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NIDCD Diversity Mentoring Networks and Research Experiences R25 Programs: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

This page provides answers to common questions about the NIDCD’s diversity-targeted R25 programs:

PAR-21-185 Mentoring Networks to Enhance Diversity in NIDCD’s Extramural Research Workforce

  • Program Activity: Mentoring.
  • Support: Development of NIDCD researchers from diverse backgrounds, including from underrepresented groups, across various career stages.
  • Mentoring Focus: Undergraduate, postbaccalaureate, graduate students, postdoctoral, and/or early-to-mid career faculty.

PAR-21-186 Enhancing NIDCD’s Extramural Workforce Diversity through Research Experiences

  • Program Activity: Research experiences.
  • Support: Development of NIDCD researchers from diverse backgrounds, including from underrepresented groups, across various career stages.
  • Mentoring Focus: Undergraduate, postbaccalaureate, graduate students, postdoctoral, and/or early-to-mid career faculty.

Q. Where can I find a comprehensive overview of the R25 diversity-focused programs?

A. Watch a recorded webinar about the R25 diversity-focused programs and read about the programs on our website.

Q. Can I propose research training and experiences as part of the mentoring networks program supported by the Mentoring Networks to Enhance Diversity in NIDCD's Extramural Research Workforce (PAR-21-185)?

A. No. The mentoring network R25 program only supports focused and customized scientific career development activities and research-related professional development activities. Applicants interested in programs that support research experiences must apply to the Enhancing NIDCD's Extramural Workforce Diversity through Research Experiences (PAR-21-186) that supports (1) hands-on mentored research experiences at investigators’ labs during the summer and/or academic semester; (2) complementary scientific developmental activities; (3) attendance and presentation of findings at scientific professional meetings; and (4) individualized dual mentoring and research training.

Q. Is a letter of intent required?

A. Even though the program announcements’ guidance indicates that a letter of intent is not required, we strongly encourage applicants to work with their institutional business office to submit a letter to Alberto Rivera-Rentas, Ph.D., as described in the announcements. Letters of intent help the NIDCD anticipate the possible number of applications that will be received. They also help the NIDCD anticipate and manage possible conflicts with potential reviewers. Lastly, communicating with Dr. Rivera-Rentas early in the planning process ensures that the proposed project is aligned with program expectations.

Q. Who qualifies as diverse/underrepresented?

A. NIH policy identifies the following groups as underrepresented in biomedical research in the NIH's Interest in Diversity Statement:

  1. 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: Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders.
  2. Individuals with disabilities, who are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
  3. Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  4. Literature shows that women from the above backgrounds (categories a, b, and c) face particular challenges at the graduate level and beyond in scientific fields. Women have been shown to be underrepresented in doctorate-granting research institutions at senior faculty levels in most biomedical-relevant disciplines, and may also be underrepresented at other faculty levels in some scientific disciplines. NIH encourages institutions to consider women for faculty-level, diversity-targeted programs to address faculty recruitment, appointment, retention, or advancement.

Q. Are there plans to include the LGBTQIA+ community in these types of initiatives?

A. This is a complicated issue. Currently NIH includes sexual and gender minority (SGM) populations in health disparities research but does not include SGM applicants as “diverse” candidates for funding opportunities per NOT-OD-20-031: Notice of NIH's Interest in Diversity.

Q. Can I include high school students?

A. The inclusion of high school students is outside the scope of these programs. Programs can be targeted to undergraduates, postbaccalaureates, master’s level students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty.

Q. Can the program span multiple career stages?

A. Yes, you can design a program with participants at multiple career stages (e.g., undergraduate and graduate, graduate and postdoc, or postdoc and junior faculty).

Q. What is the maximum length of stipend support available for undergraduates if it is a research-based experience? Can they be supported for a summer 3-month experience, a full semester, or any other duration? Or is this program designed for more of a workshop-type, shorter experience?

A. Participants are paid salaries based on the institutional policies for individuals doing similar work. The research experience can have any duration (i.e., summer and/or academic semester). However, as stated in the announcement, because the R25 program is not intended as a substitute for an NRSA institutional training program (e.g., a T32), costs to support full-time participants (supported for 40 hours/week for a continuous, 12-month period) are not allowed.

Q. Can I include international participants?

A. All program participants receiving support from the R25 must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Q. Can we have multiple PIs?

A. Yes, but the role of each PI must be clearly delineated. The complementary and integrated expertise of each PI must be described (see FOAs).

Q. Can the participating faculty work in research areas not covered by the NIDCD?

A. The participating faculty and the mentoring and research experiences must be specifically relevant to the NIDCD mission. Researchers may be funded by other NIH institutes, federal agencies, and/or private foundations as long as the proposed research and training program is relevant to the NIDCD mission.

Q. Is the field of dentistry included as one of the “biomedical sciences” for purposes of these R25 programs?

A. The field of dentistry is part of the NIH biomedical research enterprise through the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). In order for an application to be eligible for NIDCD programs, it must fit the NIDCD’s mission and research areas: hearing, balance, taste, smell, voice, speech, and language. Applications that explore the intersection between NIDCD research areas and the field of dentistry could be a possibility. These types of applications must demonstrate their relevance to the NIDCD.

Q. Can I partner with other institutions?

A. Yes. If collaborations or partnerships are proposed, provide a detailed, logistically sound, and integrated plan across the partnering institutions to improve academic and research competitiveness for the participants.

Q. Do I need an evaluation plan?

A. Yes, a thorough plan for program evaluation must be provided.

Q. How large should my pool of participants be?

A. The size of the pool must be appropriate to the environment and resources available. Strong institutional support must be documented (see the FOAs).

Q. What if there are similar NIH-funded programs in my institution?

A. The proposed educational experiences must be distinct from those mentoring, research training, and research education programs at your institution that currently receive federal support. When research training programs are ongoing in the same department, the applicant organization should clearly distinguish between the activities in the proposed research education program and the research training supported by the training program. Applicants are encouraged to leverage existing institutional resources to maximize program benefits.

Q. What are allowable Appendix materials?

A. The following are allowable Appendix materials. Instructions provided here are in addition to the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide instructions.

  • Evaluation and Assessment Instruments. Applicants may provide blank surveys, rubrics, and/or forms used to (a) document and monitor trainee progress and (b) determine whether the program and its environment are effective, inclusive, safe, and supportive.
  • Research Education Outcomes. The application may provide information in table form on outcomes and subsequent educational/career progress as appropriate to career stage about recent (past 5 years) participants (including participants in a pilot program) and the pool of potential applicants, such as:
    • Aggregate number and demographic characteristics of participants.
    • Educational level of participants.
    • Successful completion of a graduate degree in an NIDCD mission-related field.
    • Subsequent authorship of scientific publications or scientific presentations to outside conferences in a biomedical field.
    • Subsequent participation in a formal research training or career development program in an NIDCD mission-related field.
    • Subsequent participation in research in an NIDCD mission-related field.
    • Subsequent employment or promotion in a research or research-related biomedical field.
    • Subsequent independent research grant support from NIH or another source.
  • Biosketches of Participating Faculty in NIH Format. They should include program role (i.e., preceptor, executive committee member, other committee member, other) and their mentoring record from the last 10 years: number currently in training, graduated/completed training, and continued in research or related careers.
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