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.

AHRQ Grants Policy and information to applicants regarding Funding Opportunity Announcement procedures can be found at http://www.ahrq.gov/funding/policies/foaguidance/index.html.

Components of Participating Organizations

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

Funding Opportunity Title

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)-sponsored National Research Service Award (NRSA)Individual  Postdoctoral Fellowship (F32)

Activity Code

F32 Postdoctoral Individual National Research Service Award

Announcement Type

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is a new Program Announcement. This FOA updates and supersedes PA-12-261 which was released on August 9, 2012. 

Related Notices

None

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number

PA-17-481

Companion Funding Opportunity

None

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

  93.225

Funding Opportunity Purpose

The purpose of this individual postdoctoral research training fellowship is to enhance the research training of promising postdoctoral candidates who have the potential to become productive, independent investigators in health services research, with a research interest in areas and priorities relevant to the mission of AHRQ.  

Key Dates

 

Posted Date

September 12, 2017

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

September 12, 2017

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

Not Applicable

Application Due Date(s)

Standard dates apply, 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.

Peer Review Date

Generally four months after receipt date

Advisory Council Review

Not Applicable for Fellowships

Earliest Start Date

 Generally four to seven months after peer review date

Expiration Date

August 9, 2022

Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not Applicable

Required Application Instructions

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the Individual Fellowship SF424 (R&R) Application Guide except where instructed to do otherwise (in this FOA or in a Notice from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts). 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, and follow the AHRQ Grants Policy and Guidance found on the AHRQ website at http://www.ahrq.gov/funding/policies/foaguidance/index.html. 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

The overall goal of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)-sponsored Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) program is to help ensure that a diverse pool of highly trained scientists is available in appropriate scientific disciplines to address the Nation's  health services research and  behavioral research needs.  More information about NRSA programs may be found at the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) website.

The purpose of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)-sponsored Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship (F32) is to support promising applicants during their mentored postdoctoral training under the guidance of outstanding faculty sponsors.  The integrated program of research and training should enhance the individual's potential to develop into a productive, independent researcher. The training plan should document the need for, and the anticipated value of, the proposed mentored training in relationship to the individual's research career goals. The training plan should also facilitate the fellow's transition to the next stage of his/her career.

Applications for research fellowship grants 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 HHS and with other partners to make sure that the evidence is understood and used.

AHRQ welcomes fellowship training applications in any area of health services research relevant to AHRQ's priority areas.  AHRQ research priority areas are described at

http://www.ahrq.gov/funding/policies/foaguidance/index.html.

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 customers, such as providers and practitioners, administrators, payers, consumers, policymakers, and insurers.

Fellows must focus their research development and projects on health care delivery in the United States.

It is expected that the mentored training experience will provide:

  • A strong foundation in research design, methods, and analytic techniques appropriate to the proposed research;
  • Enhanced ability to conceptualize and think through research problems with increasing independence;
  • Experience conducting research using appropriate, state-of-the-art methods, as well as presenting and publishing the research findings as first author;
  • The opportunity to interact with members of the scientific community at appropriate scientific meetings and workshops;
  • Skills needed to transition to the next stage of the applicant's research career; and
  • The opportunity to enhance the applicant's understanding of the health-related sciences and the relationship of his/her research to health and health care delivery.

Applicants with a health professional doctoral degree may use the proposed postdoctoral training to satisfy a portion of the degree requirements for a master's degree, a research doctoral degree or any other advanced research degree program. 

The NRSA F32 award may provide up to three years of support for postdoctoral research training. The AHRQ encourages applications from individuals sufficiently early in their postdoctoral training period that they can benefit from the mentored research and training opportunities of an individual fellowship award.

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

Section II. Award Information
Funding Instrument

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

Application Types Allowed

New

Resubmission 
Renewal applications are not permitted in response to this FOA.

Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards

The number of awards is contingent upon AHRQ program priorities, availability of funds, and the receipt of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.

Award Budget

Award budgets are composed of stipends, tuition and fees, and institutional allowance, as described below.

Award Project Period

Individuals may receive up to 3 years of aggregate Kirschstein-NRSA support at the postdoctoral level, including any combination of support from institutional training grants (e.g., T32) and an individual fellowship award.

Other Award Budget Information
Stipends

Kirschstein-NRSA awards provide stipends as a subsistence allowance to help defray living expenses during the research and clinical training experiences.  See https://researchtraining.nih.gov/resources/policy-notices

Tuition and Fees

For postdoctoral fellows, costs associated with tuition and fees are allowable only if they are required for specific courses in support of the research training,or a formal degree-granting program. AHRQ will contribute to the combined cost of tuition and fees at the rate in place at the time of award. See https://researchtraining.nih.gov/resources/policy-notices

Institutional Allowance

The application should request the appropriate Kirschstein-NRSA institutional allowance to help defray the cost of fellowship expenses such as health insurance, research supplies, equipment, books, and travel to scientific meetings. See https://researchtraining.nih.gov/resources/policy-notices.

Indirect Costs

Indirect costs are not allowed on individual fellowship awards.

Stipend levels, as well as funding amounts for tuition and fees and the institutional allowance are announced annually in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, and are also posted on the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) webpage.

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)

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. 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.

Before submitting a fellowship application, the applicant must identify a sponsoring institution. The sponsoring institution must have staff and facilities available on site to provide a suitable environment for performing high-quality research training. The training should occur in an environment that has appropriate human and technical resources and is demonstrably committed to training in the field(s) proposed by the applicant. The sponsoring institution may be private (nonprofit) or public. All eligible institutions with the appropriate resources and commitment are encouraged to apply.

The Kirschstein-NRSA F32 fellowship is designed to support research training experiences in new settings in order to maximize the acquisition of new skills and knowledge. In most cases, therefore, the sponsoring institution should be a site other than where the applicant trained as a graduate student. However, if the applicant is proposing postdoctoral training at his/her doctoral institution, the application must carefully document the opportunities for new research training experiences specifically designed to broaden his/her scientific background and to acquire new knowledge and/or technical skills that will enhance his/her potential to become a productive, independent investigator.

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.
  • Foreign components, as defined in the HHS Grants Policy Statement may participate in projects as member of consortia or as subcontractors only.
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.

  • 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/PIshould work with his/her organizational officials to either create a new account or to affiliate their existing account with the applicant organization in eRA Commons. If the PD/PI is also the organizational Signing Official, they must have two distinct eRA Commons accounts, one for each role. Obtaining an eRA Commons account can take up to 2 weeks.

Eligible Individuals (Program Director/Principal Investigator)

Any applicant fellow 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 sponsor 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.

By the time of award, the individual 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).  

The applicant must show evidence of high academic performance, and commitment to a research career.

Before an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)-sponsored Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) postdoctoral fellowship can be activated, the individual must have received a PhD, MD, DO, DC, DDS, DVM, OD, DPM, ScD, EngD, DrPH, DNSc, ND (Doctor of Naturopathy), PharmD, DSW, PsyD, or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited domestic or foreign institution. Certification by an authorized official of the degree-granting institution that all degree requirements have been met is also acceptable. An Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)-sponsored Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) fellowship may not be used to support the clinical years of residency training. However, these awards are appropriate for the research fellowship years of a residency program. Research clinicians must devote full-time to their proposed research training and confine clinical duties to those activities that are part of the research training program.

2. Cost Sharing

This FOA does not require cost sharing.

While there is no cost sharing requirement included in this FOA, AHRQ welcomes applicant institutions, including any collaborating institutions, to devote resources to this effort. An indication of institutional support from the applicant and its collaborators indicates a greater potential of success and sustainability of the project. Examples of institutional support would include: donated equipment and space, institutional funded staff time and effort, or other resource investments. Applicant institutions that plan to provide support should indicate institutional support by outlining the specific contributions to the project and providing assurances that their organization and any collaborators are committed to providing these funds and resources to the project. This can be included at the end of the budget justification section of the application, but institutional support dollars are not to be included in the detailed budget request.

3. Additional Information on Eligibility
Number of Applications

Applicant organizations may submit more than one application, provided that each application is programmatically distinct.

An individual may not have more than one competing NIH or AHRQ fellowship application pending review concurrently.

Resubmission(s):  Applicants may submit one resubmission application, but such application must include an Introduction addressing issues raised in the previous critique (Summary Statement).

Renewals:  Awards are not renewable and are not transferable from one PD/PI to another.

AHRQ will not accept duplicate or highly overlapping applications under review at the same time.  This means that the 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
Duration of Support

Individuals may not exceed the aggregate limit of NRSA support shown above in the Award Project Period (see Section II. Award Information). Applicant fellows must consider any prior NRSA research training in determining the duration of support requested. Information regarding previous Kirschstein-NRSA support must be included in the application and will be considered at the time of award.

Level of Effort

At the time of award and for the duration of the award, individuals are required to pursue their research training on a full-time basis, normally defined as 40 hours per week or as specified by the sponsoring institution in accordance with its own consistently applied policies.

Sponsor

Before submitting the application, the applicant fellow must identify a sponsor(s) (also called mentor) who will supervise the proposed mentored training experience. The sponsor should be an active investigator in the area of the proposed research training and be committed both to the applicant's research training and to direct supervision of his/her research. The sponsor must document the availability of sufficient research funds and facilities for high-quality research training. The sponsor, or a member of the sponsor team, should have a successful track record of mentorship. Applicants are encouraged to identify more than one sponsor, i.e., a sponsor team, if this is deemed advantageous for providing expert advice in all aspects of the training program. When there is a sponsor team, one individual must be identified as the primary sponsor, and will be expected to coordinate the applicant's overall training. The applicant must work with the sponsor(s) in preparing the application.

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 Fellowship (F) 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.

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 SF424 (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.  

PHS Fellowship Supplemental Form

The PHS Fellowship Supplemental Form is comprised of the following sections:

  • Fellowship Applicant
  • Research Training Plan
  • Sponsor(s), Collaborator(s), and Consultant(s)
  • Institutional Environment & Commitment to Training
  • Other Research Training Plan Sections
  • Additional Information
  • Budget
  • Appendix

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

Fellowship Applicant Section

Applicant's Background and Goals for Fellowship Training

Institutional Environment and Commitment to Training Section

Description of Institutional Environment and Commitment to Training

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 Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information

Form only available in FORMS-E application packages for use with due dates on or after January 25, 2018.

When involving NIH-defined human subjects research, clinical research, and/or clinical trials (and when applicable, clinical trials research experience) follow all instructions for the PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information form in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, with the following additional instructions:

If you answered "Yes" to the question "Are Human Subjects Involved?" on the R&R Other Project Information form, you must include at least one human subjects study record using the Study Record: PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information form or a Delayed Onset Study record.

Study Record: PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed with the following additional instructions:

  • For FOAs that do not allow independent clinical trials, do not complete Section 4 - Protocol Synopsis information or Section 5 - Other Clinical Trial-related Attachments.

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

PHS Assignment Request Form

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

Reference Letters

Applicants 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 Letter 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). 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.

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 https://www.ahrq.gov/funding/policies/hhspolicy/index.html. The National Research Service Award (NRSA) policies apply to this program. See also F32 webpage.  


Pre-award costs are not allowable.  

Concurrent Awards: A NRSA appointment may not be held concurrently with another federally sponsored fellowship, traineeship, or similar Federal award that provides stipend or otherwise duplicates provisions of the NRSA.

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:
The PD/PI and any sponsor(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 and responsiveness by AHRQ. Applications that are incomplete, non-compliant and/or nonresponsive will not be reviewed.

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 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 may wish to 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. 

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 the policy NOT-OD-16-130 and NOT-OD-17-066.

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 within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and with other partners to make sure that the evidence is understood and used.  

AHRQ's priority areas 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.  Only the review criteria described below will be considered in the review process.

Administrative Criteria:  Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness by the Center for Scientific Review, NIH, and for responsiveness by AHRQ.

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

For this particular announcement, note the following:

  • A fellowship application has a research project that is integrated with the training plan. The review will emphasize the applicant fellow's potential for a productive career, the applicant fellow's need for the proposed training, and the degree to which the research project and training plan, the sponsor(s), and the environment will satisfy those needs.
Overall Impact/Merit

Reviewers will provide an overall impact score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood that the fellowship will enhance the applicant fellow's potential for, and commitment to, a productive independent scientific research career in a health-related field, in consideration of the scored and additional review criteria.

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.

Fellowship Applicant

  • Are the applicant's academic record and research experience of high quality?
  • Does the applicant have the potential to develop into an independent and productive health services researcher?
  • Does the applicant demonstrate commitment to a research career in the future?

Sponsors, Collaborators, and Consultants

  • Are the sponsor(s') research qualifications (including recent publications) and track record of mentoring individuals at a similar stage appropriate for the needs of the applicant?
  • Is there evidence of a match between the research and clinical interests (if applicable) of the applicant and the sponsor(s)? Do(es) the sponsor(s) demonstrate an understanding of the applicant's training needs as well as the ability and commitment to assist in meeting these needs?
  • Is there evidence of adequate research funds to support the applicant's proposed research project and training for the duration of the research component of the fellowship?
  • If a team of sponsors is proposed, is the team structure well justified for the mentored training plan, and are the roles of the individual members appropriate and clearly defined?
  • Are the qualifications of any collaborator(s) and/or consultant(s), including their complementary expertise and previous experience in fostering the training of fellows, appropriate for the proposed project?

Research Training Plan

  • Is the proposed research project of high scientific quality, and is it well integrated with the proposed research training plan?
  • Based on the sponsor's description of his/her active research program, is the applicant's proposed research project sufficiently distinct from the sponsor's funded research for the applicant's career stage?
  • Is the research project consistent with the applicant's stage of research development?
  • Is the proposed time frame feasible to accomplish the proposed training?

Training Potential

  • Are the proposed research project and training plan likely to provide the applicant with the requisite individualized and mentored experiences in order to obtain appropriate skills for a research career?
  • Does the training plan take advantage of the applicant's strengths and address gaps in needed skills?  Does the training plan document a clear need for, and value of, the proposed training?
  • Does the proposed training have the potential to serve as a sound foundation that will clearly enhance the applicant's ability to develop into a productive researcher?

Institutional Environment & Commitment to Training

  • Are the research facilities, resources (e.g., equipment, laboratory space, computer time, subject populations), and training opportunities (e.g. seminars, workshops, professional development opportunities) adequate and appropriate?
  • Is the institutional environment for the applicant's scientific development of high quality?
  • Is there appropriate institutional commitment to fostering the applicant's mentored training?
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.

Degree of Responsiveness

How well does the application address the purpose and objectives of this FOA?  How responsive is the application to the special eligibility criteria, including the project requirements, noted in the FOA?

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.7 "Other Submission Requirements").

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.

Renewals

Not  Applicable.

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 sponsor(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.

Resource Sharing Plans

If applicable, reviewers will comment on whether the following Resource Sharing Plans, or the rationale for not sharing the following types of resources, are reasonable:  Data Sharing Plan (see HHS Grants Policy Statement, pg. II 74).

Budget and Period of Support

Reviewers will consider whether the budget and the requested period of support are fully justified and reasonable in relation to the proposed research.

2. Review and Selection Process

Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by (an) appropriate Scientific Review Group(s) convened by AHRQ, in accordance with AHRQ Review Policy (see https://www.ahrq.gov/funding/process/study-section/peerrev.html), using the stated review criteria.  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 to the Office of Extramural Research, Education, and Priority Populations. 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

Generally, applicants should anticipate eight months between the application submission date and the earliest possible start date.

After the peer review of the application is completed, the PD/PIwill 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 Other Support, any additional information necessary to address administrative and budgetary issues, and certification of IRB approval of the project's proposed use of human subjects. For details regarding IRB approval, 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 are 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 AHRQ grants management officer is the authorizing document and will be sent via email to address designated in the eRA Commons by the applicant.

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.  See also Section IV.6., "Funding Restrictions."

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#terms.

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.

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 considerations 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 under 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.

As specified in the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, Kirschstein-NRSA recipients incur a service payback obligation for the first 12 months of postdoctoral support. AHRQ follows policies regarding the Kirschstein-NRSA payback obligation as explained in the NIH Grants Policy Statement; applicants may also wish to review Frequently Asked Questions for more details. The taxability of stipends is described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

As necessary, additional Terms and Conditions will be incorporated into the award statement.

3. Reporting

When multiple years are involved, awardees will be required to submit the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) annually. The report is due three months before the beginning date of the next budget period and must include information describing the current year's progress as well as the research and training plans for the coming year.

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.  See the HHS Grants Policy Statement (https://www.ahrq.gov/funding/policies/hhspolicy/index.html) for additional information on this reporting requirement.

Other Fellowship Reporting Requirements:
  • Individuals admitted to the United States as Permanent Residents must submit notarized evidence of legal admission prior to the award.
  • The fellowship award recipient has up to six months from the issue date on the initial Notice of Award to activate the award using the Kirschstein-NRSA Individual Fellowship Activation Notice (PHS 416-5). Under unusual circumstances, AHRQ may grant an extension of the activation period upon receipt of a specific request from the fellow. Such a request must be countersigned by the sponsor and an authorized institutional official.
  • For the individual's initial 12 months of Kirschstein-NRSA postdoctoral support, a signed, original Payback Agreement Form (PHS 6031) must accompany the Activation Notice.
  • At the conclusion of a fellowship, the fellow must submit a Termination Notice (PHS 416-7) via xTrain to the AHRQ within 30 days of termination. Fellows with service payback requirements must notify the AHRQ of any change in address and submit Annual Payback Activities Certification Forms (PHS 6031-1) until the payback service obligation is satisfied.
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.

Because of the differences between NIH and AHRQ program requirements for this FOA, prior consultation with AHRQ staff is strongly encouraged.

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 NIH grant resources)
Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov (preferred method of contact)
Telephone: 301-945-7573

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Shelley Benjamin, M.S.W.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
Telephone: 301-427-1528
Email:Shelley.Benjamin@ahrq.hhs.gov

Peer Review Contact(s)

Ali Azadegan, PhD, DVM
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
Telephone: 301-427-1869
Email: Ali.Azadegan@ahrq.hhs.gov

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Galen Gregor
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
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.  All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the HHS Grants Policy Statement.

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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