Release Date:  October 8, 1998

RFA:  GM-99-002


National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  November 13, 1998
Application Receipt Date:  January 14, 1999


The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and the Office of
Research on Minority Health (ORMH), National Institutes of Health (NIH), re-
announce two research initiatives directed at increasing the number of
underrepresented minorities entering careers in biomedical research.  The
programs target two different underrepresented minority student populations:
those in colleges and universities offering only Master of Science (M.S.)
degree programs in biomedically-related sciences and those in two-year junior
or community colleges.  These have been identified as two key transition
points for students considering careers in biomedical research.  This is the
seventh year of this program which seeks to encourage the development of new
and innovative programs and the expansion of existing programs to improve the
academic competitiveness of underrepresented minority students and facilitate
their transition into the next stage towards careers in biomedical research.

This Request for Applications (RFA) solicits new applications for a
partnership program involving institutions awarding the M.S. degree and
universities awarding the Ph.D. degree.  RFA GM-99-001, a separate
solicitation, describes a program targeting the transition from two-year
colleges awarding the Associate's degree to institutions awarding the
Baccalaureate degree.  Former applicants of unfunded Bridge proposals are
encouraged to submit revised applications that respond to the prior concerns
of the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council.


The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health promotion
and disease prevention objectives of "Health People 2000," a PHS-led national
activity for setting priority areas.  This Request for Applications (RFA),
Initiative for Minority Students:  Bridges to the Baccalaureate Degree, is
related to one or more of the priority areas.  Potential applicants may obtain
a copy of "Health People 2000" at



Applications may be submitted by domestic, private and public, educational
institutions.  State or local systems of higher education (also hereinafter
referred to as institutions) may submit applications as well.  An institution
may be involved as a partner institution in more than one Bridge Program, but
can be the APPLICANT institution for only one Bridges to the Baccalaureate
Degree and one Bridges to the Doctoral Degree Program.  Institutions with
NIGMS Bridge Program (R25) awards ending on or before September 1999 may
submit COMPETING CONTINUATION APPLICATIONS for up to five years of continued
support (see RFA GM-99-003).

An institution or system of higher education may submit ONLY ONE application
for this RFA.  Institutions which submit applications in response to this RFA
may also apply for support for a Bridge to the Baccalaureate Degree (RFA GM-
99- 001) if they meet the eligibility requirements.  However, a separate
application for each RFA is required.  Institutions submitting their own
applications may participate in programs with other applicant institutions so
long as these interactions are consistent with institutional resources and
their unified institutional plans described in BOTH applications (see UNIFIED
PLAN under SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS).  Institutions participating in more than one
application should provided a justification for each.

Programs developed or modified under this initiative must be specifically
designed to target underrepresented minority graduate students majoring in the
sciences. For purposes of this RFA, underrepresented minority students are
individuals belonging to a particular ethnic or racial group that has been
determined by the grantee institution to be underrepresented in biomedical or
behavioral research.  Historically, individuals who have been found to be
uderrepresented in biomedical or behavioral research include, but are not
limited to, U.S. citizens who are African American, Hispanic Americans, Native
Americans and natives of the U.S. Pacific Islands. The term "science" is used
in this RFA to mean the natural, physical, and behavioral sciences and
mathematics relevant to biomedical research.

Applications must include a partnership between an institution which offers
the M.S. degree ("MS Institution") as the only post-graduate degree in the
sciences within the participating departments AND has a significant enrollment
of underrepresented minorities, and one research university providing Ph.D.
degree programs in areas relevant to the biomedical sciences.

All applications must involve a partnership of at least two colleges or
universities, but may involve a consortium of several institutions, and may
include several institutions within a single state system.  One participating
institution must be designated as the applicant institution, must name the
program director and must submit the application.  Each participating
institution must name one individual to act as its program coordinator. 
Proposals must include a description of the collaborative arrangement with all
participating institutions.

Institutions offering both the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees may not use funds from
this program for graduates of their own M.S. degree programs to enter their
own Ph.D. degree programs, even if the student is moving from one department,
school, or college to another.  The program seeks to promote and enhance
partnerships BETWEEN institutions.

For additional requirements see: SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS



Awards under this RFA will use the institutional education project (R25)
grant.  Responsibility for the planning, direction, and execution of the
proposed project will be solely that of the applicant.  The total project
period for applications submitted in response to this RFA may not exceed two
years.  Requested direct costs are not to exceed $320,000 for the two-year
period.  Indirect costs will be paid at 8% of the direct costs, minus
appropriate exclusions, or actual indirect costs, whichever is less.  A budget
for each year should be provided.

This RFA is a one-time solicitation.  Future unsolicited competing
applications will not be accepted.

Allowable Costs

If appropriate, the budget request may be divided into two phases: a planning
phase with its attendant budget for the minor adjustment and/or refinement of
the partnership program (not intended to serve as an opportunity to make major
changes to the plan approved by peer review); and an implementation phase with
its attendant budget.  The planning phase costs should be minimal and not
exceed a period of six months.  Faculty release time for planning and
implementation of the program and faculty travel related to program
development may be requested.

The implementation phase may include the costs of administering and
coordinating the partnership program within and between each of the
participants.  Requests for equipment, supplies, travel, and other expenses
should be limited to those necessary for program development and should be
carefully and specifically justified.

The budget should include travel funds for the Program Director, a grants
manager from the grantee institution, and the Program Coordinators from the
participating institutions to travel to Bethesda, Maryland for the BRIDGES
Program Directors and Coordinators Meeting each budget year.

Each participating institution is responsible for data acquisition and data
entry into E-STAR each year.  E-STAR (Electronic Student Tracking and
Reporting) is a program developed by NIGMS to facilitate the administration
and evaluation of this program by the grantees and the agency. The budget
should also include funds to defray the costs of data entry.

Access to E-STAR will be through Internet and the World Wide Web (minimum
computer needs for E-STAR: an IBM-compatible 386 with 4 meg of RAM, with
Microsoft Windows(tm) 3.1 and WIN32S or a Macintosh 68020 with 4 meg of RAM; a
14.4 kb/s modem, and internet access. Any computer with Netscape will work).

Student remuneration (limited to underrepresented minorities matriculated at
the MS partner institution(s)) through salary/wages and/or other forms of
compensation paid in lieu of wages for participation in research experiences
may be requested.  Tuition remission (or other forms of compensation paid in
lieu of wages) expenditures are allowable provided the following conditions
are met:

o  the student is performing necessary work,

o  there is an employer-employee relationship between the student and the

o  the total compensation is reasonable for the work performed, and

o  it is the institution's practice to provide compensation for all students
in similar circumstances, regardless of the source of support for the

In summary, allowable costs include, but are not limited to: tuition
remission, supplies, equipment, travel, other expenses, salary, wages, and
fringe benefits for students and faculty.


Stipends, housing, food, tuition (unless as stated above), and fees are not
allowable costs under this program.


An estimated total of $9.4 million will be available for the term of the
awards made in response to this solicitation, RFA GM-99-001, and applications
for competing continuations, RFA GM-99-003.  NIH staff anticipate making a
combined total of 20 to 40 new and competing continuation awards for these
RFAs, if NIH receives sufficient numbers of highly meritorious applications
and sufficient funds for this purpose.



This program seeks to promote the initiation and development of new
transitional programs, as well as the expansion and enhancement of existing
programs between those institutions with departments offering only the
Master's degree as the graduate academic degree in the sciences, and that have
significant enrollments of underrepresented minority students, and research
universities with Ph.D. degree programs.  The objective is to facilitate the
transition of underrepresented minority graduate students into Ph.D. programs
after obtaining their M.S. degree.  Students receiving their M.S. degree in
one field of science may pursue a Ph.D. in a different area so long as it is
in a discipline related to the biomedical sciences.

Collaborative agreements should take the form that best fits the needs and
situations of the institutions involved.  The challenge for the program
director, with the help of the participating partners, is to design a new
partnership program, or enhance an existing program, THAT WILL FOCUS ATTENTION

Additional Information

The "Bridge" programs must be designed with special attention to the needs and
special requirements of the underrepresented minority graduate students
enrolled in the M.S. degree program.  They may include, but are not limited
to, the following elements:

o  providing research opportunities for M.S. students at the Ph.D. institution
or in private industrial laboratories (students may receive compensation for
these activities);

o  establishing a mentoring program for M.S. students with faculty at the
Ph.D. institution;

o  strengthening the research capability of the MS Institution (e.g., by
faculty research collaborations, joint seminar programs, etc.);

o  enhancing the curriculum of the MS Institution (special courses, seminars,

o  enabling and encouraging students from either institution to take classes
at the other institution;

o  guaranteeing acceptance into the participating Ph.D. program(s) for
students completing the M.S. program;

o  academic counseling for M.S. students, with a particular focus on
encouraging students to pursue research careers in the biomedical sciences.

o  nontraditional or other professional degree-granting institutions should
describe those modifications or additions to their programs that would
encourage and facilitate Bridge students to enter research careers.

It is an expectation of NIGMS and ORMH that students who enter Ph.D. programs
as a result of this enhancement program will receive support, if needed, while
progressing satisfactorily in Ph.D. research training programs.  Applicants
should describe the type(s) of institutional support that would be available
to such students.


Applicants should describe the proposed transition program in detail and
explain how its design will meet the goals of this initiative.  Applicants
should describe the criteria to be used in the selection and retention of the
student participants for this program; applicants should also describe the
criteria for selecting participating faculty.  Applicants with an existing
transition program should describe that program and explain how it would be
altered to meet the goals of this initiative.  Applicant should describe the
methods and facilities available for tracking student participants, and
criteria to be used for program evaluation.

Unified Plan

To avoid duplication of effort each institution should develop a unified plan
(which may include the biomedically relevant physical, natural and behavioral
sciences and mathematics) to facilitate the transfer of its students from the
M.S. degree program to the Ph.D. degree program at another institution. 
Applicants should describe how this proposal fits in with the institution's
overall transition plan.  If an institution is involved in more than one
Bridge Program, the applicant or the institution's program coordinator must
describe how the various Bridge Programs interact and are consistent with the
institution's unified plan.

Other Training Programs

Colleges with any NIH funding such as the Minority Access to Research Careers
(MARC), Minority Biomedical Research Support Program (MBRS), National Research
Service Award (NRSA) training grants, and/or project grants, or other sources
of funds such as National Science Foundation grants or Howard Hughes Medical
Institute grants, should define the relationship between those programs and
this transition program.  They should delineate how this enhancement program
will influence their partnerships with the other participants and the manner
in which underrepresented minority students in the transition program will
interact with these other sources of support.

Consortium Agreements

Each applicant institution should delineate appropriate agreements and
consortium arrangements with other institutions consistent with its own
unified institutional plan.  The following statement, accompanied by
signatures of the appropriate administrative officials from EACH of the
collaborating institutions, must be included as part of the application:


In addition, letters, signed by the appropriate institutional official and
program coordinator, acknowledging participation in the program are required
from each participating institution.

Reporting Requirements

A progress report will be required at the end of the planning phase (if any)
or at the end of the first year, whichever is shorter.  A final report will be
required 90 days after the termination date of the award and must include
information for each student participant (E-STAR may be used to satisfy part
of these requirements) and the benefits derived from the partnership program. 
For applicants submitting competing renewals the progress report in the
competing application may satisfy this requirement (E-STAR database will not
be available to the peer review committees, a printout or other format of this
data will be necessary for a competing proposal).

Student Population and Career Tracking

The nature and extent of underrepresented minority student participation must
be thoroughly delineated.  The applicant should also describe the MS
Institution's success in training its students in the sciences, including
information on the numbers of minority students receiving the M.S. degree and
data on subsequent careers or education of their graduates.

The applicant should describe a system by which it would monitor and track the
students participating in this program, including their future careers, in
order to evaluate the success of the program.  The applicant should maintain
data to be able to demonstrate the benefits of this program on retention
rates, graduation rates, transfer rates to the next higher degree program, and
graduation rates from the next higher degree programs.  These data should be
compared to those of the non-minority students and the minority students that
were not in the bridges program.  E-STAR may be used to satisfy part of these


Prospective applicants are requested to submit by November 13, 1998 a letter
of intent that includes a descriptive title of the proposed plan, the name,
address, and telephone number of the program director, the identities of other
key personnel and participating institutions, and the number and title of the
RFA.  Although a letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does
not enter into the review of subsequent applications, the information that it
contains is helpful in planning for the review of applications.  It allows NIH
staff to estimate the potential review workload and to avoid conflict of
interest in the review.

The letter of intent is to be sent to the program director listed under


The research grant application form PHS 398 (rev. 5/95) is to be used in
applying for these grants.  These forms are available at most institutional
offices of sponsored research; from the Division of Extramural Outreach and
Information Resources, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive MSC
7910, Bethesda, MD 20892-7910, telephone (301) 710-0267; email: and from the NIGMS program director listed under INQUIRIES. 
The forms are also available on at:

The RFA label in the PHS 398 application form must be affixed to the bottom of
the face page of the application.  Failure to use this label could result in
delayed processing of the application such that it may not reach the review
committee in time for review.  In addition, the RFA number and title must be
typed on line 2 of the face page form, the "YES" box must be marked.

Submit a signed, typewritten original of the application, including the
Checklist, and three photocopies of the signed application in one package to:

BETHESDA, MD 20892-7710
BETHESDA, MD 20817 (for express/courier service)

At the time of submission, two additional copies of the application must also
be sent to Dr. Irene Eckstrand at the address listed under INQUIRIES.

Applications must be received by January 14, 1999.  Applications arriving
after that date will be returned to the applicant.


Upon receipt, applications will be administratively reviewed by NIH staff. 
Incomplete and/or unresponsive applications will be returned to the applicant
without further consideration.  Those applications that are complete and
responsive will be evaluated in accordance with the criteria stated below for
scientific and technical merit by appropriate peer review groups.  The second
level of review will be provided by the National Advisory General Medical
Sciences Council.

Review criteria:

The goals of NIH-supported research are to advance our understanding of
biological systems, improve the control of disease, and enhance health.  In
the written comments, reviewers will be asked to discuss the following aspects
of the application in order to judge the likelihood that the proposed research
will have a substantial impact on the pursuit of these goals.  Each of these
criteria will be addressed and considered in assigning the overall score,
weighting them as appropriate for each application.  Note that the application
does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major
scientific impact and thus deserve a high priority score.  For example, an
investigator may propose to carry out important work that by its nature is not
innovative but is essential to move a field forward.

o  qualifications and experience of the Principal Investigator and staff to
carry out the proposed program;

o  appropriateness of the plans to develop the transition program to meet the
goals of the solicitation; appropriateness of the existing program and of
plans to  modify that program;

o  availability of significant numbers of underrepresented minority students
in the participating science department(s) who are interested in studying
further in biomedical and health-related fields;

o  evidence of underrepresented minority students progressing to higher
education in the sciences;

o  appropriateness of the system to track future course of program
participants and monitor the effectiveness of the program;

o  budget and cost-effectiveness of the project including appropriateness to
the scope of the program, benefit to the students, number of students
involved, appropriateness of the of resources allocated to MS institution(s),
and responsible and prudent senior personnel costs;

o  evidence of institutional commitment, for each institution, and strength of
the collaborative efforts between institutions to foster professional
development of underrepresented minority faculty and to train underrepresented
minority students in the biomedical sciences;

o  appropriateness of the administrative plan for managing the proposed
program, including adequacy of space and other institutional resources.

o  appropriateness of applicant's plan for the evaluation of the impact the
Bridges program has made (before and after) on the institutions and the
underrepresented minor students and faculty.


The anticipated date of award is September 30, 1999.  Award decisions will be
based on the technical merit of the applications, the geographical
distribution of the awardee institutions, and diversity of underrepresented
minority student participants.  Awards can be made only to institutions with
financial management systems and management capabilities that are acceptable
under PHS policy.  Awards will be administered under the PHS Grants Policy


Written and telephone inquiries concerning this RFA are encouraged.  The
opportunity to clarify any issues or questions from potential applicants is

Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues to:

Irene Eckstrand, Ph.D.
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
45 Center Drive, Room 2AS-25K, MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD  20892-6200
Telephone:  (301) 594-0943
FAX:  (301) 480-2228

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Ms Annette Hanopole
Grants Management Specialist
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
45 Center Drive, Room 2AN-50J, MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD  20892-6200
Telephone:  (301) 594-3928
FAX:  (301) 480-3423


This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
No.93.960, Special Minority Initiatives Program.  Awards are authorized by
sections 301 and 405 of the Public Health Service Act, as amended, and
administered under PHS grants policies and Federal Regulations 45 CFR Part 74
or 45 CFR Part 92.  This program is not subject to the intergovernmental
review requirements of Executive Order 12372 or Health Systems Agency review.

The PHS strongly encourages all grant and contract recipients to provide a
smoke-free workplace and promote the non-use of all tobacco products.  In
addition, Public Law 103-227, the Pro-Children Act of 1994, prohibits smoking
in certain facilities (or in some cases, any portion of a facility) in which
regular or routine education, library, day care, health care or early
childhood development services are provided to children.  This is consistent
with the PHS mission to protect and advance the physical and mental health of
the American people.

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