed career development and research experience. The mentor should be an active investigator in the area of the proposed research and be committed both to the career development of the candidate and to the direct supervision of the candidate’s research. The mentor must document the availability of sufficient research support and facilities for high-quality research. Candidates are encouraged to identify more than one mentor, i.e., a mentoring team (or advisory committee), if this is deemed advantageous for providing expert advice in all aspects of the research career development program. In such cases, one individual must be identified as the primary mentor who will coordinate the candidate’s research. The candidate must work with the mentor(s) in preparing the application. The mentor, or a member of the mentoring team, should have a successful track record of mentoring individuals at the candidate’s career stage.

The primary mentor should describe the career development plan for the candidate (coordinated with the candidate’s research strategy). The description of the career development plan should include items such as classes, seminars, and opportunities for interaction with other groups and scientists. Training in career skills, e.g., grant-writing and making effective presentations, is strongly encouraged. The mentor and any co-mentors are also expected to provide an assessment of the candidate’s qualifications and potential for a research career. The research environment and the availability and quality of needed research facilities and research resources (e.g., equipment, laboratory space, computer time, available research support, etc.) must also be described.

Reference Letters: A minimum of three and a maximum of five letters of reference are required.  These letters are distinct from mentor letters, and are submitted by individuals (referees) who are familiar with the candidate and his/her previous experience/research, but are not involved in the execution of the proposed K08 application.  The letters should address the qualities of the candidate as well as his/her potential for becoming an independent health services researcher.  They must be submitted directly through the eRA Commons Reference Information link and not as part of the electronic application that goes through Grants.gov.  Applications lacking the required reference letters will not be reviewed.  Please note that the specified format must be used. Details on the requirements for these letters can be found in Section 7.3 of the SF 424 (R&R).  They are due on the application receipt date

Institutional Environment

The applicant institution must have a strong, well-established record of research and career development activities and faculty qualified to serve as mentors in health services research. The institution must demonstrate a commitment to the development of the candidate as a productive, independent investigator and be willing to allow the protected time needed by the applicant.  The candidate, mentor, and institution must describe a research career development program that will maximize the use of this environment, including available facilities and resources.

Section IV. Application and Submission Information
1. Requesting an Application Package

Buttons to access the online ASSIST system or to download application forms are available in Part 1 of this FOA. See your administrative office for instructions if you plan to use an institutional system-to-system solution.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

It is critical that applicants follow the Career Development (K) Instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, including Supplemental Grant Application Instructions except where instructed in this funding opportunity announcement to do otherwise. Conformance to the requirements in the Application Guide is required and strictly enforced. Applications that are out of compliance with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.

For information on Application Submission and Receipt, visit Frequently Asked Questions – Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.

Page Limitations

All page limitations described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and the Table of Page Limits must be followed.

Instructions for Application Submission

The following section supplements the instructions found in the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide and should be used for preparing an application to this FOA.

SF424(R&R) Cover

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.   

SF424(R&R) Project/Performance Site Locations

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.   

Other Project Information

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

SF424(R&R) Senior/Key Person Profile Expanded

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed. 

R&R Budget

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

AHRQ is not using the Modular Grant Application and Award Process.  Applicants for funding from AHRQ are to ignore application instructions concerning the Modular Grant Application and Award Process, and prepare applications using instructions for the Research and Related Budget Components of the SF 424 (R&R).  Applications submitted in the Modular format will not be reviewed.

Use of CMS Data

Purchase of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) public-use data, if required, should be discussed in the application narrative and included in the budget. Projects will ordinarily not use CMS (Medicare or Medicaid) data involving individual identifiers. However, for applications that propose to use Medicare or Medicaid data that are individually identifiable, applicants should state explicitly in the "Research Design and Methods" section of the Research Plan (form 398) the specific files, time periods, and cohorts proposed for the research. The applicant should obtain an estimate for the cost of the requested data, if possible. This estimate will be included in the estimated total cost of the grant at the time funding decisions are made.

Applicants should be aware that for individually identifiable Medicare and Medicaid data, Principal Investigators and their grantee institutions will be required to enter into a Data Use Agreement (DUA) with CMS to protect the confidentiality of data in accordance with the terms of the DUA and applicable law.

In developing research plans, applicants should allow time for refining, obtaining approval, and processing of their CMS data requests. Requests may take six months from the time they are submitted to complete. Applications proposing to contact beneficiaries or their providers require the approval of the CMS Director and may require meeting(s) with CMS staff.

CMS data are provided on IBM mainframe tapes using the record and data formats commonly employed on these computers. Applicants should either have the capability to process these tapes and formats or plan to make arrangements to securely convert them to other media and formats.

Questions regarding CMS data should be directed to the AHRQ program official listed under Agency Contacts.

To avoid double counting, applicants should not include the cost of identifiable CMS data in the budget. In the event the total costs of the project plus the cost of CMS data is greater than the total cost cap of this FOA, the budget for the project will be adjusted so that the total costs awarded to the recipient plus the CMS data costs do not exceed the cost cap.

PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

PHS 398 Career Development Award Supplemental Form

The PHS 398 Career Development Award Supplemental Form is comprised of the following sections:

Candidate

Research Plan

Other Candidate Information

Mentor, Co-Mentor, Consultant, Collaborators

Environment & Institutional Commitment to the Candidate

Human Subjects Sections

Other Research Plan Sections

Appendix

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

Candidate Section

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

Candidate Information and Goals for Career Development

Candidate’s Background

  • Describe the candidate's commitment to a health services-related research career. Describe all the candidate's professional responsibilities in the grantee institution and elsewhere and describe their relationship to the proposed activities on the career award.
  • Describe prior training and how it relates to the objectives and long-term career plans of the candidate.
  • Describe the candidate's research efforts to this point in his/her research career, including any publications, prior research interests and experience.
  • Provide evidence of the candidate's potential to develop into an independent investigator.
  • Describe the candidate's commitment to a career in a health services research field relevant to the AHRQ mission as a health related research scientist.
  • Include a statement that the candidate will commit the required time to the mentored clinical scientist development program and related career development activities.  The remaining effort may be devoted to clinical, teaching, or other research pursuits and activities consistent with the objectives of the award.

Career Goals and Objectives

  • Describe a systematic plan: (1) that shows a logical progression from prior research and training experiences to the research and career development experiences that will occur during the career award period and then to independent investigator status; and (2) that justifies the need for further career development to become an independent investigator.
  • The candidate must demonstrate they have received training or will participate in courses such as: data management, epidemiology, study design (including statistics), hypothesis development, etc., as well as the legal and ethical issues associated with research on human subjects.
  • Describe the candidate’s career goals and objectives under this award, including prior experience, and current research support.
  • Describe how the candidate plans to separate scientifically from his/her mentor and advance to research independence

Candidate’s Plan for Career Development/Training Activities During Award Period

  • The candidate and the mentor are jointly responsible for the preparation of the career development plan.  Although not required, the mentor and any co-mentor may form a mentoring team (or an advisory committee) to assist with the development of the program of study and to monitor the candidate’s progress through the career development program.  Providing a career development timeline is often helpful and including a publication plan is strongly encouraged.
  • The didactic (if any) and the research aspects of the plan must be designed to develop the necessary knowledge and research skills in scientific areas relevant to the candidate's career goals.
  • Describe the professional responsibilities/activities including other research projects beyond the minimum required 9 person-months (75% full-time professional effort) commitment to the career award.  Explain how these responsibilities/activities will help ensure career progression to achieve independence as an investigator.
  • The candidate should describe any new or enhanced research skills and knowledge he/she will acquire during the career award period, and how these skills and experiences will significantly enhance his/her ability to continue his/her research programs as an independent scientist.

Research Plan Section

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

Research Strategy

  • A sound research project that is consistent with the candidate’s level of research development and objectives of his/her career development plan must be provided. The research description should demonstrate the quality of the candidate’s research thus far and also the novelty, significance, creativity and approach, as well as the ability of the candidate to carry out the research.
  • Describe the relationship between the mentor’s research and the candidate’s proposed research.  Describe how the candidate will gain independence from his/her mentors and separate his/her scientific research program from that of the mentor(s).
  • Although it is not expected that the description of the research would be as detailed as an application for an investigator-initiated research grant (e.g., R01), enough information should be provided to permit an evaluation of the scientific merit of the candidate's research activities and mentored research training.
  • Data and Safety Monitoring (when applicable): Plans for data and safety monitoring must be included, as needed.

Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research

  • All applications must include a plan to fulfill AHRQ requirements for instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). See SF424 (R&R) Application Guide for instructions.

Mentor, Co-Mentor, Consultant, Collaborators Section

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

  • The candidate must name a primary mentor who, together with the candidate, is responsible for planning, directing, monitoring, and executing the proposed program.  The candidate may also nominate co-mentors as appropriate to the goals of the program. 
  • The mentor should be recognized as an accomplished investigator in the proposed research area and have a track record of success in training and placing independent investigators.
  • The mentor should have sufficient independent research support to cover the costs of the proposed research project in excess of the allowable costs of this award.
  • Where feasible, women, individuals from diverse racial and ethnic groups, and individuals with disabilities should be involved as mentors to serve as role models.
  • Include a statement that the candidate will commit at least 9 person-months (75% of full-time professional effort) to the career development program and related career development activities.
  • The application must include a statement from the mentor providing: 1) information on his/her research qualifications and previous experience as a research supervisor; 2) a plan that describes the nature of the supervision and mentoring that will occur during the proposed award period; 3) a plan for career progression for the candidate to move from the mentored stage of his/her career to independent research investigator status during the project period of the award; and 4) a plan for monitoring the candidate’s research, publications, and progression towards independence.
  • Similar information must be provided by any co-mentor.  If more than one co-mentor is proposed, the respective areas of expertise and responsibility of each should be described.  Co-mentors should clearly describe how they will coordinate the mentoring of the candidate. If any co-mentor is not located at the sponsoring institution, a statement should be provided describing the mechanism(s) and frequency of communication with the candidate, including the frequency of face-to-face meetings.
  • The mentor must agree to provide annual evaluations of the candidate’s progress as required in the annual progress report.

Letters of Support from Collaborators, Contributors and Consultants

  • Signed statements must be provided by all collaborators and/or consultants confirming their participation in the project and describing their specific roles. Collaborators and consultants do not need to provide their biographical sketches unless also listed as senior/key personnel. However, information should be provided clearly documenting the appropriate expertise in the proposed areas of consulting/collaboration. Collaborators/consultants are generally not directly involved in the development of the career of the candidate as an independent investigator.
  • Advisory committee members (if applicable): Signed statements must be provided by each member of the proposed advisory committee.  These statements should confirm their participation, describe their specific roles, and document the expertise they will contribute.  Unless also listed as senior/key personnel, these individuals do not need to provide their biographical sketches.

Environmental and Institutional Commitment to the Candidate

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

Description of Institutional Environment

  • The sponsoring institution must document a strong, well-established research and career development program related to the candidate's area of interest, including a high-quality research environment with key faculty members and other investigators capable of productive collaboration with the candidate.
  • Describe how the institutional research environment is particularly suited for the development of the candidate's research career and the pursuit of the proposed research plan.
  • Describe the resources and facilities that will be available to the candidate

Institutional Commitment to the Candidate’s Research Career Development

  • The sponsoring institution must provide a statement of commitment to the candidate's development into a productive, independent investigator and to meeting the requirements of this award. It should be clear that the institutional commitment to the candidate is not contingent upon receipt of this career award.
  • Provide assurances that the candidate will have access to appropriate office and laboratory space, equipment, and other resources and facilities (including access to clinical and/or other research populations) to carry out the proposed research plan.
  • Provide assurance that appropriate time and support will be available or any proposed mentor(s) and/or other staff consistent with the career development plan.
  • Provide assurance that the candidate will be able to devote a minimum of 9 person-months (75% of full-time professional effort) to the development of his/her research program. The remaining effort should be devoted to activities related to the development of the candidate’s career as an independent scientist.

Appendix

Do not use the Appendix to circumvent page limits. Follow all instructions for the Appendix as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.  See NIH/NIOSH/AHRQ New Policy Appendix Guide located at NOT-OD-16-129 via https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-16-129.html 

PHS Inclusion Enrollment Report

When conducting clinical research, follow all instructions for completing PHS Inclusion Enrollment Report as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

PHS Assignment Request Form

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed. 

Reference Letters

Candidates must carefully follow the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, including the time period for when reference letters will be accepted. Applications lacking the appropriate required reference letters will not be reviewed. This is a separate process from submitting an application electronically. Reference letters are submitted directly through the eRA Commons Submit Reference Information link and not through Grants.gov.

3. Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (SAM)

See Part 1. Section III.1 for information regarding the requirement for obtaining a unique entity identifier and for completing and maintaining active registrations in System for Award Management (SAM), NATO Commercial and Government Entity (NCAGE) Code (if applicable), eRA Commons, and Grants.gov.

4. Submission Dates and Times

Part I. Overview Information contains information about Key Dates and Times. Applicants are encouraged to submit applications before the due date to ensure they have time to make any application corrections that might be necessary for successful submission. When a submission date falls on a weekend or Federal holiday, the application deadline is automatically extended to the next business day.

Organizations must submit applications to Grants.gov (the online portal to find and apply for grants across all Federal agencies) using ASSIST or other electronic submission systems. Applicants must then complete the submission process by tracking the status of the application in the eRA Commons, NIH’s electronic system for grants administration. AHRQ and Grants.gov systems check the application against many of the application instructions upon submission. Errors must be corrected and a changed/corrected application must be submitted to Grants.gov on or before the application due date and time.  If a Changed/Corrected application is submitted after the deadline, the application will be considered late.  Applications that miss the due date and time are subjected to the NIH Policy on Late Application Submission.

Applicants are responsible for viewing their application before the due date in the eRA Commons to ensure accurate and successful submission.

Information on the submission process and a definition of on-time submission are provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

5. Intergovernmental Review (E.O. 12372)

This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.

6. Funding Restrictions

For efficient grant administration, AHRQ grant administration procedures will be used and conducted in accordance with the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the HHS Grants Policy Statement. The Grants Policy Statement can be found at  http://www.ahrq.gov/funding/policies/hhspolicy/index.html.

Pre-award costs are allowable. A grantee may, at its own risk and without AHRQ prior approval, incur obligations and expenditures to cover costs up to 90 days before the beginning date of the initial budget period of a new award if such costs are necessary to conduct the project and would be allowable under the grant, if awarded, without AHRQ prior approval. If specific expenditures would otherwise require prior approval, the grantee must obtain AHRQ approval before incurring the cost. AHRQ prior approval is required for any costs to be incurred more than 90 days before the beginning date of the initial budget period of a new award.

The incurrence of pre-award costs in anticipation of a competing or non-competing award imposes no obligation on AHRQ either to make the award or to increase the amount of the approved budget if an award is made for less than the amount anticipated and is inadequate to cover the pre-award costs incurred. AHRQ expects the grantee to be fully aware that pre-award costs result in borrowing against future support and that such borrowing must not impair the grantee's ability to accomplish the project objectives in the approved time frame or in any way adversely affect the conduct of the project.

7. Other Submission Requirements and Information

Applications must be submitted electronically following the instructions described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.  Paper applications will not be accepted.

Applicants must complete all required registrations before the application due date. Section III. Eligibility Information contains information about registration.

For assistance with your electronic application or for more information on the electronic submission process, visit Applying Electronically. If you encounter a system issue beyond your control that threatens your ability to complete the submission process on-time, you must follow the Guidelines for Applicants Experiencing System Issues. For assistance with application submission contact the Application Submission Contacts in Section VII.

Important reminders:

All PD(s)/PI(s) must include their eRA Commons ID in the Credential field of the Senior/Key Person Profile Component of the SF424(R&R) Application Package. Failure to register in the Commons and to include a valid PD/PI Commons ID in the credential field will prevent the successful submission of an electronic application to AHRQ.

The applicant organization must ensure that the DUNS number it provides on the application is the same number used in the organization’s profile in the eRA Commons and for the System for Award Management (SAM). Additional information may be found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

See more tips for avoiding common errors.

Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness and compliance with application instructions by the Center for Scientific Review, NIH and for responsiveness by AHRQ. Applications that are incomplete or non-compliant will not be reviewed.

In order to expedite the review, applicants are requested to notify the AHRQ Referral Office by email Gerald.Calderone@ahrq.hhs.gov when the application has been submitted.  Please include the FOA number and title, PD/PI name, and title of the application.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of human subjects is not required prior to peer review of an application (see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-HS-00-003.html). However, initiation of IRB review, if necessary or applicable, is strongly encouraged to assure timely commencement of research.

Priority Populations

AHRQ supports research, evaluations, and demonstration projects concerning the delivery of health care in inner-city and rural areas (including frontier areas), and health care for priority populations.  Priority populations include low income groups; minority groups; women; children; the elderly; and individuals with special health care needs, including individuals with disabilities and individuals who need chronic care or end-of-life health care.  42 USC 299(c).  Women and members of minority groups are included in all AHRQ-supported research projects involving human subjects, unless a clear and compelling rationale and justification is provided that inclusion is inappropriate, e.g. because of the lack of connection between the study and the health of women or particular minorities.  Investigators should review the document entitled, “AHRQ Policy on the Inclusion of Priority Populations,” which is available at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-HS-03-010.html.  Applicants under this FOA should consider and discuss including priority populations in the research design as specified in this Notice.

Plan for Sharing Research Data

The precise content of the data-sharing plan will vary, depending on the data being collected and how the investigator is planning to share the data. Applicants who are planning to share data should describe briefly the expected schedule for data sharing; the format of the final dataset; the documentation to be provided; whether or not any analytic tools also will be provided; whether or not a data-sharing agreement will be required and, if so, a brief description of such an agreement (including the criteria for deciding who can receive the data and whether or not any conditions will be placed on their use); and the mode of data sharing (e.g., under its own auspices by mailing a disk or posting data on its institutional or personal website or through a data archive or enclave). Investigators choosing to share under their own auspices may wish to enter into a data-sharing agreement. References to data sharing may also be appropriate in other sections of the application.

The reasonableness of the data sharing plan or the rationale for not sharing research data will be assessed by the reviewers. However, reviewers will not factor the proposed data sharing plan into the determination of scientific merit or the priority score.

Public Access to AHRQ-Funded Scientific Publications

Investigators should review the document titled ‘AHRQ Announces new Policy for Public Access to AHRQ-Funded Scientific Publications’ which is available at (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-HS-16-008.html).  For all research arising from AHRQ support, this policy requires that AHRQ-funded authors submit an electronic version of the author’s final peer-reviewed accepted manuscript to the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central (PMC) to be made publicly available within 12 months of the publisher’s date of publication.

Data Confidentiality

The AHRQ confidentiality statute, 42 USC 299c-3(c), requires that information that is obtained in the course of AHRQ supported activities and that identifies individuals or establishments be used only for the purpose for which it was supplied.  Information that is obtained in the course of AHRQ-supported activities and that identifies an individual may be published or released only with the consent of the individual who supplied the information or is described in it.  There are civil monetary penalties for violation of the confidentiality provision of the AHRQ statute. 42 USC 299c-3(d).  In the Human Subjects section of the application, applicants must describe procedures for ensuring the confidentiality of the identifying information to be collected.  The description of the procedures should include a discussion of who will be permitted access to this information, both raw data and machine readable files, and how personal identifiers and other identifying or identifiable data will be restricted and safeguarded.  Identifiable patient health information collected by grantees under this FOA will also be obtained and managed in accordance with the HIPAA Privacy Rule, 45 CFR Parts 160 and 164. 

The grantee should ensure that computer systems containing confidential data have a level and scope of security that equals or exceeds that established by the HIPAA Security Rules if applicable (see HIPAA website in prior paragraph) and that established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in OMB Circular No. A-130, Appendix III - Security of Federal Automated Information Systems. The applicability and intended means of applying these confidentiality and security standards to subcontractors and vendors, if any, should be addressed in the application.

Sharing Research Resources:  Rights in Data

Unless otherwise provided in grant awards, AHRQ grantees may copyright, or seek patents for, as appropriate, final and interim products and materials developed in whole or in part with AHRQ support, including, but not limited to, methodological tools, measures, software with documentation, literature searches, and analyses.  Such copyrights and patents are subject to a royalty-free, non-exclusive, and irrevocable AHRQ license to reproduce, publish, use or disseminate for any purpose consistent with AHRQ’s statutory responsibilities and to authorize others to do so for any purpose consistent with AHRQ’s statutory responsibilities. In accordance with its legislative dissemination mandate, AHRQ purposes may include, subject to statutory confidentiality protections, making project materials, databases, results, and algorithms available for verification or replication by other researchers.  In addition, subject to AHRQ budget constraints, final products may be made available to the health care community and the public by AHRQ or its agents if such distribution would significantly increase access to a product and thereby produce substantial or valuable public health benefits.  Ordinarily, to accomplish distribution, AHRQ publicizes research findings but relies on grantees to publish research results in peer-reviewed journals and to market grant-supported products.  GPO's website

AHRQ requests that grantees notify the Office of Communications (OC) when an AHRQ-funded research article has been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Researchers should submit manuscripts that have been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal to JournalPublishing@ahrq.hhs.gov at least four to six weeks in advance of the journal’s expected publication date. 

Regulations applicable to AHRQ grantees concerning intangible rights and copyright can be found at 45 CFR 75.322.

Post Submission Materials

Applicants are required to follow the instructions for post-submission materials, as described in NOT-OD-16-130

Section V. Application Review Information
1. Criteria

The mission of AHRQ is to produce evidence to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable, and to work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other partners to make sure that the evidence is understood and used. 

AHRQ's priority areas (http://www.ahrq.gov/funding/policies/foaguidance/index.html) of focus are:

  • Improve health care quality by accelerating implementation of patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR).
  • Make health care safer.
  • Increase accessibility by evaluating coverage expansions.
  • Improve health care affordability, efficiency, and cost transparency.

As part of this mission, applications submitted to AHRQ to support health services research are evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the AHRQ peer review system. 

Applications that are complete and responsive to the FOA will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by an appropriate peer review group convened in accordance with standard AHRQ peer review procedures that are described in 42 CFR Part 67, Subpart A.  Incomplete and/or non-responsive applications or applications not following instructions given in this FOA will not be reviewed. 

As part of the initial merit review, all applications will:

  • Undergo a selection process in which only those applications deemed to have the highest scientific merit will be discussed and assigned a priority score.
  • Receive a written critique.

Administrative Criteria:  Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed by AHRQ for completeness and responsiveness.

Merit Review Criteria:  Merit Review Criteria, as described below, will be considered in the review process.

Overall Impact

Reviewers will provide their assessment of the likelihood that the proposed career development and research plan will enhance the candidate’s potential for a productive, independent scientific research career in a health-related field, taking into consideration the criteria below in determining the overall impact score.

Scored Review Criteria

Reviewers will consider each of the review criteria below in the determination of scientific merit, and give a separate score for each. An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact.

Candidate

  • Does the candidate have the potential to develop as an independent and productive researcher?
  • Are the candidate's prior training and research experience appropriate for this award?
  • Is the candidate’s academic, clinical (if relevant), and research record of high quality?
  • Is there evidence of the candidate’s commitment to meeting the program objectives to become an independent investigator in research?
  • Do the reference letters address the above review criteria, and do they provide evidence that the candidate has a high potential for becoming an independent investigator?

Career Development Plan/Career Goals and Objectives

  • What is the likelihood that the plan will contribute substantially to the scientific development of the candidate and lead to scientific independence?
  • Are the candidate's prior training and research experience appropriate for this award?
  • Are the content, scope, phasing, and duration of the career development plan appropriate when considered in the context of prior training/research experience and the stated training and research objectives for achieving research independence?
  • Are there adequate plans for monitoring and evaluating the candidate’s research and career development progress?
  • Is the career development plan appropriate in its content, scope, duration, and phasing for the candidate's stated career development goals?

Research Plan

  • Is there a strong scientific premise for the project?
  • Has the candidate presented strategies to ensure a robust and unbiased approach, as appropriate for the work proposed?
  • Has the candidate presented adequate plans to address relevant biological variables, such as sex, for studies in human subjects?
  • Are the proposed research question, design, and methodology of significant scientific and technical merit?
  • Is the research plan relevant to the candidate’s research career objectives?
  • Is the research plan appropriate to the candidate's stage of research development and as a vehicle for developing the research skills described in the career development plan?

Mentor(s), Co-Mentor(s), Consultant(s), Collaborator(s)

  • Are the qualifications of the mentor(s) in the area of the proposed research appropriate?
  • Does the mentor(s) adequately address the candidate’s potential and his/her strengths and areas needing improvement?
  • Is there adequate description of the quality and extent of the mentor’s proposed role in providing guidance and advice to the candidate?
  • Is the mentor’s description of the elements of the research career development activities, including formal course work adequate?
  • Is there evidence of the mentors, consultants, and/or collaborators previous experience in fostering the development of independent investigators?
  • Is there evidence of the mentor's current research productivity and peer-reviewed support?
  • Is active/pending support for the proposed research project appropriate and adequate?
  • Are there adequate plans for monitoring and evaluating the career development awardee’s progress toward independence?
  • Does the mentor provide an appropriate plan that addresses the candidate’s training needs, and that is likely to foster the candidate’s continued development and transition to independence?

Environment & Institutional Commitment to the Candidate

  • Is there clear commitment of the sponsoring institution to ensure that a minimum of 9 person-months (75% of the candidate’s full-time professional effort) will be devoted directly to the research and career development activities described in the application, with the remaining percent effort being devoted to an appropriate balance of research, teaching, administrative, and clinical responsibilities?
  • Is the institutional commitment to the career development of the candidate appropriately strong?
  • Are the research facilities, resources and training opportunities, including faculty capable of productive collaboration with the candidate adequate and appropriate?
  • Is the environment for the candidate’s scientific and professional development of high quality?
  • Is there assurance that the institution intends the candidate to be an integral part of its research program as an independent investigator?
Additional Review Criteria

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will evaluate the following additional items while determining scientific and technical merit, and in providing an overall impact score, but will not give separate scores for these items.

Protections for Human Subjects

For research that involves human subjects but does not involve one of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate the justification for involvement of human subjects and the proposed protections from research risk relating to their participation according to the following five review criteria: (1) risk to subjects, (2) adequacy of protection against risks, (3) potential benefits to the subjects and others, (4) importance of the knowledge to be gained, and (5) data and safety monitoring for clinical trials.

For research that involves human subjects and meets the criteria for one or more of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate: (1) the justification for the exemption, (2) human subjects involvement and characteristics, and (3) sources of materials. For additional information on review of the Human Subjects section, please refer to the Human Subjects Protection and Inclusion Guidelines.

Degree of Responsiveness

Reviewers will assess how well the application addresses the purpose and objectives of this FOA and how responsive the application is to the special eligibility criteria.

Inclusion of Priority Populations 

Reviewers will assess the adequacy of plans to address the needs of both genders, racial and ethnic minorities (and subgroups).  Reviewers will assess the adequacy of attention to AHRQ priority populations (see above discussion on Priority Populations in section IV.6 “Other Submission Requirements”).

Budget and Period of Support

The committee will evaluate whether the proposed budget is reasonable and the requested period of support is appropriate in relation to the proposed research.

Privacy and Security Protections for Patients

If applicable, reviewers will assess the resources and processes to be used to address privacy and security issues in the development and implementation of the intervention.

Resubmissions

For Resubmissions, the committee will evaluate the application as now presented, taking into consideration the responses to comments from the previous scientific review group and changes made to the project.  Please see resubmission policy details at: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-15-059.html.

Additional Review Considerations

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will consider each of the following items, but will not give scores for these items, and should not consider them in providing an overall impact score.

Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research

All applications for support under this FOA must include a plan to fulfill AHRQ requirements for instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR).  Taking into account the level of experience of the applicant, including any prior instruction or participation in RCR as appropriate for the applicant’s career stage, the reviewers will evaluate the adequacy of the proposed RCR training in relation to the following five required components: 1) Format - the required format of instruction, i.e., face-to-face lectures, coursework, and/or real-time discussion groups (a plan with only on-line instruction is not acceptable); 2) Subject Matter - the breadth of subject matter, e.g., conflict of interest, authorship, data management, human subjects and animal use, laboratory safety, research misconduct, research ethics; 3) Faculty Participation - the role of the mentor(s) and other faculty involvement in the fellow’s instruction; 4) Duration of Instruction - the number of contact hours of instruction (at least eight contact hours are required); and 5) Frequency of Instruction –instruction must occur during each career stage and at least once every four years.  Plans and past record will be rated as ACCEPTABLE or UNACCEPTABLE, and the summary statement will provide the consensus of the review committee.

2. Review and Selection Process

Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by (an) appropriate Scientific Review Group(s), in accordance with AHRQ Review Policy, using the stated Review Criteria in Section V. AHRQ K08 applications are assigned to the AHRQ Health Care Research Training (HCRT) study section (https://www.ahrq.gov/funding/process/study-section/peerdesc.html).  If there is a conflict of interest, the AHRQ Referral Officer will make an alternate AHRQ study section assignment.  Assignment to a Scientific Review Group will be shown in the eRA Commons.

As part of the scientific peer review, all applications:

  • May undergo a selection process in which only those applications deemed to have the highest scientific and technical merit (generally the top half of applications under review) will be discussed and assigned an overall impact score.
  • Will receive a written critique.

Applications will be assigned on the basis of established AHRQ referral guidelines to the appropriate AHRQ Office or   Center. Applications will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications submitted in response to this FOA. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

  • Scientific and technical merit of the proposed project as determined by scientific peer review.
  • Availability of funds.
  • Responsiveness to goals and objectives of the FOA.
  • Relevance and fit within AHRQ research priorities, as well as overall programmatic and geographic balance of the proposed project to program priorities.
3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

After the peer review of the application is completed, the PD/PI will be able to access his or her Summary Statement (written critique) via the eRA Commons. Refer to Part 1 for dates for peer review, advisory council review, and earliest start date.

Section VI. Award Administration Information
1. Award Notices

If the application is under consideration for funding, AHRQ will request "Just-In-Time" information from the applicant.  Just-In-Time information generally consists of information on other support, any additional information necessary to address administrative issues, and certification of IRB approval of the project's proposed use of human subjects.  For details regarding IRB approval of human subjects protocols, applicants may refer to the "AHRQ Revised Policy for Institutional Review Board (IRB) Review of Human Subjects Protocols in Grant Applications" (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not-hs-00-003.html). 

If all administrative and programmatic issues have been resolved, a formal notification in the form of a Notice of Award (NoA) will be provided to the applicant organization for successful applications. The NoA signed by the grants management officer is the authorizing document and will be sent via email to the email address designated by the recipient organization during the eRA Commons registration process.

Awardees must comply with any funding restrictions described in Section IV.6. Funding Restrictions.

Selection of an application for award is not an authorization to begin performance. Any costs incurred before receipt of the NoA are at the recipient's risk. These costs may be reimbursed only to the extent considered allowable pre-award costs.

Any application awarded in response to this FOA will be subject to the DUNS, SAM Registration, and Transparency Act requirements as noted on the AHRQ web site at https://www.ahrq.gov/funding/grant-mgmt/index.html. This includes any recent legislation and policy applicable to awards that is highlighted on this website.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

All AHRQ grant and cooperative agreement awards are subject to OMB's Uniform Grant Guidance, HHS’s “Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for HHS Awards,” (http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?node=pt45.1.75), and the HHS Grants Policy Statement (see http://www.ahrq.gov/funding/policies/hhspolicy/index.html), and the terms and conditions set forth in the Notice of  Award.  As necessary, additional Terms and Conditions will be incorporated into the award statement.

A standard term and condition of award will be included in the Notice of Award (NOA) that states:  “in any grant-related activity in which family, marital, or household consideration are, by statute or regulation, relevant for purposes of determining beneficiary eligibility or participation, grantees must treat same-sex spouses, marriages, and households on the same terms as opposite-sex spouses, marriages, and households, respectively. By “same-sex spouses,” HHS means individuals of the same sex who have entered into marriages that are valid in the jurisdiction where performed, including any of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. territory or in a foreign country, regardless of whether or not the couple resides in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage.  By “same-sex marriages,” HHS means marriages between two individuals validly entered into in the jurisdiction where performed, including any of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. territory or in a foreign country, regardless of whether or not the couple resides in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage.  By “marriage,” HHS does not mean registered domestic partnerships, civil unions or similar formal relationships recognized under the law of the jurisdiction of celebration as something other than a marriage.”

All applicants will be subject to a term and condition that applies the terms of 48 CFR section 3.908 to the award, and requires that grantees inform their employees in writing of employee whistleblower rights and protections under 41U.S.C. 4712 in the predominant native language of the workforce.

Recipients of federal financial assistance (FFA) from HHS must administer their programs in compliance with federal civil rights law. This means that recipients of HHS funds must ensure equal access to their programs without regard to a person’s race, color, national origin, disability, age and, in some circumstances, sex and religion. This includes ensuring your programs are accessible to persons with limited English proficiency.  HHS recognizes that research projects are often limited in scope for many reasons that are nondiscriminatory, such as the principal investigator’s scientific interest, funding limitations, recruitment requirements, and other considerations. Thus, criteria in research protocols that target or exclude certain populations are warranted where nondiscriminatory justifications establish that such criteria are appropriate with respect to the health or safety of the subjects, the scientific study design, or the purpose of the research.

For additional guidance regarding how the provisions apply to AHRQ grant programs, please contact the Scientific/Research Contact that is identified in Section VII Agency Contacts of this FOA. HHS provides general guidance to recipients of FFA on meeting their legal obligation to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to their programs by persons with limited English proficiency. Please see https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/special-topics/limited-english-proficiency/guidance-federal-financial-assistance-recipients-title-VI/. The HHS Office for Civil Rights also provides guidance on complying with civil rights laws enforced by HHS. Please see http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/understanding/index.html. Recipients of FFA also have specific legal obligations for serving qualified individuals with disabilities. Please see http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/understanding/disability/index.html. Please contact the HHS Office for Civil Rights for more information about obligations and prohibitions under federal civil rights laws at https://www.hhs.gov/ocr/about-us/contact-us/index.html or call 1-800-368-1019 or TDD 1-800-537-7697. Also note it is an HHS Departmental goal to ensure access to quality, culturally competent care, including long-term services and supports, for vulnerable populations. For further guidance on providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services, recipients should review the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care at https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=2&lvlid=53.

In accordance with the statutory provisions contained in Section 872 of the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2009 (Public Law 110-417), AHRQ awards will be subject to the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) requirements.  FAPIIS requires Federal award making officials to review and consider information about an applicant in the designated integrity and performance system (currently FAPIIS) prior to making an award.  An applicant, at its option, may review information in the designated integrity and performance systems accessible through FAPIIS and comment on any information about itself that a Federal agency previously entered and is currently in FAPIIS.  The Federal awarding agency will consider any comments by the applicant, in addition to other information in FAPIIS, in making a judgment about the applicant’s integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under Federal awards when completing the review of risk posed by applicants as described in 45 CFR Part 75.205 “Federal awarding agency review of risk posed by applicants.”  This provision will apply to all AHRQ grants and cooperative agreements except fellowships.

Other Income:  Awardees may retain royalties and fees for activities such as scholarly writing, service on advisory groups, honoraria from other institutions for lectures or seminars, fees resulting from clinical practice, professional consultation or other comparable activities, provided these activities remain incidental, are not required by the research and research-related activities of this award, and provided that the retention of such pay is consistent with the policies and practices of the grantee institution.

All other income and fees, not included in the preceding paragraph as retainable, may not be retained by the K08 award recipient.  Such fees must be assigned to the grantee institution for disposition by any of the following methods:

  • The funds may be expended by the grantee institution in accordance with the policy on supplementation of career award salaries and to provide fringe benefits in proportion to such supplementation.  Such salary supplementation and fringe benefit payments must be within the established policies of the grantee institution.
  • The funds may be used for health-related research purposes.
  • The funds may be paid to miscellaneous receipts of the U.S. Treasury.  Checks should be made payable to the Department of Health and Human Services, AHRQ and forwarded to the Director, Division of Financial Management, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, Md, 20857.  Checks must identify the relevant award account and reason for the payment.

Funds budgeted in an AHRQ-supported research grant for salaries and fringe benefits, but freed as a result of a K08 award, may not be re-budgeted and must be returned to the Federal government.  AHRQ will give consideration to approval for the retention and use of released funds only under unusual circumstances.  Any proposed retention of funds released as a result of a K08 award must receive prior written approval from AHRQ.

 Leave Policies:  Leave to another institution, including a foreign laboratory, may be permitted if the proposed experience is directly related to the purpose of the award.  Only local institutional approval is required if such leaves does not exceed three months.  For longer periods, prior written approval is required.  Details on the process for submission of prior approval requests can be found in the HHS Grants Policy Statement (rev. 1/07), “OPDIV Prior Approval”.

A copy of a letter or other evidence from the institution where the leave is to be taken must be submitted to assure that satisfactory arrangements have been made.  Support from the K08 award will continue during such leave.  Leave without award support may not exceed 12 months.  Such leave requires the prior written approval of AHRQ and will be granted only in unusual situations.

Support from other sources is permissible during the period of leave without award support.  Such leave does not reduce the total number of months of program support for which an individual is eligible.

Policy on Temporary Adjustments to Full-Time Appointments or to Percent Effort devoted to the project:  With AHRQ prior approval, K08 awardees may reduce the full-time appointment required to less than full-time (but not less than three-quarter time) for a period not to exceed 12 continuous months during the K08 award project period.    Note: This option is only available once a K application has been awarded.  At the time of application, all candidates must meet the full-time appointment requirement as well as the minimum 75% annual effort requirement.

If requesting approval to change to a part-time appointment status, the awardee must continue to commit at least 75% effort of the part-time appointment to research and career development activities. 

The nature of the circumstances requiring a change in the appointment status or percent effort might include personal or family situations such as parental leave, child care, elder care, medical conditions, or a disability.  Permission to change appointment status or percent effort will not be approved to accommodate job opportunities, clinical practice, or clinical training.

The grantee institution must submit written documentation supporting the need for reduced faculty appointment status or percent effort along with assurance of a continuing commitment to the scientific and research career development of the awardee.  The K awardee should justify the request to reduce either his/her appointment to less than full-time status or to less than 75% effort and must describe the anticipated impact of the requested change on his/her career progression during the remainder of the K08 award period.  In addition, the awardee must submit assurance of his/her intention to return to a full-time faculty appointment or to at least 75% effort and provide an estimated date on which this will occur.  The mentor must provide a revised plan for mentoring and specifically describe updated milestones for the awardee’s progression to independence.  Lastly, a revised statement of institutional commitment to the awardee must ensure continued “protected time” and describe additional support that will assist the K08 grantee to continue to make progress toward his/her goals during the requested period of reduced time/effort devoted to the award.  During the period of reduced appointment status or percent effort, the salary and other costs supported by the award will be reduced accordingly. 

Prior approval requests must be submitted at least 30 days in advance of the proposed date of reduction and be submitted by an authorized institutional official of the grantee institution to the attention of the AHRQ Grants Management Specialist named on the most recent NoA. AHRQ grants management and program staff will consider such requests on a case-by-case basis.

Changes in Research or Career Development Program:  Consultation with AHRQ program staff is strongly encouraged when a change in the approved career development program and/or research plan is being considered.  Individual awards are made for career development in a specific research program.  A change in the specified scientific area of the research component of the career development program requires prior approval by AHRQ.  Prior approval requests are to be submitted to the AHRQ Grants Management Specialist named on the most recent NoA. A scientific rationale must be provided for any proposed changes in the aims of the original peer-reviewed research plan.  The new research plan will be evaluated by AHRQ staff to ensure the plan remains within the scope of the original peer-reviewed research program.  If the new plan does not satisfy this requirement, staff could recommend that the award be terminated.

Change of Mentor:  In rare cases where a mentor must be replaced, the institution must submit a letter from the proposed mentor and awardee documenting the need for substitution, the new mentor’s qualifications for supervising the program, and the level of support for the PD/PI’s continued career development.  The letter must also document that the specific aims of the research program will remain within the scope of the original peer reviewed research program.  AHRQ staff will review the request and will notify the institution of the results of the evaluation.

Change of Institution or Termination:  Consultation with AHRQ staff is strongly encouraged when either change of institution or termination is being considered.  A change of grantee institution normally will be permitted only when all of the benefits attributable to the original grant can be transferred, including equipment purchased in whole or in part with grant funds.  In reviewing a request to transfer a grant, AHRQ will consider whether there is a continued need for the grant-supported project or activity and the impact of any proposed changes in the scope of the project.  A change may be made without peer review, provided the PD/PI plans no significant change in research and career development objectives and the facilities and resources at the new organization will allow for successful performance of the project.  If these conditions or other programmatic or administrative requirements are not met, AHRQ may require peer review or may disapprove the request and, if appropriate, terminate the award.  If the K08 awardee is moving to another eligible institution, career award support may be continued provided:

  • A relinquishing statement is submitted by the original institution and a transfer application is submitted by the new institution at least three months prior to the transfer in order to allow the necessary time for administrative review by AHRQ staff.
  • The awardee must establish in the transfer application that the specific aims of the research program to be conducted at the new institution are within the scope of the original peer-reviewed research program, and that a new mentor has been identified who has the appropriate research expertise and support to provide adequate guidance to the awardee and research support for the awardee’s research program.
  • All conditions of the award are met at the new institution.
  • The period of support requested is no more than the time remaining within the existing award.

See FAQs on the AHRQ website for detailed information about requesting a change of grantee institution: https://info.ahrq.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/56/session/L3RpbWUvMTQ4Nzk1MzY3Ny9zaWQvM3luNHcyY24%3D

When a grantee institution plans to terminate an award, the Grants Management Specialist listed on the Notice of Award (NOA) must be notified in writing at the earliest possible time so that appropriate instructions can be given for termination.  AHRQ may terminate an award upon determination that the purpose or terms of the award are not being fulfilled.  In the event an award is terminated, AHRQ shall notify the grantee institution in writing of this determination, the reasons, the effective date, and the right to appeal the decision.

3. Reporting

When multiple years are involved, awardees will be required to submit the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/rppr/index.htm) annually unless specified otherwise in the terms of award. The Supplemental Instructions for Individual Career Development (K) RPPRs must be followed. The Mentor’s Report must include an annual evaluation statement of the candidate’s progress.

Expenditure data is to be reported on the Federal Financial Report (FFR; SF 425). AHRQ requires annual financial expenditure reports for ALL grant programs as described in the HHS Grants Policy Statement (see https://www.ahrq.gov/funding/policies/hhspolicy/index.html).  AHRQ implementation of the FFR retains a financial reporting period that coincides with the budget period of a particular project.  However, the due date for annual FFRs will be 90 days after the end of the calendar quarter in which the budget period ends. The due date for the final FFR is 90 days after the project period end date.

A final progress report, invention statement, and the expenditure data portion of the Federal Financial Report are required for closeout of an award, as described https://www.ahrq.gov/funding/grant-mgmt/closeout.html.

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Transparency Act), includes a requirement for awardees of Federal grants to report information about first-tier subawards and executive compensation under Federal assistance awards issued in FY2011 or later.  All awardees of applicable AHRQ grants and cooperative agreements are required to report to the Federal Subaward Reporting System (FSRS) available at www.fsrs.gov on all subawards over $25,000.

In accordance with the regulatory requirements provided at 45 CFR 75.113 and Appendix XII to 45 CFR Part 75, recipients that have currently active Federal grants, cooperative agreements, and procurement contracts from all Federal awarding agencies with a cumulative total value greater than $10,000,000 for any period of time during the period of performance of a Federal award, must report and maintain the currency of information reported in the System for Award Management (SAM) about civil, criminal, and administrative proceedings in connection with the award or performance of a Federal award that reached final disposition within the most recent five-year period.  The recipient must also make semiannual disclosures regarding such proceedings. Proceedings information will be made publicly available in the designated integrity and performance system (currently FAPIIS).  This is a statutory requirement under section 872 of Public Law 110-417, as amended (41 U.S.C. 2313).  As required by section 3010 of Public Law 111-212, all information posted in the designated integrity and performance system on or after April 15, 2011, except past performance reviews required for Federal procurement contracts, will be publicly available.  Full reporting requirements and procedures are found in Appendix XII to 45 CFR Part 75 – Award Term and Conditions for Recipient Integrity and Performance Matters.

4. Evaluation

In carrying out its stewardship of human resource-related programs, the AHRQ may request information essential to an assessment of the effectiveness of this program from databases and from participants themselves. Participants may be contacted after the completion of this award for periodic updates on various aspects of their employment history, publications, support from research grants or contracts, honors and awards, professional activities, and other information helpful in evaluating the impact of the program.

Section VII. Agency Contacts

We encourage inquiries concerning this funding opportunity and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants.   

Prior consultation with AHRQ staff is strongly encouraged to ensure that a prospective application is responsive to the AHRQ program requirements for this FOA.

Application Submission Contacts

eRA Service Desk (Questions regarding ASSIST, eRA Commons registration, submitting and tracking an application, documenting system problems that threaten submission by the due date, post submission issues)
Finding Help Online: http://grants.nih.gov/support/ (preferred method of contact)
Telephone: 301-402-7469 or 866-504-9552 (Toll Free)

Grants.gov Customer Support (Questions regarding Grants.gov registration and submission, downloading forms and application packages)
Contact Center Telephone: 800-518-4726
Email: support@grants.gov

GrantsInfo (Questions regarding application instructions and process, finding grant resources)
Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov (preferred method of contact)
Telephone: 301-945-7573

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Tamara Willis, PhD, MPH
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
Telephone: 301-427-1011
Email: Tamara.Willis@ahrq.hhs.gov

Peer Review Contact(s)

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

Ali Azadegan, DVM, PhD
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
Telephone: 301427-1869
E-mail:  Ali.Azadegan@ahrq.hhs.gov

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Galen Gregor
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)
Telephone: 301-427-1457
Email: Galen.Gregor@ahrq.hhs.gov

Section VIII. Other Information

Recently issued AHRQ policy notices may affect your application submission. A full list of policy notices published by AHRQ is provided in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. Notices can also be found at AHRQ Grants Policy Notices

AHRQ Grants Policy and guidance to applicants regarding Funding Opportunity Announcement procedures can be found at Funding Opportunity Announcement Guidance.

Authority and Regulations

This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance at http://www.cfda.gov/ and is not subject to the intergovernmental review requirements of Executive Order 12372 or Health Systems Agency review. Awards are made under the authority of 42 USC 299 et seq., and in accordance with 45 CFR Part 75 and other referenced applicable statutes and regulations.  All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the HHS Grants Policy Statement. The HHS Grants Policy Statement can be found at https://www.ahrq.gov/funding/policies/hhspolicy/index.html.

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