What are NIH training grants?

National Research Service Award (NRSA) Institutional Research Training Grant (T32) and Short-Term Institutional Research Training Grant (T35) provide domestic, nonprofit, and private or public graduate-level academic institutions with funds for training predoctoral and postdoctoral candidates.

Senior investigators who head research or training programs at an institution generally apply for these grants. Trainees must be U.S. citizens, noncitizen nationals, or permanent residents with a valid Alien Registration Receipt Card (Form I-551). People on temporary or student visas are not eligible. 

Postdoctoral trainees on T32 grants must repay the government for their grant support. This isn't like paying off a loan; your debt is one of time and effort, not money. You can pay it off by continuing to work on the project for which you were funded.

During the first year of your appointment, you'll owe one month of payback for every month you're supported by NIH funds. After the first year, you can start paying back. For every month you continue to work—even with funding—you pay back one month of your debt. If your training lasts two years, your obligation will be paid in full.

If your project loses funding after the first year, you can complete your payback through continued research or teaching on at least a half-time basis (20 hours per week). Unless there are serious extenuating circumstances, you must complete the payback within two years after termination of support.

If you fail to repay your obligation within two years, you'll owe the government the full amount of your grant, plus interest. If you don't perform the research or teaching necessary for payback, make sure you'll have the money to reimburse the government for your grant.

How Long Does Support Last?

NIAID awards T32s for five years, with the chance to renew. We make awards annually, with further support contingent on performance and funding availability.

Trainee appointments are usually in one-year increments; new appointments must be at least nine months except when we've approved a short-term training position. A trainee can remain in a program for a maximum of five years for predoctoral trainees; three years for postdoctoral trainees. T35s may be awarded for periods up to five years and are renewable. Trainees must pursue research training for two to three months on a full-time basis, devoting at least 40 hours per week to the program.

What Do Training Funds Pay For?

T32 and T35 grants provide funds for

  • Stipends—Salary Caps, Stipends & Training Funds for details.
  • Facilities and administrative costs based on eight percent of modified total direct costs. State and local government agencies may request full reimbursement.
  • Tuition and fees
    • Predoctoral trainees—60 percent of level requested by applicant institution, up to $16,000 per year; 60 percent up to $21,000 for formally combined dual-degree training.
    • Postdoctoral trainees—60 percent of level requested by applicant institution, up to $4,500 per year; 60 percent up to $16,000 for formally combined dual-degree training.
  • Trainee travel, including attendance at vital scientific meetings. We do not set a limit on how much you can request, though the norm is $1,000 for each trainee.
  • Training-related expenses—including administrative support, health insurance, and research supplies—of $4,200 a year per predoctoral trainee and $11,850 a year per postdoctoral trainee.
  • On a case-by-case basis, institutional costs for accommodating disabled trainees in addition to usual costs paid by training-related expenses.

Note on effort requirement: Trainee appointments require full-time effort, 12 person months a year. In addition to the full-time training, trainees may spend on average, an additional 25 percent of their time (e.g., 10 hours a week) in part-time research, teaching, or clinical employment, so long as those activities do not interfere with, or lengthen, the duration of their NRSA training.  

Qualifying for a Training Grant

A successful institutional candidate for a training grant must provide an outstanding research and academic environment, with suitable staff and facilities. The institution's proposed training program director must be an established, well-recognized scientist, generally with the rank of professor or equivalent, who offers a long training track record.

Another key element is a critical mass of fairly senior scientists in the research area who can demonstrate a publications history and funding from NIH, NSF, HHMI, or similar agencies. Too many junior scientists or those without grants may negatively influence the overall impact score and chances of funding.

Peer reviewers consider the records of past trainees or graduates, who should demonstrate strong academic ability. Programs that accept students with less-than-stellar GRE scores, for instance, fare worse in peer review than a program with strict admissions criteria.

Successful applicant institutions offer a track record of past trainees who publish, obtain funding, and enjoy distinguished scientific positions. Reviewers highly rate an adequate supply of high-quality potential trainees with genuine interest in research and appropriate academic prerequisites.

Applying for a Training Grant

Submit your application electronically using the NIH Application Submission System and Interface for Submission Tracking (ASSIST) or another of the NIH Submission Options. Check with the office to see what approach it uses. Follow the instructions in your funding opportunity announcement and the supplemental instructions for T applications in the SF 424 Application Guide.

NIAID accepts training grant applications on January 25 and September 25 for non-AIDS and January 7 and May 7 for AIDS-related, an exception to the regular NIH schedule of three annual receipt dates. Other ICs may have different due dates.

After initial peer review in February or March, our Advisory Council will review your application in May or June. If you're successful, your award will start July 1 or later.

For an overview of the peer review process and to learn about review criteria so you can create a strong application, read Understand the Review Process.

Sending Materials Post-Submission

You may send certain materials after you have submitted your application and before initial peer review. For training grants, see a list of what’s allowed at Allowable Post-Submission Materials.

Send three pages or fewer to your scientific review officer at least 30 days before the review meeting. Include a note from your business office stating its concurrence or ask your authorized organizational representative to send the information on your behalf.

Source: https://www.niaid.nih.gov/

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