Friday, December 1st, 2023, 5pm PT Contact RII.
External Deadline: January 29, 2024
Recurring Deadlines: January 29, 2025; January 29, 2026
Award Type: Cooperative Agreement
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: Although the size of award may vary with the scope of the research education program proposed and there are no specific budget limitations, the average award size is expected to be $400,000 in direct costs per year. The requested direct costs must be reasonable, well documented, fully justified and commensurate with the scope of the proposed program.
Who May Serve as PI: NIH encourages multiple PD(s)/PI(s), particularly when each brings a unique perspective and skill set that will enhance the research education program. The PD/PI team should consider including individuals with experience in areas such as biomedical research, program evaluation, mentoring, efforts to promote diversity, and career development and advancement for early-career scientists.
The PD(s)/PI(s) should have appropriate professional experience and be capable of providing both administrative and training leadership to the development and implementation of the proposed program.
For applications including multiple PDs/PIs, the contact PD/PI is expected to be a full-time employee of the applicant organization. The contact PD/PI is also expected to monitor and assess the program and submit all documents and reports as required.
Link to Award: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-23-221.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 (1” margins; single-spaced; standard font type, e.g. Arial, Helvetica, Times New Roman, 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 overarching goal of this UE5 program is to support educational activities that encourage individuals from diverse backgrounds, for example those from groups underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences (see Notice of NIH’s Interest in Diversity), to pursue further studies or careers in research.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognizes the need to diversify the scientific workforce by enhancing the participation of individuals from groups underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences (collectively termed “biomedical”) research workforce. Individuals from all backgrounds deserve an equitable opportunity to engage in the biomedical research enterprise, to pursue their scientific interests and further their careers. Moreover, diversity at all levels — from the kinds of science to the regions in which it is conducted to the backgrounds of the people conducting it — is integral to scientific excellence and strengthens the research enterprise. There are many benefits that flow from a diverse NIH-supported scientific workforce, including fostering scientific innovation, enhancing global competitiveness, contributing to robust learning environments, improving the quality of research, enhancing public trust, and increasing the likelihood that health disparities and the needs of underserved populations are addressed in biomedical research. Research shows that diverse teams working together and capitalizing on innovative ideas and distinct perspectives outperform homogenous teams. Scientists and trainees from diverse backgrounds and life experiences bring different perspectives, creativity, and individual interests to address complex scientific problems. NIH strives to ensure that future generations of researchers will be drawn from the entire pool of talented individuals, bringing different aptitudes, perspectives, interests, and experiences to address complex scientific problems.
Need for the Program
Promoting diversity in the extramural scientific workforce is critical to the success of the NIH mission and is consistent with the mandates of the 21st Century Cures Act. While scientific workforce diversity supports and is integral to the NIH mission, expanding the pool of scientists from nationally underrepresented backgrounds in the biomedical research workforce has remained an elusive goal (see Policy Supporting Next Generation Researchers Initiative). NIH has a longstanding commitment to training future biomedical scientists and supporting training of students from diverse backgrounds, for example groups underrepresented in biomedical research, through a variety of fellowships, career development awards, and institutional training and student development programs. Despite recent advances, individuals from certain groups and backgrounds remain underrepresented in the biomedical sciences research workforce as described in the Notice of NIH’s Interest in Diversity.
The severity of the underrepresentation of these groups increases throughout the training stages. For example, students from certain racial and ethnic groups, including Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander comprise ~38 percent of the college age population, but earn only ~23 percent of bachelor’s degrees and ~16 percent of Ph.D. degrees in the life sciences (as per data from the Census Bureau, the National Center for Education Statistics, and the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics).Additionally, while the United States has seen a significant increase in the number of Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical sciences earned by scientists from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, corresponding increases in the ranks of the faculty in basic science departments (Gibbs, et al., eLife 2016) or NIH-funded investigators (Hoppe et al, 2019; Lauer and Bernard, 2023) have not occurred. The representation of scientists with disabilities in the scientific workforce decreases throughout academic career paths (i.e., from undergraduate to academic leadership), despite the increasing prevalence of disabilities during the active years of research careers (ACD WGD Subgroup on Individuals with Disabilities Report, 2022). Similarly, women have earned a majority of biomedical Ph.Ds. since 2008 (NSF data), but only approximately 1/3 of NIH-funded principal investigators are women (NIH Databook). The lack of diversity is also observed among those pursuing biomedical careers in government agencies, industry, and nonprofit organizations (NIH Workforce Demographics, 2021; NSF NCSES Table 9-19, 2019; Measuring Diversity in the Biotech Industry, 2022). NIH aims to enhance support for trainees and scholars from diverse backgrounds through critical career transition points as they progress towards positions in the range of biomedical careers that utilize their scientific training.
Graduate education and postdoctoral training are often challenging for trainees from all backgrounds, and they are accompanied by significant changes in career interests and knowledge about career opportunities (Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century, 2018). There are often unique, additional challenges faced by trainees from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. For example, graduate students from underrepresented groups, especially underrepresented women, report lower levels of belonging in their research groups and departments, less confidence in their abilities as an independent researcher, and distinct career interest profiles when compared to their counterparts from well represented racial and ethnic backgrounds – differences that were not explained by research productivity (Gibbs et al, 2014; Gibbs et al., 2015). Moreover, postdoctoral researchers from underrepresented and well-represented racial and ethnic backgrounds report differences in the types of support that would increase their likelihood of pursuing academic research careers (Lambert et al, 2020). Importantly, access to high quality mentoring, robust professional networks, and opportunities for skills development through structured formalized programs have been linked to enhanced trainee productivity, increased self-efficacy and strengthening an individual’s commitment to a research career (The Science of Effective Mentoring in STEMM, 2019). Therefore, there remains a strong need to develop additional opportunities to address these challenges, supporting the career progression of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers from diverse backgrounds, for example those from underrepresented groups.
The ARC Program is part of NIH’s efforts to promote diversity within the biomedical research workforce and is designed as a structured program to enhance participation of trainees from diverse backgrounds, for example individuals from underrepresented groups (see Notice of NIH’s Interest in Diversity), as they transition from predoctoral research training to postdoctoral research and career development activities. ARC has two components: an institutionally-focused research education cooperative agreement (UE5) and an individual predoctoral career transition award (F99/K00) to enhance diversity.
The overarching goal of the ARC UE5 program is to provide ARC F99 fellows/K00 scholars with professional skills and the appropriate mentoring and networks to allow them to transition into and succeed in postdoctoral research and career development opportunities, positioning them to advance in impactful careers in the biomedical research workforce that typically require postdoctoral training (e.g., academic research and teaching at a range of institution types, industry or government research).
To accomplish the stated overarching goal, this Notice of Funding Opportunity will support evidence-informed educational activities with a primary focus on:
- Courses for Skills Development: For example, activities focused on skills related to the career advancement of cohorts of ARC F99 fellows/K00 scholars. Support for short courses designed to enhance skills appropriate to transition into and advance in careers in the biomedical research workforce, e.g., communication skills, grant proposal preparation, scientific publishing, scientific writing, data management and visualization, leadership, project and people management, mentoring, managing career challenges and expectations, career advancement strategies, wellness and resiliency, and life-work balance. These activities could be in-person or provided electronically, synchronously or asynchronously.
- Mentoring Activities: One-on-one and group mentoring for professional and career development. Activities to enhance the mentoring networks of ARC scholars and prepare participants with a working knowledge of the opportunities and challenges associated with careers in the biomedical research workforce and how to identify and pursue desired career tracks. Activities to engage ARC F99/K00 primary research sponsors/mentors on how to effectively support the scholars in the program.
The ARC Research Education Awards are intended to fund organizations that can provide robust mentoring and career development opportunities for ARC F99 fellows/K00 scholars to:
- Develop cohesive and mutually supportive cohorts that span the F99 to K00 award phases;
- Assist ARC scholars with identifying and obtaining postdoctoral positions with strong mentoring and scientific opportunities;
- Provide opportunities for ARC scholars to engage in career development activities that will foster their progression to and success in impactful careers in the biomedical research workforce that benefit from and utilize their postdoctoral training;
- Enhance the scientific and professional networks of ARC scholars beyond their local institutions;
- Identify and connect scholars with additional mentors who can facilitate appropriate career advancement and skills development;
- Provide skills development for scholars in areas such as grant application writing, communication, and mentorship;
- Engage primary research sponsors/mentors of ARC scholars to enhance mentoring relationships, and promote career development of the scholars; and
- Track and publicize outcomes (e.g., publicly available websites).
NIH intends to fund applications that propose feasible and effective research education activities that align with the overarching goal of the ARC initiative to enhance diversity of the biomedical research workforce. Applicants are expected to identify objectives (i.e., specific, measurable, and obtainable outcomes the program intends to achieve) and to develop plans to implement evidence-informed skills development and mentoring activities that are grounded in the literature and from evaluations of existing relevant programs. NIH intends to support renewals through future reissuances of this funding announcement. Funded programs are expected to provide evidence of accomplishing the objectives in progress reports and upon renewal applications, to make aggregate outcomes publicly available, and to disseminate successful mentoring and skills development practices to the broader community.
The participants in ARC UE5 programs will be scholars at institutions across the nation selected through the ARC F99/K00 program. UE5 recipients are not responsible for the selection of the ARC F99/K00 scholars – this will be managed by an NIH competitive peer review process as described in the ARC F99/K00 NOFO (see Companion Funding Opportunity in the Overview Section). The funded UE5 recipients will develop cohorts of ARC F99/K00 scholars assigned by NIH staff (see below in the Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditionsin Section VI. Award Administration Information). ARC scholars are expected to be assigned to ARC UE5 recipients three times each year (i.e., after each advisory council round). ARC F99/K00 scholars will be at different points of development when assigned (e.g., not yet looking for a postdoctoral position, or having a postdoctoral mentor identified and planning their transition). Applicants should consider these factors when designing a program to allow newly selected scholars to be integrated into the program on a rolling basis, and to provide activities that align with the varying needs of the scholars.
Funded programs should address the career needs of scholars in both the predoctoral (F99) and postdoctoral (K00) research phases. Activities should synergize with and supplement, but not duplicate, career development activities ARC scholars participate in as part of their F99/K00 awards. Program activities should build upon the strengths and assets of ARC F99/K00 scholars and should not reflect deficit-models (i.e., those that focus primarily on remediation of perceived weaknesses) of career development.
Funded programs must provide career development and mentoring activities aligned with and appropriate for the disciplinary backgrounds and career goals of scholars supported through the ARC F99/K00 program. The specific NIH institute and center areas supported through this NOFO include:
NIGMS supports basic research that increases our understanding of biological processes and lays the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. NIGMS’ research mission is aimed at understanding the principles, mechanisms, and processes that underlie living systems. It also supports research in specific clinical areas that affect multiple organs, particularly those related to injury and critical illness: sepsis, trauma, burn, wound healing, anesthesiology, and clinical pharmacology. NIGMS does not support research that is relevant to the diseases, organ systems, or stages of life within the mission areas of other NIH Institutes and Centers. To ensure the vitality and continued productivity of the research enterprise, NIGMS provides leadership in training future scientists, enhancing the diversity of the scientific workforce, and developing research capacity throughout the country. For more information see https://www.nigms.nih.gov/about/overview/pages/default.aspx.
NCCIH has a mission to determine, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary health approaches, and their roles in improving health and healthcare. NCCIH will accept applications that promote mentoring, networking, and professional skills development for scholars conducting research projects in areas that are well-aligned with NCCIH’s strategic priorities. Studies may range from basic, through translational, epidemiological, health services, and other human subjects research.
Research education programs may complement ongoing research training and education activities occurring at the applicant organization, but the proposed educational experiences must be distinct from those training and education programs currently receiving Federal support.
Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for more updates and other announcements.