U-RISE (T34) Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is the U-RISE program?

The Undergraduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (U-RISE) (T34) is a program that seeks to develop a diverse pool of well-trained undergraduates who complete their baccalaureate degree with skills to successfully transition into and complete a biomedical research-focused higher degree program (e.g., Ph.D. or M.D./ Ph.D.).

I am a college student, how can I participate in the U-RISE program?

To be eligible for support through a U-RISE award, you must be a full-time undergraduate student majoring in the biomedical sciences—such as biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, psychology, etc. – and be attending a college or university that has a U-RISE grant. Your institution is responsible for selecting the students to be supported, so please apply directly through your institution. U-RISE appointments are usually made in 12-month increments, and are open to U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals or permanent residents of the United States.

Is prior approval required to submit an application seeking $500,000 or more in direct costs in any budget year?

No.

Is a Resource Sharing Plan required for applications seeking $500,000 or more in direct costs in any budget year?

Yes. Investigators seeking $500,000 or more in direct costs (exclusive of consortium F&A) in any budget period are expected to include a Resource Sharing Plan. Investigators are required to comply with the instructions for the Resource Sharing Plans as provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide. View a Sample Resource Sharing Plan.

Preparing and Submitting an Application

When are the application due dates?

The application due dates are May 21, 2020, and May 21, 2021.

Where can I find the U-RISE Program Announcement?

The U-RISE Program Announcement is PAR-19-218.

Can an institution apply for multiple TWD diversity enhancing undergraduate programs?

No, only one diversity enhancing undergraduate program is allowed per institution (e.g., either the Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) or U-RISE).

If my institution already has a non-NIGMS funded training program, can I still submit an application to develop a U-RISE program?

Yes, you can still apply for the U-RISE program. However, the need for the U-RISE should be justified in your application, for example, by explaining the ways that the U-RISE program plans to share resources and synergize with the other non-NIGMS training programs while remaining a distinct training program.

Can more than one department participate in the U-RISE grant proposal?

Yes. For multi-disciplinary and/or multi-departmental programs, the applicant should indicate how the individual disciplinary and/or departmental components of the program are integrated and coordinated, and how they will relate to an individual trainee’s experience.

How do I know if my institution’s average Research Project Grant (RPG) funding was less than $7.5 million total costs per year for the last three fiscal years?

RPG funding can be determined by visiting the NIH RePORTER website. Please reference this PDF for step-by-step instructions on how to submit your funding query through the NIH RePORTER website.

How should one determine the number of slots to request for a U-RISE program?

The number of slots requested should reflect the applicant pool determined by the institutional capabilities. Applicants should only request slots which they can fill. Please note that NIGMS expects to fund U-RISE programs between 4 and 35 trainees per year.

What is meant by “biomedical and behavioral research”?

Biomedical and behavioral research is defined as scientific investigations in the biological, behavioral, clinical, social, physical, chemical, computational, engineering, mathematical sciences, and other relevant disciplines.

It is important to note that this program supports students interested in research degrees not professional degrees (M.D., D.M.D., Pharm.D., Psy.D., etc).

Is a Biographical Sketch (Biosketch) required from every proposed program faculty/mentor?

Yes, a Biosketch is required from every proposed program faculty and mentor. Although the Personal Statement does not have to be U-RISE specific, it should describe a commitment to scientific rigor, research training, and mentoring, as well as to promoting inclusive and supportive scientific environments.

Which tables are required in the application?

The following tables are required:

  • Table 2: Participating Faculty Members
  • Table 3: Federal Institutional Research Training Grant and Related Support Available to Participating Faculty Members
  • Table 4: Research Support of Participating Faculty Members
  • Table 5C: Publications of Those in Training: Undergraduate
  • Table 8D Part II: Program Outcomes: Undergraduate, Recent Graduates.

A summary of key data from the tables should also be included in the narrative of the application. Please reference https://grants.nih.gov/grants/forms/data-tables.htm for sample tables and blank tables.

Are there any suggested data tables that may be included in addition to the required tables?

Yes, there are three suggested data tables:

  • Suggested Table Format A.1: Undergraduates and Faculty in Participating Biomedical Departments and Interdepartmental Programs
  • Suggested Table Format A.2: Student Population Characteristics
  • Suggested Table Format A.3: Undergraduate Graduation Rates
  • Suggested Table Format B.1: Trainee Outcomes

A summary of the key data from the suggested tables should also be included in the narrative of the application. Please reference U-RISE (T34) Sample Format Tables for Competing New (Type 1) Applications for sample tables and blank tables.

What is required in the appendix?

Three materials are required in the appendix: (Please see the FOA for details)

  • Required Training Activities
  • Responsible Conduct of Research Syllabi
  • Trainee Selection and Appointment Procedures (3 pages maximum)

Applications that are non-compliant due to missing required and/or exceeding the allowable appendices or the page limitations will not be reviewed.

In addition to the three required appendix items listed above, may anything else be included in the appendix?

Three additional materials are allowable in the appendix:

  • Elective Activities
  • Evaluation and Assessment Instruments (Blank rubrics and forms)
  • Conflict Resolution Protocols (3 pages maximum)

Applications that exceed the allowable appendices or the page limitations will not be reviewed.

What is the purpose of the evaluation?

The purpose of the evaluation is to provide information on the effectiveness of the program, explain how the Program Director(s)/ Principal Investigator(s) will share the outcomes of the training or mentoring interventions, and explain the plan to effectively track trainee and career outcomes.

Applicants should note that program evaluation costs are allowed up to a maximum of $3,000 for the 5-year project period.

Who should be the program evaluator?

In general, the evaluator (either external or from the applicant institution) must have training and experience in evaluation methodology and statistics. The specific tools to be used in the evaluation (e.g., surveys, interviews, databases) will dictate the specific skills needed.

How can an institution provide research experiences to U-RISE trainees?

Institutions proposing research experiences must demonstrate that U-RISE trainees will have meaningful research experiences in the laboratory of an active investigator who has extramural support and is actively publishing in peer-reviewed journals. Details on how U-RISE trainees will select a research laboratory or be matched with a mentor must be provided in the application, as well as the number of hours that the student will spend in the laboratory, what the research experience will consist of, and what the student is expected to learn or accomplish.

The TWD Division recognizes that some U-RISE-eligible institutions may not have enough active researchers with extramural funding to support on-campus research experiences. However, such institutions could create a biomedical interdisciplinary research training classroom/laboratory/course, as well as establish collaborative arrangements with research institutions that have a significant number of mentors with NIH or other extramural research support to have their students benefit from off-campus research experiences, especially during the summer. Thus, each U-RISE program is strongly encouraged to establish collaborations with institutions that have research-intensive environments (i.e., NIGMS IMSD and/or T32 institutions) in order to facilitate the networking and transition of U-RISE-supported students to T32 training programs, as well as to magnify the institutional impact of the program. See information about NIGMS training programs (T32).

Can an adjunct or retired faculty member be the Program Director (PD) or Principal Investigator (PI)?

No. The PD(s)/ PI(s) should have a regular full-time appointment (i.e., not adjunct, part-time, retired, or emeritus) at the applicant institution. NIGMS encourages multiple PDs/ PIs, particularly when each brings a unique perspective and skill set that will enhance training. At least one of the training PDs/PIs should be an established investigator in the biomedical sciences and capable of providing both administrative and scientific leadership to the development and implementation of the proposed program. Additional PD(s)/PI(s), including individuals with experience in the science of education, relevant social science disciplines, program evaluation, mentoring, and university administration may be included to achieve the training goals.

Is it required that the Program Director (PD)/ Principal Investigator (PI) has mentoring experience?

Although this experience is not required, applications submitted by individuals with a history of mentoring, research funding, and leadership experience are typically scored more favorably by reviewers.


Resubmission of Applications

When are the resubmission due dates?

The resubmission due dates are May 21, 2020 and May 21, 2021.

Where does an applicant respond to the comments of the reviewers?

The applicant should acknowledge the reviewer's concerns and issues in the Introduction section (limited to three pages, see Form SF424 instructions), and explain how the revised application is different from the previous application. Changes to the application in response to the critiques should be highlighted by change in font or indentation as outlined in the instructions. If the applicant does not agree with a reviewer's comments, the rationale for disagreeing with the reviewer should be explained. The concerns and issues are noted in the Resume and Summary of Discussion section and/or under each reviewer's critique of the summary statement.


Budget, Stipends, and Fees

What is the maximum project period?

The maximum project period is five years.

Is the application budget limited?

Application budgets are not limited, but they need to reflect the actual needs of the proposed project. Please note that NIGMS expects to fund programs between 4 and 35 trainees per year, as appropriate to the institutional capabilities.

What is the length of student support from U-RISE funding?

Students may be supported on U-RISE funding for 2-3 years. Support for students is allowed in the form of a stipend.

Can students supplement their U-RISE stipend by applying for other federally sponsored training awards?

Students may not concurrently hold another federally sponsored award that duplicates U-RISE support.

What is covered by the U-RISE stipend for students?

The U-RISE stipends are Kirschstein-NRSA awards, which are intended to provide a subsistence allowance to help defray living expenses during the research training experience. Stipend levels, as well as funding amounts for tuition and fees, are announced annually in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, and also posted on the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) webpage.

Are the GRE and graduate school application fees included in allowable costs?

The GRE and graduate school application fees are allowable as long as the institution has consistency in paying for this type of the cost. If the institution pays for the GRE and graduate school application fees for trainees regardless of the trainee’s source of support, and the cost conforms to the institution’s established written policy, these would be an allowable costs. Please review the cost principles as detailed in the NIH Grants Policy Statement for additional information.

Can trainees use U-RISE funds for travel?

Yes, certain types of travel are allowed. NIGMS will provide up to $1,000 per trainee to travel to scientific meetings or training experiences that will enhance scientific development, build science identity, create a sense of belonging in the scientific community, and build professional networks. For U-RISE-supported institutions outside the continental United States, $1,250 for travel per trainee will be provided.

Can U-RISE funds be used for summer research experiences?

Yes, for summer research experiences, the following can be provided: $3,000 per U-RISE trainee, to be used in accordance with the institutional policies as a as a per diem for a period of up to ten weeks, and an additional $500 for travel to and from the host research training.

NIGMS provides funds for the summer research training experience for up to 50 percent of the awarded number of U-RISE trainees at the time a competing award is made. For additional budget guidance on the U-RISE summer research requirement, see T34 Summer Research Experience Policy.

Are U-RISE trainees required to participate in an external Summer Research Experience at a research-intensive institution?

Yes. U-RISE trainees must complete at least one Summer Research Experience at a research-intensive institution.

Can U-RISE trainees receive Summer Research Experience funding if they are participating in summer research at their home institution?

No, only trainees participating in external summer research experiences can receive funding. Note - NIGMS provides funds for the summer research training experience for up to 50 percent of the awarded number of U-RISE trainees at the time a competing award is made. For additional budget guidance on the U-RISE summer research requirement, see T34 Summer Research Experience Policy.

Can funds be requested to pay for trainee activities prior to the appointment of trainees, such as pre-U-RISE activities or a pre-U-RISE seminar series?

No, training-related expenses (TRE) funds are only for the support of participating trainees. No TRE funds can be allocated if there are no participating trainees. If trainees are appointed during the pre-U-RISE seminar series, the only amount that can be charged to the grant is the portion of the series that overlaps with the trainee appointments.

​What is the maximum amount of training-related expenses (TRE) allowed?

Training-related expenses (TRE) are limited to a maximum of $10,000 per trainee per year.

What expenses may be considered training-related expenses (TRE)?

TRE funds may be used for costs associated with skills development training activities, seminar speakers, and with training or mentoring interventions. Up to $3,000 for the 5-year training grant period can be used for program evaluation costs, and other program-related expenses may be included with the budget for training-related expenses. TRE funds may be used for personnel costs/ staff salary (see below for additional details).

What is the typical length of salary support that TRE funds may be used for?

Typically, the salary support for the PD/PI/ co-Investigators (or a combination of multiple PD(s)/PI(s)/ co-investigators) does not exceed 1.8 person months in total, depending on the program size and scope. The total combined salary support for other administrative personnel (e.g., program administrator/ program coordinator and/or program assistant/ clerical support) typically does not exceed 3.0 person months, depending on the program size and scope.

Can faculty be compensated for their participation in the Program?

Compensation to faculty for program related effort not already covered by the faculty members typical duties is allowable from TRE. These expenses must be justified as specifically required by the proposed program and must not duplicate items generally available at the applicant institution​.


Funding and Review

What is a fundable priority score? How are the funding decisions made for a U-RISE application?

There is no predetermined fundable score for a U-RISE application. Applications compete for available funds with all other recommended applications from eligible institutions. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

  • Scientific merit of the proposed project as determined by peer review.
  • Availability of funds.
  • Relevance to program priorities.
  • Research education development needs of the institution.
  • Geographical distribution.
  • Portfolio balance.
For more information visit NIGMS Funding Policies.

What review committee will review the U-RISE applications?

U-RISE applications will be reviewed by one of two standing NIGMS review committees: TWD-C and TWD-D. These committees are equivalent, and applications are assigned to one of the two to balance conflicts and workload.

Where can I find my score and summary statement after the review?

Scores and summary statements can be accessed through the Principal Investigator’s (PI’s) eRA Commons account.

Will a late application still be reviewed?

No. NIGMS cannot accept any missing items or applications after the receipt deadline. Please be sure to allow enough time to carefully check your application after submission. Early submissions are allowed and encouraged.

What is the usual timeline for the review process?

Generally, the review process timeline takes about 9 to 10 months. The first 1 to 2 months are for referral, then the review panel will be assigned applications, conduct reviews and hold the review meeting after 2 to 6 months. Summary statements should be available approximately 6 to 7 months after submission, and then funding decisions are made after the advisory council meeting, approximately 8 to 9 months after the submission date.


Trainees

Who is eligible to participate in the U-RISE program?

To receive salary support from the U-RISE program, students must be U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals or permanent residents and must be matriculated full-time in baccalaureate or graduate degree programs in biomedical science fields at the applicant institution. (A non-citizen national is a person who, although not a citizen of the U.S., owes permanent allegiance to the U.S. This is generally a person born in a land that is not a state, but that is under U.S. sovereignty, jurisdiction, or administration—for example, American Samoa.) An individual lawfully admitted for permanent residence must possess an alien registration receipt card (I-551) prior to appointment on the grant. Individuals on temporary visas, those seeking asylum or refugees are not eligible for support from the U-RISE program.

What academic level should be considered for NIGMS diversity-enhancing biomedical research undergraduate training programs?

Recruitment depends on the institutional situation and the students’ experiences. NIGMS believes that students will benefit from being involved in research programs as early as Sophomore year. Literature shows that the earlier a student starts, the farther they may go in their graduate career and the more prepared they are for graduate school.

Is it required that programs appoint students in eRA Commons before adding the students to xTrain?

Yes, all U-RISE trainees must have an appointment form submitted through the eRA Commons to xTrain before they may receive their stipend.

If a trainee cannot continue for the full grant period, is it necessary to update xTrain?

Yes, if trainees cannot continue in the grant program for the full appointment period, an amended appointment must be submitted to xTrain with the correct appointment period. Please see: https://era.nih.gov/help-tutorials/xtrain?q=services_for_applicants/other/xTrain.cfm for more details.

What is the average length of an appointment for a U-RISE trainee?

Appointments are generally made in 12-month increments. Students may be supported on U-RISE funding for up to three years

Who should an applicant contact for additional questions regarding the U-RISE program institutional eligibility, policies, review process, budget, and grants issues?

For institutional eligibility and program policies regarding proposal application and submission, please contact: Kenneth Gibbs, Ph.D. and Edgardo Falcón-Morales, Ph.D.

For questions about grants issues, please contact: Justin Rosenzweig.

For questions about the review process, please contact: Lee Slice, Ph.D. and Tracy Koretsky, Ph.D.