Answers to Questions Cover the Following Topics:


My institution currently has an MSTP, can my institution submit an application to the LEAD MSTP?

No, the applicant institution may not have an NIGMS-funded Medical Scientist Training Program.

Which institution types are eligible for the LEAD MSTP?

The LEAD MSTP program is limited to dual-degree training programs at (1) Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), (2) Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and (3) institutions within Institutional Development Award (IDeA)-eligible states. When appropriate, NIGMS encourages applications using a partnership model to further and advance the goals of the program.

An applicant institution is in at least one of the following categories:

  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), (i.e., institutions described in section 4(b) of Executive Order 14041 (incorporating by reference the institutions listed in 34 C.F.R. 608.2)),
  • Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), (i.e., institutions described in section 5(e) of Executive Order 14049)
  • Institutions in an IDeA state or territory - Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Puerto Rico

The institution must have an accredited clinical degree granting program (e.g., M.D., D.O., D.V.M., D.D.S., Pharm.D., etc.) and awards Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical sciences.

Are partnerships allowed when submitting for the LEAD MSTP?

Yes, NIGMS encourages partnerships. When putting a partnership together, please keep the following in mind:

  • The applicant institution must be an HBCU, TCU or institution in an IDeA state or territory (for more information about HBCU, TCU and institution in an IDeA state or territory, see above).
  • Each partner must be a higher education institution located in the United States and/or its territories
  • The applicant institution must have an accredited clinical degree granting program (e.g., M.D., D.O., D.V.M., D.D.S., Pharm.D., etc.)
  • One of the institutional partners must award Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical sciences
  • The applicant institution may not have an NIGMS-funded Medical Scientist Training Program

Which states and territories are IDeA eligible states?

The states that are IDeA-eligible include Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Puerto Rico.

Preparing and Submitting a New Application

Where can I find the most recent LEAD MSTP Program Announcement?

The LEAD MSTP Announcement is PAR-23-030.

What are the deadlines for the LEAD MSTP?

For this NOFO, the application deadlines are February 10, 2023, January 25, 2024, and January 27, 2025.

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 LEAD MSTP NOFO.

What are the guidelines for the content and format of the Research Training Program Plan of LEAD MSTP applications?

The Training Program 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). Please do not include any materials under Appendix unless it is an allowed material as per the Appendix Policy.

What are the tables required for the LEAD MSTP?

The application must include the required Training Data Tables. For New applications: Tables 1, 2, 3, 4, 5A, and 8A Part III. Applications that do not contain the required tables, or that submit any additional tables in this attachment, will be considered noncompliant and will not be reviewed. Table 6A is not required, and applicants must not include it.

What application form should I use to prepare a new application?

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

Does the LEAD MSTP T32 require personal statements in biosketches?

Personal statements are required for the program director(s), all key personnel, and participating faculty. For other biosketch related questions, refer to https://grants.nih.gov/grants/forms/biosketch.htm. The NOFO provides specific instructions on how participating faculty biosketches’ personal statements should be tailored to address the needs of the LEAD MSTP. For example, the biosketches is to describe the appropriateness of their research background for the proposed training program, and their commitment to the following:

  • Training, mentoring, and promoting inclusive, safe and supportive research environments.
  • Maintaining a record of, and providing training in rigorous and unbiased experimental design, methodology, analysis, interpretation, and reporting of results.
  • Promoting the use of highest standards of practice to ensure the safety of all individuals in the research environment.
  • Supporting trainees participating in activities required to identify and transition into careers in the biomedical research workforce that are consistent with the trainees’ skills, interests, and values.
  • Fulfilling the need of the trainees to complete their degrees in a timely fashion with the skills, credentials, and experiences to transition into careers in the biomedical research workforce.

If we have 10 training-grant eligible students, what is the reasonable number of training slots to request on a new training grant?

The request for the number of slots must reflect the program's pool of qualified applicants, the proven ability of the program to effectively mentor that number of trainees, and the number of years students will be funded.

Programs that fund students for two years will typically start with half the number of slots for the first year, and then the full number for subsequent years (for example 3 slots in year 1, and 6 slots in years 2-5).

All requests for slots must be justified in the application.

Are LEAD MSTP generally have Human Subjects or Vertebrate Animals?

No, generally LEAD MSTPs do not have Human Subjects unless the training program itself requires the trainees to take a workshop or course that will involve human subjects. And LEAD MSTPs generally do not have Vertebrate Animals unless the training program itself requires the trainees to take a workshop or course that will involve vertebrate animals.

How do I fill out the IACUC and IRB dates on the face page? Does human subject education apply?

IACUC and IRB approvals for the full training grant application are not required. In many instances, trainees supported by institutional training grants will be participating in research supported by research project grants for which the IACUC and/or IRB or a determination of exemption exists. Existing IACUC/IRB approval is sufficient for trainees, provided that the IACUC/IRB determines the research would not be substantially modified by the participation of a trainee. Although IRB or IACUC approval dates will not be required in the application, the human subjects or vertebrate animal research projects that involve trainees must have IRB or IACUC approval. Ensuring compliance with this requirement is the responsibility of the awardee institutions. ICs may request that awardees provide the IRB or IACUC approval documentation for specific projects with trainees/ See application instructions for complete details.

The recipient institution must ensure that trainees have received the proper training/education in human subjects and vertebrate animals and to ensure they are properly supervised when working with human subjects or live vertebrate animals.

What are the key differences between instruction in "Methods for Enhancing Reproducibility" and "Responsible Conduct of Research"?

Responsible conduct of research focuses on training in the ethics involved in research, and there is guidance listed in NOT-OD-10-019. Methods for enhancing reproducibility focuses more on ensuring that students receive training in the methods of doing rigorous science, such as solid experimental design, minimizing bias, consideration of relevant biological variables, etc. We expect that instructions in both areas be infused throughout your training program.

Since there is a "plan for instruction in the responsible conduct of research" in the Program Plan, what should be included in the mandatory RCR syllabus for the appendix?

The appendix must include syllabi/outlines of materials relating to Responsible Conduct of Research and descriptions of when in the trainees’ career paths, the material is taught, as per funding announcement PAR-23-030.

Budget and Funding

Are LEAD MSTP T32 applications subject to NIH policies requiring prior approval before submitting applications with direct costs exceeding $500,000 in any one year, i.e., including a cover letter identifying IC staff who have agreed to accept assignment of the application?

No. NIGMS does not require that applicants for LEAD MSTP T32 training grants with direct costs over $500,000 obtain prior approval from NIGMS staff before submitting their application or include a cover letter with their application indicating prior staff approval.

In calculating the requested budget on a competing training grant budget, may increases for inflation be included in the future years?

The costs per trainee are not escalated for inflation in the future years.

Does NIGMS provide travel funds for LEAD MSTP T32 predoctoral trainees?

Yes, NIGMS will provide up to $1000 per trainee per year for travel. For institutions outside the continental United States, $1,250 per trainee per year for travel.

Can we request costs for family health insurance for trainees?

Tuition, fees, and health insurance (self-only or family) are allowable trainee costs only if such charges are applied consistently to all people in a similar training status at the organization, without regard to their source of support. Health insurance can include coverage for costs such as vision and/or dental care if consistent with organizational policy. Health insurance is awarded as part of the Training Related Expenses category.

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, this will depend on the availability of slots and the NIGMS training budget at the time of award. Never assume your program will receive an increase in slots, either in the competing or noncompeting years, until told by the NIGMS program director or stated on the Notice of Grant Award.


Who evaluates applications for institutional training grants?

Applications are usually reviewed by a standing scientific review committee organized by the NIGMS Scientific Review Branch (SRB). Infrequently, a special emphasis panel may be convened instead. All the reviewers are heavily involved in different aspects of graduate education, and some are themselves directors of training grant programs. View more information on the training grant review process, including current review committee rosters at NIGMS SRB.