Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research: FAQ’s

The following are frequently asked questions and answers regarding the NIGMS Diversity Supplement Program (DSP). See additional information on the DSP.

Answers to Questions Cover the Following Topics:

Eligibility Information

Who is eligible to be supported by a diversity supplement?

Candidates must be American citizens or permanent residents to be eligible for diversity supplement support. The DSP is designed to enhance diversity, e.g. by supporting individuals from groups underrepresented in the biomedical sciences on the national level (see NIH’s Interest in Diversity).

Which ethnic and racial groups are considered to be underrepresented on a national basis?

The National Science Foundation gathers national data on the representation of certain racial and ethnic groups in biomedical fields (see the most recent report on Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering Link to external web site​). According to these reports, the following racial and ethnic groups have been shown to be underrepresented in biomedical research: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. In addition, it is recognized that underrepresentation can vary from setting to setting; individuals from racial or ethnic groups that can be demonstrated convincingly to be underrepresented by the grantee institution are encouraged to participate in this program. For more information on racial and ethnic categories and definitions, see PA-18-906.

Are women considered underrepresented and therefore eligible for a diversity supplement?

In aggregate, women are not underrepresented at the career stages that NIGMS supports through the diversity supplement program. Applicants must provide a convincing case that women are underrepresented at the candidate’s career stage and field of study (e.g., physics, chemistry, computer science).

Are persons with disabilities eligible for supplements?

Yes. The principal investigator (PI) should address the disabled person's specific needs and how the proposed plan would address these needs.

Can a candidate for the DSP be supported by the parent grant at the time of application?

Generally, no. A goal of the program is to recruit and support individuals in need of training to the PI's lab. It is not intended to free up grant funds. Contact Dr. Desirée Salazar if there are extenuating circumstances.

How does available T32 training grant support affect eligibility for a diversity supplement?

NIGMS is strongly committed to the appointment of individuals from diverse backgrounds to foundational T32 training programs as these provide a structured, mentored program, with strong oversight for training students, and important cohort-building activities. If the candidate is currently appointed to a T32 grant, the student should remain on the training grant for the normal term of appointment and prepare for the transition to a fellowship, to support on the research mentor's research grant, or to some form of institutional support. Candidates previously supported by a T32 may be subsequently supported by a diversity supplement under some circumstances. It is recommended that students appointed to a diversity supplement at an institution with a related T32 program participate in any relevant T32 activities.

What academic levels does NIGMS support through the DSP?

NIGMS supports diversity supplements for individuals at the high school, undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, graduate (doctoral) student or postdoctoral fellow levels. At the investigator level, NIGMS only supports supplements for established investigators (PDs/PIs) who become disabled during the current project period. PDs/PIs in the situation may request funds for reasonable accommodations to permit completion of the currently funded research project.

Will NIGMS support more than one diversity supplement on a PI's grant?

NIGMS will consider supplemental support for multiple individuals at the undergraduate or high school level. Each request must be submitted as an individual application. Typically, we support one individual at the post-baccalaureate, doctoral student, or postdoctoral level per grant at a time. However, we may consider requests to support additional individuals on a case by case basis. Contact Dr. Desirée Salazar before submitting a request for support of a second individual. NIGMS also will allow diversity supplements to multiple grants to the same PI, when appropriate.

At what stage of a graduate students’ or fellow's training is it most appropriate to request a diversity supplement?

At the graduate student and postdoctoral levels, NIGMS emphasizes supporting individuals in the early stages of their training, generally in years 1-3, with an expectation that the individuals will then transition to traditional means of support appropriate for their stage of training. Support may be provided in more advanced stages on a case by case basis.

Which grant mechanisms are eligible for diversity supplements?

Active NIGMS research grants, program project grants, center grants or cooperative agreements with a reasonable period of research support remaining at the time of the supplemental award are eligible for an administrative diversity supplement. Grants should typically have at least 12 months remaining for undergrad and postbaccalaureate students and at least 24 months remaining for graduate students or postdoctoral fellows. SCORE (SCI, SC2 and SC3) and IDeA (COBRE and INBRE) grants are not eligible for diversity supplement support.

Are MIRA grants eligible for diversity supplements?

Yes.

Are multiple PI grants eligible for diversity supplements?

Yes. Either PI on a multiple PI grant can request a diversity supplement; the corresponding PI should submit the application.

Application Preparation

Whom do I contact about submitting an NIGMS diversity supplement application?

The PI should contact his or her NIGMS program officer and the Director of the NIGMS DSP, Dr. Desirée Salazar. It is important to ensure that your program officer is supportive of the request.

Can a PI's salary be requested on a diversity supplement?

NIGMS' policy is that a PI's salary is not an allowable cost on a diversity supplement.

What funds can be requested?

The allowable costs vary depending on the career stage of the candidate to be supported. Please see the FOA for further details. Section IV #6. https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-18-906.html#_Section_IV._Application_1​

How long should the request be for?

The request cannot exceed the length of time remaining on the parent grant and should be tailored to the student's training plan. The typical maximum award length is 24 months. Typically, a grant should have at least 2 years remaining to request a 24-month supplement for a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow. Request for at least 12 months are considered on a case by case basis. For high school, undergraduate or post-baccalaureate students, typically the grant should have at least 1 year remaining.

How should a candidate be supported once the diversity supplement ends?

NIGMS expects that individuals will transition to traditional means of support appropriate for their stage of development. Examples include support through the parent grant or other research grants, receipt of an individual fellowship, or institutional support until the proposed training is complete.

What should be included in the PI's training, mentoring, and career development plan?

See the detailed information at https://www.nigms.nih.gov/Research/mechanisms/Pages/NIGMS-DSP-Information.aspx​.

What should be included in the PI's personal statement?

The PI should state his/her personal philosophy of training and commitment to promoting diversity and describe his/her training history including a list of individuals trained and their subsequent career/professional outcomes. See the detailed information at https://www.nigms.nih.gov/Research/mechanisms/Pages/NIGMS-DSP-Information.aspx.

What should be included in the candidate's personal statement?

The candidate should describe their short and long-term education and career goals and why they wish to pursue a research career.

Can a PI request equipment for reasonable accommodations for a disability supplement?

Yes. Funds may be requested to make changes or adjustments in the research setting that will make it possible for a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions associated with his/her role on the project. The accommodations requested under this program must be directly related to the performance of the proposed role on the research project and must be appropriate to the disabilities of the individual. Some types of accommodations that might be provided under these awards include: specialized equipment, assistive devices, and personnel, such as readers, interpreters, or assistants. In all cases, the total funds for accommodations requested from the supplement must be reasonable in relationship to the direct costs of the parent grant and the nature of the supplement award.

Can a PI request only equipment for reasonable accommodations for a disability supplement?

Yes, however if the request is for the full amount of the equipment, the grantee must justify the cost amount as directly and solely related to the grant project. Information also should be provided describing what accommodations have been provided by the institution.

Submission and Review

Who submits the application, the person to be supported or the PI of the grant?

The PI of the grant and the grantee institution must submit the application on behalf of the individual. The PI should write the application. See the detailed information at https://www.nigms.nih.gov/Research/mechanisms/Pages/NIGMS-DSP-Information.aspx​.

How should an application be submitted?

Administrative supplement requests for all activity codes must be submitted using electronic submission processes. It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the Application Guide (SF42​4 (R&R) Application Guide, eRA Commons Administrative Supplement User Guide) except where instructed to do otherwise (in this FOA or in a Notice from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts). There are several options available to submit your application through Grants.gov to NIH and Department of Health and Human Services partners. NIGMS strongly encourages applicants to use the “Special Instructions for Streamlined Submission using the eRA Commons for electronic-based submission system” and the accompanying user’s guide.

When should an application be submitted?

Applications may be submitted at any time and are administratively reviewed within NIGMS on a continuous basis. The review process typically takes 12 weeks. Applications submitted in the current fiscal year that receive a favorable review will be funded in the same fiscal year, if funds and time remain available. If funds are no longer available in the current fiscal year, applications will be held for funding in the following fiscal year, with an earliest start date of December 1. After September 1 the next start date is December 1, start dates in October or November are not possible. Applicants requesting supplements to support a summer research experience are strongly encouraged to submit their applications no later than April 1, or at least 12 weeks before the desired start date to allow enough time for application review. We anticipate applicants will receive notification of a funding decision approximately 12 weeks after receipt of the application.

How are applications reviewed?

Applications are administratively reviewed by NIGMS staff members. Program staff members look at the appropriateness of the research project for both the candidate's goals, their training level, and the aims of the parent grant. In addition, great emphasis is placed on the quality of the training, mentoring and career development plans as well as the candidate's personal statement.

What are the chances of success in obtaining funding?

Detailed and personalized applications have a high success rate. However, the DSP is a competitive program and there may be more applications than funds available.

Post Award

What if the diversity supplement awardee receives a fellowship prior to the end of the supplement period?

If the fellowship begins prior to the end of the supplement period, the diversity supplement will need to be terminated and funds returned. If this happens, contact the director of the NIGMS DSP, Dr. Desirée Salazar, and your grants management specialist to begin the process.

What if the diversity supplement awardee leaves the lab or institution prior to the end of the supplement period?

The diversity supplement will need to be terminated early and any unspent funds returned. If this happens, contact the director of the NIGMS DSP, Dr. Desirée Salazar, and your grants management specialist to begin the process.

Can a diversity supplement be transferred to another individual?

No. Funds can only be used to support the individual listed in the application. If the awardee can no longer use the funds, the diversity supplement will need to be terminated early and any unspent funds returned. If this happens, contact the director of the NIGMS DSP, Dr. Desirée Salazar, and your grants management specialist to begin the process.

Can a diversity supplement be extended?

Rarely. In some cases, if a candidate has applied for independent funding but was not successful a short-term extension may be considered. These requests are typically considered at the end of the fiscal year. In such cases, contact NIGMS to request additional supplement support.