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NIDCD Administrative Research Supplements to Promote Emergence of Clinician-Scientists in Chemosensory Research

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Funding Opportunity Purpose

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) announces the availability of one-year administrative research supplements to currently-active NIDCD-supported R01 and R21 awards for medical students to gain research experience in basic, translational, or patient-oriented research in the chemical senses.

Application Due Dates

Key Dates
Opening date (earliest submission date) October 15, 2017
Closing date September 1, 2020

The NIDCD accepts and reviews applications on a continuous basis until September 1 of each fiscal year. Applications received after September 1 will be considered for funding in the next fiscal year.

Applicants are encouraged to apply at least six weeks prior to the requested start date.

Objectives and Background

Chemosensory deficits affect the lives of millions of Americans. For example, in one study, nearly a quarter of men ages 60–69 had a smell disorder, while about 11 percent of women in that age range reported a smell disorder. More than 200,000 people visit a doctor each year for problems with their chemical senses. These problems can have profound effects on an affected individual's quality of life and nutritional intake. Current treatment options for taste and smell disorders are very limited and unable to help most people. As noted in the NIDCD Strategic Plan, the lack of treatment strategies is a critical gap in the chemical senses research field, especially given that taste and smell deficits have become increasingly common.

To address this gap, the NIDCD held a workshop in April 2014 to discuss ways to facilitate clinical chemosensory research and enhance health care outcomes of such research. Additional impetus for this workshop included the minimal presence of clinical research within the NIDCD Taste and Smell Program's grant portfolio and the concern among leaders in the field that the number of new chemosensory clinician-scientists entering the pipeline needs to be substantially augmented. Among the issues discussed was the compelling need to recruit physicians into the chemical senses field to facilitate "bench to bedside" translation of many of the fundamental scientific discoveries made the past two decades. This administrative supplement program is one of the responses of the NIDCD to the recommendations of workshop participants. It directly addresses one of the priority areas in the NIDCD Strategic Plan: to “promote clinical training in the chemical senses to encourage development of animal models of relevant disorders and promote clinical and translational research, involving interdisciplinary teams of clinicians and basic scientists.”

Recognizing the formidable challenges of integrating research and clinical training, the panel considered mechanisms to provide training opportunities to aspiring clinician-scientists. A specific recommendation was to provide a funding mechanism to support one-year-long intensive research experiences for medical students, thereby introducing them to biomedical and behavioral chemosensory research early in their careers.

Medical students are targeted for this program because:

  • They are at a point in their training when they are more "malleable," as their research and clinical interests are still being forged (even though many have had prior exposure to biomedical research as undergraduate students).
  • Medical students who are not enrolled in combined M.D./Ph.D. programs are not eligible for individual National Research Service Award (NRSA) fellowships.
  • With respect to cost, continuity of clinical training, demands of patient care, and balancing of work/life demands, the medical school years more easily accommodate a concentrated research experience than do the years of residency training.

This research supplement program hardwires a mentoring relationship between the sponsoring Principal Investigator (PI) and an identified medical student through directly tethering the latter to the NIH-funded research grant of the mentoring PI. The research experience proposed for the student must be within the research scope of the parent grant at the level of specific research aims. It must have the potential to contribute significantly to the research capabilities of the student and enhance the student's understanding of health-related science and research.

Funds and Budget

The number of awards is contingent upon NIH appropriations and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications. The NIDCD intends to commit $250,000 each year for FY18, FY19, and FY20.

The total amount requested for salary and fringe benefits cannot exceed the amount allowable for a level zero NRSA individual postdoctoral fellow (F32) and should be consistent with institutional salary policies. Additional funds of up to $4,000 may be requested for supplies and travel. No funds may be requested for tuition, salaries of the PI(s) or co-investigator(s), or for the purchase of equipment. Facilities and administrative costs may be requested at a level consistent with the current negotiated facilities and administrative costs rate agreement.

Award Project Period

The project and budget periods must be within the currently approved project period for the existing parent award. All awards are for a one-year project period.

Eligibility Information

Administrative research supplements may be requested by PIs of NIDCD-supported R01 and R21 awards funded to perform research in the chemical senses. The award must have a minimum of one year of support remaining as of the requested start time of the supplemental award. A supplement award may not extend beyond the parent award period. Awards in no-cost extension periods are not allowed to submit an application to this program.

A candidate must be a medical student in good academic standing who has completed at least one year of medical school. Candidates need not be citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. The candidate is required to take one year off from medical school and devote full-time effort to the proposed research experience during this year. Individuals enrolled in a dual M.D./Ph.D. program are not eligible; such individuals should consider applying for an individual F30 fellowship award. The NIDCD will consider accepting applications from medical students who previously completed their doctoral training in disciplines outside of the biomedical and behavioral sciences.

Application and Submission Instructions

Before submitting an application for an administrative research supplement, prospective PIs are strongly encouraged to contact Susan Sullivan, Ph.D., to discuss their application. Inquiries about fiscal matters may be directed to Christopher Myers, chief of the NIDCD Grants Management Branch.

Applications must be prepared using PHS 398 research grant application forms and instructions. The grantee institution, on behalf of the PI of the parent award, must submit the application for supplemental funds in the form of a single PDF file by email directly to:

Susan Sullivan, Ph.D.
Director, NIDCD Taste and Smell Program

The subject line should read "Medical Student Supplement."

Note: The request should not be submitted to the NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR).

The request for the supplemental award must include the following:

  • A completed face page (with appropriate signatures) from Grant Application Form PHS 398 (revised January 2018). Include the title and number of the parent grant on line 1 and enter "Medical Student Supplement" on line 2. Fillable Individual PHS 398 PDF forms can be found online.
  • A description limited to six pages, prepared by the PI of the funded parent grant, in collaboration with the student, that includes:
    • A brief summary (up to one page) of the abstract and the specific research aims of the parent grant.
    • A description of: 1) the plan and timeline for the research experiences proposed for the student; 2) how the proposed research plan relates to the overall and specific research aims of the parent grant; and, 3) the mentorship that will be provided. 
  • In addition, the following information must be provided:
    • NIH biographical sketches for the student (including career goals and evidence of scientific interest and achievement) and the sponsor(s). The source(s) of current funding for the sponsor(s) and the student must also be listed.
    • An official copy of the student's medical school transcript.
    • An itemized budget entered on the budget pages from Grant Application Form PHS 398 for the research supplement.
    • Updated resources checklist pages.
    • A letter of support from an authorized institution official (e.g., dean, medical education director, or other authorized official) ensuring that the student will be allowed a year off from medical school and confirming that the full-time effort of the student will be protected for the proposed research experience. 
    • Documentation, if applicable, that the proposed research was approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) or human subjects Institutional Review Board (IRB) at the grantee institution. Adherence to NIH policy for inclusion of human subjects across gender, racial/ethnic, and children groups must also be ensured if additional human subjects' involvement is planned for the supplement component.
    • If any of the research is to be conducted at a site other than the grantee institution, an appropriately signed letter from the institution where the research is to be conducted must be submitted. Documentation of IACUC and IRB approval is required from this institution, as well.
  • Applicants for this administrative supplement initiative may not submit appendix materials.

Review and Selection Process

Following an administrative review for completeness and eligibility, the NIDCD Division of Scientific Programs will review a request for an administrative research supplement to determine its overall merit. The following review criteria will be used:

  • The qualifications of the student including career goals, prior research training, research potential, and any relevant experience.
  • Evidence of the student's educational achievement and interest in science.
  • The plan for the proposed research experiences in the supplemental request and the plan's relationship to the parent grant.
  • Suitability of the proposed research experiences to enhance the research potential, knowledge, and/or skills of the student.
  • Evidence that appropriate mentorship will be provided and that there is a good fit between the sponsoring PI(s) and the student.
  • Quality and appropriateness of institutional resources and facilities and the institutional commitment to the student.

Reporting Requirements

The PI of the parent grant is required, post award, to submit a summary of the student's research accomplishments as part of the PI's next annual progress report to the NIDCD.

Last Updated Date: 
August 20, 2018