NIH: Research Education Program Funding Opportunities

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research Education Program (R25) supports research educational activities that complement other formal training programs in the mission areas of the NIH institutes and centers. Additionally, the program goals include an effort to enhance the biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research workforce; recruit individuals with specific specialty or disciplinary backgrounds to research careers in biomedical, behavioral, and clinical sciences; and foster a better understanding of this research and its implications.

Several of the institutes recently released funding opportunity announcement seeking applications for activities related to their research domains.

NIMH Research Education Mentoring Program for HIV/AIDS Researchers

The NIH National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) R25 program is designed to support educational activities that complement and/or enhance the training of a workforce to meet the biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research needs with the goal of advancing the priorities outlined in the Office of AIDS Research (OAR) Annual Strategic Plan and the NIMH Division of AIDS Research (DAR). Accordingly, NIMH released a funding opportunity announcement (FOA), NIMH Research Education Mentoring Program for HIV/AIDS Researchers (PAR-15-145), designed to support creative educational activities with a primary focus on Mentoring Activities and Research Experiences that capitalize on existing networks of collaborating investigators or develop institute-based research education programs. The FOA emphasizes that mentoring activities are expected to be primary and the “cornerstone of proposed programs through all programs must also provide research experiences.” The scope of the mentoring activities are expected to be designed to advance the career goals of participants, including promoting successful transitions from one career stage to the next and providing opportunities for the development of leadership skills. Similarly, research experiences should be tailored to the needs and career level of participants, including providing research experiences that are not available at the home institution of the participants. It should also identify potential collaborators for expanding research experience beyond the participation in this education program.

NHLBI Summer Institute for Research Education in Biostatistics

The NIH National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute is seeking applications for its Summer Institute Research Education in Biostatistics funding opportunity announcement (RFA-HL-16-017). The announcement is designed to enhance the training of quantitatively oriented students to encourage pursuit of advanced degrees in biostatistics-related fields for a career in biomedical and biostatistical research.

NHLBI emphasizes that biostatistics is a “fundamental scientific component of biomedical and public health research” and highlighted the increased demand for biostatisticians. The Institute’s objective for the announcement is to support awards to teach summer courses in biomedical statistics for advanced undergraduates and beginning graduate students designed to encouraged them to pursue careers in biostatistics. NHLBI is seeking programs that comprise an innovative introduction to some basics of probability, and statistical reasoning applied to the design and analysis of data from studies including those of the heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders. The announcement emphasizes that an essential aspect of the course will be the training in problem solving and hands-on experience through a research project with analysis of real data. Examples of concepts expected to be covered and the approach to be used in their assignment include: descriptive statistics, drawing random samples from data sets and computing measures of central tendency and sample proportions, using epidemiology cohort study data sets to demonstrate the concept of adjusted rates of disease incidence and mortality, providing a classroom exposition of some of the details underlying the results of an actual epidemiologic cohort study reported in the media, and reviewing published studies where flawed analyses have produced misleading results.

The announcement notes that individuals designing, directing, and implementing the research education program may request salary and fringe benefits appropriate for the person months devoted to the program.

NIDDK Research Education Program Grants for Curriculum Development, Skills Development, and Summer Research Experience

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) is seeking proposals for a series of R25s: (1) Research Education Program Grants for Curriculum Development (PAR-15-138), (2) Research Education Program Grants for Courses for Skills Development (PAR-16-139), and (3) Research Education Program Grants for Summer Experiences (PAR-15-140).

Examples of specific programmatic themes for the announcements include, but are not limited to, specific disease processes of interest to the Institute (e.g. diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases, obesity, cystic fibrosis, hepatitis, renal diseases, urologic or hematological disorders); the translation of basic science discoveries to patient care; the relationships of specific organ systems to health and illness; the appreciation and integration of whole animal physiology in current biomedical research; and the development of therapeutics related to diseases relevant to NIDDK.

The announcement stresses that while the proposed research education program may complement ongoing research and education occurring at the applicant institute, the proposed educational experiences must be distinct from those research training and research education programs currently receiving federal support. With regards to the research experience, for undergraduates the programs are to provide hands-on exposure to research, reinforce their intent to graduate with a science degree, and/or to prepare them for graduate school admissions and/or careers in research. For graduate and medical, dental, nursing and other health professional students, the programs are to provide research experiences and related training not available through formal NIH training mechanisms. The announcement notes that applications proposing a summer research experience may expand an existing summer educational program as long as the expanded scope includes experiences relevant to NIDDK’s research mission.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 24), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

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