Department of Health and Human Services

Part 1. Overview Information

Participating Organization(s)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Components of Participating Organizations

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

Funding Opportunity Title
NINDS Advanced Institutional Research Training Program (T32 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
Activity Code

T32 Institutional National Research Service Award (NRSA)

Announcement Type
Reissue of PAR-21-149
Related Notices
  • August 31, 2022 - Implementation Changes for Genomic Data Sharing Plans Included with Applications Due on or after January 25, 2023. See Notice NOT-OD-22-198.
  • August 5, 2022 - Implementation Details for the NIH Data Management and Sharing Policy. See Notice NOT-OD-22-189.
Funding Opportunity Number (FON)
PAR-24-126
Companion Funding Opportunity
None
Number of Applications

See Section III. 3. Additional Information on Eligibility.

Assistance Listing Number(s)
93.853
Funding Opportunity Purpose

The purpose of this Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is to provide support for institutional research training programs in areas relevant to the NINDS mission. These institutional research training programs should produce well-trained neuroscientists who leave the program with the research skills and scientific knowledge to make a significant contribution to neuroscience research. Programs should be designed to enhance the breadth and depth of training in NINDS mission areas by incorporating didactic, research and career development components in the context of a defined scientific theme. Programs may support basic, clinical and/or translational research. Critical components of programs supported by this NOFO include mechanisms to ensure a thorough understanding of experimental design, strong statistics and analytical skills, and skills for communicating science, both orally and in writing, to a wide variety of audiences. Regardless of the theme, programs should provide opportunities and activities that will foster the development of quantitative literacy and the application of quantitative approaches to the trainees' research. NINDS institutional training programs are intended to be 1-2 years in duration and support training of one or more of the following groups: dissertation-stage predoctoral students in their 3rd and/or 4th year of graduate school, postdoctoral fellows, and fellowship-stage clinicians. (NINDS does not support first or second-year graduate students under this PAR).

This Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) does not allow appointed Trainees to lead an independent clinical trial, but does allow them to obtain research experience in a clinical trial led by a mentor or co-mentor.

Key Dates

Posted Date
March 12, 2024
Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)
April 25, 2024
Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

Not Applicable

The following table includes NIH standard due dates marked with an asterisk.
Application Due Dates Review and Award Cycles
New Renewal / Resubmission / Revision (as allowed) AIDS - New/Renewal/Resubmission/Revision, as allowed Scientific Merit Review Advisory Council Review Earliest Start Date
May 25, 2024 * May 25, 2024 * Not Applicable November 2024 January 2025 April 2025
May 25, 2025 * May 25, 2025 * Not Applicable November 2025 January 2026 April 2026
May 25, 2026 * May 25, 2026 * Not Applicable November 2026 January 2027 April 2027

All applications are due 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.

Expiration Date
May 26, 2026
Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not Applicable

Required Application Instructions

It is critical that applicants follow the Training (T) Instructions in the How to Apply - Application Guide, except where instructed to do otherwise (in this NOFO or in a Notice from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts). Conformance to all requirements (both in the Application Guide and the NOFO) 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. Use Grants.gov Workspace to prepare and submit your application and eRA Commons to track your application.


  4. Table of Contents

Part 2. Full Text of Announcement

Section I. Funding Opportunity Description

The overall goal of the NIH 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 biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research needs. In order to accomplish this goal, NRSA training programs are designed to train individuals to conduct research and to prepare for research careers. More information about NRSA programs may be found at the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) website.

The NRSA program has been the primary means of supporting predoctoral and postdoctoral research training programs since enactment of the NRSA legislation in 1974. Institutional NRSA programs allow the Training Program Director/Principal Investigator (Training PD/PI) to select trainees and develop an enhanced program of coursework, mentored research experiences, and technical and professional skills development appropriate for the appointed trainees that provides added value to already existing programs.

The grant offsets the cost of stipends, tuition and fees, and training related expenses, including health insurance, for the appointed trainees in accordance with the approved NIH support levels.

Purpose

The purpose of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Institutional Research Training Grant (T32) program is to develop and/or enhance research training opportunities for individuals interested in careers in biomedical, behavioral or social sciences, and clinical research, in health services research, or in any other discipline relevant to the NIH mission.

Each proposed program should provide high-quality research training, and mentored research experiences, and are expected to help trainees develop:

  • A strong foundation in scientific reasoning, rigorous and reproducible research design, experimental methods, analytic techniques, including quantitative/computational approaches, and data gathering, storing, analysis, interpretation and sharing appropriate for the proposed research area.
  • Their individual development plans to identify areas of strengths and areas of career and personal growth with the ability to identify and engage mentors.
  • Skills in engaging in their chosen area of science including networking, presentation and publication skills and opportunities to interact with members of the broader scientific community at appropriate scientific meetings and workshops.
  • The competencies needed to advance to independent careers in their chosen field.
  • The ability to think critically, independently, and to develop important research questions to initiate and conduct research and approaches that push forward their areas of study.
  • An understanding of the relationship of their research training to health, diseases, and disorders.
  • A commitment to approaching and conducting research responsibly and with integrity.
  • The competencies to work effectively with colleagues from a variety of backgrounds and scientific disciplines to contribute to inclusive and supportive scientific research environments.;
  • The knowledge, professional skills, and experiences required to identify and transition into careers that sustain biomedical research in areas that are relevant to the NIH mission.

The proposed institutional research training program may complement other ongoing research training and career development programs at the applicant institution but must be clearly distinct from related programs currently receiving Federal support.

Program Considerations

The duration of training, the transition of trainees to individual support mechanisms, and their transition to the next career stage are important considerations in institutional training programs. Also, an important consideration is the engagement of trainees in their training goals, process and activities through the program that enhances what they may be getting in existing programs within the institution.

Training PD/PIs should:

  • Limit appointments to individuals who plan to remain in the training program for no less than two years, whether that support comes from a training grant or some combination of NRSA and non-NRSA programs. Short-term training is not intended, and may not be used, to support activities that would ordinarily be part of a research degree program, nor for any undergraduate-level training. Short-term positions should be requested at the time of application, as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement. Research training programs solely for short-term research training should not apply to this announcement, but rather the T35 NRSA NOFO, which can be found in the NIH Training Kiosk.
  • Within the full-time training period, research trainees who are also training as clinicians must devote their time to the proposed research training and confine clinical duties to those that are an integral part of the research training experience or can be conducted in the allowable additional 25% of their time (e.g., 10 hours per week) that may be devoted to clinical employment. The program may not be used to support studies leading to the MD, DDS, or other clinical, health-professional degrees except when those studies are part of a formal combined research degree program, such as the MD/PhD. Similarly, trainees may not accept NRSA support for clinical training that is part of residency training leading to clinical certification in a medical or dental specialty or subspecialty. It is permissible and encouraged, however, for clinicians to engage in NRSA-supported, full-time postdoctoral research training even when that experience is creditable toward certification by a clinical specialty or subspecialty board.
  • Encourage and make available appropriate training so that trainees are prepared to apply for subsequent independent support for their training, career development or research program (e.g., an individual fellowship award, mentored career development award, or research project grant), as appropriate for their career stage.
  • In addition, past studies have shown that health professional trainees who train in programs with postdoctoral researchers who have intensive research backgrounds are more likely to apply for and receive subsequent research grant support. Therefore, programs that emphasize research training for individuals with the MD or other health-professional degrees are encouraged to develop interactions with basic science departments and include trainees with research doctorates when this approach is consistent with the goals of the proposed training program.
  • Encourage the development of institutional training programs that will provide trainees with education and experience in rigorous, reproducible, and transparent scientific approaches, systems for study, tools and technologies.
  • Consider team-based research approaches as may also be warranted depending upon the goals of the proposed training program.

Within the framework of the NRSA program’s longstanding commitment to excellence, attention should be given to recruiting and retaining trainees from diverse backgrounds, including groups underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences, as described in the Notice of NIH's Interest in Diversity (NOT-OD-20-031).

Institutional commitment and support for the proposed training program are important elements of the application.

The career outcomes of individuals supported by NRSA training programs are intended to include both research-intensive careers in academia and industry, and research-related careers in various sectors, e.g., academic institutions, government agencies, for-profit businesses, and private foundations. Training programs should make available structured, career development advising and learning opportunities (e.g., workshops, discussions, Individual Development Plans). Through such opportunities, trainees are expected to obtain a working knowledge of various career paths that would make strong use of the knowledge and skills gained during research training and the steps required to transition successfully to the next stage of their chosen career.

Short-term training is not intended, and may not be used, to support activities that would ordinarily be part of a research degree program, nor for any undergraduate-level training. Short-term positions should be requested at the time of application as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement. Research training programs solely for short-term research training should not apply to this announcement, but rather the T35 NRSA NOFO, which can be found in the NIH Training Kiosk.

This Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) does not allow appointed Trainees to lead an independent clinical trial, but does allow them to obtain research experience in a clinical trial led by a mentor or co-mentor. NIH strongly supports training towards a career in clinically relevant research and so gaining experience in clinical trials under the guidance of a mentor or co-mentor is encouraged.

Program Objective

The objective of the NINDS Institutional Research Training Program is to support outstanding training with the breadth and depth to prepare advanced predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees to become successful scientists in a rapidly evolving research enterprise that is increasingly complex and multidisciplinary. Neuroscience research requires investigators who can draw on knowledge and approaches from multiple disciplines and levels of analysis and apply this broad knowledge in novel ways to yield new discoveries about the nervous system. Moreover, impactful neuroscience research requires investigators with strong foundational skills in experimental design, statistical methodology, and quantitative reasoning.

Summary of key points. It is expected that the programs supported under this funding opportunity announcement will provide:

  • training and activities with a defined goal and within a thematic area that will add depth and breadth to the trainees' scientific development
  • an emphasis on sound experimental design, the proper use of statistical methodology, and a theoretical understanding by each trainee of the quantitative limits and capabilities of his or her experimental system (quantitative literacy)
  • effective oversight of trainee mentoring and progression to the next career stage
  • an environment that promotes the success of individuals with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives
  • an inclusive research environment that strives to provide trainees with access to a diversity of role models, both within the institution and through activities such as invited seminars.
  • activities for trainees to develop oral and written skills for communicating their science to a wide variety of audiences
  • access to structured career development advising and opportunities to learn about career options in various sectors

Moreover, NINDS T32 support should only be provided to trainees whose mentors proactively ensure that their trainees have the opportunity to lead and be first author on a significant project.

The proposed institutional research training program may complement other ongoing research training and career development programs at the applicant institution, but the proposed program must be clearly distinct from related programs currently receiving Federal support.

Program Considerations

NINDS training programs should be designed to increase the depth and breadth of trainee expertise within a thematic area. Programs should consist of an integrated set of activities that will both unify a cohort of trainees and expand their expertise beyond what would occur in the absence of the program. For NINDS T32 training grants, a well-developed program 1) has a programmatic purpose and a scientific theme, 2) provides activities created to address that purpose that go beyond the standard activities (e.g. journal club, departmental seminars) associated with research career development and 3) has programmatic activities that bring together faculty and trainees with a broad spectrum of expertise, the integration of which has the potential to stimulate innovative ideas and solutions to scientific problems. The fundamental benefit of an institutional, T32-funded training program is to create a rich, theme-driven environment that stimulates innovation, drives trainee focus on the highest standards in scientific rigor, and provides multiple opportunities for practice in scientific communication. Thus, in most cases, the creation of a T32-funded training program should benefit trainees who are not directly supported financially by the grant as well as those who are.

Programs should create novel and/or expanded research training experiences and activities; they are not intended to simply support trainees in conducting research. Education in career skills (e.g. grant-writing, oral presentation) although a critical component of all programs, is not sufficient to constitute a T32-funded training program. Moreover, the activities that constitute the program should be specifically designed to achieve the stated thematic purpose of the training program, and not simply be cobbled together from existing activities that the institution or department offers.

Training PDs/PIs are encouraged to develop institutional training programs that will expose trainees to a variety  of scientific approaches, systems for study and tools and technologies. The training provided should enhance the trainees’ ability to conceptualize and think through research problems with increasing independence. Moreover, programs should foster a culture in which trainees draw from a broad knowledge obtained from both neuroscience and other disciplines to address their research questions.

 Institutional research training grants must be used to support a program of full-time research training. Within the full-time training period, research trainees who are also training as clinicians must devote their time to the proposed research training and must confine clinical duties to those that are an integral part of the research training goals. The program may not be used to support medical training leading to the MD, DDS, or other clinical, health-professional training. Similarly, trainees may not accept NRSA support for clinical training that is part of residency training leading to clinical certification in a medical or dental specialty or subspecialty. It is permissible and encouraged, however, for clinicians to engage in NRSA-supported, full-time postdoctoral research training even when that experience is creditable toward certification by a clinical specialty or subspecialty board.

Short-term training is not allowed under this PAR.

Types of Programs

NINDS supports T32 programs that address basic, clinical, translational or a combination of approaches in any area of research across the NINDS mission. All types of innovative programs are encouraged. Programs that intend to educate trainees in translational research and the steps required for moving basic discoveries to clinical applications may apply to this NOFO or may wish to apply under a NOFO specifically developed to support translational training programs.

Thematically, programs may include, for example, those in which applicants identify sophisticated multidisciplinary approaches and/or combinations of expertise that, within the specified field, are likely to promote significant future breakthroughs. Such programs will be marked by the cross-training of individuals, for example, in multiple technologies, or from different scientific backgrounds, to address specific areas of need in that field. Training programs may also be developed around specific research or disease areas (note that programs do not need to address a disease or set of diseases; programs may focus on a basic research theme that will lead to a greater understanding of neuroscientific processes). Regardless of the thematic area, all programs should provide a breadth and depth of training to enable trainees to make novel discoveries and apply knowledge from other disciplines to their research.

Programs may support predoctoral students (dissertation-stage predoctoral students in their 3rd and/or 4th year of graduate school, NINDS does not support first or second-year graduate students under this PAR), PhD postdoctoral fellows, fellowship-stage clinicians, or any combination of trainees from these three groups. For institutions that also have MSTP programs and intend to support MD/PhD students with this funding opportunity, the PD/PI should ensure that the majority of trainees supported by the program are those seeking a PhD rather than an MD/PhD.

Training grants that will support both predoctoral students and postdoctoral fellows should have a single program in which both groups of trainees participate and interact. The program may include shared and different activities, but they must occur in the context of an integrated program in which both predocs and postdocs benefit from the interaction, programmatic activities, and collaborative possibilities that the program creates.

Programs that Solely Support Clinician Scientist Training: Programs that support clinician scientists exclusively will provide the research training, professional skills development and mentoring that are needed to prepare a cohort of fellowship-stage clinicians for success as physician-scientists. While support is intended to provide protected time for research and training needed to progress as a scientific researcher, as for all programs supported under this NOFO, there must be a coherent set of programmatic activities designed to address the unique training needs of clinician-researchers. Whereas the fundamental goal for training clinician-scientists is to develop outstanding researchers who will have the background to pursue research questions with the knowledge that only a practicing clinician can have, all programs for clinicians should be designed to achieve the specific outcome of producing independent clinician-scientist researchers. Thus, an important outcome metric by which T32 programs will be judged is whether the supported clinician obtains NIH K award or other individual research funding.

Experimental Design and Statistical Methodology

Experimental Design: Programs must ensure that trainees understand the principles of rigorous experimental design such that appropriate controls are considered, sources of bias are avoided and rigorous approaches to data collection and analysis are utilized (i.e. blinding, determination of appropriate sample sizes, randomization, objective pre-determination of exclusion criteria, etc.). Ideally, programs will engage the entire cohort and faculty and trainees in group discussions of experimental design and analysis as they apply to each trainee’s individual research project as well as approaches to increasing the robustness of scientific findings.

Statistical Methodology: Programs should ensure that each trainee is equipped with a solid understanding of statistical methodology relevant to neuroscience research. Ideally, trainees will develop a depth and breadth of statistical understanding that will enable them to adapt and appropriately apply statistical approaches as their experimental repertoire changes. Programs must ensure that all trainees have a solid understanding of the value and proper use of statistics, including an understanding of the many types of scientific failures that can occur due to inappropriate application of statistical tests. An introductory course in statistics is not sufficient to achieve these goals.

Statistical Training and Support

It is critical that trainees understand that statistical considerations are vital not only for the analysis of data but also for designing experiments and experimental approaches. To help trainees develop an understanding of the many contexts in which statistical considerations come into play, programs should incorporate the expertise of a statistician (or other faculty with expert knowledge of statistical principles) into the training program. Funds may be requested for up to 1.2 person months effort to support a faculty-level statistician to play a fully integrated role in the training program. It is envisioned that the supported statistician will contribute to educating the trainees on statistical issues in scientific inquiry, such as, for example, a rigorous understanding of p values, Bayesian vs frequentist methods, the problems encountered with multiplicities, "p-hacking", the differences in acceptable statistical treatment of exploratory and hypothesis-testing studies, etc. Critically, it is expected that the supported statistician will actively participate in regular programmatic activities such as research presentations and journal clubs to lend strong statistical expertise to discussions. Finally, the inclusion of a statistician in the program will provide the opportunity for all trainees to consult with an expert in statistics, together with their mentor(s), about their experimental plans, experimental design, determination of appropriate sample sizes for their studies, methods required for proper analysis of their anticipated data set, etc.

Whereas the statistician is encouraged to create mini-workshops or courses, funding will not be provided simply to support a statistician to teach a course.

Quantitative Literacy and Use of Quantitative Approaches

Quantitative Literacy: NINDS training programs should provide an appreciation of the benefits of quantitative approaches to experimentation (and the potential pitfalls associated with a lack of quantitative consideration of their scientific system). An important specific goal of these programs is to foster the incorporation of quantitative thinking into the trainees' research throughout their careers.  The training activities provided by the program should equip trainees with the tools and knowledge required to examine their experimental systems quantitatively. The educational approach to quantitative literacy should be designed to produce a cohort of quantitatively mindful neuroscientists prepared to be leaders in their area of research interest.

Quantitative Tools and Approaches: Programs should provide experience in the use of practical tools for quantitative exploration, interpretation, and evaluation of biological data relevant to the thematic area of the program. Approaches may include, for example, the use of programming tools to model biological systems or events, problem-solving exercises that develop skills in quantitative exploration of biological data, and/or other didactic or hands-on activities that will enhance a trainee's ability to use quantitative approaches to answer scientific questions and guide the next steps in their research.

Funds may be requested to bring in outside experts to conduct workshops to enhance quantitative skills, literacy, and fluency in the application of quantitative approaches to neuroscience research. To obtain additional funds for this purpose, programs must describe specific, well-conceived plans for enhancing training in these areas and the value that the additional funds will provide. For information on requesting funds, see "Training Budget" in Section IV. For information on submission requirements, see "Training in Quantitative Skills and Literacy" in Section IV.

Program-wide Meetings:  Experimental Design, Statistics and Quantitative Literacy

As part of newly created or already existing program-wide meetings, it is expected that the trainees and program faculty will discuss and evaluate the experimental and statistical approaches used in their own work and in the literature relevant to the thematic area of the program. These discussions should focus on the experimental design used, sufficiency of controls, the rigor of scientific methodology used (i.e. blinding, randomization, sample size determination, control for potential biases, etc.) and the quantitative results within the capability of the biological system under study.

Program-wide Meetings:  Designing Research Projects to Solve Significant Problems

Trainees focus heavily on the development of research skills and collection of concrete experimental results. It is critical, however, that trainees understand the broad significance of their work, what their experiments will teach them about neurological function and/or disorders, and critically, what conclusions cannot be drawn from their experiments. Discussion of these larger questions of significance in program-wide meetings, and not simply within the local laboratory setting, will expose the entire training cohort to a variety of critical biological problems within the thematic area of the training program and approaches to solving them.

Scientific Rigor

Trainees should have a thorough understanding of the principles and practices of rigorous scientific research. Programs are also strongly encouraged to provide education in human decision-making tendencies and cognitive biases, and how they can lead to erroneous interpretation of data (c.f. Kahneman, D. 2011 Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York. Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

Professional Skills

Programs should provide students with training in professional skills such as written and oral presentations for a wide variety of audiences. Programs are strongly encouraged to include group activities such as elevator pitches, data blitzes, and/or “shark tank” presentations, etc. Not only are these helpful for honing organizational and presentation skills, but they also help trainees articulate the significance of their work to both lay (i.e. investors, advocacy groups, and the general public) and scientifically literate audiences. Further, programs should provide training in the skills necessary for grant applications, such as grant writing, understanding the grant submission and review process, and understanding and responding to critiques.

Understanding Career Opportunities

The career outcomes of individuals supported by NRSA training programs will likely include both research-intensive careers in academia and industry, and research-related careers in various sectors, e.g., academic institutions, government agencies, for-profit businesses, and private foundations. Trainees should have access to career development advising and exposure to a range of career opportunities. Through these activities, trainees should become familiar with various potential career directions that make strong use of the knowledge and skills gained during research training and the steps required to transition successfully to the next stage of their chosen career.

Oversight of Trainee Mentoring and Progression

In addition to outstanding scientific training, strong mentorship, and career guidance are critical for advancement and success in science. Consequently, NINDS T32 programs are expected to have a formal oversight plan to ensure that trainees receive outstanding mentorship and progress through their training in a timely manner. The oversight process should ensure that trainees receive 1) appropriate professional guidance and projects with the potential to generate a publication record that will allow them to progress to subsequent research opportunities, 2) written and oral presentation skills that will facilitate their ability to publish their results as first author, submit competitive grant applications, speak at national meetings and interview for future positions, 3) an understanding of the research enterprise that will enable them to successfully navigate a research career and 4) an understanding of the many career opportunities available to them as scientists and what is required to compete for these different opportunities.

To ensure that all trainees receive outstanding mentorship, programs are expected to establish formal standards for mentorship to which all participating faculty mentors must adhere, and a plan for the integration of these expectations into the individual mentorship of all T32 preceptors. This could include, for example, an onboarding orientation for mentors who join the program, regular group meetings of program leadership and mentors to discuss the state of mentorship within their program or other opportunities to share challenges, offer solutions, and exchange ideas and resources for improving mentorship within the local training environment. Programs should also implement a formal approach to monitoring the mentorship received by all program trainees to ensure that all receive what is locally determined to be adequate, effective mentorship.

Whereas formal mentor training courses, such as those provided through mentorship training organizations (e.g. NRMNCIMER), can be extremely beneficial, the expectation is that T32 programs will formally incorporate standards into the program, have discussions among faculty to share their collective experience related to mentorship and the application of locally-designed best practices.

Enhancing Workforce Diversity

The research enterprise will be strongest when it involves individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds, who have a wide variety of perspectives. Within the framework of the NRSA program’s longstanding commitment to excellence and the focus of programs in particular areas of research, T32-funded programs play a critical role in training individuals from groups that are underrepresented in the biomedical sciences. Training programs are expected to implement robust recruitment plans to enhance diversity and to promote inclusive research environments (i.e. departmental environments in which trainees from all backgrounds feel integrated into and supported by the biomedical community). Whereas institutional efforts are critical to the creation of inclusive environments, training programs must also strive to create environments that effectively promote diversity and inclusion.

Exposure to a Diversity of Role Models

  • To promote an inclusive research environment, programs should strive to provide trainees with exposure and access to a diversity of role models. Women, individuals from different backgrounds and with different perspectives, senior faculty who have the benefit of long experience, and junior faculty who have more recent experience in transitioning from training to independent positions should be encouraged to participate in program leadership, as participating faculty and mentors, or asinvited speakers.

Annual NINDS T32 Program Workshop

NINDS will host an annual T32 Program Workshop (The NINDS T32 Workshop) that each trainee will be expected to attend at least once during their tenure on the training grant. At this workshop trainees will make a presentation in either an oral or poster format, and engage in in-depth discussions of scientific topics, experimental design and quantitative literacy, issues related to translational research, and professional development topics (e.g. negotiation skills, writing a winning cover letter, conflict resolution etc.). Training grant T32 PDs/PIs are expected to attend annually. Funds have been provided in the award to support attendance by the PI and half of the trainees each year, in this way all trainees appointed to the program should be able to attend once during their training period.

Training Program Evaluation

It is expected that NINDS T32 programs will arrange for regular internal and external evaluations to promote innovation and evolution, as well as to bring attention to deficiencies that those close to the program may not perceive.

Expectations for Training Program Outcomes

Trainees should leave the T32 training program with the appropriate accomplishments and skills to move on to the next step on an independent research pathway. Outcomes expected of training programs include strong trainee publications (including first-author publications), and other accomplishments appropriate to their training.

Although a major goal of these training programs is to develop highly skilled and creative researchers, NINDS understands that students and postdocs have many career choices. In any program, it would be expected that there will be some trainees who go on to do research, and there will likely be many who will go into research-related and non-research positions that make use of their training. However, outstanding scientific and professional training provided by NINDS T32 training programs will be invaluable to both the trainee and the community, regardless of a trainee's career choice.

Note: This Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFO) does not allow appointed Trainees to lead an independent clinical trial but does allow them to obtain research experience in a clinical trial led by a mentor or co-mentor. NIH strongly supports training toward a career in clinically relevant research and so gaining experience in clinical trials under the guidance of a mentor or co-mentor is encouraged.

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

Section II. Award Information

Funding Instrument

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

Application Types Allowed
New
Renewal
Resubmission

The OER Glossary and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide provide details on these application types. Only those application types listed here are allowed for this NOFO.

Clinical Trial?

Not Allowed: Only accepting applications that do not propose clinical trials.

Note: Appointed Trainees are permitted to obtain research experience in a clinical trial led by a mentor or co-mentor.

Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards

The number of awards is contingent upon NIH appropriations and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.

Award Budget

Application budgets are not limited, but need to reflect the actual needs of the proposed project.

Recipients are expected to be familiar with and comply with applicable cost policies and the NRSA Guidelines (NIH Grants Policy Statement - Institutional Research Training Grants). Funds may be used only for those expenses that are directly related to and necessary for the research training and must be expended in conformance with OMB Cost Principles, the NIH Grants Policy Statement, and the NRSA regulations, policies, guidelines, and conditions set forth in this document.

Award Project Period

Up to 5 years

Other Award Budget Information

Stipends, Tuition, and Fees

Kirschstein-NRSA awards provide stipends as a subsistence allowance to help defray living expenses during the research training experience.

NIH will contribute to the combined cost of tuition and fees at the rate in place at the time of award.

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.

Trainee Travel

$700 per year will be provided for each trainee to support travel to scientific meetings and workshops that enhance the individual's research training experience. Trainees must be appointed to the training grant at the time of the actual travel for this to be an allowable cost.

Training Related Expenses

NIH will provide funds to help defray other research training expenses, such as health insurance, staff salaries, consultant costs, equipment, research supplies, and faculty/staff travel directly related to the research training program. The most recent levels of training related expenses 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.

 In addition to the standard NIH allocation for training related expenses, applicants may request up to $8,000 to invite outside experts to conduct seminars or workshops to enhance quantitative skills and fluency in the application of quantitative approaches to neuroscience research. 

Because attendance by the PD/PI, as well as trainees at the NINDS T32 Workshop is critical to student and postdoctoral training, dissemination of training practices and program evolution, PD/PIs may request up to $1000 per person to support workshop attendance for half of the program’s trainees and the PD/PI each year (e.g. a 4 slots program would request $3000). These funds are being provided exclusively for attendance at the NINDS T32 Workshop. 

Applicants may request funds to support up to 1.2 person months effort per year for a faculty-level statistician to be incorporated into the training program to provide training and support to the trainees.

Indirect Costs

Indirect Costs (also known as Facilities & Administrative [F&A] Costs) are reimbursed at 8% of modified total direct costs (exclusive of tuition and fees, consortium costs in excess of $25,000, and expenditures for equipment), rather than on the basis of a negotiated rate agreement.

NIH grants policies as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement will apply to the applications submitted and awards made from this NOFO.

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 NIH 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)

Local Governments

  • Indian/Native American Tribal Governments (Federally Recognized)
  • Indian/Native American Tribal Governments (Other than Federally Recognized)
  • U.S. Territory or Possession

Other

  • Native American Tribal Organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments)
  • Faith-based or Community-based Organizations

Federal Governments

  • Eligible Agencies of the Federal Government
  • U.S. Territory or Possession

The sponsoring institution must assure support for the proposed program. Appropriate institutional commitment to the program includes the provision of adequate staff, facilities, and educational resources that can contribute to the planned program.

The applicant institution must have a strong and high-quality research program in the area(s) proposed under this NOFO and must have the requisite faculty, staff, potential trainees and facilities on site to conduct the proposed institutional program. In many cases, it is anticipated that the proposed program will complement other ongoing research training programs occurring at the applicant institution and that a substantial number of program faculty will have active research projects in which participating trainees may gain relevant experiences consistent with their research interests and goals.

Foreign Organizations

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

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

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 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. . Failure to complete registrations in advance of a due date is not a valid reason for a late submission, please reference NIH Grants Policy Statement Section 2.3.9.2 Electronically Submitted Applications for additional information.

  • System for Award Management (SAM) – 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.
  • NATO Commercial and Government Entity (NCAGE) Code – Foreign organizations must obtain an NCAGE code (in lieu of a CAGE code) in order to register in SAM.
  • Unique Entity Identifier (UEI)- A UEI is issued as part of the SAM.gov registration process. The same UEI must be used for all registrations, as well as on the grant application.
  • eRA Commons - Once the unique organization identifier is established, organizations can register with eRA Commons in tandem with completing their Grants.gov registration; all registrations must be in place by time of submission. 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 SAM registration in order to complete the Grants.gov registration.

Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD(s)/PI(s)) 

All PD(s)/PI(s) must have an eRA Commons account. PD(s)/PI(s) 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. 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 individual(s) with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research training program as the Training Program Director/Principal Investigator (Training PD/PI) is invited to work with their organization to develop an application for support. Individuals from diverse backgrounds, including individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, and women are always encouraged to apply for NIH support. See, Reminder: Notice of NIH's Encouragement of Applications Supporting Individuals from Underrepresented Ethnic and Racial Groups as well as Individuals with Disabilities, NOT-OD-22-019.

The participation of multiple PDs/PIs is particularly encouraged, especially when each brings a unique perspective and skill set that will enhance training. For institutions/organizations proposing multiple PDs/PIs, visit the Multiple Program Director/Principal Investigator Policy and submission details in the Senior/Key Person Profile (Expanded) Component of the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide.

The PD/PI should be an established investigator in the scientific area in which the application is targeted and capable of providing both administrative and scientific leadership to the development and implementation of the proposed program. The PD/PI will be responsible for the selection and appointment of trainees to the approved research training program, and for the overall direction, management, administration, and evaluation of the program. The PD/PI will be expected to monitor and assess the program and submit all documents and reports as required. The PD/PI has responsibility for the day-to-day administration of the program and is responsible for appointing members of the Advisory Committee (when applicable), using their recommendations to determine the appropriate allotment of funds.

For programs that propose to have multiple PDs/PIs, at least one should be an established investigator in the scientific area in which the application is targeted and capable of providing both administrative and scientific leadership to the development and implementation of the proposed program.  Additional PDs/PIs may be included to achieve the training goals. Any of the PDs/PIs may serve as the contact PD/PI. Applicants are encouraged to clearly delineate the roles of the different PD/PIs. 

2. Cost Sharing

This NOFO does not require cost sharing as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement Section 1.2 Definition of Terms.

3. Additional Information on Eligibility.

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

Number of Applications

NIH will not accept duplicate or highly overlapping applications under review at the same time per NIH Grants Policy Statement Section 2.3.7.4 Submission of Resubmission Application. This means that the NIH 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 NIH Grants Policy Statement 2.3.9.4 Similar, Essentially Identical, or Identical Applications)
Preceptors/Mentors

Programs are encouraged to build a broadly diverse team of preceptors/mentors that includes, for example, faculty at different career stages (i.e., junior as well as senior faculty). Individuals from diverse backgrounds, including underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, and women are always encouraged to participate as program faculty.

The selected program faculty should be active researchers as demonstrated by recent publications and research support in the proposed research training program area. Program faculty should also have a record of research training, including successful, former trainees who have established productive careers relevant to the NINDS mission. When building a training team, programs should recruit faculty who are committed to training, mentoring, and providing supportive and inclusive research environments.  It is also encouraged to recruit individuals at different career stages (i.e. junior as well as senior faculty). It is the PD/PI's responsibility to ensure that every faculty member participating in the training program provides outstanding mentorship and guidance and agrees to fully participate in programmatic activities, as appropriate.  

Whereas including outstanding junior faculty with limited training records as primary mentors is strongly encouraged, programs should ensure that there is a strong oversight mechanism, and potentially regular mentorship of junior faculty, so that each trainee, regardless of chosen mentor, receives outstanding mentorship and guidance. 

When choosing faculty to participate in NINDS T32-funded training programs, PD/PIs should ensure that each faculty member included in a mentorship role is committed to following the strictest principles of experimental design, appropriate statistical analysis, and scientific rigor, in their research.

Trainees

The individual to be trained must be a citizen or a noncitizen national of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence at the time of appointment. Additional details on citizenship, training period, and aggregate duration of support are available in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

All trainees are required to pursue their research training full time, normally defined as 40 hours per week, or as specified by the sponsoring institution in accordance with its own policies. Appointments are normally made in 12-month increments, and no trainee may be appointed for less than 9 months during the initial period of appointment, except with prior approval of the awarding unit, or when trainees are appointed to approved, short-term training positions.

Predoctoral trainees must be enrolled in a program leading to a PhD or in an equivalent research doctoral degree program. Health-professional students who wish to interrupt their studies for a year or more to engage in full-time research training before completing their formal training programs, are also eligible.

Postdoctoral trainees must have received, as of the beginning date of the NRSA appointment, a Ph.D., M.D., D.D.S., or comparable doctoral degree from an accredited domestic or foreign institution. Comparable doctoral degrees include, but are not limited to, the following: D.M.D., DC, DO, DVM., OD, DPM, ScD, EngD, DrPH, DNSc, DPT, PharmD, ND (Doctor of Naturopathy), DSW, PsyD, as well as a doctoral degree in nursing research. Documentation by an authorized official of the degree-granting institution certifying all degree requirements have been met prior to the beginning date of the training appointment is acceptable. Individuals in postgraduate clinical training, who wish to interrupt their studies for a year or more to engage in full-time research training before completing their formal training programs, are also eligible.

Section IV. Application and Submission Information

1. Requesting an Application Package

The application forms package specific to this opportunity must be accessed through ASSIST, Grants.gov Workspace or an institutional system-to-system solution. Links to apply using ASSIST or Grants.gov Workspace are available in Part 1 of this NOFO. 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 Training (T) Instructions in the How to Apply - Application Guide except where instructed in this Notice of Funding Opportunity 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.

Letter of Intent

Although a letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does not enter into the review of a subsequent application, the information that it contains allows IC staff to estimate the potential review workload and plan the review.

By the date listed in Part 1. Overview Information, prospective applicants are asked to submit a letter of intent that includes the following information:

  • Descriptive title of proposed activity
  • Name(s), address(es), and telephone number(s) of the PD(s)/PI(s)
  • Names of other key personnel
  • Participating institution(s)
  • Number and title of this funding opportunity

The letter of intent should be sent to:

Delany Torres, Ph.D.
Telephone: 301-402-9286
Email: delany.torressalazar@.nih.gov

Page Limitations

All page limitations described in the SF424 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 NOFO.

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.

SF424 (R&R) Other Project Information

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

Project Summary/Abstract. Provide an abstract of the entire application. Include the objectives, rationale, and design of the research training, as well as key activities in the training plan. Indicate the planned duration of appointments, the projected number of trainees including their levels (i.e., predoctoral, postdoctoral), and intended trainee outcomes.

The filename provided for each “Other Attachment” will be the name used for the bookmark in the electronic application in eRA Commons.

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

Follow all instructions provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application.

PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement

Follow all instructions provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application.

PHS 398 Training Subaward Budget Attachment(s)

Follow all instructions provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

Training Budget

Follow all instructions provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide with the following additional modifications:

  • Include all personnel other than the Training PD(s)/PI(s) in the Other Personnel section, including clerical and administrative staff.

PHS 398 Research Training Program Plan

The PHS 398 Research Training Program Plan Form is comprised of the following sections:

  • Training Program
  • Faculty, Trainees, and Training Record
  • Other Training Program Sections
  • Appendix - Note that the Appendix should only be used in circumstances covered in the NIH policy on appendix materials or if the NOFO specifically instructs applicants to do so.

Follow all instructions provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

  

Particular attention must be given to the required Training Data Tables. Applicants should summarize, in the body of the application, key data from the tables that highlight the characteristics of the applicant pool, faculty mentors, the educational and career outcomes of past participants, and other factors that contribute to the overall environment of the program. Please note that the race, ethnicity, or sex of trainee applicants, trainees, or faculty mentors will not be considered in the application review process or when making funding decisions.

Training Program

Program Plan

Program Administration

Describe the planned strategy and administrative structure to be used to oversee and monitor the program, to provide oversight that will ensure outstanding mentorship and guidance for each trainee, and to ensure appropriate and timely trainee progress for the duration of the training program.

The application should describe how the Training Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PDs/PIs) will promote the success of the trainees and training program. If there are multiple PDs/PIs, the plan for the administration of the program is expected to synergize with the “Multiple PD/PI Leadership Plan” section of the application. In this case applicants should provide a clear leadership plan, including designated roles and responsibilities for each of the PDs/PIs and describe how their respective expertise and experience will benefit the trainees and enhance the ability of the program to achieve its training goals. The application should expand on the information in the biosketch(es) to address how the PD/PI or PD/PI team has:

  • The scientific expertise as well as the administrative and training experience to provide strong leadership, direction, management and administration of the proposed research training program; and
  • The time to commit sufficient effort to ensure the program’s success given other professional obligations (applicants should indicate the percent effort to be devoted to the proposed program for each PD/PI and describe the institutional commitment to the PD/PI devoting the necessary time to directing the program).

The application should also describe any pro-active effort the program leadership, and if relevant other program-affiliated faculty, will take to build or expand on an inclusive environment that values a wide variety of perspectives and welcomes input from and, participation of, individuals from different backgrounds and with different perspectives. Applicants are encouraged to provide  trainees with access to a variety of role models.

Program Faculty and Mentoring Oversight

The application must include information about the program faculty who will serve as preceptors/mentors and, if relevant, distinguish between faculty members who will serve as primary mentors and those who have other roles. It should expand on the information in the biosketches (see “Participating Faculty Biosketches”) to address the following:

  • the complementary expertise and experiences of the program faculty as they relate specifically to the programmatic structure and goals of the program, as well as how the faculty interact and collaborate;
  • expectations for faculty participation in programmatic activities beyond training within their labs; what mechanisms are in place to ensure faculty participation in programmatic activities?
  • how the program will ensure the involvement of participating mentors in equipping trainees to approach their research with a quantitative mindset, and with attention to rigorous experimental design, use of appropriate statistical methodology and an understanding of appropriate, statistically rigorous, interpretation of results;
  • the plans and specific approaches to recruit prospective program faculty members from diverse backgrounds, including individuals from underrepresented groups(NOT-OD-20-031), women and faculty at different career stages);
  • the commitment of preceptors/mentors to effective mentoring and promoting inclusive and supportive scientific and training environments;
  • a plan to ensure that preceptors who lack a strong research training record will provide strong and effective mentoring;
  • a plan for mentorship oversight that will ensure that each trainee will obtain appropriate guidance for achieving success in the program, including oversight of the effectiveness of the trainee/program faculty match;
  • a description of the formal standards for mentorship to which all participating faculty mentors must adhere, and a plan for the integration of these expectations into the individual mentorship of all T32 preceptors; 
  • a formal approach to monitoring the mentorship received by all program trainees to ensure that all receive what is locally determined to be adequate, effective mentorship;
  • the plan for evaluation of participating faculty for their contribution to the following: high-quality mentorship, attention to robust experimental design and statistical and experimental rigor, promoting the values of quantitative literacy expected by the T32-funded program, and creating an inclusive environment that welcomes varied perspectives of both trainees and faculty. The evaluation plan should be included in the Program Faculty section and should describe the approach to, and timeline for making changes to, the cohort of participating faculty based on their commitment to achieving the goals of the program.
  • Their approach to: - mentoring and promoting an inclusive and supportive scientific research environment; training in sound experimental design, statistical methodology, and the application of quantitative approaches in their research - support for trainees' participation in activities required to identify and transition into careers in the biomedical research workforce that are consistent with the trainees' skills, interests, and values - fulfilling the need of trainees to progress to the next career stage in a timely manner with the skills, credentials, and experiences necessary for careers in the biomedical research workforce.

 Proposed Training

The application should describe how the program will develop a diverse pool of outstanding neuroscientists who have the technical, operational and professional skills required to conduct research in an ethically responsible and rigorous manner, and to enter careers in the biomedical research workforce as delineated in the Program Objectives. The application should describe how the program will enhance the breadth and depth of training obtained by trainees, and more broadly, enhance the training environment.

Rationale

The application should explain the rationale and need for the proposed research training program, the relevant background history and the research training activities of the participating department(s) or unit(s). Demonstrate the presence of a sufficient number of potential trainees in appropriate disciplines and program faculty with the appropriate disciplines and program faculty with the appropriate scientific expertise, as well as the resources to achieve the training objectives. When applicable, describe the ways in which the training plan is distinct from other funded T32 programs at the same institution. For renewal applications, highlight how the training program has evolved in response to changes in relevant scientific and technical knowledge, educational practices, and to evaluation of the training program.

Program Purpose and Goals

Provide an overview of the proposed program. Describe the programmatic theme and scientific area. Outline the objectives of the program and the programmatic activities that will be used to meet these objectives. Include information about planned courses, mentored research experiences and any structured activities designed to develop specific technical skills or other skills essential for the proposed research training. Describe how the program will ensure that trainees are exposed to a variety of scientific approaches, systems for study and tools and technologies relevant to neuroscience research. Describe how the programmatic activities will unify a cohort of trainees and expand their expertise beyond what would occur in the absence of the program. For programs proposing to train a combination of predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees, describe the activities in which each group of trainees will participate, and how they will interact and benefit from the interaction, programmatic activities and collaborative possibilities that the program creates. For multi-disciplinary and/or multi-departmental programs, indicate how the individual disciplinary and/or departmental components of the program are integrated and coordinated and how they will relate to an individual trainee's experience.

Experimental Design and Statistical Methodology. Applications must include detailed training plan that includes the following:

Experimental Design:  Describe the formal programmatic activities designed to reinforce the principles of rigorous experimental design to ensure that trainees understand the practices required for robust hypothesis testing. Describe the principles that will be covered and the format and timeframe for instruction. Topics should include, but are not limited to, education in the design of well-controlled experiments; the difference between hypothesis-generating and hypothesis-testing experimentation, and the differences in design and analytical rigor required for each; scientifically appropriate determination of sample size; the appropriate use of statistics in experimental design and data analysis; and criteria for inclusion and exclusion of data for analysis. Describe plans to expose trainees to the analytical approaches used in common experimental systems (e.g. electrophysiology, imaging, behavior, genetics etc.) such that they will be able to evaluate scientific data presented in the literature, seminars and other contexts. Describe the program’s approach to ensuring that each trainee will develop a practical appreciation of these principles and their application to their individual research. Describe the program’s approach to engaging the entire cohort and faculty and trainees in group discussions of experimental design and analysis as they apply to each trainee’s individual research project as well as approaches to increase the robustness of scientific findings.

Statistical Methodology:  Applications must include a detailed description of the plan for ensuring that each trainee is equipped with a thorough understanding of statistical methodology relevant to neuroscience research. Describe how trainees will be educated in the different types of statistical tests appropriate for different experimental paradigms, the appropriate application of statistics in analyzing data, interpreting results and forming conclusions, and the practical application of statistics to data in their own experimental systems. Describe the program's approach to instilling trainees with the depth and breadth of statistical understanding to enable them to adapt and appropriately apply statistical approaches as their experimental repertoire changes. While trainees may take, or have taken, an introductory statistics course, this is not sufficient to achieve the goals of this NOFO.

Statistical Training and Support

Applications should describe how statistical support will be provided to the trainees, and if funds are requested for incorporation of a faculty-level statistician into the program, a detailed description of the role, contribution and responsibilities of that individual with respect to the program. Include a description of how the supported statistician will contribute to educating trainees on statistical issues in scientific inquiry (i.e. rigorous understanding of p values, Bayesian vs. frequentist methods, the problems encountered with multiplicities, “p-hacking”, the differences in acceptable statistical treatment of exploratory and hypothesis-testing studies, etc.). Include a description of any mini-workshops or courses that will be created. Describe plans for inclusion of the supported statistician in regularly scheduled programmatic activities such as research presentations and journal clubs to lend strong statistical expertise to discussions. Describe opportunities trainees will have to consult with an expert across all phases of their research projects including experimental plans, design, data collection and analysis, and communication of results.

Quantitative Literacy and the Use of Quantitative Approaches

Describe the formal programmatic activities designed to provide trainees with an appreciation of the use and value of quantitative reasoning skills and approaches for application to neuroscience research. Provide a specific plan designed to enhance trainees' quantitative literacy and to encourage them to adopt a quantitative mindset. Describe the concepts that will be covered, and the practical tools and approaches that will be used to ensure that each trainee gains knowledge of, and experience in, quantitative exploration, interpretation and evaluation of data relevant to the thematic area of the program and to their own research. This plan might include programming skills for evaluating biological phenomena, systems and data, quantitative problem-solving exercises for understanding biological data and/or other didactic or hands-on activities designed to develop such skills. Programs should describe how quantitative approaches will be integrated across the program's training activities.

Programs may wish to enhance and expand upon their current offerings for developing quantitative skills and literacy. Funds may be available to bring in experts to conduct seminars, workshops or other activities to enhance training in this area. To be eligible for these funds, applications must include a detailed plan for the proposed activities.

Program-Wide Meetings: Experimental Design, Statistics and Quantitative Literacy

Describe plans for ensuring that trainees and program faculty meet regularly as a group to discuss and evaluate the experimental and statistical approaches used in their own work and in literature relevant to the thematic area of the program, and as relevant, discussions of the variety of quantitative tools and approaches used to examine different types of data, and potential approaches to modeling experimental systems. Plans should include a description of the format and timeframe for these meetings.

Program-wide Meetings:  Designing Research Projects to Solve Significant Problems

Describe plans for ensuring that the trainee cohort engages in group discussion of the larger questions of related to the broad significance of their work such that they gain exposure to a variety of critical biological problems within the thematic area of the training problem and approaches to solving them.

Scientific Rigor

Describe the programmatic activities designed to ensure that trainees gain a thorough understanding of the principles of scientific rigor. Describe the principles that will be covered and the format and timeframe for instruction. Topics should include, but are not limited to, unbiased experimental approaches, methods, analyses, and data interpretation; transparent reporting of results; and acceptable and unacceptable approaches to image manipulation and figure preparation. Education in the role of human decision-making tendencies and cognitive biases in data interpretation is strongly encouraged. Additional topics may include proper data storage, data labelling, data organization and archiving, and when applicable, preparation of computer code for public sharing so that it can be interpreted by others in the scientific community. 

Professional Skills

Describe the activities intended to provide trainees with outstanding oral and written presentation skills for both lay and scientifically literate audiences, and the typical frequency of public oral presentations by trainees. The NINDS T32 Workshop will be held annually and is expected to include opportunities for 5- to10-minute talks and/or poster presentations by the trainees. Describe any anticipated activities that will prepare trainees for effective presentations at this meeting in either format. Describe policies and expectations related to trainee submission of individual funding applications (e.g. fellowships, foundation awards, etc.). Describe required and optional programmatic activities intended to develop skills needed to apply successfully for individual fellowships or other types of grant support.

Understanding Career Opportunities

Describe the opportunities for trainees to learn about the many potential career paths available to them so that they may pursue a career of their choice that draws upon their Ph.D. training. Such opportunities may include, for example, access to formal career advising, internship/externships, or exposure to individuals with different kinds of jobs in the workforce. Describe the oversight mechanism that will ensure that all trainees, in the context of meeting the program's expectations for research excellence and productivity, can pursue their desired career.

Training Outcomes

The application should provide the information below about recent trainee outcomes through narrative descriptions and a summary of the data presented in the training tables. Although the training tables for new applications only allow for five years of recent graduate outcomes, applicants may describe up to 15 years of outcomes in the narrative. 

Describe the following:

  • evidence that the productivity (quality and number of publications, authorship placement) of trainees is appropriate for an outstanding training program, and the ability to continue toward successful independent scientific careers;
  • the rate of Ph.D. degree attainment and time-to-degree for recent graduates of predoctoral training programs;
  • the record of the program (or, for new applications, the existing training environment that houses the program) at producing trainees who transition to excellent next research positions, as well as other research-intensive or research-related positions that make use of their training;
  • the record of recent trainees (or, for new applications, other past trainees in similar training) in achieving productive scientific careers as evidenced by successful competition for research and other research-related positions in industry, academia, government or other research venues; grants; receipt of honors; high-impact publications; promotion to scientific leadership positions; and/or other such measures of success.

Training Program Evaluation

The application should describe an evaluation process to determine the effectiveness of the program, and whether the scientific research climate is inclusive and supportive of trainee development. The overall evaluation plan should include the metrics to be evaluated (e.g. program activities completed, degree completion (if applicable), publications, fellowships/honors, subsequent positions, etc.) as well as plans to obtain feedback from current and former trainees to provide suggestions for program improvement. The evaluation should address not only the cumulative record of the program, but the individual training records of each participating mentor. Describe plans to have the program evaluated by internal and external faculty.

Trainee Candidates

Through the narrative and summaries of the information presented in the Training Tables and the attachments, the following areas relevant to trainees should be addressed:

  • Describe the characteristics of the applicant pool, applicants eligible for support, new entrants into the program and new entrants eligible for support.
  • Describe the ability of participating department(s) and/or the institution(s) to support trainees for the duration of their training.
  • Describe the plans for a candidate selection process that considers metrics beyond undergraduate institution, GPA, and standardized test scores, which will identify promising candidates who have taken advantage of the research opportunities available to them, are committed to contributing to the biomedical research enterprise, and who will bring a wide range of perspectives to the training program.
  • Define and justify the selection and re-appointment criteria for trainees in the training program.
  • Explain how the program's support for courses, seminars, workshops and other activities may benefit other students or postdoctorates at the institution.
  • Describe the trainees' academic and research background needed to pursue the proposed training and plans to accommodate differences in preparation among trainees.
  • Describe the record of training individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those from groups that have been shown to be underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral or clinical research workforce, such as underrepresented racial and ethnic groups and those with disabilities (see NOT-OD-22-019)
  • For those institutions that also have MSTP programs and intend to support MD/PhD students with this funding opportunity, the PD/PI should explain the process by which MD/PhD students will be selected for support (including the anticipated number of MSTP students supported) and how he/she will ensure that the majority of trainees supported by the program are those seeking a PhD rather than an MD/PhD.

For renewal applications, highlight how the training program has evolved in response to changes in relevant scientific and technical knowledge, educational practices, and to evaluation of the training program.

Institutional Environment and Commitment to the Program.

The application must describe how the level of institutional and departmental commitment to research and training excellence will promote the success of the trainees and training program. A letter providing assurances of the institutional commitment should be provided in the Letters of Support section of the application.

Program Diversity

Describe efforts to promote an inclusive research environment (i.e. institutional and departmental environments in which trainees from all backgrounds are integrated into, and supported by, the institution). Describe efforts to provide trainees with access to a diversity of role models, both within the institution and through activities such as invited seminars. Applicants are encouraged to recruit prospective faculty who are women, individuals from different backgrounds, senior faculty who have the benefit of long experience, and junior faculty who have more recent experience in transitioning from training to independent positions.

Participating Faculty Biosketches

Program faculty must provide a personal statement that describes the appropriateness of their research background for the proposed training program, and their approach to and/or record of the following:

  • training, mentoring and promoting an inclusive and supportive scientific research environment;
  • training in sound experimental design, statistical methodology and the application of quantitative approaches in their research;
  • support for trainees' participation in activities required to identify and transition into careers in the biomedical research workforce that are consistent with the trainees' skills, interests, and values; and
  • fulfilling the need of trainees to progress to the next career stage in a timely manner with the skills, credentials and experiences necessary for careers in the biomedical research workforce.

Letters of Support

Institutional Support Letter

The application must include a signed letter on institutional letterhead from a President, Provost, Dean or key institutional leader that describes the activities and resources provided by the institution that will ensure the success of the planned training program and its trainees (not to exceed 10 pages).

The letter should address and/or include a description of the following:

  • the financial and non-financial resources that are directly committed or available to the proposed T32program, including the specific resources that are intended to directly aid in accomplishing the programmatic mission of the training program to be supported by this T32;
  • support for the PDs/PIs and other key staff associated with the planned training program and policies that ensure that faculty with a role in the proposed program have time available to devote to their responsibilities to the program;
  • assurance that the institution will strongly encourage trainees to attend the annual NINDS T32 Workshop once during their tenure of support by the training grant to present their research and engage in scientific discussion, and that the training grant PD/PI(s) attend each year;
  • active institutional efforts to develop and promote a culture in which the highest standards of scientific rigor and responsible conduct are advanced;
  • efforts to ensure that all faculty, including early stage faculty, are recognized for their participation and effort in training and mentoring;
  • the institution’s consideration of activities integral to excellent research training (such as teaching and mentorship) in tenure and promotion decisions;
  • policies that ensure availability of funding so that graduate students are able to complete their doctoral training if their mentor experiences a hiatus in funds or leaves the institution;
  • active efforts to promote diversity and inclusion and create a positive, supportive and inclusive research and training environment for individuals from all backgrounds, at all levels of the research training environment (trainees, staff, faculty, leadership);
  • efforts to ensure accessibility of research facilities to trainees with disabilities;
  • the institutional involvement in providing resources and expertise for evaluating the training outcomes of the program.

The institutional support letter must also include an additional, separate paragraph that describes the institution’s efforts to provide family-friendly environments, accommodations and leave policies (see examples in Model Policy on Pregnancy and Parenting Leave and Accommodations and Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine). These policies and accommodations would address, but are not limited to, timely access to affordable childcare services and accommodations for extended medical, family care or emergency circumstances that may impact or cause delays in scientific productivity. The institutional support letter must describe the financial and/or environmental support mechanisms available to trainees to help achieve their full career development potential despite the occurrence of critical life events. (https://thepregnantscholar.org/model-campus-policy/) (https://www.nap.edu/read/25585/chapter/1#ii)

The institutional support letter must also include a separate paragraph describing the institutional commitment to providing an environment free of discriminatory harassment and other discriminatory practices. The letter must explicitly address the areas laid out in NOT-OD-19-029.

For renewal applications, highlight how the training program has evolved in response to changes in relevant scientific and technical knowledge, educational practices, and to evaluation of the training program.

Training Program

Program Plan

Proposed Training.

The PD/PI should describe program activities intended to develop the working knowledge needed for trainees to select among and prepare for the next step in varied research career options available in the biomedical workforce. For example, programs should provide all trainees with instruction and training in oral and written presentation and in skills needed to apply for individual fellowship or grant support. All postdoctoral trainees should also be provided with instruction in laboratory and project management.

For renewal applications, highlight how the training program has evolved in response to changes in relevant scientific and technical knowledge, educational practices, and to evaluation of the training program.

​​​​​Plan for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research

Individuals are required to comply with the instructions for Plan for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research as provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

In addition, describe how the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) components are sufficiently well integrated into the overall curriculum, i.e., how they are taught at multiple stages of trainee development and in a variety of formats and contexts. Explain how the teaching of RCR synergizes with elements of the curriculum designed to enhance trainees' abilities to conduct rigorous scientific research. Describe how all program faculty will reiterate and augment key elements of responsible conduct when trainees are performing mentored research their laboratories.

Appendix:

Limited items are allowed in the Appendix. Follow all instructions for the Appendix as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide; any instructions provided here are in addition to the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide instructions.

PHS Assignment Request Form

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

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. NIH 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 Grants Policy Statement Section 2.3.9.2 Electronically Submitted Applications.

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

All NIH awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement. The National Research Service Award (NRSA) policies apply to this program. An NRSA appointment may not be held concurrently with another Federally sponsored fellowship, traineeship, or similar Federal award that provides a stipend or otherwise duplicates provisions of the NRSA.

Pre-award costs are allowable only as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement. Note, however, that pre-award costs are not allowable charges for stipends or tuition/fees on institutional training grants because these costs may not be charged to the grant until a trainee has actually been appointed and the appropriate paperwork submitted to the NIH awarding component. Any additional costs associated with the decision to allow research elective credit for short-term research training are not allowable charges on an institutional training grant.

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 How to Apply – Application Guide. If you encounter a system issue beyond your control that threatens your ability to complete the submission process on-time, you must follow the Dealing with System Issues guidance. 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 form. 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 NIH.

The applicant organization must ensure that the unique entity identifier provided on the application is the same identifier used in the organization’s profile in the eRA Commons and for the System for Award Management. 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. Applications that are incomplete or non-compliant will not be reviewed.

Post Submission Materials

Applicants are required to follow the instructions for post-submission materials, as described in the policy.

Substitute the term “scholars” for all references to “trainees” in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, and substitute the term “career development” for all references to “training” in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

Section V. Application Review Information

1. Criteria

Only the review criteria described below will be considered in the review process.

Applications submitted to the NIH in support of the NIH mission are evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the NIH peer review system.

Overall Impact

Reviewers will provide an overall impact score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood that the proposed training program will prepare individuals for successful, productive scientific research careers and thereby exert a sustained influence on the research field(s) involved, in consideration of the following review criteria and additional review criteria (as applicable for the project proposed.)

Scored Review Criteria

Reviewers will consider each of the review criteria below in the determination of the merit of the training program and give a separate score for each. When applicable, the reviewers will consider relevant questions in the context of proposed short-term training. An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact.

Training Program and Environment

Experimental Design and Statistical Methodology

  • Does the program describe formal programmatic activities that will reinforce the principles of sound experimental design and the appropriate use of statistics, such that they will foster an understanding of the critical need for the rigorous application of the concepts covered, and their incorporation into the trainees' individual research?
  • Does the application provided a plan for participation of a faculty level statistician in the program as described above?
  • What are the programmatic activities aimed to provide education in the different types of statistical tests appropriate for different experimental paradigms, the appropriate application of statistics in analyzing data, interpreting results and forming conclusions, and the practical application of statistics to data in their own experimental systems?
  • What is the program's approach to instilling trainees with the depth and breadth of statistical understanding to enable them to adapt and appropriately apply statistical approaches as their experimental repertoire changes?
  • Does the application describe how the faculty level statistician will lead and/or participate in such activities?

Quantitative Literacy and the Use of Quantitative Approaches

  • What are the formal programmatic activities designed to provide trainees with an understanding of the use and value of quantitative reasoning skills and approaches for neuroscience research?
  • Does the application provide a specific plan designed to enhance trainees' quantitative literacy and to encourage them to adopt a quantitative mindset?
  • What are the concepts that will be covered, and the practical tools and approaches that will be used to ensure that each trainee gains knowledge of, and experience in, quantitative exploration, interpretation and evaluation of data relevant to the thematic area of the program and to their own research?
  • What are the planned activities that are likely to significantly enhance trainees' quantitative literacy and encourage them to adopt a quantitative mindset?
  • If funds are requested to invite outside experts, what are the type of expertise and value of including these individuals in the program?

Program-wide Meetings

  • Is there a detailed plan to ensure that trainees and program faculty meet regularly as a group to discuss and evaluate the experimental and statistical approaches used in their own work and in literature relevant to the thematic area of the program?
  • Does the application describe a plan to include program-wide discussions of the broad significance of their work that will allow exposure to a variety of critical biological problems withing the thematic area of the training problem and approaches to solving them?

Scientific Rigor

  • What are the formal activities that will ensure that trainees gain a thorough understanding of the principles of scientific rigor, and apply them to their individual research, as well as written and oral research communications?
  • What are the principles of scientific rigor that will be covered and the format and timeframe for instruction?
  • What are the activities that the application propose to address education in the role of human decision-making tendencies and cognitive biases in data interpretation?

Professional Skills and Career Opportunities

  • Does the program provide appropriate training in career skills such as written and oral presentation for both lay and scientifically literate audiences, and grant writing?
  • Does the program encourage trainees to submit individual grant applications when feasible and appropriate?
  • Are trainees in the program provided with adequate and appropriate information regarding the wide variety of careers for which their training may be useful?

Institutional and Departmental Commitment

  • Will the institutional and departmental commitment to research and training excellence promote the success of the trainees and training program?
  • Is it clear that there is a commitment to promote a culture in which the highest standards of scientific rigor and responsible conduct are advanced?
  • Is it clear that there will be adequate funds available to ensure that graduate students are able to complete their doctoral training if their mentor experiences a hiatus in research support or leaves the institution?
  • Are the core facilities and technology resources necessary for the success of the program well-supported?
  • Is there adequate support of the PDs/PIs and other key staff, facilities, and educational resources associated with the training program?
  • Do faculty have sufficient protected time available to devote to the training activities?
  • Do institutional policies for tenure and promotion decisions reward excellence in training and mentoring?
  • Are diversity and inclusion promoted at all levels of the research training environment (trainees, staff, faculty and leadership)?
  • Does the institution have policies in place to ensure a family-friendly environment, such as access to affordable child-care and medical and family leave policies, that facilitate the ability of all trainees to pursue their training and career development goals in concert with fulfilling typical and/or transient life needs?
  • Do institutional policies reflect a commitment to providing an environment free from discrimination and harassment, sexual or otherwise?
  • Are the research facilities accessible to trainees with disabilities?
  • Are there resources and the expertise for evaluating the training outcomes of the program?
  • Does the institution/department provide assurance that trainees and the training grant PD/PI(s) will be strongly encouraged to attend the annual NINDS T32 Workshop?

Training Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s))

  • Does the PD/PI have the scientific background, expertise, and administrative and training experience to provide strong leadership, direction, management, and administration of the proposed research training program?
  • Does the PD/PI plan to commit sufficient effort to ensure the program’s success?
  • For applications designating multiple PDs/PIs:
    • Is a strong justification provided that the multiple PD/PI leadership approach will benefit the training program and the trainees?
    • Is a strong and compelling leadership approach evident, including the designated roles and responsibilities, governance, and organizational structure consistent with and justified by the aims of the training program and the complementary expertise of the PDs/PIs?
  • Do the PDs/PIs have a demonstrated commitment to providing outstanding training future members of the biomedical research workforce, leading recruitment efforts to enhance diversity and fostering inclusive research environments?
  • Are there a planned strategy and administrative structure to oversee and monitor the program and to ensure appropriate and timely progress for the duration of each trainee's time in the program?

Preceptors/Mentors

  • Are sufficient numbers of experienced preceptors/mentors with appropriate expertise and funding available to support the number and level of trainees (including short-term trainees, if applicable) proposed in the application?
  • Do the preceptors/mentors have strong records as researchers, including recent publications and successful competition for research support in areas directly related to the proposed research training program?
  • Do the preceptors/mentors as a group possess complimentary experience and expertise related to the goals and structure of the proposed program?
  • Do the established preceptors/mentors have strong records of training individuals at the level of trainees proposed in the program who go on to excellent positions after an appropriate time in training?
  • Do the preceptors/mentors address in their bio-sketch their approach to: - mentoring and promoting an inclusive and supportive scientific research environment; training in sound experimental design, statistical methodology, and the application of quantitative approaches in their research - support for trainees' participation in activities required to identify and transition into careers in the biomedical research workforce that are consistent with the trainees' skills, interests, and values - fulfilling the need of trainees to progress to the next career stage in a timely manner with the skills, credentials, and experiences necessary for careers in the biomedical research workforce.
  • Does the application describe the expectations for preceptor/mentor participation in programmatic activities beyond training within their own labs?
  • Does the program provide a plan for ensuring the involvement of participating preceptors/mentors in equipping trainees to approach their research with a quantitative mindset and with skills in experimental design, statistical methodology, and quantitative literacy and the use of quantitative approaches in their research?
  • Are appropriate plans in place to ensure that preceptors lacking sufficient research training experience are likely to provide strong and successful mentoring?
  • Does the program provide evidence of the commitment of preceptors/mentors to effective mentoring and promoting inclusive and supportive scientific and training environments?
  • Is there a plan for oversight of mentorship that will ensure that each trainee will obtain appropriate guidance for achieving success in the program?
  • Is there a plan for the evaluation of participating faculty for their contribution to high quality mentorship, attention to robust experimental design and statistical and experimental rigor, promoting the values of quantitative literacy expected by the NINDS T32-funded program, and creating an inclusive environment that welcomes varied perspectives of both trainees and faculty?
  • Does the application include a description of the formal standards for mentorship to which all participating faculty mentors must adhere, and a plan for integrating these expectations into the individual mentorship of all T32 preceptors?
  • Is there a formal approach in place to monitoring the mentorship received by all program trainees to ensure that all receive what is locally determined to be adequate, effective mentorship?
  • Does the application describe an approach to and timeline for making changes to the cohort of participating faculty based on their commitment to achieving the goals of the program?

Trainees

  • Is a recruitment plan proposed with strategies likely to attract well-qualified trainees for the training program?
  • Is there a competitive applicant pool of sufficient size and quality, at each of the proposed levels (predoctoral, postdoctoral and/or short-term), to ensure a successful training program?
  • Are there well-defined and justified selection and re-appointment criteria as well as retention strategies?
  • Is the approach to selecting candidates for appointment likely to bring a wide range of perspectives to the training program by valuing individuals with diverse viewpoints and backgrounds?
  • Is a candidate review process proposed (i.e., a process that considers metrics beyond undergraduate institution, GPA, and standardized test scores) that will allow a broad group of trainees, who have taken advantage of the research opportunities available to them and are committed to contributing to the biomedical research enterprise, to participate the training program?
  • Does the institution have the resources to support students for the duration of their graduate careers?
  • Is there a plan to monitor the progress of every trainee to ensure the highest possible level of success for each trainee? Note that for an individual trainee, the highest level of success might include choosing to actively pursue a non-research career opportunity, either after program completion or by exiting prior to program completion.

Training Record

  • Was the trainee productivity (quality and number of publications; authorship placement) appropriate for 1) an outstanding training program and 2) the ability to continue toward successful independent scientific careers?
  • How successful is the program (or, for new applications, the existing neuroscience training environment that houses the program) at producing trainees who transition to excellent next research positions, as well as other positions that make use of their training?
  • How successful are the trainees (or, for new applications, other past students/postdoctorates in similar training) in achieving productive scientific careers as evidenced by successful competition for research science positions in industry, academia, government or other research venues; grants; receipt of honors, awards, or patents; high-impact publications; promotion to scientific leadership positions; and/or other such measures of success?
  • Does the program have a record of training individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those from  groups that have been shown to be underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical research workforce?

Training Program Evaluation

  • Does the program propose a rigorous evaluation plan to assess the quality and effectiveness of the training and an approach to making appropriate and timely changes in response to the evaluation?
  • Does the plan include involvement of both internal and external faculty?
  • Does the program have a strategy to address the training outcomes of the overall program and the training records of the individual mentors?
  • Is an effective mechanism in place for obtaining feedback from current and former trainees?
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

Generally not applicable. Reviewers should bring any concerns to the attention of the Scientific Review Officer.

Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Individuals Across the Lifespan

Generally not applicable. Reviewers should bring any concerns to the attention of the Scientific Review Officer.

Vertebrate Animals

Generally not applicable. Reviewers should bring any concerns to the attention of the Scientific Review Officer.

Biohazards

Generally not applicable. Reviewers should bring any concerns to the attention of the Scientific Review Officer.

Training in Methods for Enhancing Reproducibility

Does the plan for Instruction in Methods for Enhancing Reproducibility describe how the program will provide training in scientific reasoning, rigorous research design, relevant experimental methods, consideration of relevant biological variables such as sex, authentication of key biological and/or chemical resources, quantitative approaches, and data analysis and interpretation, appropriate to field of study and the level and prior preparation of the trainees?

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.

Renewals

For Renewals, the committee will consider the progress made in the last funding period. Does the application describe the program’s accomplishments over the past funding period(s)? Is the program achieving its training objectives? Has the program evaluated the quality and effectiveness of the training experience (and when applicable, short-term training experience), and is there evidence that the evaluation outcomes and feedback from trainees have been acted upon? Are changes proposed that are likely to improve or strengthen the research training experience during the next project period (may not be applicable to short-term training)? Does the program continue to evolve and reflect changes in the research area in which the training occurs?

Revisions

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.

Recruitment Plan to Enhance Diversity

Peer reviewers will separately evaluate the Recruitment Plan to Enhance Diversity after the overall score has been determined. Reviewers will examine the strategies to be used in the recruitment of prospective individuals from underrepresented groups. The plan will be rated as ACCEPTABLE or UNACCEPTABLE, and the consensus of the review committee will be included in an administrative note in the summary statement.

Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research

All applications for support under this FOA must include a plan to fulfill NIH requirements for instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). Taking into account the specific characteristics of the training program, the level of trainee experience, and the particular circumstances of the trainees, the reviewers will evaluate the adequacy of the proposed RCR training in relation to the following five required components: 1) Format - Does the plan satisfactorily address the format of instruction, e.g., lectures, coursework and/or real-time discussion groups, including face-to-face interaction? (A plan involving only on-line instruction is not acceptable.); 2) Subject Matter – Does the plan include a sufficiently broad selection of subject matter, such as conflict of interest, authorship, data management, human subjects and animal use, laboratory safety, research misconduct, research ethics? 3) Faculty Participation - Does the plan adequately describe how faculty will participate in the instruction? For renewal applications, are all training faculty who served as course directors, speakers, lecturers, and/or discussion leaders during the past project period named in the application? 4) Duration of Instruction - Does the plan meet the minimum requirements for RCR, i.e., at least eight contact hours of instruction? 5) Frequency of Instruction – Does the plan meet the minimum requirements for RCR, i.e., at least once during each career stage (undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, predoctoral, postdoctoral, and faculty levels) and at a frequency of no less than once every four years?

For renewal applications, does the progress report document acceptable RCR instruction in the five components described above? Does the plan describe how participation in RCR instruction is being monitored? Are appropriate changes in the plan for RCR instruction proposed in response to feedback and in response to evolving issues related to responsible conduct of research?

Plans and past record will be rated as ACCEPTABLE or UNACCEPTABLE, and the summary statement will provide the consensus of the review committee.

Select Agent Research

Reviewers will assess the information provided in this section of the application, including 1) the Select Agent(s) to be used in the proposed research, 2) the registration status of all entities where Select Agent(s) will be used, 3) the procedures that will be used to monitor possession use and transfer of Select Agent(s), and 4) plans for appropriate biosafety, biocontainment, and security of the Select Agent(s).

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 NINDS Scientific Review Branch in accordance with NIH peer review policies and practices, using the stated review criteria. 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 PHS referral guidelines to the appropriate NIH Institute or Center. Applications will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications. Following initial peer review, recommended applications will receive a second level of review by the appropriate national Advisory Council or Board.

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.
  • Relevance 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 their Summary Statement (written critique) via the eRA Commons. Refer to Part 1 for dates for peer review, advisory council review, and earliest start date.

Information regarding the disposition of applications is available in the NIH Grants Policy Statement Section 2.4.4 Disposition of Applications.

Section VI. Award Administration Information

1. Award Notices

If the application is under consideration for funding, NIH will request "just-in-time" information from the applicant as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

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 recipient’s business official.

Recipients 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 NOFO will be subject to terms and conditions found on the Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants website. This includes any recent legislation and policy applicable to awards that is highlighted on this website.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

All NIH grant and cooperative agreement awards include the NIH Grants Policy Statement as part of the NoA. For these terms of award, see the NIH Grants Policy Statement Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart A: General and Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart B: Terms and Conditions for Specific Types of Grants, Recipients, and Activities, including of note, but not limited to:

If a recipient is successful and receives a Notice of Award, in accepting the award, the recipient agrees that any activities under the award are subject to all provisions currently in effect or implemented during the period of the award, other Department regulations and policies in effect at the time of the award, and applicable statutory provisions.

If a recipient receives an award, the recipient must follow all applicable nondiscrimination laws. The recipient agrees to this when registering in SAM.gov. The recipient must also submit an Assurance of Compliance (HHS-690). To learn more, see the HHS Office for Civil Rights website.

HHS recognizes that NIH 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 NIH grant programs, please contact the Scientific/Research Contact that is identified in Section VII under Agency Contacts of this NOFO.

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), NIH 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 judgement 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 2 CFR Part 200.206 “Federal awarding agency review of risk posed by applicants.” This provision will apply to all NIH grants and cooperative agreements except fellowships.

Institutional NRSA training grants must be administered in accordance with the current NRSA section of the NIH Grants Policy Statement - Institutional Research Training Grants.

The taxability of stipends is described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement. Policies regarding the Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA payback obligation are explained in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

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. Policies regarding the Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA payback obligation are explained in the NIH Grants Policy Statement; and more details are in the Frequently Asked Questions. Officials at the recipient institution have the responsibility of explaining the terms of the payback requirements to all prospective trainees before appointment to the training grant. Additionally, all trainees recruited into the training program should be provided with information related to the career options that might be available when they complete the program. The suitability of such career options as methods to satisfy the NRSA service payback obligation should be discussed.

Inventions and Copyrights

Awards made primarily for educational purposes are exempted from the PHS invention requirements and thus invention reporting is not required, as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award

Not Applicable

3. Data Management and Sharing

Consistent with the 2023 NIH Policy for Data Management and Sharing, when data management and sharing is applicable to the award, recipients will be required to adhere to the Data Management and Sharing requirements as outlined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Not Applicable.

4. Reporting

When multiple years are involved, recipients will be required to submit the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) annually and financial statements as required in the NIH Grants Policy Statement. Continuation support will not be provided until the required forms are submitted and accepted.

Failure by the recipient institution to submit required forms in a timely, complete, and accurate manner may result in an expenditure disallowance or a delay in any continuation funding for the award.

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 as amended (FFATA), includes a requirement for recipients of Federal grants to report information about first-tier subawards and executive compensation under Federal assistance awards issued in FY2011 or later. All recipients of applicable NIH 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 NIH Grants Policy Statement for additional information on this reporting requirement.

Other Reporting Requirements

The institution must submit a completed Statement of Appointment (PHS Form 2271) for each trainee appointed or reappointed to the training grant for 8 weeks or more. Recipients must submit the PHS 2271 data electronically using the xTrain system. More information on xTrain is available at xTrain (eRA Commons). An appointment or reappointment may begin any time during the budget period, but not before the budget period start date of the grant year.

  • Additionally, a completed Payback Agreement Form (PHS Form 6031) must be submitted for each postdoctoral trainee in his or her first 12 months of support.
  • A notarized statement verifying possession of permanent residency documentation must be submitted with the Statement of Appointment (PHS Form 2271). Individuals with a Conditional Permanent Resident status must first meet full (non-conditional) Permanent Residency requirements before receiving support.
  • Termination Notice: Within 30 days of the end of the total support period, the institution must submit a Termination Notice (PHS Form 416-7) via xTrain for each trainee appointed for eight weeks or more. Trainees with service payback requirements must notify the NIH of any change in address and submit Annual Payback Activities Certification Forms (PHS Form 6031-1) until the payback service obligation is satisfied.

A final RPPR, the expenditure data portion of the Federal Financial Report, and Termination Notices for all Trainees, are required for closeout of an award as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement. NIH NOFOs outline intended research goals and objectives. Post award, NIH will review and measure performance based on the details and outcomes that are shared within the RPPR, as described at 2 CFR Part 200.301.

In accordance with the regulatory requirements provided at 2 CFR Part 200.113 and Appendix XII to 2 CFR Part 200, 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 and 2 CFR Part 200 – Award Term and Condition for Recipient Integrity and Performance Matters.

5. Evaluation

In carrying out its stewardship of human resource-related programs, NIH 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.

Application Submission Contacts

eRA Service Desk (Questions regarding ASSIST, eRA Commons, application errors and warnings, documenting system problems that threaten on-time submission, and post-submission issues)

Finding Help Online: https://www.era.nih.gov/need-help (preferred method of contact)
Telephone: 301-402-7469 or 866-504-9552 (Toll Free)

General Grants Information (Questions regarding application processes and NIH grant resources)
Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov (preferred method of contact)
Telephone: 301-637-3015

Grants.gov Customer Support (Questions regarding Grants.gov registration and Workspace)
Contact Center Telephone: 800-518-4726
Email: support@grants.gov

Scientific/Research Contacts

Stephen Korn, Ph.D.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Email: (korn@ninds.nih.gov)
 

Peer Review Contact(s)

Chief, Scientific Review Branch
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Telephone: 301-496-9223
Email: nindsreview.nih.gov@mail.nih.gov

Financial/Grants Management Contacts

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

Section VIII. Other Information

Section VIII. Other Information header text

Recently issued trans-NIH policy notices may affect your application submission. A full list of policy notices published by NIH is provided in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Authority and Regulations

Awards are made under the authorization of Section 487 of the Public Health Service Act as amended (42 USC 288) and under Federal Regulations 42 CFR 66.

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