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Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions


General Questions

Q. What is the RISE program?

A. The Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) Program (R25) is a developmental program that seeks to increase the capacity of underrepresented students in the biomedical sciences to complete Ph.D. degrees in these fields.  The program provides grants to institutions with a commitment and history of developing students from populations underrepresented in biomedical sciences as defined by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Link to an external website.

Q. I am a college student, how can I participate in the RISE program?

A. To be eligible for support through a RISE award, you must be majoring in the biomedical sciences—such as biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, psychology, etc.--and attend a college or university that has a RISE grant. RISE institutions are responsible for selecting the students to be supported, so students apply directly through their institution. See a list of colleges and universities that participate in the RISE program.

Q. Is prior approval required to submit an application seeking $500,000 or more in direct costs in any budget year?

A. No.

Q. Is a Resource Sharing Plan required for applications seeking $500,000 or more in direct costs in any budget year?

A. Yes. Investigators seeking $500,000 or more in direct costs (exclusive of consortium F&A) in any budget period are expected to include a Resource Sharing Plan. Investigators are required to comply with the instructions for the Resource Sharing Plans as provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide. View a Sample Resource Sharing Plan.


Preparing and Submitting a New Application

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

A. The most recent RISE Program Announcement is PAR-16-361.

Q. Can an institution with a RISE grant apply for other TWD programs?

A. Institutions eligible to apply for the RISE program may also apply for other TWD programs, except for the IMSD and IRACDA (lead institution) programs.

Q. Can more than one department participate in the RISE grant proposal?

A. Yes. Although only one grant application may be submitted by each institution, multiple departments within a single institution can participate in a single RISE grant proposal.

Q. Does the institution eligibility criteria of less than $6 million dollars per year from R01 and equivalent grant support (total costs) in each of the last two fiscal years includes total NIH funding?

A. No, it only includes R01 and R01 equivalent mechanism.

Q. How should one determine the number of slots requested?

A. The number of slots requested should reflect the applicant pool determined by the institutional self-assessment. Applicants should only request slots for which they can fill.

Q. What is meant by “biomedical and behavioral research”?

A. Biomedical and behavioral research is defined as scientific investigations in the biological, behavioral, clinical, social, physical, chemical, computational, engineering, mathematical sciences, and other relevant disciplines.

It is important to note that this program supports students interested in research degrees not professional degrees (M.D., D.M.D., Pharm.D., Psy.D., etc).

Q. Which tables should be included for a new or competing renewal application?

A. See sample formats of tables for new and competing renewal RISE applications.

Q. What can I include in the appendix of the application?

A. Appendix materials are no longer allowed in applications, see NOT-OD-16-129.

Q. What is the purpose of the evaluation?

A. The purpose of the evaluation is to provide information on the effectiveness of the program, serve as a resource for self-improvement, and guide the institutionalization of effective strategies.  The evaluation should assess the program progress and opportunities for improvement in achieving its goals, objectives and milestones.  Evaluation parameters can include but are not limited to student appointments, graduation rates, enrollment and graduation from Ph.D. programs.

Applicants should note that program evaluation costs are allowed up to a maximum of $3,000 for the 5-year project period.

Q. Who should be the program evaluator?

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.

Q. What is the best format to present quantitative data in the application?

A. Research Training Table 8A part 1 and/or 8D part 1 are required to be included in Other Attachments and will not count towards the 25 page limit of the Research Plan. Applicants are also strongly encouraged to provide additional data using downloadable sample table formats. This additional data has been very helpful to reviewers to develop a comprehensive understanding and feasibility of the proposed program and expected outcomes. These tables can be downloaded from the RISE Web site in the section titled RISE Sample Formats for Competing New (Type 1) and Competing Renewal (Type 2) Applications. Note, sample data tables do count towards the 25-page limit of the Research Plan.

Q. If an institution does not have any research on campus but proposes to have RISE students engaged in extramurally-funded research at other research-intensive institutions, does the applicant institution have to submit animal care and human subject certification forms?

A. No. However, before students are permitted to work on funded research projects of mentors involving vertebrate animals and/or human subjects, whether on-campus or off-campus, applicants are expected to fulfill the institutional and Federal requirements for these activities, e.g., Institutional Review Board and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee approvals and obtain the appropriate student research certifications.

Q. How can an institution provide research experiences to RISE participants?

A. Institutions proposing research experiences must demonstrate that program participants will have meaningful research experiences in the laboratory of an active investigator who has extramural support and is actively publishing in peer-reviewed journals. Details on how RISE students will select a research laboratory or be matched with a mentor must be provided in the application, as well as the number of hours that the student will spend in the laboratory, what the research experience will consist of, and what the student is expected to learn or accomplish.

The TWD Division recognizes that some RISE-eligible institutions may not have enough active researchers with extramural funding to support on-campus research experiences. However, such institutions could create a biomedical interdisciplinary research training classroom/laboratory/course, as well as establish collaborative arrangements with research institutions that have a significant number of mentors with NIH or other extramural research support to have their students benefit from off-campus research experiences, especially during the summer. Thus, each RISE program is strongly encouraged to establish collaborations with institutions that have research-intensive environments (i.e., NIGMS IMSD and/or T32 institutions) in order to facilitate the networking and transition of RISE-supported students to T32 training programs, as well as to magnify the institutional impact of the program. See information about NIGMS training programs (T32).

Q. What items are included in the program participant cap costs?

A. Consultant costs, equipment, student academic skills development workshops, research supplies, travel (participants and program staff), and evaluation costs.


Renewal Applications

Q. How is the progress on outcomes evaluated?

A. The competing 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 and will not be reviewed.

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

A. For new and renewal applications, the 25-page limit Research Plan should correspond to SF424 sections on Specific Aims, Background and Significance, Preliminary Studies/Progress Report and Research Design and Method and include all summarizing data tables, graphs, figures, diagrams and charts as described in the FOA and any related Guide Notices.  

Q. What documents should be included in Other Attachments?

A.  The Advisory Committee plan, if applicable, and Research Training Table 8A and/or 8D must be included in Other Attachments section.

Q. What happens to grant renewal applications if evaluation of the outcomes does not show improvement as proposed in the original application?

A. It depends on the reasons for the lack of progress during the past grant period. If an evaluation analysis of the outcomes identifies the causes for failure and alternative strategies to overcome the problems were proposed, the application could engender enthusiasm among reviewers. A careful analysis of the process and the outcomes in the previous application and a logical justification of the new approaches proposed in the renewal application are very important in convincing the reviewers favorably.

Q. Will our RISE applicant institution receive a site visit?

A. Site visits are at the discretion of the NIGMS Office of Scientific Review and are prioritized based on several factors: availability of NIGMS travel funds; timing of last site visit; and evidence of significant changes since the last competing application (e.g., meaningful change in the structure or objectives of the program). Generally, competing renewal applications receive higher priority for site visits than new applications, but site visits are never guaranteed. Therefore, it is critical that applications for both new and continued support should be thorough, accurate and up to date to allow a complete evaluation without a site visit.

Q. Where are publications reported in the renewal application?

A. Include publications that acknowledge the RISE program in the Progress Report Publication List attachment. Applicants are encouraged to submit publications of RISE students using training Table 5A (Predoctoral) and/or Table 5C (Undergraduate).


Resubmission of Applications

Q. Where does an applicant respond to the comments of the reviewers?

A. The applicant should acknowledge the reviewer's concerns and issues in the Introduction section (limited to three pages, see Form SF424 instructions), and explain how the revised application is different from the previous application. Changes to the application in response to the critiques should be highlighted by change in font or indentation as outlined in the instructions. If the applicant does not agree with a reviewer's comments, the rationale for disagreeing with the reviewer should be explained.  The concerns and issues are noted in the Resume and Summary of Discussion section and/or under each reviewer's critique of the summary statement.


Funding

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

A. There is no predetermined fundable score for a RISE 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.
  • Research education development needs of the institution.
  • Geographical distribution.
  • Portfolio balance.

For more information visit NIGMS Funding Policies.

Q. An application was submitted on X date. When will the applicant know if it will be funded?

A. The current time from submission to award is about 10-11 months. During this time, your application is received, assigned to NIGMS and referred to a study section for the first level of review. After it is scored, it undergoes the second level of review by the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council. Program staff then makes funding recommendations to the NIGMS Director. Until funding recommendations are approved, TWD staff will not be able to provide the applicant definite information on the funding status of an application.

Q. Can I expect to be fully funded at the Council recommended slot levels listed on my summary statement?

A. While NIGMS tries to support all programs at or near the Council recommended slot level, full support depends on NIGMS' training budget and other factors. Never assume your program will receive an increase in slots, either in the competing or noncompeting years, until stated on the Notice of Grant Award.

Q. What should applicants do if not funded?

A. You should be prepared to revise and resubmit your application. Revising is your opportunity to respond to the criticisms of the Scientific Review Group and use their comments to improve your grant application. First, talk with your Program Officer to review your summary statement and to obtain advice. It is also wise to ask someone experienced in grantsmanship and not involved in your RISE program to review your application, summary statement and revision plans.


Progress Reports and Noncompeting Applications

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 Instruction Guide section 7.5 Education RPPRs.  In general, the progress report should summarize the progress achieved in the reporting period with respect to the RISE program goals.  A three-page limit per question is standardized across federal agencies implementing the RPPR. Numerical and other data may be presented in tabular form which are not counted in the three-page limit.

The progress report must answer the questions and include the tables mentioned below:

  • B.2: Describe the accomplishments for each specific aim.
  • B.4: Describe opportunities for training and professional development provided. Include the Trainee Diversity Report [PDF, 162KB].
  • C.1: Include only publications that acknowledge RISE support in C.1. Ensure that the publications are compliant with the NIH Access Policy.
  • E.1: Describe how the project made an impact on human resource development
  • G.1: Include Table 1 (with current year and cumulative data) and Table 8A part 1 and/or 8D part 1.
  • G.2: Describe responsible conduct of research instruction.  A concise description of RCR training should be done and be no longer than one page in length.
  • G.10: Verify answer to question G.10 with your Budget or Finance Office.
  • If your budgets are over $500,000 and you did not include a data sharing plan in your grant application, please include one in your progress report. See a sample data sharing plan.

Q. Are students included in question D.1 of the RPPR?

A. Do not report personnel for whom a PHS 2271 Appointment Form has been submitted through xTrain for question D.1.


Program Management

Q. Can RISE funds be used for a GRE workshop?

A. No. Costs of workshops or courses with the limited focus of preparing students for a specific test such as the GRE are not allowable. However, expenses for courses, supplemental instructions, or workshops that could help students build their vocabulary, writing, communication skills, verbal reasoning, analytical and critical thinking and that might help not only to gain entry to but also completion of a Ph.D. program are allowable.

Q. Is foreign travel (for meetings, summer research training, etc.) allowable?

A. No. Travel by PD(s)/PI(s), faculty, coordinators, research mentors, other personnel or RISE participants is limited to domestic institutions (U.S. states, possessions and territories) only.

Q. Is it allowable to compensate faculty participating in programmatic activities with honoraria, or must everyone be funded with effort?

A. Applicants should follow established written institutional policy to determine compensation.  If mentoring interactions and other activities with participants are considered a regular part of an individual’s academic duties, then any costs associated with the mentoring interactions and other activities with participants are not allowable costs from grant funds.

Q. What happens if there is money left over at the end of the year? Is carryover of funds allowed?

A. Yes. Carryover of funds is allowed.  

Rebudgeting: Funds for the direct support of student participants (i.e. salaries, fringe benefits, tuition/fees, and student travel) are restricted and may not be rebudgeted without the prior written approval of NIGMS. However, any unused student participant funds carried forward into the next budget period are unrestricted and may be rebudgeted within the limitations set for in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, the Program Announcement, and the terms and conditions of the Notice of Award. Contact your Grant Management Specialist for further information.

NIGMS reserves the right to make budgetary reductions to award commitments in cases where recipients have accrued excessively large unobligated balances.

Q. How does an institution process a no-cost extension if this is the last year of the grant?

A. Recipients must use the eRA Commons No-Cost Extension feature to electronically notify NIH that they are exercising their one-time authority to extend without funds the completion date of an award. This extension feature becomes available to the recipient 90 days before the project period end date. Extensions may be up to 12 months beyond the final budget period end date. In the eRA Commons, this notification can be made up to the last day of the current project end date. An e-mail notification is automatically sent to the GMO. No further action by the recipient is required.

Q. Can the faculty on the RISE program use funds for travel to institutions to give seminars and to present information about the program?

A. No. RISE program funds cannot be used for the recruitment of students to an institution.

Q. How can a new RISE program director (PD) be appointed?

A. It is important to note that any changes in the RISE program director (PD) require prior approval by NIH. The Institutional Signing Official must submit a request for change of PD signed by institutional leadership, current PD and the proposed new PD in advance of the expected date of change. The request must include a justification, other support information and current biographical sketch for the nominee. NIGMS will review the nominee's qualifications, re-evaluate the program considering the proposed change and provide a written decision to the grantee institution.

Q. If the PD plans to be absent from the program for more than 3 months, what is required?

A.  The Signing Official must submit a signed letter requesting NIH approval for acting PD to NIGMS and must include a current biographical sketch for the nominee.  The letter should describe plans for the conduct of the program during the original PD's absence and indicate that the acting PD will have signature authority on trainee forms. NIGMS will review the request and provide a written decision to the grantee.


Participants

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

A. The RISE program is an institutional program with activities open to all students at the institution. The program should not deny participation in program-supported activities to anyone based solely on his/her race, color, national origin, disability, religion, gender and age.

To receive salary support from the RISE program, students must be U.S. citizens, non-citizen national or permanent residents and must be matriculated full-time in baccalaureate or graduate 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 RISE program.

Q. What is expected from individuals supported by the RISE program?

A. RISE program undergraduates at the B.S/B.A level and the graduate M.S. level are expected to complete their degrees and matriculate into Ph.D. programs within 3 years of graduation. RISE program Ph.D. students are expected to complete their terminal degrees in biomedical research fields and advance to competing postdoctoral positions.

Q. How are program-supported students appointed to the RISE program?

A. Each year, program-supported students must be formally appointed to the RISE program using the Statement of Appointment (PHS Form 2271) for each participant. Grantees must submit the PHS 2271 data electronically using the xTrain system.  For assistance call the eRA Service Desk at 866-504-9552.

Q. Can students be appointed in CareerTrac?

A. No. RISE participants need to be appointed in xTrain.  CareerTrac can be used for the tracking of participants.

Q. What is the minimum and maximum length of an appointment for a RISE participant?

A. Generally, RISE undergraduate students are appointed for 2 (Junior and Senior year) to 4 years (Freshman to Senior year). Graduate students may be supported on RISE funding usually up to two years if preparing for a M.S. degree; and a total of five years (including any RISE funding for a M.S. degree) if preparing for a Ph.D. degree provided their progress towards the degree is satisfactory.

Q. Can a new student be appointed upon the departure of an existing RISE participant?

A. Yes; however, applicants should note that NIGMS expects at least one consecutive 12-month appointment for RISE participants.

Q. Does the RISE program support students working on a second bachelor’s or master’s degree or enrolled as non-degree students after they have completed their bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees?

A.  No.  RISE is a Ph.D. preparatory program and not a financial assistance program for students who have already been accepted into a Ph.D. program and are just waiting for the enrollment period. The RISE program does not support students working on a second bachelor’s degree, second master’s degree or enrolled as full-time non-degree students after they have completed their bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees.  

Q. Can I appoint more students than the number allotted for the program?

A. No. You can only appoint the number allotted for the program. Request for additional students must be discussed with the designated Program Officer. 

Q. Can RISE-supported students receive additional support?

A. Program-supported students may not concurrently hold another federally sponsored stipend or fellowship, other federal award that duplicates RISE support, or supplemental salary support, e.g., from a mentor’s federal research grant. However, concurrent with RISE 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. Can a new trainee be appointed during no-cost extension?

A. No. Only existing program participants can be supported while a grant is on no-cost extension.

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

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

Luis Cubano, Ph.D.
Program Director
National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH
45 Center Drive, MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD 20892-6200
Tel: 301-594-3900
E-mail: luis.cubano@nih.gov

Anissa J. Brown, Ph.D.
Program Director
National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH
45 Center Drive, MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD 20892-6200
Tel: 301-594-3900
E-mail: anissa.brown@nih.gov

For questions on the review of applications:

Stephanie Constant, Ph.D.
Chief, Office of Scientific Review
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
National Institutes of Health
45 Center Drive MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD 20892-6200
E-mail: stephanie.constant@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: 301-451-3781
Fax: 301-480-2554
E-mail: burgel@nigms.nih.gov​

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This page last reviewed on June 02, 2017