Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about PREP relate to the follow?in?g topics:

Program Expectations and Requirements

The Overachieving Objective of PREP is to develop a diverse pool of well-trained postbaccalaureate participants who will transition into and complete rigorous biomedical, research-focused doctoral degree programs (e.g., Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D.) in biomedical fields relevant to the NIGMS mission.

PREP provides institutions the resources to support and provide research experiences and courses for skills development to research-oriented postbaccalaureate participants from diverse backgrounds who upon completion of a one-year research education program are likely to successfully transition into and complete rigorous research-focused doctoral degree programs (e.g., Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D.) in biomedical fields relevant to the NIGMS mission.

PREP participants will be required to work as research postbaccalaureates at 9 person-months (75% full-time) effort, with the other 3 person-months (25% full-time effort) devoted to further skills development. The academic preparations may include courses, workshops, seminars, supplemental instruction, or lectures that will enhance the technical, operational and professional skills of the participants. The courses taken should be appropriate to the requirements for admission to, and successful completion of rigorous biomedical research-focused doctoral degree programs.

As postbaccalaureate scientists, the participants will be involved in independent research projects where they will learn to develop and answer scientific questions, allowing them to experience the fulfillment of discovery as scientists. The research environment should be inclusive, supportive and safe, and should include opportunities for the participants to interact with doctoral student peers, postdoctoral researchers, and other investigators who could contribute to their growth and will allow them to thrive in rigorous doctoral programs.

It is the expectation that most PREP participants will transition to a rigorous biomedical, research-focused doctoral degree program following a one-year postbaccalaureate experience. NIGMS also recognizes that each participant has individual strengths and areas of academic development, and that a one-year program may not be sufficient for some to fully prepare to be competitive for a rigorous biomedical, research-focused doctoral degree program. Therefore, a second year of support is allowable at the discretion of the PREP Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) if within the awarded costs of a particular program. The second-year experience must enhance participants' competitiveness to enter a rigorous doctoral program and not simply allow participants more time to decide if they wish to obtain a graduate degree or to explore other career options.

Since PREP participants should have an interest in obtaining a research-focused higher doctoral degree as a condition of enrollment in the program, NIGMS expects that a successful PREP will provide the knowledge and skills such that the vast majority (e.g., greater than 75%) of its participants enter such programs within two years of completing PREP. Furthermore, with this expertise and experience, NIGMS expects that PREP participants who enter research-focused higher doctoral degree programs will complete the degree at rates comparable to or greater than students in similar disciplines at their institutions. Applicant institutions should design their program strategies within the context of the NIGMS's expectations and in line with their institutional settings and missions.

It is also anticipated that institutional PREP awards will help awardee institutions in achieving greater diversity in their doctoral programs, either through institutional change fostered by experience with the PREP program and/or through recruitment of successful PREP participants into those programs.


Institutional eligibility is specified in the PREP notice of funding opportunity. PREP is limited to research-intensive institutions (i.e., those with NIH research project grant (RPG) funding averaging greater than or equal to $7.5 million in total costs per year over the last three fiscal years) that have strong biomedical Ph.D. degree programs in NIGMS mission areas. That is, institutions that are eligible for MARC or IMSD are eligible to apply, but those that are eligible for U-RISE or G-RISE are not eligible.

NIGMS encourages applications from highly research-intensive institutions (i.e., those with an average of NIH funding greater than or equal to $20 million total costs per year over the last three fiscal years) that have a significant number of faculty mentors with active and extramurally funded research programs (e.g., R01, R35 or equivalent awards) and robust research education environments.

Institutions can assess their eligibility by using NIH RePORT.

In order to receive salary support, the participant must be a citizen or a noncitizen national of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence at the time of appointment. Additionally, participants must have a baccalaureate degree in a biomedically relevant science from an accredited college or university awarded no more than 36 months prior to applying to a PREP, and must not be currently enrolled in a degree program. Parental, medical, or other well-justified leave for personal or family situations is not included in the 3-year eligibility limit, nor is national service (e.g., Peace Corps, or service in the National Guard or Armed Forces Reserves). All individuals selected as participants should intend to apply to research-focused biomedical doctoral degree programs (e.g., Ph.D. or M.D.-Ph.D.) during or immediately following completion of the research education program.

The overarching goal of this program is to develop a diverse pool of well-trained postbaccalaureate participants who will transition into and complete rigorous biomedical, research-focused higher degree doctoral programs (e.g., see the Notice of NIH's Interest in Diversity). For the purpose of this announcement, institutions are strongly encouraged to identify candidates who will enhance diversity on a national basis. 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 should be encouraged to participate in this program.

No. The individual participant development plan must be designed such that participants will have to carry out and finish a research project as well as take courses, workshops and/or supplemental instruction that will allow them to enhance their research skills and academic credentials within a 1-year period.

As described above, a second year of support is allowable at the discretion of the PREP Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) if within the awarded costs of a particular program. The second-year experience must enhance participants' competitiveness to enter a rigorous doctoral program and not simply allow participants more time to decide if they wish to obtain a graduate degree or to explore other career options.

Applications that propose two-year programs for all participants will generally be considered a low priority for funding.


The PD(s)/PI(s) must be able to provide both administrative and scientific leadership to the development and implementation of the proposed program. At least one of the PD(s)/PI(s) should be an investigator with an active research program in the biomedical sciences (e.g., as demonstrated by recent publications and current research support). Additional PD(s)/PI(s), including individuals with experience in the science of education, relevant social science disciplines, program evaluation, mentoring, diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) work, or university administration may be included to achieve the program goals. Any of the PD(s)/PI(s) may serve as the contact PD/PI.

Yes. Program faculty are considered to be key personnel and assigned the role of Other: Program Faculty, and their biosketches must be included after those of the PD/PIs and any other key staff members. Faculty biosketches should describe the faculty member's commitment to mentoring and promoting diversity in the biomedical sciences.

No. Programs are expected to have mentors from a broad range of biomedical disciplines relevant to the NIGMS mission to provide a breadth of research experiences to participants. Proposed programs focused in a single discipline (e.g., neuroscience, immunology, etc.) will be low priority for funding.

PREP institutions may request support for up to ten postbaccalaureate positions per year.

Total direct costs are limited to $400,000 annually.

Yes. The application must include:

  • Institutional Support Letter. The application must include a signed letter on institutional letterhead from a President, Provost, Dean, or similar key institutional leader that describes the activities and resources provided by the institution that will ensure the success of the planned research education program and its participants (10 page maximum). See the NOFO for more details.
  • Institutional Eligibility Letter. (1-page maximum). The Authorized Organization Representative/Business Official or similar official with institution-wide responsibility must certify that all the components of the institution under the applicant DUNS number together have received support from the NIH greater than or equal to an average of $7.5 million per year (in both direct and F&A/indirect costs) in the past 3 fiscal years.

Applications lacking either the Institutional Support Letter or Institutional Eligibility Letter will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed.

Yes. Additional letters of support (such as those from partner institutions or organizations) are permitted; however, these letters may not contain any information required in the Institutional Support Letter.

When applicants name specific institutions or programs they plan to partner with for recruitment, reviewers often expect to see a letter of support.

Yes. The Research Education Program Plan must include the following components described below:

  • Proposed Research Education Program
  • Program Director/Principal Investigator
  • Program Faculty
  • Program Participants
  • Recruitment Plan to Enhance Diversity
  • Plan for Instruction in Methods for Enhancing Reproducibility
  • Plan for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Evaluation Plan
  • Dissemination Plan

Applications lacking any required component will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed. Common issues that may lead to withdrawal are described here; although written about other funding mechanisms, the same information is applicable for PREP.

Applicants should include the following baseline information:

Current Status of the Graduate Biomedical Science Academic Programs: Describe the size of the graduate student body (Ph.D. level) in biomedically relevant disciplines. Provide institutional data on Ph.D. student enrollment from the last five years and indicate the percentage of students from underrepresented groups. Provide the number of Ph.D. students (overall and underrepresented groups) from the participating departments or programs, and their graduation rates for the most recent 5-year period for which you have complete data. For example, if your biomedical Ph.D. programs' average time to degree is 6 years and you have data through 2022, present number of students and graduation rates for cohorts that entered from 2012 – 2016. Present this data in table format within the text (not in the appendix or with the required data tables).

Applicants should read the entire NOFO and review criteria closely to ensure they are all addressing all criteria by which the application will be reviewed.

No. NIGMS considers many factors when making funding decisions:

  • Scientific and technical merit of the proposed project as determined by scientific peer review.
  • Availability of funds.
  • Relevance of the proposed project to program priorities (e.g., breadth of disciplines in the NIGMS mission represented by the proposed program).
  • Contributions to portfolio breadth and diversity as outlined in the NIGMS Strategic Plan [PDF]

Unallowable Costs

The following items are unallowable costs for the PREP:

  • Housing, food, or recruitment expenses of any kind
  • Support for faculty mentors' research, time or effort
  • Support for participant research costs
  • Participant support in the form of a "stipend" (note: "stipend" differs from "salary/wages," which is allowable)
  • Faculty mentors' time or effort compensation
  • Cost of workshops or courses with a limited focus of preparation for a specific test (e.g., GRE, MCAT)
  • Foreign travel by PD(s)/PI(s), faculty, coordinators, research mentors, or PREP participants
  • Equipment for participant research
  • Alterations and renovations
  • Consortium/contractual arrangements

Other prohibited costs See: 45 CFR §75, Subpart E "Cost Principles"

Award and Noncompeting Annual Progress Report

No, you can only appoint the number allotted for the program in the notice of award with NIGMS funds. Request for additional participants must be discussed with the designated TWD Program Director.

Progress Reports must be submitted following the Streamlined Noncompeting Award Process (SNAP) as defined by the NIH Grants Policy Statement. Information about eSNAP is available on the eRA Commons Web site. If your institution has never used eSNAP before, review the eSNAP User Guide [PDF, 1MB] as it has information on how to enable the eSNAP feature for your institution as well as step-by-step instructions on how to submit your annual progress reports electronically.

The progress report should summarize the progress achieved in the reporting period with respect to the PREP program goals. The narrative part is limited to three pages and numerical and other data may be presented in tabular form (tables and figures are not included in the three-page limit). Follow instructions for the e-SNAP as well as the NIH Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) Instruction Guide [PDF, 2.4 MB].

Yes. PREP programs must submit a Trainee Diversity Report [PDF, 162KB] and NRSA Training Table 8D (Undergraduate Programs).

For Training Table 8, we encourage grantees to use specific language for the “initial position” and “current position” columns. That is, reviewers tend to find the word “student” (or even “graduate student”) ambiguous, so we recommend using specific language to describe the program they are in (e.g., “PhD Student,” or “MD/PhD Student,” etc.) in describing positions of PREP participants.

Please use this sample table as a template:

Table 8D. Program Outcomes: Undergraduate
Part I. Those Appointed to the Training Grant

TraineeFaculty MemberStart DateSummary of Support During TrainingDegree(s) Received and Year(s)Topic of Research ProjectInitial PositionCurrent PositionSubsequent Grant(s)/Role/Year Awarded
Marc GonzalezAndrea Bradley6/2008TY1: GM R25BS 2007
MD/PhD 2020
Therapeutic potential of cell signaling in Alzheimer diseaseMD/PhD student
UCLA School of Medicine
Further Training
Medical Resident
Dept. of Neurology
Cedars-Sinai Hospital
Further Training
Gina JohnsonRichard Vasquez6/2010TY1: GM R25BS 2010
MS 2013
Viral infectionsMaster's student
Vanderbilt University
Further Training
PhD student
Northwestern University
Further Training
GM F31/PI/2018-2020
Ryan PhelpsDan Smith6/2011TY1: GM R25
TY2: Univ S
BS 2010
PhD 2020
Circadian rhythms, sleep & metabolismPhD student
Further Training
Postdoctoral Scholar
Weill Cornell Medical School
Further training
Nina ByrdEric Hoops6/2012TY1: GM R25BS 2012
MS 2015
Nuclear pore formationPhD student
Biological Sciences
Baylor University
Further Training
Catherine GomezNoreen Hughes6/2021TY1: GM R25BS 2020Ribosomal protein synthesisIn training

Yes. The NIH Public Access Policy requires that any publications of individuals supported by a grant be linked to the grant and have a PMCID number. Each PREP scholar’s publications that were published during a reporting period must be included in the progress report under Section C.1 Publications, and must include a PMCID number; non-compliance could delay the start of the next award. Visit the Public Access Policy Website for more details.

The institutional business official should send a request for change to the grants management specialist for the award, copying the TWD Program Director.

Include rationale for the change, the new PI's biosketch, an updated “Other Support” page for each PI including the level of effort proposed for the grant and Information regarding any impact which the proposed request may have to the grant's budget. If the award is a multi-PI award, include a multiple PI leadership plan.

NIH expects that institutions will disclose whether a change of recipient organization is occurring within the context of an ongoing or recent investigation of misconduct of any kind, including but not limited to professional misconduct or research misconduct.

As the Award Ends

While funds awarded for any year should be spent in that grant year, PREPs now have expanded authority, meaning that unobligated unspent funds for a particular year can be carried over into a new budget period. These funds can be rebudgeted within the scope of the PREP program; however, the PI/PD must contact their TWD program official to rebudget any funds originally requested for program-supported participants (e.g. PREP scholar salaries/fringe benefits, tuition, travel etc.). Recipients must be sure to address Section G.10 (Unobligated Balance) in the RPPR, if applicable.

The grantee institution has the authority to extend the final budget period of the project using eRA Commons for up to 12 months if the request is submitted on or before the anniversary date of the parent grant and there is no change in the scope of the program. Additional extensions require NIH approval and will be considered if no additional funds are required.

Generally, only existing program participants can be supported while a grant is on a no-cost extension. Consideration may be given (1) if the program has existing funds to support the new students for a minimum of 12 months, (2) there is a plan to submit a renewal or new application to continue the program, and (3) there is evidence of appropriate program management and successful outcomes. The PI should contact the Program Officer and Grants Management Specialist for prior approval.