RFA-NS-20-015: NIH Blueprint Program for Enhancing Neuroscience Diversity through Undergraduate Research Education Experiences (BP-ENDURE) (R25 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
Internal Deadline: Thursday, December 19, 2019, noon PT
LOI: January 19, 2020
External Deadline: February 19, 2020
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.
The NIH Blueprint Institutes intend to commit $1 million in FY2020 to fund 3-4 awards. Awards issued under this FOA are contingent upon the availability of funds and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications. Because the nature and scope of the proposed research education program will vary from application to application, it is anticipated that the size and duration of each award will also vary. The total amount awarded and the number of awards will depend upon the quality, duration and costs of the applications received.
Anticipated Amount: The average cost per program is estimated between $250K – $300K. The total project period for an application submitted in response to this funding opportunity may not exceed 5 years.
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:
- Single Page Proposal Summary (0.5” margins; single-spaced; font type: Arial, Helvetica, or Georgia typeface; font size: 11 pt). Page limit includes references and illustrations. Pages that exceed the 1-page limit will be excluded from review.
- CV – (5 pages maximum)
Link to Award: https://research.usc.edu/rfa-ns-20-015/
Who May Serve as PI:
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 expected to monitor and assess the program and submit all documents and reports as required.
The proposed PD/PI should hold a basic or health professional degree (e.g., Ph.D., M.D., or equivalent), and have clearly demonstrated training/mentoring credentials. The PD/PI must have a regular, full-time appointment (i.e., not adjunct, part-time, retired, or emeritus) at the applicant institution and should have research, teaching, and/or academic administrative experience. Early stage investigators are eligible to serve as PD/PIs, as long as doing so will not detract from their research program and career advancement.
Researchers from diverse backgrounds, including racial and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, and women are encouraged to participate as preceptors/mentors. Mentors should have research expertise and experience relevant to the proposed program. Mentors must be committed to continue their involvement throughout the total period of the mentee’s participation in this award.
Applications must describe the intended participants, and the eligibility and/or specific educational background characteristics that are essential for participation in the proposed research education program. It is the responsibility of the institutions to establish the selection criteria for the students before they are allowed to participate in the program, and to establish selection criteria that will ensure a highly qualified applicant pool. Selection of program-supported participants is expected to take into consideration whether the participation would help achieve the overall goals/objectives of the NIH Blueprint ENDURE Program, which is to support a diverse pool of undergraduate participants to help them successfully enter and complete Ph.D. degree programs in the neurosciences.
Undergraduate students from engineering, mathematics, computer science, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, nursing and other relevant science programs who have an interest in the neurosciences should be encouraged to participate in the program.
To receive salary/wages from this initiative, individuals must be (a) U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals, or permanent residents, and (b) must be full-time matriculated and be sophomores, juniors and/or seniors in a baccalaureate degree program at one of the partnering institutions.
The overall objective of this funding opportunity is to support a diverse pool of undergraduates, including those from underrepresented groups, to help prepare them to successfully enter and complete Ph.D. degree programs in the neurosciences and become available to participate in NIH-supported neuroscience research. Individuals currently underrepresented in neuroscience research on a national basis ( for example see surveys conducted by the Society for Neuroscience Committee on Neuroscience Departments and Programs), include: individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups or individuals with disabilities (see also http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/). Evidence from several reports demonstrate that an intervention designed to facilitate successful transitions along the pathway from undergraduate to graduate school would benefit the research community (Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads, From College to Careers: Fostering Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in STEM, 2014 National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine 2011 and Advancing the Nation’s Health Needs: NIH Research Training Programs).
The overarching objective of this funding opportunity is to encourage individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those from groups underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research workforce, to pursue further studies or careers in neuroscience research. To achieve this goal, the initiative will support two-year neuroscience research education programs comprised of year-round authentic neuroscience research experiences, research and career development, and establishment of professional networks, implemented through collaborative partnerships integrated across different educational institution types. Proposed program interventions in response to this FOA should focus on asset models and leadership opportunities, rather than solely deficit models and remediation (recommendations from 2017 NINDS Activating a Neural Network and 2016 NINDS Forming a Neural Network Workshops).
Participating components of the collaborative research education partnerships must include:
- One or more institutions that either: 1) have a historical and current mission to educate students from any of the populations that have been identified as underrepresented in biomedical research as defined by the National Science Foundation NSF, see http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/) (i.e., African Americans or Blacks, Hispanic or Latino Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, U.S. Pacific Islanders, and persons with disabilities) or 2) have a documented track record of recruiting, training and/or educating, and graduating underrepresented students as defined by NSF (see above), which has resulted in an historically documented contribution by the institution to the national pool of graduates from underrepresented backgrounds who pursue biomedical research careers;
- A research-intensive institution, defined as having an existing neuroscience or neuroscience-related program and a significant number of potential mentors with NIH R01 or equivalent extramural research support;
- Formal alliances with one or more institutions with neuroscience-focused graduate research training programs that can provide summer research experiences for participating ENDURE students. Such institutions should hold NIH T32 research training grants, including T32 programs supported by the NIH Jointly Sponsored Institutional Predoctoral Training Programs in the Neurosciences (https://researchtraining.nih.gov/JSPTPN) or other competitively funded Ph.D. degree granting programs. Additional relevant neuroscience programs can be found by using the NIH RePORTER tool (http://projectreporter.nih.gov/reporter.cfm). These alliances are expected to actively facilitate early communication and interaction among participating students and NIH neuroscience predoctoral program training directors. This establishment of neuroscience related “networks” is intended to actively facilitate participants’ transition from the undergraduate to the graduate school level.
To accomplish the stated over-arching goal, this FOA will support creative educational activities with a primary focus on:
- Research Experiences: The two-year program must include part-time authentic neuroscience research experiences in extramurally-funded laboratories during the academic year at the home institution or one of the partnering institutions.There must also be full-time summer neuroscience research experiences in laboratories that are part of a neuroscience-focused graduate research training program, such as an NIH Institutional Research Training predoctoral program (T32), and which may be located on or off-site of the partnering institutions. The academic year and summer research training experiences across applicant institutions must be carefully monitored. Regularly-scheduled internal review and assessment should be made regarding the progressive scientific skill sets being developed through the research education experiences, the type of mentoring and supervision students are receiving, and the monitoring and evaluation plans for both the students and research mentors. Specific measurable research education and research training objectives are to be determined by the applicant institutions. Examples of measurable objectives include: number of students matriculating through the research education programs and admitted to graduate programs in the neurosciences; improvement in students’ quantitative skills and academic achievement; and improvement in scientific writing and presentation skills.
- Mentoring Activities: Programs must provide students with outstanding mentoring and education in other critical skills such as leadership, grant and manuscript writing, and time management. There should be dedicated efforts at providing not only technical expertise, but advice, insight, and professional career skills to students in the program.
- NIH realizes that quality mentorship is critical to the recruitment and retention of scientists, including those from underrepresented backgrounds, and encourages program activities to improve the caliber of mentorship. As recommended in the 2018 NASEM report on graduate education, “modules for faculty to learn how to advise and mentor students from different backgrounds and to raise awareness and accountability about their role in changing the training and mentoring environment” should be a component of a well designed program. For example, case-based scenarios may be used to educate mentors on various relevant ethical, professional and cultural issues facing students today, effective communication and mentoring compacts, and effective tools for mentors to address cultural awareness.
- Courses for Skills Development: Courses should be integrated across the partnering institutions and uniquely designed to increase undergraduate students’ interest in and preparation to enter Ph.D. degree programs in the neurosciences. Depending on the strength of the applicant institution, it is expected that academic and curriculum enhancement activities may vary in how they are formalized and integrated; various strategies, rooted in education research, may be utilized. These approaches may include, but are not limited to: core neuroscience coursework tailored to students’ backgrounds and needs; development of interdisciplinary or advanced courses with focus on inquiry-based learning or critical thinking and development of experimental rigor and quantitative skills to address neuroscience problems (as recommended in Developing a 21st Century Neuroscience Workforce); curriculum for specialized research techniques; collaborative learning experiences and group activities to convey the excitement and relevance of neuroscience to students; advisement regarding the number, level, and sequence of math and science courses that students should take to be competitive for graduate school programs in the neurosciences; seminars emphasizing scientific reading comprehension, writing, and oral presentation skills; and research career seminars to help prepare students for the transition from undergraduate to graduate school.
- 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.
- Limited administrative and clerical salary costs distinctly associated with the program that are not normally provided by the applicant organization may be direct charges to the grant only when specifically identified and justified.
- Program coordinators are allowed as long as their role is clearly defined and significantly different from the roles of the PDs/PIs. The duties and responsibilities of the program coordinators, with strong justification, must be included in the budget justification.
- 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. Cost of consultants for evaluation of the program is allowed; however, if the evaluator is an employee of one of the collaborating institutions, the cost must be included in the category of key personnel salary.
- Participants may be paid if specifically required for the proposed research education program and sufficiently justified. Participant costs must be itemized in the proposed budget.
- Salary support is allowed for sophomore, junior and/or senior year undergraduate students participating in a research experience, as long as there is an employee-employer relationship between the students and the institution.
- The application should provide a description of any cost sharing (financial and otherwise) for the off-site summer research experiences being provided by the BP-ENDURE partnering institutions. The applicant should clearly indicate any support (financial and otherwise) being provided by the off-site institution(s) to assist in covering or defraying costs associated with the participants summer research training experiences. Providing funds for summer travel and modest housing arrangements for participants in the off-site summer programs by partnering institutions is encouraged.
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