Internal Deadline: Contact RII.
LOI: December 17, 2023
External Deadline: January 17, 2024
Recurring Deadlines: January 17, 2025
Award 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 Award Amount: An applicant may request direct costs of up to $325,000 per year. Because the nature and scope of the proposed research education program will vary from application to application, it is anticipated that the size of each award will vary.
Who May Serve as PI:
The PD(s)/PI(s) should have a background in bioengineering or a closely related field in engineering or the physical/computational sciences and should have demonstrated experience in the applications of these fields in medicine and/or biology.? The PD(s)/PI)(s) should be 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(s)/PI(s) should hold a research or clinical doctoral degree (e.g., Ph.D., M.D., or equivalent), and have clearly demonstrated training/mentoring credentials, particularly of individuals from diverse backgrounds, including students from underrepresented groups. The PD/PI must have a regular, full-time appointment (i.e., not adjunct, part-time, retired, or emeritus) at the applicant institution.
Link to Award: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-23-114.html
Process for Limited Submissions
PIs must submit their application as a Limited Submission through the Research Initiatives and Infrastructure (RII) Application Portal: https://rii.usc.edu/oor-portal/. Use the template provided here: RII Limited Submission Applicant Template
Materials to submit include:
- (1) Two-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 2-page limit will be excluded from review. You must use the template linked above.
- (2) CV – (5 pages maximum)
Note: The portal requires information about the PIs in addition to department and contact information, including the 10-digit USC ID#, Gender, and Ethnicity. Please have this material prepared before beginning this application.
The NIH Research Education Program (R25) supports research educational activities that complement other formal training programs in the mission areas of the NIH Institutes and Centers.
The overarching goal of this R25 program is to support educational activities that encourage individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those from groups underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, to pursue further studies or careers in research.
With the ESTEEMED Program, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) focuses on early preparation of undergraduate students in bioengineering or STEM fields relevant to NIBIB’s scientific mission. Applicants should recruit prospective participants from diverse backgrounds, including those from groups underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral sciences, and participants should be interested in ultimately pursuing a Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. degree and a research career integrating engineering and the physical sciences with medicine and biology. Upon completion of the ESTEEMED program, student participants will be expected to enter an honors program that prepares STEM students for doctoral programs in biomedical research fields. Therefore, only institutions with an honors program that is open to students in the junior and senior years and that promotes STEM and entrance into a Ph.D. program are eligible to apply.
Programmatic Approach of the ESTEEMED Program
The ESTEEMED program seeks to facilitate the transition to college by providing research and educational experiences to early-stage undergraduates and to interest them in pursuing further studies as in bioengineering or other STEM fields relevant to NIBIB’s scientific mission. The over-arching goal is for student participants to ultimately pursue a doctoral degree and a subsequent research career in bioengineering or NIBIB-relevant field. To accomplish this goal, this FOA will support educational activities with a primary focus on:
- Research Experiences: For example, to provide hands-on exposure to bioengineering research or physical/computational sciences research within the scope of NIBIB’s scientific interest.
- Courses for Skills Development: For example, to provide preparation for hands-on exposure to research for freshmen and sophomores. At a minimum, this preparation must include a summer bridge program (or summer bootcamp) for incoming freshmen and additional activities during the freshman and sophomore academic years, including, but not limited to, seminars and/or workshops that enhance skills in the basic sciences, computation, and scientific communication as well as introduce students to the laboratory environment. 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.
The program is open to incoming freshmen at the applicant institution or community college students starting their first or second year, if a collaboration with a community college is proposed. At the applicant institution, participation in ESTEEMED would begin with a Summer Bridge Program for incoming freshman and continue with two years of academic year activities followed by summer research experiences. Following the completion of the ESTEEMED program at the end of the summer after the sophomore year, participants are expected to join an honors program at the applicant institution that prepares students for graduate studies.
The ESTEEMED program is open to partnerships with community colleges. Proposed programs that focus on community college students must include all three required components (summer bridge, academic year activities for two years and summer research experiences for the following summers) and provide strong mentorship. Programs may be structured to hold any portion of the activities at the community college and/or the applicant institution. Such programs may allow students to either:
- participate in the ESTEEMED program for one year at the community college (in their first or second year), transfer to the applicant institution and continue their participation in the ESTEEMED program as a sophomore there, or
- participate in the ESTEEMED program for two years at the community college and then transfer to the applicant institution.
In both cases, after completing the two-year ESTEEMED program, the students are expected to join an honors program and complete a bachelor’s degree program at the applicant institution.
A program supported by this FOA must contain the following three elements:
1. Summer Bridge Program
A Summer Bridge Program is to occur before the start of the freshman year to prepare student participants, in bootcamp-style, for their first year of college. The bootcamp should introduce students to the ESTEEMED program and provide a review of basic topics and skills necessary for success. It must take place during the summer before the freshman year, last at least five weeks, emphasize basic sciences, computation, and science communication, and provide survival skills to help participants transition from high school to college, such as socialization/networking and strong time management and organizational skills. Summer Bridge Programs are encouraged to incorporate mentoring of incoming freshman participants by rising sophomores in the ESTEEMED program.
2. Academic Year Activities
In addition to continuing to emphasize basic sciences, computation, and science communication during the freshman and sophomore academic years, the Academic Year Activities should help participants maximize their academic performance and prepare them for summer research experiences and eventual entry into an honors program. Academic year activities should include, but are not limited to, courses, journal clubs, individual development plans for each participant, seminars/workshops, professional development programs, internal and external speakers to introduce the students to different career paths, and participation in national scientific meetings. Activities such as workshops on scientific presentation and writing that promote scientific communication skills are highly encouraged. There should be an increasing sophistication in these activities as participants proceed from the freshman to the sophomore year.
3. Summer Research Experience
At the end of their freshman and sophomore years, participants are required to take part in hands-on summer research experiences that involve a defined research project and includes a final oral presentation and written report of their work. Research experiences can take place in an on-campus laboratory or can be an off-campus research experience in an academic or industrial or NIH/NIBIB laboratory research setting. The Summer Research Experience is expected to last at least eight weeks or most of the summer.
In addition, applications to this FOA must address the following two elements:
The research education supported by the ESTEEMED program is expected to provide not only technical expertise, but advice, individual coaching, professional development, and career guidance to the participants. As discussed in The Science of Effective Mentorship in STEMM, mentorship that recognizes a person’s identity and sociodemographic background is critical for students in STEMM. Programs should ideally include mentoring by faculty, peers, and alumni, and encourage family engagement. For institutions with graduate degree programs, Ph.D. candidates may also participate as mentors.
The ESTEEMED program to be supported with this FOA is intended to expose students to bioengineering research in their freshman and sophomore years and interest them in pursuing advanced studies in bioengineering or a related field. In their junior and senior years, the students are expected to enter an honors program that promotes graduate study in STEM fields. For the purposes of this FOA, an honors program is defined as a program, typically offered to exceptionally-motivated students at the institution, consisting of in-class and extracurricular activities that are broader, deeper, or more complex than comparable learning experiences at the institution. The availability of the honors program makes it possible for ESTEEMED participants to have a full four years of research preparation throughout their undergraduate education. Applicants are therefore required to describe the ESTEEMED program, the honors program, and the conditions for ESTEEMED students to enter and remain in the honors program in their final two years of college. A support letter from the honors program leader is required.
NIBIB’s Interest in Diversity
The mission of the NIBIB is to transform through engineering the understanding of disease and its prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment. NIBIB is committed to fostering diversity in its training programs since there are many benefits that flow from a diverse scientific workforce, including fostering technological innovations for healthcare and advancing the likelihood that underserved or health disparity populations participate in, and benefit from health research. To this end, the institute develops and supports programs, across the career continuum, that foster the recruitment, retention, training, and career development of individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those from groups underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences (e.g., see Notice of NIH’s Interest in Diversity. NIBIB’s proactive approach to promoting a sustainable biomedical workforce (https://www.nibib.nih.gov/about-nibib/diversity-equity-inclusion-accessibility-programs-activities) includes the development of programs targeting roadblocks at critical transition points in the biomedical research pipeline that hinder the participation of individuals from diverse backgrounds. The ESTEEMED program seeks to facilitate the transition to college by supporting freshmen and sophomores from diverse backgrounds, including those groups underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, majoring in STEM fields critical to the mission of NIBIB.
NICHD’s Interest in Diversity
The NICHD is committed to supporting a diverse workforce. For the purposes of this Funding Opportunity, the Institute will accept applications focused on the mission of the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR), which supports research to enhance the health, productivity, independence, and quality of life of people with physical disabilities. STEM education and the training of bioengineers is particularly relevant to the development of assistive technologies and environmental supports for people with disabilities.
Need for the Program
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) proficiency in United States has been declining since the 1980s and is falling behind other leading countries (TIMSS 2019 U.S. Highlights Web Report, NCES 2021-021, U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. Fewer students are choosing to pursue degrees in STEM. There have been many national calls to increase the retention of students in STEM and to enhance the diversity of the STEM workforce. (Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Report 2021; President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, 2012; Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education (archives.gov) National Science Technology Council; and The Time is Now: Advancing Equity in Science and Technology Ideation Challenge, White House OSTP, 2021)
Many STEM educators have turned to summer bridge programs to help bridge the gap between high school and college to better prepare incoming college students to meet the challenging academic demands and to address factors that may contribute to the attrition of students in STEM (Ashley et al., CBE – Life Sciences Education, 16:es3, 1–18, 2017). The effect of summer bridge programs on college degree attainment was found to be positive and statistically significant (WWC Intervention Report, Summer Bridge Programs, 2016).
Once in college, students who had declared a STEM major changed their major more often than their non-STEM counterparts (Beginning College Students Who Change Their Majors Within 3 Years of Enrollment, NCES 2018-434 Report, U.S. Department of Education, 2017) within 3 years of matriculation. Therefore, interventions are needed to support students in the early part of their college education to enhance persistence in STEM majors.
To address these gap areas (transition from high school to college and retention in STEM), the ESTEEMED Program is designed to 1) support summer bridge programs for incoming undergraduate students, and 2) provide 2 years of educational activities and bioengineering research experiences to early-stage undergraduates to help students remain in STEM, obtain a STEM college degree and to ultimately proceed to pursue doctoral degrees
The NSF Survey of Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering reported that of the U.S. citizens and permanent residents who were awarded bachelor’s degrees in science or engineering, 25% were from underrepresented race/ethnic groups, and this dropped to 15% for those awarded doctoral degrees. NSF data also showed that of those who are specifically enrolled in their doctoral degree in the bioengineering field, only 12% were from underrepresented race/ethnic groups. This demonstrates an acute need for interventions to encourage more students from underrepresented groups to continue on to doctorate degrees and successful research careers in science and engineering fields, and particularly bioengineering.
Numerous reports recommend supporting programs to recruit, train, and mentor students from nationally underrepresented groups who have an interest in STEM as a means to effectively build a diverse and competitive scientific workforce. (See for example, ACD Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Workforce, 2012; PCAST Report, 2012; From College to Careers: Fostering Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in STEM, 2014; Increasing College Opportunity for Low Income Students, 2014; Barriers and Opportunities for 2-Year and 4-Year STEM Degrees, 2016;Indicators for Monitoring Undergraduate STEM Education, 2018; Understanding the Educational and Career Pathways of Engineers, 2018; and Minority Serving Institutions: America’s Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce, 2019.)
NICHD Areas of Specific Interest:
For the purposes of this announcement, NICHD is focused on supporting research within the mission of the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR). This may include exposing bioengineers to the lived experience of people with disabilities and specific opportunities to support their productivity, independence, and full potential. This may include support for rehabilitative interventions, assistive technologies, stimulation and neuroengineering approaches, mobility aids, prosthetics and orthotics, exercise and health promotion, managing secondary conditions, and environmental modifications and supports.
Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for more updates and other announcements.