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Frequently Asked Questions
Applications for the Ruth L. Kirschstein Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
National Institutes of Health
Revised: October 2011
Guidelines for the Ruth L. Kirschstein Institutional National
Research Service Award (T32)
Applicants can refer to the NIH
website for many of the common questions asked NIH-wide
about the Ruth L. Kirschstein Institutional National Research
Service Award (T32).
Frequently asked pre-award questions related
to NHLBI T32 applications:
- What is the NHLBI receipt deadline for
a competing T32 grant application?
Receipt dates for competing applications:
January 25 - The NHLBI will accept all
types of competing T32 applications (new, renewal/competing
continuation, resubmission/amended) on this date.
September 25 - Only resubmission/amended
T32 applications will be accepted on this date.
Award Date: New competing awards for T32 grants will be
issued as early as February. Competing Renewals will usually
follow the dates of the last non-competing award end date.
- Are competing T32 applications subject to the NIH policies
on applications with directs costs exceeding $500,000 in
any one year?
Yes. If the requested costs for your T32 application
exceed $500,000 in direct costs for any year of the award,
you must receive approval to accept the application from
the NHLBI prior to submission. Policies
for requesting approval are available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/research/funding/general/500k-costs.htm
and in the NHLBI
Supplemental Guidelines for the Ruth L. Kirschstein Institutional
National Research Service Award (T32).
- To what Study Section will my T32 grant application be
All applications referred to NHLBI are reviewed by the
NHLBI Institutional Training Mechanism (NITM) Review Committee,
unless there is an NITM member conflict at which point
the application is reviewed by an NHLBI Special Emphasis
- Can a T32 grant be awarded for less than 5 years?
Yes. The length of the award is at the discretion of
the Review Committee. The Committee may perceive a problem
which may occur in the near future with the grantee and
may elect to award a shorter period in order to monitor
events. Other reasons for shorter periods may be: a new
or unusual training program is being initiated and there
is a question of its effectiveness; funding sources cited
by the Program Director to maintain a viable training
program may be in question or appear inadequate; recruitment
of trainees over an extended period may be difficult.
- The NHLBI, along with other NIH Institutes, uses a formula
to calculate what would be the allowable costs to be awarded
for tuition/fees/self-only health insurance to each grantee;
should the grantee use this formula to request a budget?
No. Grantees should request full costs in the application.
The NHLBI’s Office of Grants Management will apply
the formula at the time of award.
- How is the stipend level determined for the T32 trainee?
One stipend level is used for all predoctoral trainees
regardless of level of experience. The stipend level for
a postdoctoral trainee is determined by the number of
full years of relevant experience after the doctorate
at the time of appointment. The stipend levels are regulated
by Congressional legislation and are periodically adjusted
to meet the rise in the cost of living. It is important
that Program Directors and trainees know how to determine
the number of years of relevant postdoctoral experience
and are aware of the current stipend levels to ensure
that the correct stipend is being requested by the institution
on behalf of the trainee. Institutions have been known
to make errors in determining the correct amount. The current
NRSA stipend levels are located at the following URL:
- Are there specific formats for the tables in the grant
Yes. Use the specific tabular formats
included in the SF424 Research and Related (R&R) Application
- Is it possible to get a copy of a successful T32 grant
to use as a guide?
Not at this time. The training objectives of individual
T32 grants are so very different and cover so many areas
of career relevance that to find even a number of "standard"
acceptable grants is difficult.
- What review considerations should I be aware of in preparing
a mentorship plan?
You are advised to: describe time commitments specifically
and ensure they are appropriate to defined goals and needs;
include descriptions in the training plan of trainees’
specific roles on various projects and how these contribute
to career development; ensure that the career development
plan, mentoring plan, expertise/expectations of mentors
and letters of support are all consistent and coherently
directed toward meeting the trainee’s career goals;
consider inclusion of secondary mentors or mentoring or
advisory committees if they are clearly integrated into
the overall career development plan; and include description
of previous trainees and their accomplishments, and mentors’
roles in their career development, without limiting this
description to formal relationships such as past T32 or
K programs. Excellent mentorship guides are available
from the National
Academy of Sciences and the NIH
- Are there other review issues of which I should be aware?
Other issues frequently commented upon during review
- Whether the Program Director will devote sufficient
time to the training grant, based on either no percent
effort for the grant specified, or a low percent effort.
- If a very large number of faculty is involved, whether
the program would have difficulty in providing a sense
of unity, cohesiveness, and true collaboration across
departments (as applicable).
- Whether proposed predoctoral programs are given as much
attention in preparation and description as proposed postdoctoral
programs in the same application.
- Whether the majority of trainees are trained with just
one or two faculty.
- Whether the proposed faculty includes experienced, successful
trainers with evidence of other research grant support.
- Whether the proposed program overlaps with other training
grants at the same institution.
- For competing renewal applications, whether the number
of training positions actually awarded was different from
the number recommended by reviewers and why.
- Whether the program demonstrates integration among tracks,
faculty, multiple campuses or sites, pre-doctoral and
post-doctoral programs, basic and clinical research, etc.
- Whether the program includes internal and/or external
advisory committees with descriptions of membership, role,
frequency of meetings, etc.
- Whether the process for selecting trainees is described
and trainees and mentors will be matched.
- Whether the program will provide trainees with up-to-date
In addition, if you are proposing an increase in the number
of training positions, the need for the extra positions
must be justified and supported by a good record of filling
previous slots and evidence of an adequate trainee pool.
Other criticisms often applied to training grant applications
include: sloppy preparation of the application, missing
data, unresponsive to previous criticisms, padding with
faculty from other training grants, cursory diversity recruitment
plans, lack of focus or theme, lack of integrated leadership,
lack of modern cutting edge science, inadequate descriptions
of didactic coursework, and lack of other research support
- strong>What is the NHLBI policy
for T32s on training in the responsible conduct of research?
on the Requirement for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct
of Research", (NOT-OD-10-019).
- Can an application with
an inadequate diversity recruitment plan be funded?
In order to receive full term funding, the Program Director
must submit a revised diversity recruitment plan for review
and approval by the NHLBI. If the Diversity Recruitment
Plan receives an inadequate rating, the Program Director
of a T32 grant is urged to contact NHLBI program staff for
Frequently asked post-award questions:
- Is a Statement of Appointment
Form (PHS 2271, Rev. 6/2009) required each year for a trainee
to be supported by a T32/T35 grant?
Yes. Each appointment begins a new 9 to 12-month period.
- When is a Termination Form
(PHS 416-7, Rev. 6/2009) needed?
When a trainee completes his/her period of planned training
as cited on the Appointment Form. The Termination and Appointment
Forms must match each other. If a trainee
leaves prior to the original planned appointment period,
then an amended appointment form must be submitted so the
termination date matches the end of the abbreviated appointment
period. This procedure also must be followed if the trainee
is to take a leave of absence/break in service and is to
be reappointed later. It is for all appointments i.e., pre-
and postdoctoral, and short-term.
- Can an individual be appointed
to a post-doc training position if he/she has completed all
requirements of the doctorate but has not formally received
Yes. Some institutions hold formal ceremonies for the awarding
of diplomas after all relevant requirements for the degree
have been met. When there is no formal ceremony, then the
NHLBI needs formal documentation from the institution that
the trainee has completed all requirements for the degree
(e.g., their's is signed-off on) and the appointment date
on the T32 must be on or after the date cited when the trainee
completed all doctoral requirements.
- Is a payback agreement
required for all new appointed postdoctoral trainees?
Yes, if the appointee has never been supported
on an NRSA award. If an appointee has been supported
for 12 months or longer at some previous time, there is
no need for another payback agreement. The individual only
has to do this once. Simple guidelines
for completing the payback requirement are available at: Payback.
- Is a payback agreement
required for all NRSA postdoctoral trainees?
Yes, but only once for all NRSA supported candidates at
the outset of their initial 12-months of postdoctoral support.
If the trainee received prior NRSA support that totals 12
months, on either an institutional training grant (T32)
or an individual fellowship (F32), a new payback agreement
would not be required. Payback service begins on the 13th
month of support and will end at the conclusion of the 24th
month. If the trainee is supported for a third year it is
without any obligations. Refer to the simple guidelines
at: Payback for further information.
- Is it possible to request
an additional T32 trainee position for a trainee underrepresented
in the behavioral and biomedical sciences
when all slots are filled?
Yes. Institutional NRSA training grants funded by the NHLBI
are eligible to request a supplemental training position
to support an individual from an underrepresented racial
and ethnic group, an individual with a disability, or an
individual from a disadvantaged background that has inhibited
his/her ability to pursue a career in health-related research.
While NRSA pre- and postdoctoral trainees are usually at
an advanced level of achievement, individuals from diverse backgrounds will
be considered for an additional training position on a case-by-case
basis. The position is awarded for the current year and
is in addition to the total number of training positions
awarded to the grant. For further information about how
to make a request please see T32
- Can there be a change of
distribution of pre- and post-doctoral trainees after award
of the T32?
Yes, if both pre- and post-doctoral programs have been reviewed and awarded. The change of trainees from one category to the other
can occur with the prior approval of the NHLBI.
The situation must be explained by the Program Director
in a letter to the Grants Management Specialist from the grantee's Business Official. However, there may
be budget considerations that
may be a factor in approving the change, and summer positions will not be counted toward the total number of slots.
- Can the cost of recruiting
trainees be charged to the T32?
Excerpt from the NIH Grants Policy Statement: "Project funds may not be used for a prospective trainee's travel costs to or from the grantee institution for the purpose of recruitment. However, other costs incurred in connection with recruitment under training or manpower programs, e.g., advertising, may be allocated to a grant-supported project according to the provisions of the applicable cost principles concerning recruitment costs."
- Can a “brand-new”
trainee be appointed during a no-cost extension of an existing
NHLBI does not encourage such an appointment because of
the limited training experiences a new trainee would receive
as well as the difficulties it poses to the trainee in fulfilling
payback requirements. However, reappointments of current
trainees to the full extent of the remaining budget is possible.
It is NHLBI policy that pre-docs have a higher priority
than post-docs if the budget is limited during the no-cost
extension phase because post-docs have more flexibility
to move elsewhere.
- Can a trainee be supported
on a NIH research grant at the same time he/she is receiving
a stipend from a T32 grant?
No. Public Health Service funds may not be used to supplement
an NRSA stipend. Trainees are required to devote full-time
effort to the training program. Trainees may receive separate
salary from an NIH grant when employed for services, such
as laboratory technical assistance, on a limited part-time
basis. Part-time is considered by NHLBI as up to 20 hours
per week. Compensation may not be paid from a research grant
that supports the same research that is part of the trainee’s
planned training experience. Under no circumstances may
the employment interfere with, detract from, or prolong
the trainee’s approved NRSA training program.
- In the NHLBI, does the
T32 grant have Carryover Authority?
No. As with most Institutes and training grants at the
NIH, NHLBI has not included them as carryover status. Automatic
carryover of unexpended funds is thus not permitted. If
there is a need for carryover, prior approval is required.
Under most circumstances, each T32 is fully funded each
year and there is little justification for carryovers.
- How can I ask for post
award changes to my existing T32 award?
You must contact the NHLBI Office of Grants Management
to determine the appropriate procedures to use in making
a request for post award changes in your grant. This also
applies to any of your needs that require a prior approval
from the NHLBI. In general, you will have to make a request
that is signed by you and a business official of your institution.
After receiving the request, the Grants Management Specialist
will consult with the NHLBI Program Official as necessary
to determine whether the request can be approved.