NIA Diversity and Re-entry Supplement Program Guidelines
NIA's Diversity and Re-entry Supplement programs support the development of eligible trainee-candidates who seek independent careers in aging and geriatrics research and meet NIA's goal to enhance diversity in the biomedical workforce. Supplement awards provide funds to support a mentor-directed opportunity for a trainee-candidate to develop the critical thinking skills, scientific technical expertise and professional acumen essential for career advancement in the biomedical, behavioral, clinical or social sciences. In alignment with the respective funding opportunity announcements (PA-20-166) & PA-18-592), NIA’s diversity and re-entry programs are not intended to provide additional or alternative means for supporting individuals who are receiving funding from PHS sources. Removing an individual from current PHS funding does not confer eligibility for support. The only exception is where current funding is term-limited, and not to exceed 6 months in its entirety. Verifiable documentation specifying the intended support period must be included at the time of submission of the supplement application. Short-term support from the parent PHS grant is allowable.
NIA particularly considers the fit between the goals of the NIA supplement, the stage of professional achievement of the trainee-candidate, and the specific training experiences that would help the trainee to ascend to the next step toward research independence. For candidates who are currently in a degree or post-doctoral training program or who are faculty members, a critical question is to what extent the supplement will add to existing resources and experiences and those already planned for the candidate. Is a new mentor involved? Does it change the nature or quality of the training? Does it relieve the candidate of non-research responsibilities?
Eligible candidates working with the PI of an NIA-funded grant should articulate how the supplement will facilitate their immediate, near-term and long-range career goals. The training plan should be specific and tailored to the individual needs of the candidate. A well-delineated timeline with appropriate milestones should be in place for the duration of the supplement award period. Detailed plans for direct communication with all mentors and peers as well as learning opportunities conducted in other settings should also be described.
These supplement programs are particularly suited to candidates who because of circumstance (lack of appropriate scientific training, absence from research, lack of financial resources etc.) now need extra training and resources to make them competitive for general award programs. Postdoctoral and junior faculty applicants should clearly articulate why the supplement is a particularly appropriate mechanism compared to the available alternatives at their career stage, and what their plans will be beyond the supplement funding. The potential trainee-candidate is encouraged to consider funding through the Diversity and Re-entry Supplement Program as one of a spectrum of funding sources, including pre-doctoral (F31) and postdoctoral awards (F32), career-development (K applications) and small grants (i.e. R03, R21, R15) that may further enhance research independence and career advancement. Applications for candidates who have received support from a prior diversity supplement award should present strong justification for why additional supplement support remains critical at this later stage of their training.
Guidelines for Submission
Applicants are strongly encouraged to inform the program contact (Shahrooz Vahedi) and copy their current program officer, prior to, and immediately after submitting.
Eligible Mechanisms. Principal investigators (PIs) of R00, R03, R21, R15, awards may submit supplement requests for support of high-school students, undergraduates, post-baccalaureate or terminal Masters' candidates only. Small Business (SBIR/STTR) awardees interested in submitting a supplement should do so following the NIH guidelines described in the FOA Administrative Supplements to Promote Diversity in Research and Development Small Businesses-SBIR/STTR (Admin Supp Clinical Trial Not Allowed).
For all other award mechanisms NIA accepts applications to support high-school students, undergraduates, post-baccalaureate, Masters, PhD, postdoctoral and new investigator candidates. For multi-PI awards, the contact principal investigator should submit the application through his or her institution even though work on the supplement may be conducted at another institution.
Period of Support. Generally, a minimum of two years should remain on the project period of the grant. Supplement requests may be submitted to span the life of the funded grant period. Typical supplement awards are for 2 years or less. In all cases, the research/training proposed should be appropriate for the time requested, with stated milestones and a mentoring and career development plan. For grants with performance periods of less than two years, and for requests for a single year award, the proposed supplement should justify the need for a strategic training activity appropriate for the shortened performance period. Supplement awards are not provided to grants in no-cost extension.
A candidate who is currently receiving support from another PHS funding source (including the parent grant) is not eligible to receive a supplement. Investigators seeking supplement support should inquire about eligibility based on their funding status.
Candidates who have had support on a National Research Service Award (NRSA) training grant or a previous diversity or disability supplement are eligible for support. Though candidates for a second diversity supplement should outline clearly both progress made in the prior supplement and why a second supplement is necessary at this later stage in their training.
Allowable Costs. NIA follows the allowable costs described in PA-18-906 and PA-18-592 Funds for research supplies must be clearly justified and will only be considered if not included in the approved budget and scientific aims of the parent grant.
How to Prepare Your Application
Please follow the guidelines for preparation of the application described in the F0A with the modifications noted below. In particular, NIA restricts all new supplement requests to a five-page research strategy section. PIs should read the program announcement (under Application and Submission Information) to identify what to include in a supplement request; work with your business office to make sure you use the correct forms.
The 5-page Research Strategy section should include:
- A one-page (or less) summary or abstract of the funded grant or project.
- Research Training Activities/Career Development Plan. Describe how the research and career development activities will enhance the candidate's research potential and foster the aging-related research capabilities of the trainee-candidate, advancing his or her ability to pursue an independent research career. The research plan should be specific and appropriate for the stage of the individual's professional development, enhancing the individual's research potential, while furthering the individual's ability to pursue a research career. Include in this description:
- How the proposed research and research-training activities relate to the research goals and objectives of the parent grant. The research activities proposed must be within the scope of the parent grant.
- An integrated time line detailing the course of research and career development activities, delineating specific research milestones consistent with the award period.
- Details of the interactions between the trainee-candidate and mentor(s), research team and professional colleagues relevant to the overall research experience.
- A description of how the supplement adds to any resources or experiences already planned for the candidate, such as a new mentor, a change in the quality or amount of training, or relief from other non-research responsibilities.
- When center awards (i.e., P30 and P50 awards) request support for a new pilot study to be conducted by the candidate, the application should describe any review process the study has received in the center prior to the application. Include any IRB or IACUC approval appropriate to the proposed work.
Not included in the 5-page limit:
- Candidate bio sketch: Include as part of the bio sketch an up-to-one page candidate statement. The statement should describe the candidate's future goals in research and how the proposed training will help attain these goals.
- Mentor(s) five-page bio sketch (as in an R01) that includes a description of the mentor's track record including mentoring goals specific to the trainee-candidate.
- A junior faculty member may find it helpful to include an experienced co-mentor in the career development plan.
- A principal investigator who has received prior diversity or re-entry supplement funding should describe the outcome or progress of the supplements, including the diversity or re-entry scholar's current status (provide full names, title, and institution).
- If other investigators contribute to the research mentoring, describe their role and include a bio sketch.
- A signed statement from the PI and an institutional official establishing the eligibility of the trainee candidate for support under the Diversity or Re-entry Supplement Program including:
- Clearly presented information on citizenship.
- Information on the nature of the candidate's disability, circumstances, background, or characteristics that confer eligibility under this program.
- A description of any current or previous PHS research grant support the candidate has received, including start and end dates. Include a statement indicating that the candidate has not received any current or previous PHS support, if applicable. Candidates receiving continuing PHS support are not eligible.
- Transcript Requirements/References/Letters of Support. A copy of the most recent official transcript should be provided if the trainee-candidate is a high school, undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, post-master's degree or graduate student. Please block out all digits of any social security number. References/Letters of Support are optional, but may be included in the supplement application. Generally, we expect letters of support when resources or individuals who are not part of the parent grant will contribute to the supplement award. We do not accept "reference letter" style letters of support.
Additional Information (provide as relevant):
- For research conducted at a site other than the grantee institution: An appropriately signed letter from the other institution where the research would be conducted should be provided. The request must be signed by the trainee candidate, PI, and the appropriate institutional business official.
- For a supplement based on disability: The institution should indicate what, if any, reasonable accommodations the institution has supported or plans to provide along with a full description of how any additional support for accommodation would be used. The relation of the proposed accommodation (to the proposed Diversity Supplement) must be described.
Review and Funding
The submitted application package is reviewed within the NIA Division of Extramural Activities (DEA). First, applications accepted into Grants.gov are reviewed by NIA program staff for completeness; incomplete applications may be returned without review. Review is then conducted by the NIA Supplements Committee, with representatives from the Division of Extramural Activities, NIA Office of Special Populations and each scientific program division.
The review outcome includes written feedback, usually within two months of receipt of the application, though somewhat longer in Summer. Unsuccessful applications may be resubmitted once. The resubmission may include: (1) a one page summary of changes in the application since the original submission, and (2) an additional page in the Research Strategy section to provide additional details, if so requested.
In review, we may also defer applications for more information, such as more detail on a planned research project, or clarification on the career goals of an applicant. That information is submitted directly to the program contact (Shahrooz Vahedi) and not through any of the electronic portals.
We review applications on a monthly cycle, though meet only once in the summer months (July and August). Generally, new applications are reviewed six to nine weeks after submission, while amended applications are reviewed five to seven weeks after submission.