NIBIB Update on Policies and Procedures for Institutional (T32) and Short-Term Institutional (T35) Training Grants

Notice Number: NOT-EB-07-005

Key Dates
Release Date:  May 4, 2007

Issued by
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), (http://www.nibib.nih.gov/)

This notice provides guidance on the NIBIB policies for the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) institutional T32 and T35 research training grant mechanisms.  It updates and replaces the previous notice, NOT-EB-03-010: “NIBIB POLICIES AND PROCEDURES FOR INSTITUTIONAL TRAINING GRANT (T32) APPLICATIONS” which was published in the NIH Guide on August 21, 2003.

Policy

A primary objective of the NIBIB institutional research training grant program is to support the development of predoctoral and postdoctoral scientists in areas of research related to biomedical imaging and bioengineering.  To achieve this objective, the NIBIB supports a wide variety of institutional (T32) and short-term institutional (T35) research training programs across the country in a number of scientific areas relevant to its mission.  In selecting a limited number of applications for award, program balance is a significant factor in selecting from among outstanding training applications. Institutional training support is intended to help cultivate a cadre of highly qualified trainees who have the clear potential to pursue interdisciplinary research at the interface between the biomedical and the computational, physical, or engineering sciences. The NIBIB is interested in research  training programs where the research of the participating faculty is focused on the discovery, development, and clinical translation of existing or emerging technologies. NIBIB also is interested in technology-based studies that enable fundamental biomedical discoveries across a broad spectrum of biological disorders and diseases and have significant potential for direct medical application. The specific aims of an application for NIBIB, therefore, should involve a preponderance of technological effort. In most instances, technology development will not occur in a vacuum, but will have a target medical application. However, in some instances, a technology-based application is so closely aligned to a specific disease or organ system that assignment to another NIH Institute will better serve the applicant. For an overview of scientific program areas supported by the NIBIB, applicants are invited to look at the following website: http://www.nibib.nih.gov/Research/ProgramAreas.

NIBIB Application Guidelines

The NIBIB will accept applications proposing predoctoral, postdoctoral, or a mix of predoctoral and postdoctoral  research training candidates. Postdoctoral NRSA training programs may support either PhD or MD degree holders, the former programs typically focusing on more specialized areas of basic research and the latter programs typically focusing on more clinically related areas of research. It is incumbent upon the applicant to demonstrate how the proposed program addresses a need in the biomedical imaging or bioengineering research community and how the program will provide a solid training ground for tomorrow's biomedical imaging or bioengineering researchers within the training grant application.  Applicants must follow the NRSA policies and procedures outlined in the most recent T32 and T35 program announcements (see: http://grants1.nih.gov/training/nrsa.htm#inst).  More specifically, applicants are expected to describe the mission and objectives of the training program and to present detailed plans of the training program organization, including criteria for trainee recruitment and selection, program activities provided for trainees, and mechanisms for evaluating the quality and success of the training effort.  Research training programs are encouraged, if appropriate to the focus of the training program, to organize coursework, laboratory rotations, journal clubs, seminars, and retreats, to offer opportunities for students to take industrial or other internships outside of the training institution, and to provide information to students about relevant career opportunities and options. Information should be provided on the size and quality of the applicant pool and on the qualifications of the proposed faculty participants, including their experience as mentors and their current research programs and support.  Applicants must also describe their program plans to provide training in the responsible conduct of scientific research and to recruit and retain individuals from underrepresented populations.  The latter plan should fully address the expanded NIH diversity guidelines posted on the OER website.

Program Type and Size Guidelines

The NIBIB will accept applications proposing either focused or broad-based NRSA training programs (see below).  Candidates are encouraged, based on these definitions, to “self-identify” their programs as either focused or broad-based and to discuss the relevant factors that support this identification. Typically, both types of training programs will request fewer slots for the first year(s) of the grant and “ramp-up” to a steady-state level in later grant years. Applicants are encouraged to request the number of training slots deemed appropriate for the proposed training program.  However, in general, the NIBIB will not fund more than 4 slots steady-state for focused training programs and 8 slots steady-state for broad-based training program.  Exceptions to this policy may be made and will depend on a number of factors, including the scientific review and priority score, size of the candidate applicant pool, and availability of research training funds. The NIBIB will accept T32 and T35 applications for the following types of training programs:

As a general rule, the NIBIB prefers to support only one T32 training program in a given mission area per institution or, at institutions with multiple performance sites, per performance site. Exceptions to this rule will be considered on a case-by-case basis, depending on programmatic balance, the number of existing training programs at the institution, the size of the proposed training program, and the degree of overlap in faculty mentors and the candidate applicant pool among existing and proposed training programs. It is incumbent upon the applicant to clearly justify the need for an additional training program at their institution and to explicitly address the above concerns.   

Training Data Tables

The application should clearly identify students who are eligible for support by the training grant. For competing continuation applications, students who have been supported in the past should also be fully documented. At the institution's discretion, it may be useful to provide data on ALL students who are considered to be part of the program and are participating in all of its activities and requirements. A complete set of data that carefully documents all of the students, regardless of the source of student support, should then be provided for review. Training grant-eligible, non-eligible, and eligible underrepresented minority students should be distinguished by suitable footnotes and totals. In the case of very broad programs, umbrella admissions mechanisms, and programs drawing small fractions of the students from many departments, the application must clearly distinguish the fraction of the total students from these potential sources that are truly likely to complete the proposed program of training.  

Applicants are strongly encouraged to use the recommended NRSA training tables provided by NIGMS http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Training/Application/NewNRSATables.htm) to compile the historical data required for a training application.  While applicants are not required to use these specific tables, their use is suggested as a convenient way to organize the required data.  Applicants are free to include additional numbered or unnumbered tables in the application, if they feel that this will be helpful to the evaluation of the proposal.

Program Duration and Length of Training Experience

T32 and T35 NRSA applications to the NIBIB may request support for up to 5 years and are renewable.  NIH guidelines encourage at least a 2-year training experience for any given trainee appointed to an institutional training grant.  The NIBIB requires a minimum 2-years training experience for predoctoral trainees.  For postdoctoral trainees, the NIBIB encourages a 2-years training experience; however, it recognizes that this may not be feasible for all potential training candidates. More specifically, the NIBIB will allow applications proposing a 1-year postdoctoral training experience for medical residents; however, these applications must clearly justify how the proposed 1-year postdoctoral training program will provide a sufficiently rich training experience to encourage clinicians to remain in academic medicine and research.  Postdoctoral trainees in a 1-year NRSA program, however, must be aware of the service payback requirements stated in the applicable T32 FOA (see: http://grants1.nih.gov/training/nrsa.htm#inst). The NIBIB discourages, but does not forbid, supporting predoctoral or postdoctoral trainees for more than two years.

Budgetary Requirements

Applicants should refer to the NIH T32 and T35 program announcements for definitions of allowable research training costs and guidance on preparing training grant budgets. In addition, NIBIB requires that applicants include funds to allow the principal investigator, and, depending upon the size of the training program, two to four program trainees to attend the biennial NIBIB Institutional Training Program Grantee Meeting, held in even-numbered years in the Bethesda, MD area.  Note that funds for the trainees to attend the meeting should be requested as trainee travel, while the funds for the Program Director will be included in the standard allowable NRSA Training Related Expenses (TRE) amount allowed for an NRSA T32 program.

Specific Instructions for Applications Requesting $500,000 or More Per Year

Applications requesting $500,000 or more in direct costs for any year must include a cover letter identifying the NIH staff member  within one of the NIH institutes or centers who has agreed to accept  assignment of the application.  

Applicants requesting more than $500,000 must carry out the following steps:  

1) Contact the NIBIB Program staff listed below at least 6 weeks before submitting the application.

2) Obtain agreement from the NIBIB Program staff that the NIBIB will accept your application.

3) Identify, in a cover letter sent with the application, the NIBIB Program staff member who agreed to accept assignment of the application. 

This policy applies to all new (type 1), renewal (type 2), revision, or any resubmission T32 and T35 application. Additional information on this policy is available in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, October 19, 2001 at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-02-004.html.

Application Receipt Dates
 
T32 and T35 applications, whether they request funds for a predoctoral, postdoctoral, or a combined predoctoral and postdoctoral training program, will be accepted on all three receipt dates: January 25, May 25, and September 25.  See: http://grants2.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm.

Application Review

T32 and T35 applications will undergo initial peer review by a Training Review Panel convened by the NIBIB Office of Scientific Review, a subsequent administrative review by NIBIB Program staff, and will receive a second level of review by the National Advisory Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering Council. In selecting a limited number of candidates for award, program balance will be a significant factor in selecting from among outstanding training applications. For other review questions, please contact the NIBIB Review staff listed below under “Inquiries.”

Inquiries

Applicants seeking NIBIB funding opportunities are strongly encouraged to contact the NIBIB program staff listed below and to provide a letter of intent which briefly describes the training objectives, participating faculty, student applicant pool eligible for support, estimated budget for the proposed training program and any overlap with existing training programs at the applicant institution. Although a letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does not enter into the review of a subsequent application, the information contained will allow NIBIB staff to evaluate the program relevance of the proposed research training and to provide feedback to the applicant.  This feedback is intended to help the applicant in the decision to submit an application to NIBIB. Inquiries regarding this policy should be directed to:

Direct inquiries regarding programmatic and scientific issues to:

Richard A. Baird, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Interdisciplinary Training
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
6707 Democracy Boulevard, Suite 200
Bethesda, MD    20892-5477
Voice:  (301) 496-7671   Office
Fax:  (301) 480-1614   Fax
Email:  bairdri@mail.nih.gov  

Direct inquiries regarding review matters to:

David T. George, Ph.D.
Director, Office of Scientific Review
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
6707 Democracy Boulevard, Suite 920, MSC 5469
Bethesda, MD  20892-5469 (20817 for FedEx, UPS, and other courier services)
Voice:  (301) 496-8633
Fax: (301) 480-0675
Email: GeorgeD@nih.gov  

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Florence Turska
Grants Management Specialist
Grants Management Branch
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
6707 Democracy Blvd., Suite 900, MSC 5469
Bethesda, MD  20892 (20817 for FedEx, UPS, and other courier services
Voice:  (301) 496-9314
Fax:  (301) 451-5735
Email:  ft7p@nih.gov


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