NIGMS strongly believes that a diverse workforce benefits the entire scientific enterprise (http://publications.nigms.nih.gov/trainingstrategicplan). The Diversity Supplements Program (DSP) is designed to support this goal by facilitating the recruitment and training of individuals from diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in biomedical and behavioral research.
NIGMS views the DSP as an opportunity to attract individuals at early stages in their education (e.g. high school, undergraduate, post-baccalaureate) to consider research careers by providing mentored research experiences. The program also supports the development and mentored training of early-stage graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to prepare them for independent scientific careers. NIGMS does not provide support through the DSP to individuals at the investigator level, except for established investigators (PDs/PIs) who become disabled during the current project period; such individuals may request funds for reasonable accommodations to permit completion of the currently-funded research project.
The DSP provides an administrative supplement to a parent research grant to support a named individual. This supplement mechanism can be used to enable high school or undergraduate students to pursue research opportunities during the academic year and/or the summer. 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 development, such as a training grant appointment, an individual fellowship or the mentor’s research grant. The DSP is not designed to extend graduate or postdoctoral training, and will not be awarded to support predoctoral students beyond year 4 or postdoctoral candidates beyond 3 years of training. At the time of the supplement request, a candidate may not be supported by the parent grant. The DSP is not intended to be used to free up funds from the parent grant. Diversity supplements also should not be considered as a substitute for supporting graduate students on T32 training grants when such funds are available.
NIGMS considers active and personalized mentoring by the principal investigator, laboratory staff, thesis advisory committee and other institutional officials associated with the parent grant to be an essential component of a competitive diversity supplement application. A key part of a diversity supplement request is the mentoring and training plan, which should assess the candidate’s capabilities and identify specific training goals designed for the candidate. When appropriate, co-mentoring approaches also are encouraged. It should be clear from the mentoring and career development plan how a diversity supplement will impact and add value to the candidate’s training.
For additional information on diversity supplements, see the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, April 6, 2012 (PA-12-149), or contact Dr. Marion Zatz, 301-594-3833.