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Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD): Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions


Preparing and Submitting a New Application

Q. Where can I find the most recent IMSD Program Announcement?

A. The most recent IMSD Program Announcement is PAR-17-053.

Q. What is the goal of the IMSD program?

A. The main goal of the IMSD program is to increase the number of students from groups underrepresented (UR) in the biomedical sciences that graduate from Ph.D. programs in these fields at institutions with research-intensive environments. The institutional IMSD program is expected also to increase the diversity of the student pool in the biomedical science departments and to reduce the gap in the completion of Ph.D. degrees in biomedical sciences by UR and non-UR students. Specific expectations of the institutional IMSD program are:

  • To increase the overall institutional number of UR students that complete a Ph.D. and continue biomedical research careers.
  • That at least 60 percent of the undergraduate students participating in the IMSD program will, upon graduation, directly enter into a Ph.D. program.
  • That at least 90 percent of the Ph.D. students participating in the IMSD program will complete the degree.
  • That the program will contribute to the institution’s ongoing student and faculty diversity efforts.

To accomplish these objectives, the proposed program design should be derived from an institutional self-assessment of the:

  • Research environment.
  • Student and faculty diversity.
  • Number of UR and non-UR students that complete the Ph.D. degree at institutions with research-intensive environments, continue competitive postdoctoral training and engage in productive research careers.
  • Challenges/impediments that UR students encounter as they progress to the next step of their training and complete the Ph.D. degree.

As a result of the self-assessment, each applicant institution must establish the program’s goals and specific measurable objectives which should be consonant with the IMSD program expectations and design an institutional program that will contribute significantly to the overall IMSD goals.

Q. Should more than one department participate in the IMSD grant proposal?

A. Yes, although only one grant application may be submitted by each institution, participation of all departments relevant to biomedical sciences is highly encouraged since the IMSD should be an institutional program.

Q. Who is eligible to participate in the IMSD program?

A. The IMSD program is an institutional program and it is expected that program-supported activities will be open to all students at the institution. There is no specific eligibility requirement for participation in IMSD-supported activities. The program should not deny participation in program-supported activities to anyone based solely on his/her race, religion, gender or ethnicity. The program-supported participants are selected by the applicant institution. To receive salary support from the IMSD program, students must be U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals or permanent residents and must be matriculated full-time in baccalaureate or doctoral 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, America 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 IMSD program.

The purpose of the IMSD program is to achieve greater participation of students from UR groups in the biomedical research enterprise of this country. For the purpose of the IMSD program, UR groups include those reported by the National Science Foundation as well as the National Academies to be nationally underrepresented in biomedical sciences (i.e., African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, natives of U.S. Pacific Islands and people with disabilities). Applicants may include and identify any other categories that institutional policies have determined to be underrepresented in biomedical research fields with a strong rationale, appropriate references and official validated documentation. Selection participants should take into consideration whether the student’s participation would help achieve the overall goals/objectives of the proposed institutional program and the TWD goals. It is the responsibility of the applicant institution to establish the qualifications of students prior to their selection for the IMSD program.

Q. What is the maximum level of support that can be requested for undergraduate students?

A. Salary support is allowed for undergraduate students participating in a research internship, as long as there is an employee-employer relationship between the student and the institution. The total compensation must be reasonable and commensurate with the institution’s support scale for the work performed provided the following criteria are met:

  • It is the institution’s practice to provide compensation for all students in similar circumstances regardless of the source of support for the activity.
  • The undergraduate student is not supported for more than 15 hours per week during the academic year and not more than 40 hours/week during the summer.
  • Student participation in the specific developmental activity is not a curriculum requirement for graduation. A justification must be provided if the requested support for undergraduates is more than $12 per hour. Support for students is not provided for time spent by the students participating in IMSD-sponsored, non-research activities, e.g., group-learning activities, attendance at conferences, etc.

Q. What is the maximum level of support that can be requested for graduate students?

A. Graduate (Ph.D.) students are allowed a salary compensation package that includes salary, fringe benefits, tuition and fees up to the maximum NIH-permitted annual graduate student support, which is NRSA level #0 for postdoctoral trainees, as indicated in the Graduate Student Compensation policy, located at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-14-046.html. (See the NIH Web page for current figure http://grants.nih.gov/training/nrsa.htm).

Please be aware that it is an expectation of NIGMS that those students who are enrolled in Ph.D. programs as part of the IMSD program will be trained in 2 years to compete successfully for support from other departmental, federal or non-federal graduate-training sources for which they are eligible in order to complete their programs.

Q. How are students appointed to the IMSD program?

A. Participants supported by the program will be formally appointed using NIH’s Statement of Appointment form (PHS 2271). This form must be used to initiate each student supported by the IMSD program.

Q. Can IMSD-supported students receive additional support?

A. Students may not concurrently hold another federally-sponsored stipend or fellowship, other federal award that duplicates IMSD support, or supplemental salary support, e.g., from a mentor’s federal research grant. However, concurrent with IMSD support, students may make use of federal educational loan funds and assistance under the Veterans Readjustment Benefits Act (G.I. Bill), or may receive funds from a Pell Grant, based on financial need. Such funds are not considered supplementation or compensation.

Q. Is foreign or international travel allowed?

A. Foreign/international travel (including travel to Canada and Mexico) is allowed only for graduate students making oral research presentations at recognized professional scientific meetings in their specific area of research.

Q. Can we use IMSD funds to recruit students to the institution or support students in the summer program who are not matriculated full time in degree-granting programs at my institution?

A. No.

Q. What are the purpose and the scope of evaluation?

A. The purpose of the evaluation is to provide information on the effectiveness of the program on both the students and the institution. It should provide a resource for self improvement and a guide for institutionalization of effective strategies. The evaluation must assess the success of the program in achieving its goals and objectives and, on an ongoing basis, determine whether various milestones have been reached.

Thus, the emphasis of the evaluation activities should be on:

  • Assessing the overall impact of the program on the institution’s baseline numbers and efforts to accomplish its proposed goals of diversifying the institutional pool of students that complete Ph.D. degrees in biomedical sciences.
  • Measuring improvement over time in the overall program outcomes as well as intermediate outcomes such as effectiveness of activities or other interventions.

It is expected that the evaluation will inform the senior leadership at the institution and help them decide which elements of the program should be applied more broadly and/or ultimately institutionalized.

The purpose of the evaluation plan in an application is to show reviewers that the applicant has a good plan to judge the effectiveness of the proposed program on both the students and the institution. The evaluation plan must indicate how the success of the program in achieving its goals and objectives will be assessed. Specific plans and procedures must be described to capture, analyze and report outcome measures as well as measures of program implementation and short term outcomes such as outcomes of specific activities or interventions. The plan should be designed to assess and evaluate how the proposed program progresses toward meeting its goals, specific aims, measurable objectives and outcomes. A good evaluation plan will be based on appropriate literature and cited methodology. The plan should also identify the selected evaluator and present his/her credentials.

Applications that lack an evaluation plan will not be reviewed. The inclusion of evaluation instruments in the appendix is encouraged.

Q. Who should be the program evaluator and what is his/her role in the program?

A. 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.

The evaluator’s responsibilities usually include preparation of reports and recommendations for the PD and institutional administrators; interaction with program staff and staff from other campus-wide student academic preparation and educational partnership and research training programs; making recommendations of new administrative structures, policies and procedures; establishing and maintaining contact with institutional officials for the collection and exchange of information; gathering data and information; finding and evaluating alternative solutions and making recommendations for program direction. The evaluator also provides the conceptual framework for institutional change and suggests ways of reducing the resistance to change. He/she will provide training and technical assistance, as necessary, to staff and to partners to ensure the integrity and adequacy of data captured and reported.

Q. How much is allowed for a student development program evaluation?

A. Although there are no set rules, in general, evaluation costs may represent 5-10 percent of the proposed budget. These costs may vary with the size of the program, its methodology, its scope and the frequency of the proposed evaluation activities. It is important, though, that a strong and clear justification be provided of any evaluation costs proposed in an application.

Q. What application form should I use to prepare a new competing application?

A. Applicants must download the SF424 (R&R) Application Forms and SF424 (R&R) Application Guide for this funding opportunity announcement (FOA) through Grants.gov/Apply. Only the forms package directly attached to the IMSD FOA can be used. You will not be able to use any other SF424 (R&R) forms (e.g., sample forms, forms from another FOA) although some of the "Attachment" files may be useable for more than one FOA.

Q. What is the receipt date for the IMSD application?

A. The application submission/receipt dates for the IMSD program are January 25, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Applications must be successfully received by Grants.gov no later than 5:00 p.m. local time (of the applicant institution/organization) on the application submission/receipt date(s).

A registration process is necessary before submission, and applicants are highly encouraged to start the process at least four weeks prior to the grant submission date. See Section IV of the IMSD FOA.

Q. Can I submit my application in paper format, or must I submit it electronically?

A. Applications must be submitted electronically through Grants.gov using the SF424 (R&R) forms and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide. Applications may not be submitted in paper format.

A one-time registration is required at both: (http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/register.html) and eRA Commons, and applicants are highly encouraged to start the process at least 4 weeks prior to the grant submission date. See Section IV of the IMSD FOA.

Q. Where do I find the supplemental instructions for the IMSD application?

A. There are no separate supplemental instructions for new (Type 1) or competitive renewal (Type 2) applications. Applicants should follow the instructions in the IMSD funding opportunity announcement.

Q. What are the guidelines for the content and format of the Research Plan of IMSD renewal applications?

A. The 25 page limit for the Research Plan (corresponding to PHS 398 sections on Specific Aims, Background and Significance, Preliminary Studies/Progress Report, and Research Design and Methods) for all applications (new and renewal) includes all summarizing data tables, graphs, figures, diagrams and charts. Applicants may use the appendix to include evaluation instruments as well as detailed information that further clarifies the summarized data tables included in the Research Plan. The summarizing data tables in the body of the Research Plan must include clear and precise statements of the location of the required detailed information in the appendix.

Q. What is the best way to present information in the application?

A. Applicants are strongly encouraged to provide the required information using the sample formats provided under the preliminary studies/progress report section of the program announcement PAR-17-053. Applicants must be aware that the Research Plan must include all summarizing data tables, graphs, figures, diagrams and charts. Applicants may use the appendix to include evaluation instruments as well as detailed information that further clarifies the summarized data tables included in the Research Plan. The summarizing data tables in the body of the Research Plan must include clear and precise statements of the location of the required detailed information in the appendix.


Renewal Applications

Q. What are the guidelines for the content and format of the Research Plan of IMSD renewal applications?

A. The 25-page limit for the Research Plan (corresponding to PHS 398 sections on Specific Aims, Background and Significance, Preliminary Studies/Progress Report and Research Design and Methods) for all applications (new and renewal) includes all summarizing data tables, graphs, figures, diagrams and charts. Applicants may use the appendix to include evaluation instruments as well as detailed information that further clarifies the summarized data tables included in the Research Plan. The summarizing data tables in the body of the Research Plan must include clear and precise statements of the location of the required detailed information in the appendix.

Q. What should be included in the progress report section of a Competing Renewal (Type 2) IMSD Application, and how is the progress on outcomes evaluated?

A. For renewal applications, a detailed progress report must be included. Applications with only one previous funding cycle must provide information on the past funding cycle. Applications with more than one previous funding cycle must provide information on the past two consecutive funding cycles. In the report, state the original and specific measurable objectives, anticipated milestones and outcomes, as well as a summary of the accomplishments of the IMSD program.

Programs with an undergraduate component must report:

  • The number of the IMSD-supported undergraduate students.
  • The number who graduated with B.S./B.A. degrees in biomedical-related disciplines.
  • The number who matriculated into graduate-degree programs in biomedical sciences at institutions with research-intensive environments (including the applicant institution if applicable).
  • The status of those who entered graduate programs (number who remain in training, completed graduate training or withdrew from graduate training).

Programs with a graduate component must report:

  • The number of the IMSD-supported graduate students.
  • The number who remain in training or other support.
  • The number who graduated.
  • The number who pursue(d) postdoctoral positions and the number who pursue(d) academic, research-related or non-research-related career paths.

Describe the impact and/or value of IMSD program activities on the enrollment numbers, profile, academic environment and graduation rates of UR students and other related aspects of the institution. Describe what has been learned through the program evaluation and any changes made in the program as a result of the evaluation.

Applicants submitting renewal applications are strongly encouraged to provide the required information using the sample formats provided under the preliminary studies/progress report section of the program announcement PAR-17-053. The progress report section of the Research Plan must include all summarizing data tables, graphs, figures, diagrams and charts. Applicants may use the appendix to include evaluation instruments as well as detailed information that further clarifies the summarized data tables included in the Research Plan. The summarizing data tables in the body of the Research Plan must include clear and precise statements of the location of the required detailed information in the appendix.

The competitive renewal application is treated like any new application except that the progress on the present program is also evaluated based on the goals and objectives outlined in the original application. Renewal applications that do not contain a progress report will be returned to the applicant.

Q. What are the guidelines for the required program-supported participant information to be included in the Preliminary Studies/Progress Report sections in the Research Plan of renewal applications?

A. Renewal applications must include in the appendix a list of appointed (program-supported) undergraduate (B.S./B.A.) and graduate (Ph.D.) participants, as applicable, including name, contact information (phone, address, e-mail), underrepresented group, gender, current academic status, degree pursued and institution. The Preliminary Studies/ Progress Report section of the Research Plan in renewal applications can include cumulative tables to summarize the required information on program-supported participants. Each summarizing table must include a clear and precise statement of the location of the required detailed information in the appendix.

Q. What application form should I use to prepare a competing renewal application?

A. Applicants must download the SF424 (R&R) Application Forms and SF424 (R&R) Application Guide for this FOA through Grants.gov/Apply. Only the forms package directly attached to the IMSD FOA can be used. You will not be able to use any other SF424 (R&R) forms (e.g., sample forms, forms from another FOA) although some of the "Attachment" files may be useable for more than one FOA.


Funding
Q. What is a fundable priority score? How are the funding decisions made for an IMSD application?

A. There is no predetermined fundable score for an IMSD 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.

The legislative intent and the past performance of the IMSD program in increasing the entry of UR students into, and graduation from Ph.D. programs, as well as the institutional impact of the program on decreasing the existing gap between UR and non-UR students pursuing and completing Ph.D. degrees in biomedical sciences, are weighted heavily in making funding decisions.

Q. What happens if there is money left over at the end of the year? Can I request a carryover of funds?

A. The funds awarded for any year must be spent in that grant year. IMSD programs have expanded authority (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps_2013/) meaning that unobligated unspent funds for a particularly year can be carried over into a new budget period. These funds can be rebudgeted within the scope of the IMSD program; however, the PI/PD must contact their TWD program official to rebudget any funds originally requested for program-supported participants.

Progress Reports and Noncompeting Applications
Q. What application form should I use to prepare my progress report (noncompeting continuation application), and where do I find it?

A. Progress reports to continue support of a Public Health Service (PHS) grant must be prepared using the NIH Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) (forms and instructions are available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/forms.htm). Reports must be prepared following the guidelines suggested in the NIH Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) Instruction Guide [PDF, 2.4 MB].

Q. What information must be included in the annual progress report (noncompeting continuation application)? What is the page limit for the progress report?

A. Grantees should follow the current RPPR format the guidelines provided. In brief, the progress report should summarize the progress achieved in the reporting period with respect to the proposed IMSD 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 counted in the three-page limit).

The appendix must include the annual evaluation report as well as student appointment forms (Statement of Appointment Form PHS 2271) for each program participant supported by the program during the reporting period.

Q. When and where do I submit my annual progress report (noncompeting continuation application)?

A. Progress reports are required to continue support of a PHS grant and for NIH grantees, and must be submitted 2 months before the beginning date of the next budget period using the RPPR (forms and instructions are available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/forms.htm). In addition to the RPPR instructions, follow the guidelines below to prepare the progress report.

Grantees can access the Web site hosted by the NIH Office of Policy for Extramural Research Administration to determine which progress reports are due. The site is located at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/submitapplication.htm#nc. Grantees are responsible for periodically checking the list, which is updated on/around the 30th of each month. In addition to this Web site, e-mail reminders are sent to the PI.

Progress Report Submission Guidelines: Streamlined Non-Competing Award Procedures (SNAP)

Progress Reports must be submitted following the Streamlined Non-Competing Award Procedures (SNAP) as defined by the NIH Grants Policy Statement. Information about eSNAP is available on the eRA Commons website. If your institution has never used eSNAP before please 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.

Q. Who should an applicant contact for additional questions regarding the IMSD program policies, review process, budget and grants issues?

A. For program policies regarding proposal application and submission that are not related to existing grants:

Dr. Veerasamy Ravichandran
Program Director, Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity
National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH
45 Center Drive, MSC 6200
Room 2AS.25L
Bethesda, MD 20892-6200
Tel: 301-451-9822
e-mail: ravichanr@nigms.nih.gov

For questions on the review of applications:

Dr. Brian Pike
Acting Chief, Office of Scientific Review
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
National Institutes of Health
45 Center Drive MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD 20892-6200
Tel: 301-594-3907
E-mail: pikbr@nigms.nih.gov

For questions on grants management and fiscal matters:

Lori Burge
Grants Management Officer
Grants Management Branch
Division of Extramural Activities
National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH
45 Center Drive, MSC 6200
Room 2AN.44J
Bethesda, MD 20892-6200
Tel: 301-594-5132
Fax: 301-480-2554
e-mail: burgel@nigms.nih.gov

 

This page last reviewed on November 14, 2016