Frequently Asked Questions Bridges to the Baccalaureate (B2B)

Answers to Questions Cover the Following Topics:

General Questions

Where can I find the most recent Bridges to the Baccalaureate Research Training Program Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) and any related Notices?

The most recent B2B Research Training Program Announcement isPAR-19-299. There are two Notices associated with this PAR-- NOT-GM-19-046 and NOT-OD-19-109. We encourage interested applicants to read three documents carefully.

NOT-GM-19-046 provides an update to the TRE cap from $350,000 per year to $100,000 per year, and NOT-OD-19-109 informs the community about the new ORCiD iDs requirement for trainees appointed to Fellowships, Research Training, Research Education, and Career Development awards beginning in FY2020.

We encourage potential applicants to read the FOA and related Notices carefully. As you begin to develop your application, we encourage all applicants for Bridges to the Baccalaureate Research Training grants (new as well as renewal) to contact NIGMS Program Officers-- Dr. Mercedes Rubio or Dr. Patrick Brown.

Can more than one department participate in the B2B grant proposal?

Yes. Although only one grant application may be submitted as lead by each eligible institution, multiple departments within a single institution can participate in a B2B research training grant proposal.

How should one determine the number of slots requested?

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.

What groups are underrepresented in biomedical research?

For institutional awards such as B2B, underrepresented students are individuals belonging to groups that have been determined by the grantee institution to be underrepresented in biomedical research. NIH has an interest in Diversity and encourages the recruitment of individuals who will diversify the biomedical sciences.

If I submitted a Bridges R25 renewal application last year (Sept. 2018), which was not funded, is the upcoming submission considered a new application?

Yes. Any applications submitted for this PAR are considered new applications. Applicants are not to include a response to the R25 summary statement or mention the previous submission within the body of the application.

Program Management

What is the maximum Training Related Expenses (TRE) for Bridges to the Baccalaureate?

The maximum TRE is $100,00 per year.

Can we request more than $100K for the TRE? Or request a waiver?

No.

What budget items falls under TREs?

TREs are intended to help defray research related expenses associated with running the research training program. As such the following budget items fall under the TREs:

  • Personnel costs for staff and salary of the multiple PD/PI/Co-investigators. Typically, the total amount is roughly 1.8 person months for all staff. The 1.8 person months for all staff is offered as guidance.
  • Administrative support (i.e., program administrator/program coordinator) for all in this role is typically supported for 3.0 months.
  • Costs associated with skill development activities, with curriculum or methods development, seminar speakers, mentor training, etc.
  • Evaluator costs (typically up to $3,000 for the 5-year research training grant period)
  • Other program related expenses.

Can faculty/staff travel to accompany B2B trainees to meetings?

Yes. Faculty/staff can travel to meetings to accompany the trainees. Be mindful that faculty/staff travel comes out of the TRE line.

Is the 1.8 person months noted as part of the TRE, per PI? Or for all the PI's?

The 1.8 person months refers to all PIs and staff associated with the B2B. The 1.8 person months is offered as guidance.

What roles do the program director and faculty trainers play in this program?

The Bridges to the Baccalaureate program director(s), with input from the steering or advisory committee (if applicable), develops and implements the Bridges to the Baccalaureate training plan, appoints and assigns trainees to faculty research mentors, and monitors trainee outcomes. The PD also monitors faculty participation and secures institutional support.

The contact PD/PI is expected to have a full-time appointment at the applicant institution unless extremely well-justified.

The faculty trainers serve as research mentors and may assist with trainee recruitment, selection, monitoring and support of the program's enrichment activities.

What is the purpose of the evaluation?

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, transfer rates and graduation rates.

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

Who should be the program evaluator?

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.

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

No.

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

Yes. Investigators requesting $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.

What does Bridges to the Baccalaureate Research Training Program provide to trainees?

This program is intended to assist trainees in their academic journey from the community college setting to a 4-year BS granting institution. Bridges to the Baccalaureate trainees participate in a variety of training activities (i.e., seminars, workshops, skill development training activities; courses that have been infused with curriculum development or method development), conduct biomedical research in laboratories through a summer research training experience and learn about various science careers as they prepare to the biomedical research workforce. The training activities are to take place at both sides of the bridge—at the 2-year institution and at the 4-year institution.

The program provides Bridges to the Baccalaureate trainees with an annual stipend (see the section "Kirschstein-NRSA Stipend Levels" for current levels) plus partial undergraduate tuition and fees.

What is the minimum and maximum length of an appointment for a Bridges to the Baccalaureate trainee?

Bridges to the Baccalaureate is intended to provide consecutive 24-month program for each trainee; appointments are thereby made for two full-time 12-month continuous periods. Trainees can receive 12-month or 24-month of support at the community college setting. Trainees can receive 12-month of support at the community college setting and 12-months of support at the BS granting institution, if there are no other NIGMS training programs (e.g., U-RISE, MARC, BUILD) at grantee institutions. If NIGMS-funded training program does exist at the partner BS institution, the Bridges to Baccalaureate trainees are expected to transition into or benefit from these training programs.

If the design of a B2B program is for trainees to be appointed as rising sophomores, and if the partner 4-yr institution has a MARC, RISE, or BUILD program, then is it accurate that for the trainee to receive support after transfer, they must transition to that research training program?

The expectation is that B2B trainees who transfer to a consortium partner institution that has a MARC, RISE, or BUILD, such said trainee is to be supported by one of these programs. The trainee is no longer eligible to receive B2B support, after bridging, if a MARC, RISE, or BUILD at such said institution. It will be important that programs synergize their efforts and plan accordingly.

If a Bridges to the Baccalaureate trainee transfers to an institution which is not part of the Bridges research training program, can the trainee receive support?

No. Support for Bridges trainees is intended for institutions that are part of the research training consortium (i.e., those that are part of the Bridges partnership). Regardless of which institution the trainee bridges to, the PI is responsible to tracking the progress of all trainees for up to 15 years.

Is the $3,000 per trainee for summer research experience a separate cost from the $1,000 per trainee funds for travel to scientific meetings?

Yes, the $3,000 per trainee for the summer research experience is, indeed, separate from the $1,000 per trainee funds to travel to scientific meetings.

Are B2B trainees eligible to receive a stipend during the summer research training program?

Yes. Since, B2B trainees can be appointed up to 12-month at a time, trainees are indeed eligible to receive a stipend during the summer research experience.

Funding and Appointment of Trainees

What is a fundable priority score? How are the funding decisions made for a B2B application?

There is no predetermined fundable score for a B2B 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.

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

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.

If my award includes four trainee slots; does that mean I can only appoint four students?

Yes. However, should a trainee leave the program and the PI wants to appoint another trainee, the PI may readily do so if that new trainee would be appointed during the standard appointment period (June - September 30). After September 30, the Bridges to the Baccalaureate program director would need to make an official request (through your business office/signing official) to NIGMS for the new trainee's appointment.