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FAQs: Institutional Training Grants (T32, K12)

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What are the receipt dates and page limits for Institutional Training Grants?

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Where can I find more information if my question isn't addressed in these FAQs?

More extensive policies and FAQs on Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award fellowships are available on the Office of Extramural Research website at http://grants.nih.gov/training/nrsa.htm#policy.

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What are the standards for determining whether an application is "new" or "revised"?

Determination of new application status is described on the NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR) website and in NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-10-080. The following guidance from that notice covers all types of applications, with language pertaining to institutional training grants appearing in the middle of the paragraph:

A new application is expected to be substantially different in content and scope with more significant differences than are normally encountered in a resubmitted application. A new application should include substantial changes in all sections of the Research Plan, particularly in the Specific Aims and the Research Strategy sections. There should be fundamental changes in the questions being asked and/or the outcomes examined. Changes to the Research Plan should produce a significant change in direction and approach for the research project. In the case of institutional Training and institutional Career Development applications, there must be a significant or substantial change in the programmatic, leadership, administrative, or other critical aspect of the program. Rewording of the Title and Specific Aims or incorporating minor changes in response to comments of reviewers in the most recent Summary Statement does not constitute substantial changes in scope, direction or content. Requests for review by a different review committee or funding consideration by a different NIH Institute are not sufficient reasons to consider an application as new. Submission to a different FOA is also not sufficient to make an application new (there are exceptions for applications following an RFA or changing activity code; see NOT-OD-09-100).

Decisions on whether an application qualifies as "new" versus an illegal resubmission (A2) are made by the Division of Receipt and Referral at CSR, as well as by the NICHD's Scientific Review Branch. The above guidance is general, and in many cases, subjective. In order to avoid risking an application being administratively withdrawn, applicants are advised to change as much as they can without sacrificing the strengths of the training program.

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Should I use the institutional training data tables for my T32 application?

T32- NIH National Research Service Award Institutional Research Training Grant (Parent T32)

Standardized data tables for institutional training programs (e.g., T32 and K12 programs) are located at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/424/index.htm#datatables. The data tables are designed to enable consistent entry and review of data for training program faculty and scholars. These data tables are required for T32 applications. They are extremely important in providing information about faculty and trainees. Review of continuing programs (renewals) as well as new programs depends heavily on documentation of past mentoring success.

Applicants should follow the SF424 institutional training grant instructions, including instructions for the data tables, with some exceptions. You should read the Introduction to the data tables linked in the above website before starting to prepare the tables. The data tables should be numbered consecutively and titled as indicated in the instructions. You can find the list of table numbers/titles in the "Sample Data Tables" (right hand column, new or renewal, as appropriate) at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/424/index.htm. Indicate by table number and title those tables that are intentionally omitted.

In deciding how to fill out the tables, it is helpful to heed the general guidance given in the instructions:

The data in these tables help present a detailed documentation of your Training Program. Please summarize the data in the body of your grant application and in footnotes at the bottom of the data tables as indicated. Use the data to support the presentation of your training program as described in the body of the application.

Applicants should balance the need to convey the strengths of the program faculty and trainees versus providing too much information that might serve as a distraction (or annoyance) for reviewers.

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How are T32 applications reviewed?

T32 applications may be submitted in response to the Parent T32 Funding Opportunity Announcement or to specific Program Announcements. The NICHD generally uses a single deadline of May 25 for T32 applications. Review occurs the following October-November. Previously, applications were assigned to a variety of standard study sections and special emphasis panels for review. Starting in 2011, NICHD began using a single committee to review all of the T32 applications. Committee members include investigators who have experience directing these programs, as well as ad hoc members with expertise in specific fields.

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Can unobligated funds on T32 grants be carried forward to the next project period?

Unobligated balances accrue when funds are not used in any budget year due to unfilled slots or gaps between appointments. Under Expanded Authorities, automatic carryover is not permitted for T32 grants. Carryover is a prior approval requirement. The NICHD does not allow carry over on training grants unless there is strong justification.

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How does NICHD handle no-cost extensions for Training Grants?

A renewal applicant whose application does not meet the pay line may either face a gap in funding or, if a resubmission is not successful, closeout of the award. Under Expanded Authorities, the grantee may apply for an automatic 1-year no-cost extension. The extension revises the termination date but does not provide additional funds. The NICHD generally does not approve bridge funding to support T32 programs that have expired. New trainees should not be appointed during the extension because NICHD expects appointments to be at least 9 months in duration. However, T32 grantees may make re-appointments during a no-cost extension if they have funds in the final year of the award to support the trainee(s). Project Directors/Principal Investigators of these awards need to plan sufficiently for the end of a project period.

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Are clinical activities allowed for T32 trainees, and how much time can they commit under the National Research Service Award (NRSA) rules?

NRSA policies on clinical activities include the following provisions:

  • All trainees are required to pursue their research training full time, normally defined as 40 hours per week.
  • Within the full-time training period, research trainees who are also training as clinicians must devote their time to the proposed research training and must confine clinical duties to those that are an integral part of the research training experience.
  • The program may not be used to support studies leading to the M.D., D.D.S., or other clinical, health professional training except when those studies are part of a formal combined research degree program, such as the M.D./Ph.D.
  • Trainees may not accept support for clinical training that is part of residency training leading to clinical certification in a medical or dental specialty or subspecialty.

The general objective of T32 programs for clinical fellows is to train individuals who will become well-prepared clinical investigators and will remain active in research. The above provisions are intended to provide room for clinical fellows to engage in clinical research that is part of the training, as opposed to simply clinical duties unrelated to the training program. Nevertheless, the NIH is aware that some clinical activities are necessary for fellows to qualify for fellowship accreditation and sit for the boards.

The T32 programs for clinical fellows almost always start in the second year of the fellowship, after most of the initial clinical training has been accomplished. Clinical duties during the second and third years, i.e., during the T32 program, are very limited in time. These are sufficient to develop and maintain clinical skills without detracting from the research training that the T32 supports. The rationale for the clinical work is that it is necessary for the career training of the supported fellow. The NIH expects trainees to devote 40 hours per week to research training, which can include "clinical research training." Unrelated clinical work must take place outside that time frame.

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Who is eligible to apply for K12 award?

Mentored Clinical Scientist Award Programs (K12) programs are Institutional Training Grants with a set number of positions or "slots" for fellows. The fellows spend 2 to 3 years conducting research with a qualified faculty mentor. Some K12 programs are administered by a group of mentors at a single institution, while others involve a nationwide consortium of possible mentors. The Project Director (PD)/Principal Investigator (PI) of a K12 program must be a senior faculty member with outstanding credentials as an investigator and mentor. Prospective trainees apply directly to the PD/PI of the program. The PD/PI and/or Steering Committee decide which applicants to support. The NICHD sponsors K12 programs in several different disciplines. These grants are re-competed on a periodic basis through Requests for Applications. A list of active programs is available at Career Development (K) Awards.

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Can I use the institutional training data tables for my K12 application?

Standardized data tables for institutional training programs (e.g., T32 and K12 programs) are located at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/424/index.htm#datatables. The data tables are designed to enable consistent entry and review of data for training program faculty and scholars. These data tables are extremely important in providing information about faculty and trainees. Review of continuing programs (renewals) as well as new programs depends heavily on documentation of past mentoring success. Applicants for K12 grants may elect to use those tables that are relevant to the training program. For example, Tables 2, 5B, and 12B may be sufficient to portray many K12 programs. A key advantage of the data tables is that the information is not counted toward the 25-page limitation for the main body of the application (Items 2.2 through 2.4 in the SF424 instructions).

Applicants should follow the SF424 institutional training grant instructions, including instructions for the data tables, with some exceptions. You should read the Introduction to the data tables linked on the above website before starting to prepare the tables. K12 programs are usually targeted to postdoctoral level clinician-investigators. Hence the "B" version of tables for postdoctoral fellows should be used.

The data tables should be numbered consecutively and titled as indicated in the instructions. You can find the list of table numbers/titles in the "Sample Data Tables" (right hand column, new or renewal, as appropriate) at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/424/index.htm. Indicate by table number and title those tables that are intentionally omitted. K12 applicants should include the data table attachment (Item 13. Data Tables) even if none of the standardized data tables are used. List the data tables by title and indicate that the table is "Not Applicable".

In deciding how to fill out the tables, it is helpful to heed the general guidance given in the instructions:

The data in these tables help present a detailed documentation of your Training Program. Please summarize the data in the body of your grant application and in footnotes at the bottom of the data tables as indicated. Use the data to support the presentation of your training program as described in the body of the application.

Applicants should balance the need to convey the strengths of the program faculty and trainees versus providing too much information that might serve as a distraction for reviewers.

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Can someone receive concurrent support from a K12 program and an individual mentored K award?

No. All of these career development awards require a minimum of 75% effort (9 person-months). However, trainees on an institutional K12 program can apply for subsequent support on an individual K award. According to NICHD policy, cumulative support under an institutional K program (K12) and an individual mentored K award is 6 years. This is stated in the "Tables of IC-specific Information, Requirements, and Staff Contacts" for the mentored K award Program Announcements.

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Can a K-12 award recipient devote effort and accept salary for clinical or research activities beyond the K effort requirement?

There are several policy provisions that dictate allocation of effort and whether or not salary can be accepted from non-K activities. These restrictions apply to mentored K awards (K01, K08, K23, K25, and K99) as well as the K02 and most K12 appointees.

  • A mentored K award recipient must devote a minimum of 75% effort toward research and career development activities.
  • The grantee institution may supplement the NIH salary contribution up to a level that is consistent with the institution's salary scale. Salary supplementation is allowable, but must be from non-Federal sources unless explicitly authorized by the federal program from which such funds are derived. Under no circumstances may Public Health Service (PHS) funds be used for salary supplementation. If the candidate requested 75% effort on the K award, clinical duties can be pursued and compensated as part of the 25% non-K effort. However, there can be no salary supplementation from PHS research grant funds for any portion of the scholar's effort while on a mentored K award, including the 25% not devoted to the K award.
  • NIH policy allows NIH mentored career development award recipients in the final 2 years of their award to receive salary support from both their K award and a research grant from any federal agency (see NOT-OD-08-065). The K award recipient must be a named Project Director/Principal Investigator of a competing research project grant (R01, R03, R15, R21, R34, etc.), or be the sub-project director on a competing multi-component research or center grant or cooperative agreement (P01, P50, U01, etc.). See the notice for full details.

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Last Updated Date: 11/30/2012
Last Reviewed Date: 11/30/2012

Additional Resources

  • NIH Office of Extramural Research Training Page
    References to policies, funding levels, application and review process, and FOAs for all grants, fellowships, and career development awards
  • NIH Grant Application Forms
    Forms for grant and fellowship applications, non-competing continuation applications, progress reports, statements of appointment and termination, payback agreement, and grant close-out
  • Submitting Applications (Grants.gov)
    Main government Web site for submitting grant applications; provides application forms for the grant mechanism selected
  • NIH Research Portfolio On-line Reporting Tool (RePORT)
    Searchable database of all funded grants and fellowships, statistics on numbers of applications to specific NIH institutes, success rates, and other information
  • NICHD Funded Projects: RePORT
    RePORT Search Results for NICHD Funded Projects
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