Stimulating Access to Research in Residency (StARR) (R38)

Released Date
Expiration Date
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Full Announcement

Frequently Asked Questions for RFA-HL-18-023: 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 in research activities within the mission of a specific participating IC. NIAID has a single receipt date (November 7, 2017 for non-AIDS applications and January 24, 2018 for AIDS applications). NHLBI and NCI have multiple receipt dates (November 7, 2017, October 24, 2018, and October 24, 2019). Each participating IC will fund up to one award per Institution.

2. Does the Stimulating Access to Research in Residency (StARR) (R38) FOA apply only for Residency programs, or can subspecialty (fellowship or residency) programs apply? 

This pilot program was designed in conjunction with the StARRTS (K38) program to help provide a continuum of research opportunities throughout clinical training. The StARR (R38) 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 StARR (R38) program, and in doing so, be eligible for an individual K38 award (StARRTS).

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 (

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. Would a minimum of two residents need to focus their research in areas that are pertinent to the mission of a particular 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 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/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 StARR (R38) 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. 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/StARRTS) 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/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 a board-certified research pathway program eligible to do research in the R38 phase as resident-investigators?

No. At this time, the Stimulating Access to Research in Residency (StARR) R38 mechanism will not support existing board-certified research pathway programs that typically integrate research activities across residency and subspecialty training (e.g., ABIM Research Pathway). This pilot program is designed to increase access of residents to new research programs during their residency training period.

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 at 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 in the program during residency, and should not have matriculated to subspecialty training (fellowship). Sufficient participation requires a minimum of 3 consecutive months at 80% effort in one academic year, and at least 12 months total over the duration of residency training.

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 or other activities required to maintain in good standing in their residency training program (e.g., continuity clinic, call back-up). 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 readily transition to research independence.  However, if institutional R38 programs propose a hiatus for certain departments in their research plan, with strong rationale/justification, then such a delay may be permitted, if approved during review of the R38 application.

See also: 

Related Notices

  • September 26, 2017 - Notice of Change in Application Due Date and Clarification to NOT-HL-17-359, "Notice of Change to Instructions for Application Submission for RFA-HL-18-023. See Notice NOT-HL-17-549.
  • September 20, 2017 - Updates to Active Funding Opportunity Announcements to Prepare for Policy Changes Impacting Due Dates On or After January 25, 2018. See NOT-OD-17-144.
  • September 14, 2017 - Notice of Change to Instructions for Application Submission for RFA-HL-18-023. See Notice NOT-HL-17-359.
  • August 23, 2017 - Notice of Intent to Publish: Stimulating Access to Research in Residency Transition Scholar (StARRTS) (K38). See Notice NOT-HL-17-533