Slots: Only one application per partnership is allowed. A partnership is defined as a collaboration between at least two different departments/colleges within one institution
Internal Deadline: Friday, June 9, 2023
LOI: August 11, 2023
External Deadline: September 26, 2023
Award Type: Grant
Estimated Number of Awards and Anticipated Amount: HEAL may fund up to 4 T90/R90 awards. HEAL intends to commit up to $673,000 (direct cost) for each T90/R90 award in fiscal year 2024. Future year amounts will depend on annual appropriations. HEAL intends to commit, for each award, up to $673,000 (direct costs) in FY2025; $673,000 (direct costs) in FY2026; $673,000 (direct costs) in FY2027; and $673,000 (direct costs) in FY2028.
Who May Serve as PI:
Multi-PI team/Percent effort: Because the T90/R90 program is a collaborative effort, applicants are encouraged to use a team-science approach. Thus, it is permissible to propose a multiple Training PD(s)/PI(s) administrative/management model. HEAL will support up to 10% effort (1.2 calendar months of effort) for PD(s)/PI(s) which can be shared among MPIs. However, if a multi Training PD(s)/PI(s) administrative model is proposed, the Training PD(s)/PI(s) will need to split the % effort among themselves. For institutions/organizations proposing multiple Training PDs/PIs, visit the Multiple Program Director/Principal Investigator Policy and submission details in the Senior/Key Person Profile (Expanded) Component of the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide. The rationale for the percent effort is provided in the “Role of Assessment and Evaluation Team” portion of the NOFO
Training PD/PI Requirements: At least one Training PD(s)/PI(s) should be an established investigator(s) — either (1) a mid-career investigator, defined as being within 10 years of receiving his/her/their first R01 equivalent award (https://nexus.od.nih.gov/all/2017/06/16/nih-next-generation-researchers-initiative/), or (2) a later stage investigator — in the scientific area in which the application is targeted (clinical pain research) and capable of providing both administrative and scientific leadership to the development and implementation of the proposed program. Other Training PD(s)/PI(s) should have pain expertise or expertise in a partnering field that is not traditionally involved in pain research to broaden training foci and provide a unique/innovative perspective. If a multiple Training PD/PI leadership plan is implemented, it should delineate the role of each Training PD/PI in achieving the training program’s goals. Training PD(s)/PI(s) should have funding (e.g., NIH funding, federal funding, or other sources of funding) throughout the duration of the T90/R90 award.
Training PD/PI Roles/Responsibilities: The Training PD(s)/PI(s) will be responsible for the selection and appointment of Trainees/Participants to the approved research training and research education program, and for the overall direction, management, administration, and evaluation of the interdisciplinary program. Creation of a cohort experience is crucial to the success of this program. To support the cohort experience of these awards, the Training PD(s)/PI(s) are required to coordinate with the HEAL R24 Coordinating Center for National Pain Scientists and the other Training PD(s)/PI(s) who are awarded a T90/R90 grant as part of the HEAL PAIN Cohort Program. The Training PD(s)/PI(s) will be expected to monitor and assess the program and submit all documents and reports as required. The Training PD(s)/PI(s) will be responsible for the day-to-day administration of the program and determine the appropriate allotment of funds. The Training PD/PI(s) are responsible for identifying a team of mentors at his/her/their institution that should also mentor the Trainees/Participants and should help provide educational content for the HEAL PAIN Cohort Program. For more information about mentors, please see the next section. The Training PD(s)/PI(s) can mentor Trainees/Participants and create webinar content to support the training experience. The content that is created by the T90/R90 program will be provided to the HEAL R24 Coordinating Center for National Pain Scientists in a timely manner so other postdoctoral fellows and pain researchers outside of the HEAL PAIN Cohort program can benefit from the content. The Training PD(s)/PI(s) are required to participate in organizing activities for the HEAL PAIN Cohort program at the Annual National Pain Scientist Career Development Program Meeting.
Link to Award: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-NS-24-015.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.
This NOFO seeks applications to establish a cohort of up to four T90/R90 institutional postdoctoral training programs across various institutions as part of this NIH HEAL Partnerships to Advance INterdisciplinary Training for Clinical Pain Research (the HEAL PAIN Cohort Program). The NIH T90/R90 mechanism is a Kirschstein-NRSA institutional training program designed to support interdisciplinary research. This program is responsive to the IPRCC and needs assessment survey by providing protected research time and formal research training opportunities to clinical pain researchers at an early stage of their careers while broadening the foci of research mentorship. Since the goal is to increase the clinical pain research workforce, the T90/R90 Trainees/Participants must be in a clinical program or demonstrate an interest in clinical pain research. Investment at an early career stage aligns with the NIH HEAL Initiative’s® goals by facilitating the retention of junior investigators in clinical pain research. Because limited opportunities exist for postdoctoral training in clinical pain research, the HEAL PAIN Cohort Program will play a critical role in meeting this programmatic goal.
The HEAL PAIN Cohort Program will promote retention in the clinical pain workforce by providing a cohort experience among T90/R90 program Trainees/Participants. A cohort refers here to a group of trainees/participants that enter together and remain together throughout the program’s duration. Other NIH Initiatives have used a cohort model citing evidence that it fosters a supportive group of talented peers and provides institutional support, ultimately enhancing the success of adult learners and promoting diversity and retention among candidates. The cohort model will be enhanced through the existing NOFO, RFA-NS-22-060, HEAL R24 Coordinating Center for National Pain Scientists (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-NS-22-060.html ; https://painresearchers.com/ ), which will provide high-quality training through webinars, networking opportunities, and other events tailored to the T90/R90 programs. However, each T90/R90 program will also be responsible for offering training opportunities to their Trainees/Participants locally at their institution.
HEAL PAIN Cohort Program Objective
The goal of the HEAL PAIN Cohort Program is to expand and enhance the pool of early career stage investigators (either those who have participated in a clinical program or who demonstrate an interest in clinical pain research) who are sufficiently prepared and trained to launch and maintain successful careers addressing the nation’s scientific needs in clinical pain research. In addition to providing protected research time and dedicated training, the program’s unique cohort approach aims to increase retention of these early career stage investigators in the clinical pain research workforce. The cohort experience also will provide networking opportunities to build partnerships between investigators in fields that are both traditionally and not traditionally represented in the field of pain, with the goal of leading to future scientific collaborations. Finally, the focus on broadening training foci to include fields outside of those traditionally represented in the field of pain – as well as recruiting prospective Training PD/PIs, mentors, and Trainees/Participants from diverse backgrounds – are expected to promote innovative solutions for pain management.
HEAL PAIN Cohort Program
Program Structure: The T90/R90 mechanism is designed to build interdisciplinary partnerships to train the next generation of clinical pain scientists. Each T90/R90 application should propose a partnership between at least two departments or colleges within an institution and describe how this partnership bridges traditional and non-traditional pain fields to advance training in clinical pain research. It is possible that one or more of the partnering departments or colleges may already be interdisciplinary in nature. However, it is still expected that there will be adequate representation of pain-focused researchers in one department and mentors from fields not traditional to pain research in the other department(s).
Institutions that do not currently have NIH funding for a pain-related institutional training program (e.g., T32) will be prioritized. Applications should identify how the within-institution T90/R90 partnership will provide training for at least two of HEAL’s clinical pain research content areas (listed below in alphabetical order):
(1) Advancing health equity in the field of pain
(3) Chronic overlapping pain conditions
(4) Effective interventions for pain and co-morbidities, such as substance use disorder, sleep, and major depression
(5) Effects of social determinants of health on pain
(6) Implementation science
(7) Non-opioid pharmacological treatments for pain
(8) Nonpharmacological interventions for pain (e.g., behavioral approaches, mind and body approaches, and/or other complementary and integrative health approaches)
(9) Pain across the lifespan
(10) Prevention of the transition from acute to chronic pain
Training Scope: Each T90/R90 program is expected to provide mentorship that will prepare T90/R90 Trainees/Participants to launch and maintain productive careers in the clinical pain research workforce. Mentors are expected to provide training to T90/R90 Trainees/Participants both within the institution and across the broader HEAL PAIN Cohort Program, such as through webinars. The application should describe how:
(1) the biopsychosocial model of pain will be integrated into the training
(2) the program will use a team science approach by partnering with departments/colleges not traditionally incorporated in the pain field
(3) the program will create a culture to attract and retain a diverse pool of Trainees to expand scientific rigor and innovation
(4) training will be provided based on whole person health in a way that reduces stigma and bias
(5) Trainees/Participants will learn skills to thoughtfully engage and incorporate individuals from all backgrounds, including individuals from NIH-designated populations that experience health disparities with lived experience of pain and comorbid conditions in the research process
(6) training will be provided in advanced statistics and research methods
(7) Trainees/Participants will be taught grantspersonship skills, which should include how to write a grant and create a budget
(8) Trainees/Participants will be prepared to successfully apply to tenure-track positions in academic settings
(9) the program will help coordinate monthly webinars related to HEAL priority areas (e.g., engaging people with lived experience of pain in research, pain co-morbidities, addiction, prevention of pain chronification, pain across the lifespan, non-pharmacological pain interventions, and bioinformatics) that will be posted on the HEAL R24 Coordinating Center for National Pain Scientists website
Cohort Experience: A critical component of the HEAL PAIN Cohort Program is the creation of a cohort experience among all of the T90/R90 programs at different institutions. This cohort experience will be facilitated through the HEAL R24 Coordinating Center for National Pain Scientists (R24; RFA-NS-22-060) and coordination of all the T90/R90 Training PD/PI(s). The cohort experience will be achieved through the following efforts:
- The Training PD(s)/PI(s) and mentors will:
- Organize a session at the HEAL R24 Annual National Pain Scientists Career Development Program Meeting (see section below) for all pain T90/R90 Trainees, mentors, and Training PD/PIs
- Coordinate monthly webinars created by the T90/R90 programs?
- Organize cohort experiences among all of the funded T90/R90 Trainees across all of the funded T90/R90 institutions
- Encourage the T90/R90 Trainees and mentors to participate in the HEAL R24 Coordinating Center for National Pain Scientists’ networking events
- Host events for postdoctoral Trainees to meet with faculty at external institutions to promote their job search within research settings
- The HEAL R24 Coordinating Center for National Pain Scientists will:
- Post the monthly webinars created by T90/R90 programs on the HEAL R24 Coordinating Center’s website to make them broadly available.
- Organize events that encourage a cohort experience and collaboration throughout the year for T90/R90 programs (in the HEAL PAIN Cohort Program) and T32 pain trainees (outside of the HEAL PAIN Cohort Program) across institutions, such as networking events
- Connect T90/R90 Trainees and T32 postdoctoral trainees to HEAL funded mentors and grants on the HEAL R24 Coordinating Center for National Pain Scientists’ online platform
- Enhance communication between basic, translational, and clinical pain trainees
- Host events for T90/R90, T32, and non-T32 postdoctoral fellows to meet with faculty at external institutions to promote their job search within research settings
Annual National Pain Scientists Career Development Program Meeting (R24)
The HEAL R24 Coordinating Center for National Pain Scientists recipient will create a network of early-career pain scientists, pain trainees, and mentors (RFA-NS-22-060). The HEAL R24 Coordinating Center for National Pain Scientists has named their program “Positively Uniting Researchers of Pain to Opine, Synthesize, and Engage (PURPOSE)” https://painresearchers.com/. The HEAL R24 Coordinating Center for National Pain Scientists will work to improve the collaboration between basic, translational, and clinical researchers, who do not regularly collaborate or work together. One function of the HEAL R24 Coordinating Center for National Pain Scientists will be to organize an annual meeting for established scientists as well as early career pain investigators. This meeting will facilitate the creation of a network of pain research mentors and mentees as well as foster communication between scientists and clinicians of different disciplines, provide enhanced mentorship, leadership courses, and any additional trainings that might be helpful for early-career scientists. T90/R90 Trainees/Participants, Training PD/PIs, and mentors will be required to attend the HEAL R24 Annual National Pain Scientist Career Development Meeting. The T90/R90 awards should provide financial support for all Trainees/Participants, Training PD/PI(s), and up to 5 mentors to attend this annual meeting. T90/R90 grant applicants can propose up to $1,500 for travel costs for those people attending the annual meeting. The Training PD/PIs of all of the T90/R90 awards should schedule a workshop at the HEAL R24 Annual National Pain Scientists Career Development Program Meeting where the T90/R90 Trainees/Participants may be provided in-person trainings or mentoring experiences not already received, and/or Trainees can present the status of their research.
In addition, T90/R90 Trainees/Participants, Training PD/PIs, and mentors are strongly encouraged to participate in all other aspects of the HEAL R24 Coordinating Centers for National Pain Scientists program, including networking experiences and classes.
Additional HEAL Information
This program is part of the NIH’s Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative® to speed scientific solutions to the national opioid public health crisis. The NIH HEAL Initiative® bolsters research across NIH to (1) improve treatment for opioid misuse and addiction and (2) enhance pain management. More information about the NIH HEAL Initiative® is available at: https://heal.nih.gov/.
In addition to broadening scientific inquiry, applicants should strive to promote diversity in their team development plan. 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 enterprise to address complex scientific problems. 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 the research, advancing the likelihood that underserved or health disparity populations participate in, and benefit from health research, and enhancing public trust. In spite of tremendous advancements in scientific research, information, educational and research opportunities are not equally available to all. NIH encourages institutions to diversify their student and faculty populations to enhance the participation of individuals from groups that are underrepresented in the medical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences. Please refer to Notice of NIH’s Interest in Diversity NOT-OD-20-031 for more details.
The NIH HEAL Initiative®encourages coordination and sharing between investigators. NIH HEAL Initiative® recipients are expected to participate in Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) meetings, including an annual HEAL Investigators Meeting, as well as other activities.
NIH strongly supports training towards a career in clinically relevant research and so gaining experience in clinical trials under the guidance of a mentor or co-mentor is encouraged. This Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) does not allow appointed scholars to lead an independent clinical trial, but does allow them to obtain research experience in a clinical trial led by a mentor or co-mentor.
NINDS Rigor and Transparency
NINDS, as part of NIH, strives for rigor and transparency in all research it funds. For this reason, NINDS explicitly emphasizes the NIH application instructions related to rigor and transparency (https://grants.nih.gov/policy/reproducibility/guidance.htm) and provides additional guidance to the scientific community (https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Funding/grant_policy). For example, the biological rationale for the proposed experiments must be based on rigorous and robust supporting data, which means that data should be collected via methods that minimize the risk of bias and be reported in a transparent manner. If previously published or preliminary studies do not meet these standards, applicants should address how the current study design addresses the deficiencies in rigor and transparency. Proposed experiments should likewise be designed in a manner that minimizes the risk of bias and ensures validity of experimental results. Each of the HEAL PAIN Cohort Programs will need to train and provide career development activities which should equip trainees with the following skills required for careers in the research workforce:
- Technical (e.g., appropriate methods, approaches, technologies, and quantitative/qualitative/mixed-methods analyses and reasoning)
- Operational (e.g., independent knowledge acquisition, appropriate data management, robust and unbiased experimental design, safe laboratory conduct, proper interpretation of data, transparent reporting of all results, and sharing of data and materials)
- Professional (e.g., leadership, management, and teamwork)
- Communication (e.g., how to communicate results to professional organizations, fellow clinicians, and the general public; how to give job talks)
Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for more updates and other announcements.