University of Southern California

Research

PAR-20-066: Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (R25 – Independent Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

Slots:                                                     1

Internal Deadline:                           Monday, January 13, 2020, noon PT

LOI:                                                        N/A

External Deadline:                          February 21, 2020, noon PT

Award Information:                        Type: Grant

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

Anticipated Amount: Direct costs limited to $400,000 annually. Project may not exceed 5 years.

Budgetary Requirements:

Individuals designing, directing, and implementing the research education program may request salary and fringe benefits appropriate for the person months devoted to the program. Salaries requested may not exceed the levels commensurate with the institution’s policy for similar positions and may not exceed the congressionally mandated cap.

Remuneration for PREP participants is through salary and wages. The total compensation package for participants can include fringe benefits, and tuition remission and fees (if applicable and necessary for the program). PREP participants will be required to work as research postbaccalaureates devoting a minimum of 9 person-months (75% of full-time professional effort), and the remaining 3 person-months (25% effort) will be for further academic development.

Consultant costs, equipment, supplies, travel for key persons, and other program-related expenses may be included in the proposed budget. These expenses must be justified as specifically required by the proposed program and must not duplicate items generally available at the applicant institution.

Limited program evaluation costs are allowed up to a maximum of $3,000 for the 5 year project period. This includes salaries for evaluation consultants, if any.

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

Submission Process:                     PIs must submit their application as a Limited Submission through the Office of Research Application Portal: https://app.wizehive.com/webform/USCgrants

Materials to submit:

Link to Award:                                  https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-20-066.html

Who May Serve as PI:   

As described in the instructions for the Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s)) in Section IV.2 below, NIGMS encourages multiple PD(s)/PI(s), particularly when each brings a unique perspective and skill set that will enhance the research education program. The PD(s)/PI(s) must be able to provide both administrative and scientific leadership to the development and implementation of the proposed program. At least one of the PD(s)/PI(s) should be an established investigator in the biomedical sciences. Additional PD(s)/PI(s), including individuals with experience in the science of education, relevant social science disciplines, program evaluation, mentoring, and university administration may be included to achieve the program goals. Any of the PD(s)/PI(s) may serve as the contact PD/PI. The contact PD/PI is expected to have a full-time appointment at the applicant institution unless extremely well-justified. If the full-time status of the contact PD/PI changes after the award, the institution must obtain prior program approval to appoint a new PD/PI or request a deviation from the full-time rule. The PD(s)/PI(s) will be responsible for the selection and appointment of participants to the approved research education program, and for the overall direction, management, administration, and evaluation of the program. The PD(s)/PI(s) will be expected to monitor and assess the program and submit all documents and reports as required. The PD(s)/PI(s) have responsibility for the day-to-day administration of the program and are responsible for appointing members of the Advisory Committee (when applicable) and using their recommendations to determine the appropriate allotment of funds.

The selected faculty should be trained researchers in the biomedical sciences as demonstrated by recent publications and research support. When building a team of mentors, programs should include faculty who are committed to training, mentoring, and providing supportive and inclusive research environments. Programs are encouraged to build a diverse team of preceptors/mentors that includes, for example, faculty from underrepresented groups (NIH’s Interest in Diversity), women, and faculty at different career stages (i.e., early stage as well as senior faculty). Faculty should come from a wide variety of disciplines relevant to the NIGMS mission. Mentors must be committed to continue their involvement throughout the total period of the mentee’s participation in this award.

Purpose:

The Overarching Objective of PREP is to develop a diverse pool of well-trained postbaccalaureate participants who will transition into and complete rigorous biomedical, research-focused doctoral degree programs (e.g., Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D.) in biomedical fields relevant to the NIGMS mission. The long-term goal is to develop a diverse pool of well-trained biomedical scientists, who have the following technical, operational, and professional skills:

    • A broad understanding across biomedical disciplines and the skills to independently acquire the knowledge needed to advance their chosen fields;
    • The ability to think critically and independently, and to identify important biomedical research questions and approaches that push forward the boundaries of their areas of study;
    • A strong foundation in scientific reasoning, rigorous research design, experimental methods, quantitative and computational approaches, and data analysis and interpretation;
    • A commitment to approaching and conducting biomedical research responsibly, ethically, and with integrity;
    • Experience initiating, conducting, interpreting, and presenting rigorous and reproducible biomedical research with increasing self-direction;
    • The ability to work effectively in teams with colleagues from a variety of cultural and scientific backgrounds, and to promote inclusive and supportive scientific research environments;
    • The skills to teach and communicate scientific research methodologies and findings to a wide variety of audiences (e.g., discipline-specific, across disciplines, and the public); and
    • The knowledge, professional skills and experiences required to identify and transition into careers in the biomedical research workforce (i.e., the breadth of careers that sustain biomedical research in areas that are relevant to the NIH mission).

Diversity at all levels contributes to excellence in research environments and strengthens the research enterprise. This FOA is intended to support outstanding research education programs that will enhance diversity at all levels.

Program Considerations

NIGMS intends to fund applications that propose feasible research education programs that will enhance diversity in the biomedical workforce. Programs are expected to have mentors from a broad range of biomedical disciplines relevant to the NIGMS mission to provide a breadth of research experiences to participants. Proposed programs focused in a single discipline (e.g., neuroscience, immunology, etc.) will be low priority for funding.

As postbaccalaureate scientists, the participants will be involved in independent research projects where they will learn to develop and answer scientific questions, allowing them to experience the fulfillment of discovery as scientists. The research environment should be inclusive, supportive and safe, and should include opportunities for the participants to interact with doctoral student peers, postdoctoral researchers, and other investigators who could contribute to their growth and will allow them to thrive in rigorous doctoral programs. PREP participants will be required to work as research postbaccalaureates at 9 person-months (75% full-time) effort, with the other 3 person-months (25% full-time effort) devoted to further skills development. The academic preparations may include courses, workshops, seminars, supplemental instruction, or lectures that will enhance the technical, operational and professional skills of the participants. The courses taken should be appropriate to the requirements for admission to, and successful completion of rigorous biomedical research-focused doctoral degree programs.

Funded programs should have training objectives (i.e., specific, measurable, and obtainable outcomes the program intends to achieve) and implement evidence-informed training and mentoring activities that are grounded in the literature and from evaluations of existing relevant programs. Program objectives must align with the overarching goal of PREP. Funded programs are expected to provide evidence of accomplishing the training objectives in progress reports and upon renewal, to make training and career outcomes publicly available, and are strongly encouraged to disseminate successful training practices to the broader community.

PREPs should generate carefully designed individual development plans (IDPs) that build upon the participant’s experience, combined with research projects mentored by faculty members with active extramurally funded research programs. The development plans will typically be designed within the context of a one-year research education program to provide the necessary skills to prepare the participants to transition into and complete rigorous research-focused higher degree programs (e.g., Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D.) in biomedical fields.

Participants should not be appointed for less than one year, and it is the expectation that most PREP participants will transition to a rigorous biomedical, research-focused doctoral degree program following a one-year postbaccalaureate experience. NIGMS also recognizes that each participant has individual strengths and areas of academic development, and that a one-year program may not be sufficient for some to fully prepare to be competitive for a rigorous biomedical, research-focused doctoral degree program. Therefore, a second year of support is allowable at the discretion of the PREP Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) if within the awarded costs of a particular program. This does not require NIGMS preapproval but should be used selectively for those participants who would benefit from a second year in the program. The second year experience must enhance participants’ competitiveness to enter a rigorous doctoral program and not simply allow participants more time to decide if they wish to obtain a graduate degree or to explore other career options. This program will not support individuals earning master’s degrees or individuals who have previously earned a graduate or professional degree. Applications may request up to ten postbaccalaureate positions for each year of the grant for individuals to engage in mentored research experiences and courses for skills development.

PREP applications are institutional in nature and should reflect the plans and priorities of the applicant institution. Institutional commitment and support for the proposed training program are important elements of the application. The PREP program may complement and synergize with other ongoing federally-supported research training programs at the applicant institution (e.g., in the development of skills needed for careers in the biomedical research workforce); however, the PREP goals and activities to achieve those goals must be distinct from related programs currently receiving federal support at the same institution. In cases where an institution has multiple NIGMS training and diversity enhancing programs, it is expected that these programs will seek to create administrative efficiencies to reduce costs and improve participant services and outcomes. The research education grant should be well integrated within one or more department(s)/program(s) reflecting NIGMS mission areas. It is also anticipated that institutional PREP awards will help awardee institutions in achieving greater diversity in their doctoral programs, either through institutional change fostered by experience with the PREP program and/or through recruitment of successful PREP participants into those programs. PREP grants are usually awarded for five years.

It is expected that upon completion of the program, PREP participants transition into and complete rigorous research-focused higher degree doctoral programs (e.g., Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D.) in biomedical fields. Since PREP participants should have an interest in obtaining a research-focused higher doctoral degree as a condition of enrollment in the program, NIGMS expects that a successful PREP will provide the knowledge and skills such that the vast majority (e.g., greater than 75%) of its participants enter such programs within two years of completing PREP. Furthermore, with this expertise and experience, NIGMS expects that PREP participants who enter research-focused higher doctoral degree programs will complete the degree at rates comparable to or greater than students in similar disciplines at their institutions. Applicant institutions should design their program strategies within the context of the NIGMS’s expectations and in line with their institutional settings and missions.

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) does not allow appointed participants 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 permitted.

Research education programs may complement ongoing research training and education occurring at the applicant institution, but the proposed educational experiences must be distinct from those training and education programs currently receiving Federal support. R25 programs may augment institutional research training programs (e.g., T32, T90) but cannot be used to replace or circumvent Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) programs.

Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for updates and other announcements.