Department of Health and Human Services


Part 1. Overview Information
Participating Organization(s)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Office of Strategic Coordination (Common Fund)

Components of Participating Organizations

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is developed as a Common Fund initiative (http://commonfund.nih.gov/) through the NIH Office of the NIH Director, Office of Strategic Coordination (http://dpcpsi.nih.gov/osc/).  The FOA will be administered by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/) on behalf of the NIH.

Funding Opportunity Title

NIH Director’s Biomedical Research Workforce Innovation Award: Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) (DP7)

Activity Code

DP7 Director’s Biomedical Research Workforce Innovation Award Program

Announcement Type

Reissue of RFA-RM-12-022

Related Notices

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number

RFA-RM-13-019

Companion Funding Opportunity

None

Number of Applications

See Section III. 3. Additional Information on Eligibility.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s)

93.310 

Funding Opportunity Purpose

The purpose of this FOA is to seek out, identify and support bold and innovative approaches designed to broaden graduate and postdoctoral training, such that training programs reflect the range of career options that Ph.D. graduate students and postdoctoral (regardless of funding source) pursue and that are required for a robust biomedical, behavioral, social and clinical research enterprise. Collaborations with non-academic partners are encouraged to ensure that experts from a broad spectrum of research-intensive and research-related careers contribute to coursework, rotations, internships or other forms of exposure. This program will establish a new paradigm for graduate and postdoctoral training; awardee institutions will work together to define needs and share best practices.

Key Dates
Posted Date

January 17, 2014

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

February 28, 2014

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

February 28, 2014

Application Due Date(s)

March 31, 2014, by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization.

Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.

AIDS Application Due Date(s)

Not Applicable

Scientific Merit Review

June/July 2014

Advisory Council Review

August 2014

Earliest Start Date

September 2014

Expiration Date

April 1, 2014

Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not Applicable

Required Application Instructions

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide except where instructed to do otherwise (in this FOA or in a Notice from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts). Conformance to all requirements (both in the Application Guide and the FOA) is required and strictly enforced. Applicants must read and follow all application instructions in the Application Guide as well as any program-specific instructions noted in Section IV. When the program-specific instructions deviate from those in the Application Guide, follow the program-specific instructions.

Applications that do not comply with these instructions will not be reviewed

Table of Contents

Part 1. Overview Information
Part 2. Full Text of the Announcement
Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
Section II. Award Information
Section III. Eligibility Information
Section IV. Application and Submission Information
Section V. Application Review Information
Section VI. Award Administration Information
Section VII. Agency Contacts
Section VIII. Other Information

Part 2. Full Text of Announcement


Section I. Funding Opportunity Description

This initiative is funded through the NIH Common Fund, which supports crosscutting programs that are expected to have exceptionally high impact. All Common Fund initiatives invite applicants to develop bold, innovative, and often-risky approaches to address problems that may seem intractable or to seize new opportunities that offer the potential for rapid progress.

Background

This initiative is developed in response to recommendations provided by the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD), NIH. The committee studied the current state of the biomedical research workforce, and NIH’s support of training for this workforce (http://acd.od.nih.gov/Biomedical_research_wgreport.pdf). The ACD report confirms that although the vast majority of people holding biomedical PhDs are productively employed, the proportion of PhDs that move into tenure-track or tenured faculty positions represents a minority of the trainee outcomes. An increasing proportion of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows conduct research in non-academic venues such as government or private sector, or are in areas such as science policy. Despite the broad range of career options available to U.S.-trained PhD biomedical scientists, graduate programs and postdoctoral training focus almost exclusively on preparing individuals for careers as academic researchers. The ACD committee recommended that NIH-supported graduate programs and postdoctoral training be broadened to reflect the actual career outcomes of today’s PhD graduates and postdoctoral scientists. For the purposes of this FOA, a “research-intensive” career is defined as an occupation in which research is performed in any venue, including industry, academia, government or entrepreneurial pursuits. “Research-related” careers are defined as occupations that directly support the biomedical research enterprise. Please see http://biomedicalresearchworkforce.nih.gov/ which reflects the current state of NIH’s efforts toward this goal.

Program Objectives

In consideration of these recommendations, this program invites applications that propose the establishment, implementation, and assessment of innovative approaches and activities to broaden and complement traditional research training in biomedical, behavioral, social and clinical (referred to as ‘biomedical’) sciences. These awards, also called the Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) awards, will provide support for institutions to develop novel ideas in training and workforce development. The goal of this program is to better prepare predoctoral students and postdoctoral scientists for the breadth of careers in the biomedical research workforce and to establish a network to develop, share, evaluate, and disseminate best practices within the training community.

The announcement seeks applications from institutions with established predoctoral programs. If an applicant institution also trains a significant number of postdoctoral scientists, the proposed program designed in response to this FOA must also include a plan to address the needs of the postdoctoral scientists. We invite bold and innovative applications that leverage existing institutional resources to broaden and enrich training experiences so that participants are exposed to multiple research-intensive and research-related career paths early in their training. Programs should identify various career paths and develop meaningful opportunities targeting those pathways. Participants (both graduate students and postdoctoral fellows) are expected to have the opportunity to select from among these preparatory experiences. The program is not meant to train them fully for new career options, but should prepare them for the next steps in their career development.

Applications responsive to this FOA should provide opportunities to acquire a working knowledge of the skills necessary for a wide range of successful careers in the biomedical research workforce. The goal of this FOA is to broaden both doctoral and postdoctoral traditional training experiences such that the participants are better prepared for careers in a variety of venues, including industry, government, academia, or entrepreneurial enterprises. While it is expected that participants intending to enter academic research careers will benefit from broader experience, programs designed exclusively to target academic research careers will be considered non-responsive. For individuals seeking careers in research-related areas, such as science policy, technology transfer, management or other areas requiring the research doctorate in biomedical science, NIH seeks applications to provide graduate students and postdoctoral fellows meaningful training experiences so that they are better prepared to enter those occupations as well as for research-intensive careers in the private sector.

Applicants are also encouraged to include the design of positive and attractive exit pathways for those individuals intending careers that do not require a research doctorate. More broadly, NIH seeks innovative business and academic models of how graduate programs in biomedical research sciences define themselves and their purpose, how they recruit, admit, support, steer and mentor students to prepare them appropriately for chosen biomedical research-intensive or research-related careers. It is not expected that applicants must provide experiences in all research-intensive or research-related outcomes, but programs should target aspects of training that will enhance their existing programs and add to a more well-rounded approach.

Applicants are encouraged to form partnerships with organizations that employ scientists engaged in the careers for which the training experiences are directed (private sector, publishing, government, etc.). Partner organizations may provide opportunities for internships, their staff may participate in the development and implementation of novel curricula, and/or they may contribute in other ways to the success of the program.

Institutions that are currently exploring novel approaches are encouraged to apply but must carefully explain how support from this award would substantially complement and/or add new dimensions to their existing programs. Applications that request additional support only to maintain an existing program will be deemed non-responsive. Examples of innovative approaches include but are not limited to: exchange arrangements with other schools and programs within the applicant institution (Schools of Business, Economics, Law, Public Policy, Social Sciences, Public Health, Communications, etc.) with the potential for mutual benefit such as learning business skills, specific courses including hands-on training in technology transfer, program or policy development, management and administration at government agencies (Federal, state, and local governments, etc.), and internships or other collaborations with partner companies or other institutions. Applicants should include details on the relationships/partnerships they are proposing with particular attention to what the participants will do during these experiences.

It is expected that the BEST awards will transcend department, program, and possibly school boundaries, and be available to biomedical science graduate students and postdocs across disciplines. They should aim to transform the culture of research training in the biomedical sciences for both participants and mentors and disseminate findings widely across the training community. Applications that leverage funds from this program with existing institutional offices and programs, local resources outside the institution, or partners are highly encouraged.

The training period for biomedical careers is already lengthy, and these activities should be integrated with traditional training so as not to increase the time to degree for predoctoral students or the length of the postdoctoral period.

The BEST awards are meant to be experiments and therefore rigorous evaluation of each individual award will be required by both the individual awardees and independently by NIH. For NIH’s evaluation plan, awardees will be required to provide data including, but not limited to, information specified in the evaluation plan below. NIH expects that approaches that are tested and proven to be successful will be widely disseminated throughout the biomedical training community. A further expectation is that the newly developed training activities from these awards that are deemed successful will be institutionalized.

In order to prevent undue redundancies and to share information and best practices, the BEST awardees will interact on a regular basis. Each year, awardees will meet to discuss developments, progress and insights gained. Applicants should budget for participation at these meetings. The Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) and relevant personnel should be prepared to attend the annual meetings in Bethesda, MD, starting with the second annual meeting October 30-31, 2014. Periodic teleconference calls will augment interactions among the awardees, and site visits from NIH staff will evaluate progress of the program as it develops.

BEST programs may complement ongoing research training and education occurring at the applicant institution, but the proposed BEST experiences must be distinct from those training and education programs currently receiving Federal support. DP7 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.

Section II. Award Information
Funding Instrument

Grant: A support mechanism providing money, property, or both to an eligible entity to carry out an approved project or activity.

Application Types Allowed

New

The OER Glossary and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide provide details on these application types.

Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards

NIH Common Fund intends to commit approximately $3,000,000 in FY 2014. Approximately 7-10 awards are anticipated, contingent upon availability of funds and receipt of a sufficient number of

Award Budget

Awards will be for up to $250,000 in direct costs per year, plus applicable Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs.

Award Project Period

The requested project period may not exceed five years. The purpose of this award is to support the development of programs but not to maintain them after 5 years.     

Other Award Budget Information
Personnel Costs

Individuals designing, directing, and implementing the BEST 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. (If mentoring interactions and other activities with participants are considered a regular part of an individual's academic duties, then any costs associated with the mentoring and other interactions with participants are not allowable costs from grant funds).  

Participant Costs

Participants are the beneficiaries of this program, namely graduate students and postdoctoral individuals. No funds from this award may be used to cover or supplement wages or stipends of these individuals.

Tuition costs of these individuals are also covered by other sources, and therefore not allowable under this award. However, well justified travel of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to program sites is allowable.

Expenses for foreign travel must be exceptionally well justified.

Other Program-Related Expenses

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. 

Guest speakers, outside experts, consultant costs, administrative personnel, 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.

Awardees must budget for attendance of relevant personnel at an annual awardee meeting starting with the October 30-31, 2014, annual meeting, to be held in Bethesda, MD. Expenses are not to exceed $1500 per person per trip.

Indirect Costs

Indirect Costs (also known as Facilities and Administrative [F&A] costs) are reimbursed on the basis of a negotiated rate agreement.

NIH grants policies as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement will apply to the applications submitted and awards made in response to this FOA.

Section III. Eligibility Information


1. Eligible Applicants


Eligible Organizations

Higher Education Institutions

The following types of Higher Education Institutions are always encouraged to apply for NIH support as Public or Private Institutions of Higher Education:

Only PhD-degree granting institutions are eligible to apply. Institutions that received a BEST award in fiscal year 2013 are not eligible to apply.

Institutions with existing Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) institutional training grants (e.g., T32) or other Federally funded training programs may apply for a BEST Award provided that the proposed educational experiences are distinct from those training programs receiving federal support. In many cases, it is anticipated that the proposed BEST program will complement ongoing research training occurring at the applicant institution.

Foreign Institutions

Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are not eligible to apply.
Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are not eligible to apply.
Foreign components, as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, are not allowed.

Required Registrations

Applicant Organizations

Applicant organizations must complete and maintain the following registrations as described in the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide to be eligible to apply for or receive an award. All registrations must be completed prior to the application being submitted. Registration can take 6 weeks or more, so applicants should begin the registration process as soon as possible. The NIH Policy on Late Submission of Grant Applications states that failure to complete registrations in advance of a due date is not a valid reason for a late submission.

Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD(s)/PI(s))

All PD(s)/PI(s) must have an eRA Commons account and should work with their organizational officials to either create a new account or to affiliate an existing account with the applicant organization’s eRA Commons account. If the PD/PI is also the organizational Signing Official, they must have two distinct eRA Commons accounts, one for each role. Obtaining an eRA Commons account can take up to 2 weeks.

Eligible Individuals (Program Director/Principal Investigator)

Any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as the Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s)) is invited to work with his/her organization to develop an application for support. Individuals from diverse backgrounds, including underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, and women are always encouraged to apply for NIH support.

For institutions/organizations proposing multiple PDs/PIs, visit the Multiple Program Director/Principal Investigator Policy and submission details in the Senior/Key Person Profile (Expanded) Component of the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

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.
 

2. Cost Sharing

This FOA does not require cost sharing as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

3. Additional Information on Eligibility


Number of Applications

Only one application per institution (normally identified by having a unique DUNS number or NIH IPF number) is allowed.

NIH will not accept any application that is essentially the same as one already reviewed within the past thirty-seven months (as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement), except for submission:

Program Faculty

Awardees are encouraged to recruit individuals with appropriate expertise from diverse backgrounds, including racial and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, and women as directors/mentors/teachers/lecturers/preceptors. Mentors should have research expertise and/or experience relevant to the proposed program and a demonstrated history of excellence in this area. Awardees are encouraged to recruit and support individuals acting in the program from partner organizations representing a variety of career options.

Participants

Unless strongly justified on the basis of exceptional relevance to NIH, BEST programs should be used primarily for the education of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.  Individuals who are neither U.S. citizens nor permanent residents may participate in the BEST program plan activities, but associated costs must be well justified.

Section IV. Application and Submission Information


1. Requesting an Application Package

Applicants must download the SF424 (R&R) application package associated with this funding opportunity using the “Apply for Grant Electronically” button in this FOA or following the directions provided at Grants.gov.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, except where instructed in this funding opportunity announcement to do otherwise. Conformance to the requirements in the Application Guide is required and strictly enforced. Applications that are out of compliance with these instructions will not be reviewed.

For information on Application Submission and Receipt, visit Frequently Asked Questions – Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.

Letter of Intent

Although a letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does not enter into the review of a subsequent application, the information that it contains allows CSR staff to estimate the potential review workload and plan the review.

By the date listed in Part 1. Overview Information, prospective applicants are asked to submit a letter of intent that includes the following information:

The letter of intent should be sent to:

Dr. Patricia Labosky
Program Leader
Office of Strategic Coordination
Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives
Office of the Director, NIH
1 Center Drive, Room 214A
Bethesda, MD 20892-0189
Telephone: 301-594-4863
Email: laboskypa@od.nih.gov

Page Limitations

All page limitations described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and the Table of Page Limits must be followed, with the following additional instructions:

BEST Program Plan (uploaded via Research Strategy): 25 pages.

Required and Optional Components

The forms package associated with this FOA includes all applicable components, required and optional. Please note that some components marked optional in the application package are required for submission of applications for this FOA. Follow the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide to ensure you complete all appropriate “optional” components.

Instructions for Application Submission

The following section supplements the instructions found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and should be used for preparing an application to this FOA.

SF424(R&R) Cover

Follow all instructions provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

SF424(R&R) Project/Performance Site Locations

Follow all instructions provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

SF424 (R&R) Other Project Information Component

Follow all instructions provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide with the following additional modifications:

Facilities & Other Resources. Describe the educational and training environment, both at the institution and, where applicable, at other relevant sites, including the facilities, laboratories, participating departments, computer services, and any other resources to be used in the development and implementation of the proposed program. List all thematically related sources of support for research training and education following the format for Current and Pending Support.  The sponsoring institution must assure support for the proposed program.  

Other Attachments. A plan must be provided for the appointment of an Advisory Committee that will evaluate the proposed program, its implementation and its progress. The Committee should have the authority to recommend any mid-course changes needed to enhance the program. Composition, responsibilities, frequency of meetings, and other relevant information should be included. Describe the composition of the Advisory Committee, identifying the role and the desired expertise of members. Describe how the Advisory Committee will function in providing oversight of the development, implementation, and evaluation of the overall effectiveness of the program. Note that proposed Advisory Committee members should be named in the application, particularly if they include individuals from outside the institution. It is expected that the Advisory Committee will include representatives from outside the academic community. Please name your file “Advisory_Committee.pdf”.

The filename provided for each “Other Attachment” will be the name used for the bookmark in the electronic application in eRA Commons.

SF424(R&R) Senior/Key Person Profile Expanded

Follow all instructions provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

R&R Budget

Follow all instructions provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide with the following additional modifications:

PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement

Follow all instructions provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

PHS 398 Research Plan Component

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed, with the following additional instructions:

Research Strategy

The Research Strategy section must be used to upload the BEST Program Plan, which must include the following components described below:

BEST Program Plan

Proposed BEST Program. Describe the BEST program’s specific purpose, short-term, intermediate, and long-range goals, as well as intended outcomes. Explain the basis and rationale for the program and any evidence of past success upon which it may be based. Describe the educational level (pre and/or post graduate degree, if applicable) of the participants, and the amount of their participation (hours spent over how much time). Describe in detail any new business and/or academic models that will be utilized to recruit, admit, support, and steer students and postdoctoral scientists to better prepare them for chosen careers. Describe in detail the activities of the program, including any courses to be developed, and how these will be integrated into the existing graduate program. A timeline may be used to clarify how the proposed activities will not adversely impact time to degree or time in the postdoctoral position. If the plan will be started with a smaller number of participants and then expanded, describe how this will be accomplished. Describe how the program will span departmental, center, program and/or school boundaries to potentially reach all biomedical graduate students and postdoctoral individuals. Describe how the program will be evaluated and, specifically, the evidence and data to be collected for this evaluation. In particular, describe the plans for tracking the program participants while in the program, but also the immediate next career step of PhD graduates and of scientists completing their postdoctoral experience (usually no more than 5 years duration) and moving into subsequent positions. Describe how individuals will have access to the program across departmental, program, center and/or school boundaries. Describe how the mentors of the participants will be engaged and how they will impact the program (faculty buy-in). Describe how the activities and “lessons learned” of this program will be disseminated to benefit all biomedical students and postdoctoral fellows at the institution. Describe how successful approaches will be publicized and disseminated to other institutions. If participants are to travel to partner sites, describe what the participants will do at these sites and describe the external partners’ commitments to the participants before, during, and after their off-site training experience.

Institutions that are currently exploring novel approaches are encouraged to apply but must carefully explain how support from this award would substantially complement and/or add new dimensions to their existing programs. Applications that request additional support only to maintain an existing program will be deemed non-responsive. Examples of innovative approaches include but are not limited to: exchange arrangements with other schools and programs within the applicant institution (Schools of Business, Economics, Law, Public Policy, Social Sciences, Public Health, Communications, etc.) with the potential for mutual benefit such as learning business skills, specific courses including hands-on training in technology transfer, program or policy development, management and administration at government agencies (Federal, state, and local governments, etc.), and internships or other collaborations with partner companies or other institutions. Applicants should include details on the relationships/partnerships they are proposing with particular attention to what the participants will do during these experiences.  

Program Director/Principal Investigator. Describe arrangements for administration of the program.  Provide evidence that the Program Director/Principal Investigator is actively engaged in research, training and/or teaching in an area related to the mission of NIH, and can organize, administer, monitor, and evaluate the BEST program. For programs proposing multiple PDs/PIs, describe the complementary and integrated expertise of the PDs/PIs, their leadership approach, and governance appropriate for the planned project.           

Program Faculty. Researchers from diverse backgrounds, including racial and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, and women are encouraged to participate as program faculty. Faculty should have research expertise and experience relevant to the proposed program and demonstrate a history of, or the potential for, their intended roles. Describe the current responsibilities of the participating faculty and other expert staff who will contribute to the success of this program. Provide evidence that the participating faculty support this program and the students and postdocs who will participate in this program; this may be provided via letters of support and/or rosters of faculty who will allow their students/postdocs to participate in the BEST program activities.      

Program Participants. Applications must describe the intended participants, and the eligibility criteria and/or specific educational background characteristics that are essential for participation in the proposed BEST program. Identify the career levels for which the proposed program is planned.       

Institutional Environment and Commitment. Describe the institutional environment, reiterating the availability of facilities and educational resources (described separately under “Facilities & Other Resources”), that can contribute to the planned BEST Program. Evidence of institutional commitment to the BEST program is required. A letter of institutional commitment must be attached as part of Letters of Support (see below). Appropriate institutional commitment should include the provision of adequate staff, facilities, and educational resources that can contribute to the planned BEST program. The letter of institutional commitment must also address the long-term commitment to the goals of the program and anticipated plans for continuation of the novel curricula, internships, etc. after they are developed through this program. Describe how the institutional commitment reflects the expectation that graduate students and postdoctoral fellows (regardless of their salary support mechanisms) will be allowed to participate. Describe how institutions will integrate these activities into existing programs for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. If partner organizations are expected to provide long-term support via the participation of their staff and/or the support of internships or other training opportunities, letters of support from these organizations must also be included.       

Diversity Recruitment and Retention Plan. The NIH recognizes a unique and compelling need to promote diversity (among US Citizens and permanent residents) in the biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social sciences research workforce. The NIH expects efforts to diversify the workforce to lead to the recruitment of the most talented researchers from all groups; to improve the quality of the educational and training environment; to balance and broaden the perspective in setting research priorities; to improve the ability to recruit subjects from diverse backgrounds into clinical research protocols; and to improve the Nation's capacity to address and eliminate health disparities. The BEST program will draw from the institution's pool of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows (where applicable). This presents an opportunity for applicants to engage in targeted recruitment efforts to enhance the diversity of the pool of participants in the program. Applicants should describe how they plan to attract students from underrepresented backgrounds to participate in BEST award activities.

Accordingly, the NIH continues to encourage institutions to diversify their student and faculty populations and thus to increase the participation of individuals currently underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral, and social sciences such as: individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups; individuals with disabilities; and individuals from socially, culturally, economically, or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds that have inhibited their ability to pursue a career in health-related research. Institutions are encouraged to identify candidates who will increase diversity on a national basis.

The NIH is particularly interested in encouraging the recruitment of the following classes of participants:

A.    Individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown by the National Science Foundation to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis (see data at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/showpub.cfm?TopID=2&SubID=27 and the most recent report on Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering). The following racial and ethnic groups have been shown to be underrepresented in biomedical research: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, Hawaiian Natives, and natives of the U.S. Pacific Islands. In addition, it is recognized that underrepresentation can vary from setting to setting; individuals from racial or ethnic groups that can be convincingly demonstrated to be underrepresented by the grantee institution should be encouraged to participate in this program.

B.    Individuals with disabilities, who are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

C.    Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who are defined as:

1.    Individuals who come from a family with an annual income below established low-income thresholds. These thresholds are based on family size; published by the U.S. Bureau of the Census; adjusted annually for changes in the Consumer Price Index; and adjusted by the Secretary for use in all health professions programs. The Secretary periodically publishes these income levels at HHS - Poverty Guidelines, Research, and Measurement. For individuals from low income backgrounds, the institution must be able to demonstrate that such participants have (1) qualified for Federal disadvantaged assistance, (2) they have received Health Professions Student Loans (HPSL) or Loans for Disadvantaged Student Program, or (3) they have received scholarships from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Scholarship for Individuals with Exceptional Financial Need.

2.    Individuals who come from a social, cultural, or educational environment such as that found in certain rural or inner-city environments that have demonstrably and recently directly inhibited the individual from obtaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to develop and participate in a research-intensive or research-related career.

Recruitment and retention plans related to a disadvantaged background (C1 and C2) are most applicable to high school and perhaps to undergraduate candidates, but would be more difficult to justify for individuals beyond that level of academic achievement. Under extraordinary circumstances the PHS may, at its discretion, consider an individual beyond the undergraduate level to be from a disadvantaged background. Such decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, based on appropriate documentation.

New applications must include a description of plans to enhance recruitment of a diverse participant pool and may wish to include data in support of past accomplishments. The plan should be appropriate and reasonable for the nature and duration of the proposed program.

Applications lacking a diversity recruitment and retention plan will not be reviewed.

Evaluation Plan. The BEST awards are meant to be experiments and therefore rigorous evaluation of each individual award will be required by both the individual awardees and independently by NIH. Applications must include a detailed plan for evaluating the activities supported by the award.  The plan should provide information that clearly states what the program intends to do, what it hopes to accomplish, and the intended impact of the program. The application must specify baseline metrics (e.g., numbers, educational levels, and demographic characteristics of participants), as well as measures to gauge the short- or long-term impact of the BEST program on the career outcomes of the participants. As a component of this evaluation, applicants must obtain formal written feedback from participants, faculty, and partners early and often to help identify weaknesses and to provide suggestions for improvements in the program.

Applications must include plans for the collection of data to address the evaluation measures below. In parallel, the NIH will be gathering this information from awardees to conduct independent evaluations of the program. The nature of the proposed program might require additional or different data to be gathered, and the applicants should propose such additional data to be gathered in their application. Note: data should be gathered at least annually or on a rolling basis as applicable.

Data to be gathered by all awardees:

Graduate Students:

Postdoctoral Scientists:

Faculty:

Projects in which an investigator obtains data through intervention or interaction with an individual or obtains identifiable private information, such as with surveys or by tracking participants, is defined as human subjects research.  These activities require that the application claim Human Subjects, even though it is quite likely that the project falls into one of the Exempt Human Research categories. Applicants should work with their institutional Review Board (IRB) to obtain the required exemptions or approvals.

Dissemination Plan. A specific plan must be provided to disseminate nationally any findings resulting from or materials developed under the auspices of the BEST program, e.g., sharing course curricula web postings, presentations or exhibit booths at scientific meetings, workshops, teacher professional development programs or Information Sharing Environments (ISE)/media events.

Letters of Support

A letter of institutional commitment must be attached as part of Letters of Support (see section above: ”Institutional Environment and Commitment.”) Letters from partners must also be included. Appropriate institutional commitment to the program includes the provision of adequate staff, facilities, and educational resources that can contribute to the planned program.  The institution must clearly state their support of graduate student and postdoctoral fellow participation, regardless of salary support mechanism.

Resource Sharing Plans

Individuals are required to comply with the instructions for the Resource Sharing Plans (Data Sharing Plan, Sharing Model Organisms, and Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS)) as provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, with the following modifications:

When relevant, applications are expected to include a software dissemination plan if support for development, maintenance, or enhancement of software is requested in the application.  There is no prescribed single license for software produced. However, the software dissemination plan should address, as appropriate, the following goals:

Appendix

Do not use the Appendix to circumvent page limits. Follow all instructions for the Appendix as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

Planned Enrollment Report

When conducting clinical research, follow all instructions for completing Planned Enrollment Reports as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide. 

PHS 398 Cumulative Inclusion Enrollment Report

When conducting clinical research, follow all instructions for completing Cumulative Inclusion Enrollment Report as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide. 

3. Submission Dates and Times

Part I. Overview Information contains information about Key Dates. Applicants are encouraged to submit applications before the due date to ensure they have time to make any application corrections that might be necessary for successful submission.

Organizations must submit applications to Grants.gov (the online portal to find and apply for grants across all Federal agencies). Applicants must then complete the submission process by tracking the status of the application in the eRA Commons, NIH’s electronic system for grants administration.

Applicants are responsible for viewing their application before the due date in the eRA Commons to ensure accurate and successful submission.

Information on the submission process and a definition of on-time submission are provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

4. Intergovernmental Review (E.O. 12372)

This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.

5. Funding Restrictions

All NIH awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Pre-award costs are allowable only as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

6. Other Submission Requirements and Information

Applications must be submitted electronically following the instructions described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.  Paper applications will not be accepted.

Applicants must complete all required registrations before the application due date. Section III. Eligibility Information contains information about registration.

For assistance with your electronic application or for more information on the electronic submission process, visit Applying Electronically.

Important reminders:
All PD(s)/PI(s) must include their eRA Commons ID in the Credential field of the Senior/Key Person Profile Component of the SF424(R&R) Application Package. Failure to register in the Commons and to include a valid PD/PI Commons ID in the credential field will prevent the successful submission of an electronic application to NIH.

The applicant organization must ensure that the DUNS number it provides on the application is the same number used in the organization’s profile in the eRA Commons and for the System for Award Management (SAM). Additional information may be found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

See more tips for avoiding common errors.

Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness by the Center for Scientific Review and responsiveness by components of participating organizations, NIH. Applications that are incomplete and/or nonresponsive will not be reviewed.  

Post Submission Materials

Applicants are required to follow the instructions for post-submission materials, as described in NOT-OD-13-030.        

Section V. Application Review Information


1. Criteria

Only the review criteria described below will be considered in the review process. As part of the NIH mission, all applications submitted to the NIH in support of biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research are evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the NIH peer review system.

For this particular announcement, note the following: The goal of this BEST program is to support research-related training activities that broaden graduate and postdoctoral training, such that training programs reflect the range of career options that these individuals (regardless of funding source) ultimately may pursue and that are required for a robust biomedical, behavioral, social and clinical research enterprise. Collaborations with nonacademic partners are encouraged to ensure that experts from a broad spectrum of research-intensive and research-related careers contribute to coursework, rotations, internships or other forms of exposure.

Overall Impact

Reviewers will provide an overall impact score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood for the project to strongly advance research education by fulfilling the goal of this BEST Program, in consideration of the following review criteria and additional review criteria, as applicable for the project proposed.

Scored Review Criteria

Reviewers will consider each of the review criteria below in the determination of scientific merit, and give a separate score for each. An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact.

Significance

Does the proposed program address a key audience and an important aspect or important need in research education?  Is there convincing evidence in the application that the proposed program will significantly advance the stated goal of the program?

Investigator(s)

Is the PD/PI capable of providing both administrative and scientific leadership to the development and implementation of the proposed program?  Is there evidence that an appropriate level of effort will be devoted by the program leadership to ensure the program's intended goal is accomplished?  If applicable, is there evidence that the participating faculty have experience in mentoring students and teaching science?  If applicable, are the faculty good role models for the participants by nature of their scientific accomplishments?  If the project is collaborative or multi-PD/PI, do the investigators have complementary and integrated expertise; are their leadership approach, governance and organizational structure appropriate for the project? Does the Advisory Committee include individuals and careers outside of academic organizations? 

Innovation

Taking into consideration the nature of the proposed research education program, does the applicant make a strong case for this program effectively reaching an audience in need of the program’s offerings? Where appropriate, is the proposed program developing or utilizing innovative approaches and latest best practices to improve the knowledge and/or skills of the intended audience?  Does the program clearly propose to go beyond the traditional training activities experienced by graduate students and postdoctoral scientists? Does the applicant clearly distinguish what is novel in this BEST program? 

Approach

Does the proposed program clearly state its goals and objectives, including the educational level of the audience to be reached, the content to be conveyed, and the intended outcome?  Is there evidence that the program is based on a sound rationale, as well as sound educational concepts and principles? If the proposed program will recruit participants, are the planned recruitment, retention, and follow-up (if applicable) activities adequate to ensure a highly qualified participant pool?

Is the plan for evaluation sound and is it likely to provide information on the effectiveness of the program. Will the proposed evaluation plan provide information that will be useful for improvements in the timing or nature of the proposed activities? Does the evaluation plan include the data elements outlined in this FOA including but not limited to: trainee career choices, trainee satisfaction with career training and job placement, faculty attitudes toward career plans of trainees, institutional support of new training, changes in institutional policies and/or changes in mentoring policies, etc. Is the dissemination plan adequately detailed? Is there a robust plan for faculty buy-in for the BEST program, and will the proposed evaluation plan reveal whether the proposed level of faculty buy-in was achieved? If the program starts with a subset of participants, is there a plan for increasing the size of the program to achieve accessibility to all those at the institution who wish to participate? Is there a plan (or timeline) provided that will ensure that the time to degree, or postdoctoral tenure will not be adversely affected by the BEST program activities? Is there an appropriate plan for dissemination of successful and unsuccessful practices?

Environment

Will the scientific and educational environment of the proposed program contribute to its intended goals? Is there a plan to take advantage of this environment to enhance the educational value of the program?  Is there tangible evidence of both short-term and long-term institutional commitment?  Is there evidence that the faculty have sufficient institutional support to create a sound educational environment for the participants?  Where appropriate, is there evidence of collaboration and buy-in among participating programs, departments, and institutions? If partnerships are included in the BEST program plan, are they appropriate and will they provide novel experiences? (Note: partnerships are not required but are strongly encouraged as appropriate.) Are the partner environments well described, supportive and likely to contribute to the program goals?  Is there evidence of the proposed external partners’ willingness to collaborate and participate?

Additional Review Criteria

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will evaluate the following additional items while determining scientific and technical merit, and in providing an overall impact score, but will not give separate scores for these items.

Protections for Human Subjects

Generally not applicable. Reviewers should bring any concerns to the attention of the Scientific Review Officer 

Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children 

Generally not applicable. Reviewers should bring any concerns to the attention of the Scientific Review Officer. 

Vertebrate Animals

Generally not applicable. Reviewers should bring any concerns to the attention of the Scientific Review Officer. 

Biohazards

Generally not applicable. Reviewers should bring any concerns to the attention of the Scientific Review Officer. 

Resubmissions

Not Applicable

Renewals

Not Applicable

Revisions

Not Applicable

Additional Review Considerations

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will consider each of the following items, but will not give scores for these items, and should not consider them in providing an overall impact score.

Recruitment & Retention Plan to Enhance Diversity

Peer reviewers will separately evaluate the recruitment and retention plan to enhance diversity after the overall score has been determined. Reviewers will examine the strategies to be used in the recruitment and retention of individuals from underrepresented groups. The review panel’s evaluation will be included in the summary statement. Plans will be rated as acceptable or unacceptable, and the summary statement will provide the consensus of the review committee.

Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research

Not Applicable

Applications from Foreign Organizations

Not Applicable

Select Agent Research

Generally not applicable. Reviewers should bring any concerns to the attention of the Scientific Review Officer.

Resource Sharing Plans

Reviewers will comment on whether the following Resource Sharing Plans, or the rationale for not sharing the following types of resources, are reasonable: 1) Data Sharing Plan; 2) Sharing Model Organisms; and 3) Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS). If support for development, maintenance, or enhancement of software is requested in the application, the reviewers will comment on the proposed software dissemination plan.

Budget and Period of Support

Reviewers will consider whether the budget and the requested period of support are fully justified and reasonable in relation to the proposed research.

2. Review and Selection Process

Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by (an) appropriate Scientific Review Group(s) convened by the Center for Scientific Review, in accordance with NIH peer review policy and procedures, using the stated review criteria. Assignment to a Scientific Review Group will be shown in the eRA Commons.

As part of the scientific peer review, all applications:

Appeals of initial peer review will not be accepted for applications submitted in response to this FOA.

Applications will be assigned to the appropriate NIH Institute or Center. Applications will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications submitted in response to this FOA. Following initial peer review, recommended applications will receive a second level of review by the National Advisory Dental and Craniofacial Research Council. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

After the peer review of the application is completed, the PD/PI will be able to access his or her Summary Statement (written critique) via the eRA Commons

Information regarding the disposition of applications is available in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Section VI. Award Administration Information


1. Award Notices

If the application is under consideration for funding, NIH will request "just-in-time" information from the applicant as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

A formal notification in the form of a Notice of Award (NoA) will be provided to the applicant organization for successful applications. The NoA signed by the grants management officer is the authorizing document and will be sent via email to the grantee’s business official.

Awardees must comply with any funding restrictions described in Section IV.5. Funding Restrictions. Selection of an application for award is not an authorization to begin performance. Any costs incurred before receipt of the NoA are at the recipient's risk. These costs may be reimbursed only to the extent considered allowable pre-award costs.      

Any application awarded in response to this FOA will be subject to the DUNS, SAM Registration, and Transparency Act requirements as noted on the Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grantshttp://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/awardconditions.htm website.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

All NIH grant and cooperative agreement awards include the NIH Grants Policy Statement as part of the NoA. For these terms of award, see the NIH Grants Policy Statement Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart A: General  and Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart B: Terms and Conditions for Specific Types of Grants, Grantees, and Activities. More information is provided at Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants.

3. Reporting

The Non-Competing Continuation Grant Progress Report (PHS 2590 or RPPR) and financial statements as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement are required annually. Continuation support will not be provided until the required forms are submitted and accepted. Programs that involve participants should report on education in the responsible conduct of research and complete a Training Diversity Report, in accordance with the PHS 2590 Additional Instructions for Preparing a Progress Report for an Institutional Research Training Grant, Including Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards.

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Transparency Act), includes a requirement for awardees of Federal grants to report information about first-tier subawards and executive compensation under Federal assistance awards issued in FY2011 or later.  All awardees of applicable NIH grants and cooperative agreements are required to report to the Federal Subaward Reporting System (FSRS) available at www.fsrs.gov on all subawards over $25,000.  See the NIH Grants Policy Statement for additional information on this reporting requirement. 

Failure by the grantee institution to submit required forms in a timely, complete, and accurate manner may result in an expenditure disallowance or a delay in any continuation funding for the award.

Other Reporting Requirements

A final progress report and the expenditure data portion of the Federal Financial Report are required for closeout of an award as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

4. Evaluation

In carrying out its stewardship of human resource-related programs, the NIH or its Institutes and Centers will periodically evaluate their BEST programs, employing the measures identified below.  In assessing the effectiveness of its research education investments, NIH may request information from databases, PD/PIs, and from participants themselves.  Where necessary, PD/PIs and participants may be contacted after the completion of a research education experience for periodic updates on participants’ subsequent educational or employment history and professional activities.
Section VII. Agency Contacts

We encourage inquiries concerning this funding opportunity and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants.

Application Submission Contacts

eRA Commons Help Desk (Questions regarding eRA Commons registration, submitting and tracking an application, documenting system problems that threaten submission by the due date, post submission issues)Telephone: 301-402-7469 or 866-504-9552 (Toll Free)

Web ticketing system: https://public.era.nih.gov/commonshelp
TTY: 301-451-5939
Email: commons@od.nih.gov

Grants.gov Customer Support (Questions regarding Grants.gov registration and submission, downloading forms and application packages)
Contact Center Telephone: 800-518-4726

Web ticketing system: https://grants-portal.psc.gov/ContactUs.aspx
Email: support@grants.gov

GrantsInfo (Questions regarding application instructions and process, finding NIH grant resources)
Telephone 301-435-0714
TTY: 301-451-5936
Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Dr. Patricia Labosky
Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives
Office of the Director, NIH
Telephone: 301-594-4863
Email: laboskypa@od.nih.gov

Peer Review Contact(s)

Larry Boerboom, Ph.D.
Center for Scientific Review (CSR)
Telephone: 301-435-8367
Email: boerbool@mail.nih.gov

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Dede Rutberg, MBA
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
Telephone: 301-594-4798
Email: rutbergd@mail.nih.gov

Michael Morse
Division of Program Coordination Planning and Strategic Initiatives
Office of the Director, NIH
Telephone: 301-435-5446
Email: morsem@od.nih.gov

Section VIII. Other Information

Recently issued trans-NIH policy notices may affect your application submission. A full list of policy notices published by NIH is provided in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Authority and Regulations

Awards are made under the authorization of Sections 301 and 405 of the Public Health Service Act as amended (42 USC 241 and 284) and under Federal Regulations 42 CFR Part 52 and 45 CFR Parts 74 and 92.


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