Frequently Asked Questions for RFA-HL-23-00623: Stimulating Access to Research in Residency (StARR) (R38)
1. Can an institution submit more than one R38 application to each Institute or Center (IC) for each receipt date (cycle)?
Institutions are strongly encouraged to submit no more than one R38 application to each IC for each receipt date. Each application should be clearly focused on research activities within the mission of a specific participating IC. Each participating IC will fund up to one award per Institution.
2. Does the R38 Stimulating Access to Research in Residency (StARR) FOA apply only for Residency programs, or can subspecialty (fellowship or residency) programs apply?
This pilot program was designed in conjunction with the K38 Stimulating Access to Research in Residency Transition Scholar (StARRTS) program to help provide a continuum of research opportunities throughout clinical training. The R38 StARR program applies only to trainees currently in residency training. For this program, residency is defined as clinical training that would occur directly after completion of medical (or equivalent) school and prior to subspecialty training. A fellowship or subspecialty residency training program with prerequisite residency training would not be eligible for the R38 award. In addition, training programs are eligible only if their resident-investigators are expected to pursue subsequent subspecialty training following participation in the R38 StARR program, and in doing so, be eligible for an individual K38 StARRTS award.
3. Are Pharmacy Schools and PharmD recipients eligible for this program?
No. At this time, the R38 program is not designed to address any potential workforce shortages of the PharmD research community, a position that is in keeping with the Advisory Council to the Director’s Physician-Scientist Workforce Working Group Report, 2014 (https://acd.od.nih.gov/documents/reports/PSW_Report_ACD_06042014.pdf).
4. Should we craft our application to a specific NIH Institute or Center (IC), or to diseases that are managed by a particular IC (e.g., NCI, NIAID, NHLBI)?
To be responsive to this announcement, each application should focus on research activities that are within the mission of a specific participating IC.
5. Is it recommended that applications to a specific NIH institute or center (IC) support all the major (subspecialty) research areas to be responsive to this FOA?
While that approach is permissible, it is not required for this program. It is recommended that each application consider the strengths of the proposed program, including alignment of the expertise of its potential research preceptors with the mission of the participating IC.
6. Must all residents within a program focus their research in areas pertinent to the mission of the awarding NIH Institute or Center (IC), or could there be a broader offering?
The PD/PI is required to oversee the research preceptors participating in the R38 program to ensure that all research activities conducted by the resident-investigators align with the mission the specific participating IC.
7. Does the R38 program allow for multiple PD/PIs?
Multiple PD/PIs are allowed when justified by program structure. The R38 budget cap for administrative costs, inclusive of PD/PI support, is $20,000 per year.
8. Do all research preceptors need to have NIH-funded research by a single Institute or Center (IC)?
No, PD/PI or preceptor funding does not need to be from NIH or from any particular NIH IC.
9. Can the resident-investigator participating in the R38 Stimulating Access to Research in Residency (StARR) program be from a different institution than the R38 grantee institution? For example: Institution A often has residents from Institution B. Would a resident from Institution B be eligible if Institution A has a R38 StARR program?
Yes. Institutions with established agreements to share or exchange residents may continue to do so in the R38 StARR program.
10. Do we need to include biosketches for the research preceptors, and how will proposed changes to the list of participating research preceptors be evaluated after a R38 program has been funded?
Research preceptor biosketches are not required but are permitted in the “Other Attachments” section of the application. R38 PD/PIs may add and subtract research preceptors during the grant period with the approval of the NIH IC program staff.
11. Does there need to be an existing fellowship level NIH sponsored program (e.g., K12, T32, K38) in place?
The existence of a concurrent fellowship-level NIH sponsored program is not required for an Institution to be eligible for the R38 award, however, the research environment is expected to be able to support resident-investigator participation in subsequent research activities during subspecialty training. It is anticipated that the K38 Stimulating Access to Research in Residency Transition Scholar (StARRTS) award will be an individual K award; therefore, the R38 resident-investigator could potentially use the K38 StARRTS award for subspecialty training at a different institution.
12. Are participants in an existing board-certified research pathway program eligible to do research in the R38 phase as resident-investigators?
No. At this time, the R38 Stimulating Access to Research in Residency (StARR) mechanism will not support existing board-certified research pathway programs that integrate research activities across residency and subspecialty training (e.g., ABIM Research Pathway). This pilot program is designed to increase resident access to new research programs during residency training.
13. Are participating resident-investigators eligible to perform research activities at any point during their residency even if it requires additional years of residency training?
Resident-investigator participation in research activities as a part of the R38 program can occur at any point during residency training provided that each research period is a minimum of 3 consecutive months of at least 80% effort within one year of residency, and all research periods add up to a minimum of 12 months and a maximum of 24 months. Longer contiguous periods are preferred, but not required. Also, a Board recognized by the ABMS, the ADA CODA, or the ABVS must approve the overall structure of research and clinical activities outlined in the application. Example scenarios of 12-month total research periods over a typical 3-year residency include but are not limited to the following:
- 12 months during the PGY-2 or PGY-3 year
- Last 6 months of PGY-2 year and first 6 months of PGY-3 year
- 3 months during the PGY-2 year and 9 months during the PGY-3 year
- 3 months in PGY-1 year, 3 months in PGY-2 year, and 6 months in PGY-3 year
14. Will the R38 program work for short-track residents or after the completion of their residency training?
Resident-investigators selected for the institutional R38 program must participate and complete all research requirements during residency, and prior to any subspecialty training (fellowship). Sufficient participation requires a minimum of 3 consecutive months with at least 80% effort in one academic year, and at least 12 months total over the duration of residency training. With approval of the overseeing Board (e.g. ABIM, ABP, ABS, etc), eligibility for a certifying examination may be achieved during participation in an accredited subspecialty fellowship.
15. Would residents in degree-granting programs (PhD, MPH, etc.) be eligible to participate in the R38 program as resident-investigators?
During research periods (80% effort) of the R38 program, resident-investigators are not eligible to participate in other activities (course work, research) that are required components of a degree-granting program (PhD, MPH, MS, etc.). However, during research periods, resident-investigators may participate in short-term courses or workshops to obtain research skills as approved by R38 program leadership.
16. Are there restrictions on what the residents should do with the 20% effort that is beyond the 80% effort designated for research activities?
During the remaining 20% effort outside of research activities, it is anticipated that resident-investigators will perform clinical duties (e.g., continuity clinic, call back-up, night float, etc.) or other administrative activities, and maintain in good standing in their residency training program. All activities should be approved by the R38 PD/PI and residency program director.
17. Do R38 resident-investigators have to immediately apply for the individual K38 award or can they wait? For example, in general surgery departments, there may be a few years of clinical work conducted after the resident research period ends but before fellowship begins.
The design of the combined R38/K38 programs is meant to be continuous to allow participants to begin to transition to research independence. However, given the variability of timing of the research period during which the K38 could be used, it is reasonable that some resident-investigators may have clinical training requirements to complete prior to the next research period in their career.
18. Is a specific aims page required for the R38 application, and if so, how long should it be and does it count towards the 25-page research strategy limit?
Yes, a specific aims page is required for the R38 grant application. More information can be found on page R-81 in https://grants.nih.gov/grants/how-to-apply-application-guide/forms-d/research-forms-d.pdf. The specific aims page should be no more than 1 page, and is not included in the 25-page limit for the research strategy. More information on page limits can be found at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/how-to-apply-application-guide/format-and-write/page-limits.htm