NRSA Institutional Predoctoral Training Grants Program Description and Guidelines

The information provided below represents only a brief overview of the NIGMS-sponsored Institutional Predoctoral T32 Training programs. Applicants are strongly encouraged to carefully read the relevant T32 Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) (see below), and contact program staff for specific information about these training programs.

Predoctoral T32 FOAs:

NIGMS accepts predoctoral research training grant applications from eligible institutions to enhance graduate (Ph.D.) research training in 12 broad areas of basic biomedical sciences relevant to the NIGMS mission. Applicants are expected to identify the program area that they are applying to under the Agency Routing Identifier Field on the Cover Page of their application. In addition to training in these 12 broad areas, NIGMS supports the integrated medical and graduate research training through the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP).

NIGMS encourages institutions to design training programs that are broadly-based and foundational in nature. Each program should provide high-quality research training, mentored research experiences, and additional training opportunities that equip trainees with the technical (e.g., appropriate methods, technologies, and quantitative/computational approaches), operational (e.g., independent knowledge acquisition, rigorous experimental design, and interpretation of data) and professional (e.g. management, leadership, communication, and teamwork) skills required for careers in the biomedical research workforce (i.e., the breadth of careers that sustain biomedical research in areas that are relevant to the NIH mission).

Trainees are expected to participate in a predoctoral curriculum that fosters broad, multidisciplinary approaches to research, and a thorough understanding of experimental design, including the principles of experimental rigor through formal training and mentoring activities. Programs are expected to integrate quantitative biology or advanced statistical approaches in their training curriculum to develop a mathematical fluency among all trainees. This curriculum may include quantitative problem-solving, statistical analysis and/or other didactic or hands-on activities that will enhance student understanding of the value of quantitative approaches to answering scientific questions.

Notes: NIGMS encourages all applicants for training grants to contact program staff before submitting an application.

An institution may not have duplicate or highly overlapping applications in the same training area under review at the same time.

NIGMS will support only one training program in a given training area per institution (normally identified by having a unique DUNS number or NIH IPF number).

NIGMS does not accept applications requesting support for a combined predoctoral and postdoctoral training program.

Applicants should also note that NIGMS does not require T32 applicants requesting $500,000 or more in direct costs for any year to contact staff to obtain agreement that the IC will accept the application.

Training Program Overview

The overarching objective of the NIGMS Institutional Predoctoral Training in Basic Biomedical Sciences is to develop a diverse pool of well-trained scientists with the technical, operational, and professional skills necessary to conduct rigorous and reproducible research, and transition into careers in the biomedical research workforce.

The overarching objective of the Medical Scientist Training Program is to develop a diverse pool of well-trained physician-scientists with the technical, operational, and professional skills necessary to conduct rigorous and reproducible research, and transition into careers in the biomedical research workforce that utilize the dual-degree, and to become leaders in advancing the research to meet the health needs of the Nation. Note that this program supports the integrated medical and graduate research training for qualified M.D.-Ph.D. dual-degree students who are motivated to undertake biomedical research and research-related careers in academia, industry, and government. This program may not be used to support studies leading to the M.D., D.D.S. or other clinical, health-professional training.

NIGMS expects these well-trained scientists (basic biomedical as well as physician-scientists) to have:

  • A broad understanding across biomedical disciplines;
  • Expertise in a basic biomedical scientific discipline and the skills to independently acquire the knowledge needed to advance their chosen fields;
  • The ability to think critically and independently, and to identify important biomedical research questions and approaches that push forward the boundaries of their areas of study;
  • A strong foundation in scientific reasoning, rigorous research design, experimental methods, quantitative and computational approaches, and data analysis and interpretation;
  • The skills to conduct research in the safest manner possible, and a commitment to approaching biomedical research responsibly, ethically, and with integrity;
  • Experience initiating, conducting, interpreting, and presenting rigorous and reproducible biomedical research with increasing self-direction;
  • The ability to work effectively in teams with colleagues from a variety of cultural and scientific backgrounds, and to promote inclusive and supportive scientific research environments;
  • The skills to teach and communicate scientific research methodologies and findings to a wide variety of audiences (e.g., discipline-specific, across disciplines, and the public); and
  • The knowledge, professional skills and experiences required to identify and transition into careers in the biomedical research workforce (i.e., the breadth of careers that sustain biomedical research in areas that are relevant to the NIH mission).

The proposed training program should be well integrated within one or more graduate department(s)/program(s) and is expected to exert a strong, positive influence on the development and execution of the graduate curriculum, training opportunities and mentoring. Briefly, all NIGMS predoctoral training grant applications in Basic Biomedical Sciences as well as the Medical Scientist Training Program are expected to:

  • Identify training needs and objectives (i.e., specific measurable outcomes the program intends to achieve), and develop plans to implement evidence-based training activities.
  • Ensure that trainees have a solid foundation in methods to enhance data reproducibility through rigor and transparency.
  • Implement robust plans to enhance diversity in the biomedical enterprise (e.g., see NIH's Notice of Interest in Diversity for information on groups who are nationally underrepresented in the biomedical sciences), and to promote inclusive research environments (i.e., institutional and departmental environments where trainees from all backgrounds feel integrated into and supported by the biomedical community).
  • Implement plans to enhance trainee retention (i.e., to sustain the scientific interests and participation of trainees from all backgrounds).
  • Describe the institutional commitment and support for the proposed training program and how this training program may complement and synergize with other ongoing federally-supported predoctoral research training programs at the applicant institution. Note that the scientific training goals of the proposed training program must be distinct from related programs at the same institution currently receiving federal support.
  • Create administrative and training efficiencies to reduce costs and improve trainee services and outcomes in cases where an institution has multiple NIGMS predoctoral training grants.
  • Describe plans to track trainee outcomes and make the data publicly available on the institution’s website.

Length of Support

Training grants are usually awarded for 5 years. Students are typically supported by the training grant for 1-2 years of graduate studies in Ph.D. programs or for 2-4 years in M.D.-Ph.D. programs. Use of training grant support during the first two years of graduate research training, is strongly encouraged to provide maximum flexibility in the selection of courses, rotations, research fields and mentors. Use of training grant support in year 3, if proposed, should be strongly justified. The NRSA limit for support of predoctoral M.D.-Ph.D. trainees is six years.

Instructions for Preparing an NIGMS Predoctoral Training Grant (T32) Application

All applications for institutional training grants must be submitted electronically through (see NOT-OD-10-008) using the following T32 Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs):

Applications using the wrong FOA will be returned without review.

All supplemental instructions to the SF424 (R&R) for preparing an Institutional Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) application must be followed, with the following additional instructions:

Particular attention must be given to the required training data tables. Applicants are encouraged to summarize what they view as especially important results contained in the data tables (may include, but is not limited to, a summary of trainee publication and grant records, faculty training records, outcome data) within the text of the application. This summary does not replace the training data tables, and applicants are urged to ensure consistency between the summary and table information.

The required data tables are designed to be used in conjunction with specific instructions that are included in the FOA. Table formats, instructions and a completed set of tables with sample data may be found on the NIH website. There are also Answers to Frequently Asked Questions that have been created to answer the majority of related questions. If you have any questions regarding the organization of your application, please contact the NIGMS Scientific Review Branch.

Applicants should also note the instructions for the implementation of the new required Biographical Sketch Format in all applications, including training grant mechanisms.

For more information on application submission, please refer to Section IV (Application and Submission Information) of the relevant FOA (PAR-20-213 for training grants in basic biomedical sciences disciplines or PAR-21-189 for medical scientists training program training grants).

The initial review of institutional predoctoral T32 training grants is carried out in study sections organized by the NIGMS Scientific Review Branch. Since all applications are new, NIGMS does not expect to employ site visits as part of the review process for the foreseeable future.

We strongly recommend that institutions with existing NIGMS-funded predoctoral T32 training grant program who are planning to submit a new (PAR-20-213 for basic biomedical sciences or PAR-21-189 for medical scientists training program) application do so at least one year, but preferably one and a half years, before the current grant is scheduled to terminate. Thus, if your grant is scheduled to terminate on June 30, 2022, you should submit a competing renewal application on September 25, 2020, or January 25, 2021, but no later than May 25, 2021. This will ensure that if the Institute is able to consider your application for funding, there would be no interruption of support for your program. We advise applicants not to wait until the September 25, 2021, receipt date, since most of the NIGMS research training budget will have been committed by the time applications for this receipt date are reviewed.

Before preparing an application, applicants are urged to contact the staff member who is responsible for the specific area of training.

For general information about these institutional NRSA T32 predoctoral training programs, contact:

Dr. Alison Gammie
Acting Chief, Undergraduate and Predoctoral Training Branch
Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
National Institutes of Health
45 Center Drive MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD 20892-6200

For questions about the review of applications, contact:

Dr. Stephanie Constant
Chief, Scientific Review Branch
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
National Institutes of Health
45 Center Drive MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD 20892-6200

For financial and grants management aspects of the training grant programs, contact:

Lisa Moeller
Grants Management Team Leader
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
National Institutes of Health
45 Center Drive MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD 20892-6200