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Frequently Asked Questions

          General Program Questions

  1. What is the Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce program?
  2. What types of questions/hypotheses should be addressed within this program?
  3. What initiatives make up the Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce program?
  4. Why is the NIH making this investment?
  5. Why is this program being funded through the NIH Common Fund?
  6. Will funding for this program end in 5 years?
  7. The "10 year" nature of the entire program suggests the possibility for renewal of 5-year awards, but with a goal of sustainability by the institutions thereafter. Can you please clarify?
  8. What is meant by the guidance that the approaches developed through this program should be “innovative” and “transformative”?
  9. Can institutions apply for the NRMN or BUILD cooperative agreement awards if they did not receive a planning grant?
  10. Will the technical assistance webinar slides be made available?
  11. When are applications due? 
  12. What is the mandatory executive steering committee? Are awardees expected to form this committee?
  13. The FOA states that proposed external advisory committee members from outside the institution should not be named in the application. How do we describe the expertise and roles of proposed members without naming them?
  14. Please clarify the responsiveness criteria: “Restricting eligibility for participation to a particular demographic group is not responsive to this FOA.”
  15. Is the kick-off awardee meeting planned for Fall 2014 mandatory?  If so, how many research team members are allowed to attend?
  16. Are we required to respond to the FOA and the PHS 398 application instructions?
  17. The PHS 398 application instructions state that applicants need to submit a CD of the appendices. However, it does not mention the CD in the FOAs. Should the appendices be submitted as paper copies?
  18. Can there be a co-PI on the BUILD, NRMN, or CEC applications?
  19. If using the multiple PI option for the application, which institution(s) will be considered the applicant institution? 
  20. Can letters of support be included in each section of the application?
  21. Do letters of support count against the 12-page limit for each section?
  22. If one of the Research Strategy sections of the application doesn’t utilize an entire 12 pages, can the unused pages be used for another section of the application?
  23. Is the 1-page specific aims section to cover all cores or does each core allow for its own specific aims section?
  24. Is an evaluation plan required in the BUILD and NRMN applications, or will the CEC conduct the evaluation for BUILD and NRMN projects?

    FAQs specific for Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD)

    General Information

  25. Who can apply for BUILD awards?
  26. Should BUILD applicants collaborate with NRMN applicants as they develop their applications? Should BUILD applicants avoid doing this?
  27. What is the difference between a Primary Institution and Partner Institutions?
  28. Where does NIH expect transformation to occur?
  29. What are some key differences between the Student Training Core and the Research Enrichment Core?
  30. What are the RL5 and TL4 linked awards?
  31. If an institution already has support for undergraduate training of underrepresented groups (e.g., MARC or RISE), how can BUILD integrate with those activities?
  32. What will the stipend level be for undergraduate BUILD scholars?
  33. Is tuition going to be limited as it is under MARC and other NRSA mechanisms?
  34. Do you foresee this announcement for BUILD (U54) being reissued in 2015?
  35. Will the entire application be read by the same reviewers so that key material can be presented in a single core or are they being reviewed in separate sections so we should write each core component as if it is a stand alone proposal?

    Eligibility

  36. What are the eligibility criteria for BUILD Primary Institutions?
  37. How were BUILD Primary Institution criteria determined?
  38. Will BUILD scholars have to be Pell eligible or members of underrepresented groups (underrepresented racial or ethnic backgrounds, students with disabilities, or otherwise disadvantaged) in order to participate in and benefit from the BUILD program?
  39. Is there a limit to the number of applications that can be submitted by an institution?
  40. Are foreign institutions eligible to apply?
  41. Can Research Partner Institutions partner with more than one Primary Institution on multiple applications?
  42. Can non-academic institutions be partners on BUILD?
  43. If a research partner has an existing training award, will they have to transfer that program to the Primary Institution?
  44. What activities are available to BUILD students from participating institutions?

    Budget Information

  45. What is the budget for a 5 year BUILD award?
  46. Does the $3 million cap apply to years 1 and 5? Is the $5.3M million an annual cap for years 2 through 4?
  47. What are allowable expenses for the Student Training Core versus the Research Enrichment Core?
  48. Can BUILD funds be used to hire new faculty?
  49. Can BUILD Institutional Development Funds be used to hire (e.g., salaries and standard faculty benefits) new faculty at Pipeline Partner Institutions?
  50. Can the Research Partners (1) receive tuition for summer courses associated with research training they provide to BUILD scholars from the Primary Institution and Pipeline Partners, and/or (2) receive financial compensation for faculty of Research Partners to come to the Primary Institution to teach a course, conduct a workshop, or give a seminar?
  51. Can faculty at partner institutions receive financial support from BUILD, and are there limits on the amount of funding that faculty at partner institutions can receive to support BUILD activities?
  52. Will there be any limit on the proportion of the 5 year BUILD award funds that can be allocated to Research Partner Institutions?
  53. Can BUILD funding be used to support high school students?
  54. Are there any limits on budget items not used for financial support of students?
  55. Can Pipeline Partner Institutions receive support through a 5 year BUILD award to conduct summer research projects for their own students at their home institution, or must all summer research experiences take place at Research Partner institutions?

    FAQs specific for National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN)

    General information

  56. Can we propose to develop a mentoring network for a particular region of the country/ level of trainee/scientific discipline (e.g., biology, neuroscience)?
  57. Is the mentoring network only for those undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty traditionally underrepresented in the biomedical research workforce?
  58. Will multiple NRMN awards be issued similar to the planning grants?
  59. Are NRMN applicants required to collaborate with specific BUILD or CEC applicants as part of their application?
  60. How can the NRMN application describe what will be done with BUILD trainees and participants without knowing what the BUILD awardees will be doing for training and/or mentoring activities?
  61. Which career stage should receive the most mentoring support?
  62. How many mentees and mentors should be included in the proposed network?
  63. Should mentors be identified by name in the application (i.e., biographical sketch, or in a Core description)?
  64. Can NIH intramural investigators or staff serve as mentors?
  65. Is a pilot project program required?
  66. Do descriptions of pilot projects have to be repeated in each core section (mentoring/networking, mentor training, and professional development) or can there be one description provided in one section that is referenced in the other sections?

    Eligibility

  67. Is there a limit to the number of applications that can be submitted by an institution?
  68. What kinds of institutions are eligible to apply for NRMN grants?
  69. Are foreign institutions eligible to apply?
  70. Is the NIH Intramural program eligible to apply for a NRMN grant?
  71. Can a collaborator on an NRMN application also be included on a BUILD or CEC application?

    Budget

  72. What is the budget for a 5 year NRMN award?
  73. Can mentors receive financial compensation for mentoring, such as salary or an honorarium?

    FAQs specific for the Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC)

    General information

  74. What is the Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC)?
  75. How specifically should the plans for coordination and evaluation be described in the application if the BUILD and NRMN projects are unknown?
  76. How specific should CEC applicants be in describing potential evaluation metrics without knowing what specific activities the BUILD and NRMN grantees are proposing?
  77. Is the CEC expected to conduct its own self-evaluation?
  78. Is it anticipated that the consortium website will be developed by the CEC, with Steering Committee input, but use the existing Common Fund website as a platform hosted by NIH?  Or will it be a separate website hosted by the CEC?
  79. Are the website and portal solely for Common Fund grantees and NIH, or will there be a public-facing component as well?

    Eligibility

  80. Who can apply for CEC awards?
  81. Is there a limit to the number of applications that can be submitted by an institution?
  82. Can a CEC applicant also be listed on a BUILD or NRMN application?

    Budget

  83. What is the budget for the CEC award?

    General Program Questions
     

    1. What is the Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce program?

    The NIH Common Fund has launched the Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce program, which aims to support transformative and innovative approaches to strengthen institutions and faculty dedicated to the engagement, training, and retention of diverse scientists. The long-term goal of the program is to catalyze a systemic change in the biomedical research culture to have a broad impact on scientists from backgrounds nationally underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, social, and clinical research workforce (referred to as the “biomedical” research workforce).

    The Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce program represents an opportunity to increase the understanding of the needs, attitudes, motivations, and career trajectories of students from diverse backgrounds, to test ways to more effectively steer young scientists toward research careers and to test hypotheses about practices that are most likely to lead to successful career outcomes. Although receipt of a PhD has often been used as an intermediate term marker of success for programs that seek to diversify the biomedical workforce, NIH is interested in developing additional measures that can be used as effective predictors of long term research career success.

    Awardee institutions, in partnership with the NIH, will develop and test hypotheses about how to best prepare individuals from diverse backgrounds for research careers. The expectation is that transformative models for training and mentoring will be developed and tested. Successful models will ultimately supplant less effective practices nationwide, leading to a broad and sustained impact on the diversity of the NIH-funded workforce.

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    2. What types of questions/hypotheses should be addressed within this program?

    Relevant questions for this funding opportunity include, but are not limited to: What are the hallmarks of a successful biomedical research career at each phase of the training process? What motivates students to enter biomedical research career paths, and what factors contribute to their sustained participation? What factors (e.g., institutional, social, and individual) influence emerging scientists, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds, to enter, exit, or sustain a biomedical research career, and how can these factors be addressed? What must happen during different training stages to ensure that trainees and participants, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds, develop the skills, knowledge, and competencies essential to success in biomedical research careers and careers in the NIH-funded research workforce? How do institutional structures and resources facilitate successful research training and professional development activities? How can approaches be designed so that their impact continues beyond the period of NIH funding?

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    3. What initiatives make up the Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce program?

    This program will consist of three highly integrated initiatives, the awardees of which will work together as a consortium. Collectively, these initiatives will develop and test innovative approaches to engage, train, and retain trainees from diverse backgrounds. Efficacy will be monitored throughout the grant period, and lessons learned will be extended to other NIH-supported programs and the community as a whole.

    • Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD): BUILD awards will support novel, transformative, and broad-based approaches to training biomedical research students. Programs should emphasize research opportunities for students, along with additional innovative activities and mentoring, to engage and prepare participants for success in the NIH-funded workforce. The BUILD program provides great flexibility for institutions to develop innovative strategies and approaches for biomedical research training. Tangible advances are expected in three key areas: institutional development, faculty development, and student development.
    • National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN): NRMN will address the critical need for increased access to high quality research mentorship and networking opportunities for individuals from the undergraduate to the early-career faculty levels. The network will develop an interconnected set of skilled mentors linked to mentees across the country, from both BUILD institutions and elsewhere. NRMN will also develop best practices for mentoring, provide training opportunities for mentors, and provide networking and professional opportunities for mentees.
    • Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC): The CEC will coordinate consortium-wide activities and evaluation of the BUILD and NRMN programs. It will facilitate the development of consortium-wide hallmarks, including core competencies, of successful biomedical research career progression and evaluate the impact of BUILD and NRMN according to these hallmarks. The CEC will also serve as the focal point for dissemination, sharing consortium progress and lessons learned with the broader biomedical research training and mentoring communities.

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    4. Why is the NIH making this investment?

    The NIH mission to “seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and apply that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability” requires the best and brightest minds in the country. However, several segments of the U.S. population are underrepresented in the NIH-funded workforce, despite significant investments in programs that are intended to support workforce diversity. This relative void in the nation’s biomedical research enterprise has a negative impact on the ability of the NIH to achieve its mission. It is vital to the interests of the NIH to engage the biomedical research community to address this challenge effectively. Innovation, networking, and rigorous assessment of “what works” are key components of this new program and are intended to synergize with ongoing investments, ultimately enabling all of them to have a greater impact.

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    5. Why is this program being funded through the NIH Common Fund?

    The Common Fund supports programs that are intended to have a transformative impact on biomedical research conducted across all NIH Institutes and Centers. Common Fund programs encourage highly innovative approaches to broadly relevant challenges, coordination among awardees, and rapid dissemination of results and lessons learned. These programs represent NIH-wide priorities, and program areas are selected with input from all Institute and Center Directors and from extramural scientists. Common Fund support of the Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce program is indicative of the recognition by NIH Leadership that talent from all sectors of the population is necessary to accomplish the NIH mission. This program will synergize with ongoing NIH investments in Diversity programs, building upon them to establish a network of institutions, mentors, faculty, and trainees.

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    6. Will funding for this program end in 5 years?

    The NIH Common Fund has committed to support the Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce program for 10 years with the expectation that this timeframe will be required to develop and assess new approaches to training and mentoring.

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    7. The "10 year" nature of the entire program suggests the possibility for renewal of 5-year awards, but with a goal of sustainability by the institutions thereafter. Can you please clarify?
    All awards will have a 5-year project period. Progress of the program will be assessed throughout the 5-year period. Provided that innovative and potentially transformative approaches are being developed, a funding opportunity announcement for continuation of the program will be released. Competition for the second phase of the program will be open to new applicants as well as continuing awardees. Applicants should consider sustainability beyond the external funding.

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    8. What is meant by the guidance that the approaches developed through this program should be “innovative” and “transformative”?

    Successful applicants will be as creative as possible when considering possible approaches and strategies that could dramatically enhance the diversity of the biomedical research workforce. There are many ongoing efforts, within NIH and elsewhere, that aim to enhance diversity in the biomedical workforce. NIH will not be supporting duplication of existing efforts; rather, NIH is seeking to support innovative and novel approaches and strategies to both build upon and extend beyond existing efforts. These initiatives are not intended to support replication or expansion of existing programs at applicant institutions. For example, simply increasing the number of participants in current NIH-funded research training or mentoring programs would not be responsive to this funding announcement. Promising practices and principles derived from the literature or from pilot programs may be leveraged to inform applicants' approaches and/or expansion of existing efforts in novel ways. These initiatives are intended to allow institutions to develop and pilot novel approaches to biomedical research training and mentoring. We expect that awardees will develop approaches to transform research training and career development programs by catalyzing a systematic shift in the biomedical research training environment. Successful approaches and lessons learned will be disseminated to the biomedical research community so that these approaches can be widely adopted to benefit trainees on a national level, beyond the relatively modest number that will be directly involved in this program.

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     9. Can institutions apply for the NRMN or BUILD cooperative agreement awards if they did not receive a planning grant?

    Yes. The funding announcement opportunity is an open competition and all eligible institutions may apply. Applications for the cooperative agreement awards will be reviewed based on their own merits, not on whether or not the applicant is a planning grant recipient.

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    10. Will the technical assistance webinar slides be made available?

    Yes. The slides and recording can be found on the Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce website: http://commonfund.nih.gov/diversity/index.

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    11. When are applications due?

    All BUILD, NRMN, and CEC applications must be received by the NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR) no later than April 2, 2014. A postmark date of April 2 is not sufficient, the applications must be received by CSR no later than April 2.

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    12. What is the mandatory executive steering committee? Are awardees expected to form this committee?

    The Executive Steering Committee will comprise representatives of each BUILD, NRMN, and CEC award, as well as NIH staff. It is not necessary for applicants to address the formation of the Executive Steering Committee in applications. The Executive Steering Committee will be established by November 2014 after awards are made.

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    13. The FOA states that proposed external advisory committee members from outside the institution should not be named in the application. How do we describe the expertise and roles of proposed members without naming them?

    Identifying potential advisory board members in the application can make it difficult for NIH review staff to recruit reviewers who are not in conflict with any of the submitted applications. Rather than providing names of committee members, the anticipated roles and domains of expertise can be described in general terms.

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    14. Please clarify the responsiveness criteria: “Restricting eligibility for participation to a particular demographic group is not responsive to this FOA.” 

    The goal of the Common Fund Diversity Program is to enhance diversity of well-trained biomedical research scientists who can successfully compete for NIH research funding and/or otherwise contribute to the NIH-funded workforce. Participation in activities supported by BUILD and/or NRMN initiatives should not be limited to any particular demographic group. All students meeting the academic or other selection criteria developed by your institution should be given the opportunity to participate in all proposed activities. However, targeted recruitment to identify potential applicants from populations nationally underrepresented in biomedical science is permissible, because this will broaden the diversity of the pool of potential participants for your program.

    For example, special outreach (presentations, mailings, notices to list servs, etc.) to institution X’s Black or Chicano Student Union to make student aware of BUILD activities would be permissible. However, a program that limits eligibility to African American or Hispanic students would not be acceptable.

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    15. Is the kick-off awardee meeting planned for Fall 2014 mandatory?  If so, how many research team members are allowed to attend?

    Yes. All BUILD, CEC, and NRMN awardees are expected to attend the kick-off meeting that will be held in Bethesda, MD in October/November 2014. There is no limit to the number of team members who can attend; however, applications must include anticipated travel expenses related to attending the meeting.

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    16. Are we required to respond to the FOA and the PHS 398 application instructions?

    Yes. To be responsive to this funding announcement, all applicants should carefully read and respond to the application instructions in the FOA as well as in the PHS 398. If the FOA provides specific instructions, they are in addition to, or modifications of, the general PHS 398 instructions and should be followed. Where no FOA-specific instructions are provided, applicants should follow the PHS 398 instructions. The one exception to this is that budget instructions for the BUILD Student Training Core are from the SF424(R&R) application instructions for NRSA Training Grants, not the PHS 398 application instructions.

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    17. The PHS 398 application instructions state that applicants need to submit a CD of the appendices. However, it does not mention the CD in the FOAs. Should the appendices be submitted as paper copies? 

    No. Although these are paper applications, the appendices should be submitted on CDs (not paper). If applicants have appendices, applicants should send five clearly labeled CDs (preferably in five separate plastic CD cases), and check the box on the application indicating that appendices are included. This box lets the scientific review officer know that the applicant submitted CDs with the paper applications.

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    18. Can there be a co-PI on the BUILD, NRMN, or CEC applications?

    NIH no longer uses the term ‘co-PI’. However, there is the option for multiple PIs, which is essentially the same concept as a co-PI. For applications with multiple PIs, a multiple PI leadership plan should be submitted. There is no limit to the number of PIs or their respective locations; however, the applicant institution must justify the need for and contribution of the multiple PIs and cooperative activities.

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    19. If using the multiple PI option for the application, which institution(s) will be considered the applicant institution?

    For multiple-PI applications involving more than one institution, it is up to the collaborators to decide which institution will submit the application.

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    20. Can letters of support be included in each section of the application?

    Yes.

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    21. Do letters of support count against the 12-page limit for each section?

    No. The 12-page limit applies only to the research strategy section.

    • BUILD: Required letters of support in the Overall Component include a letter from the authorized institutional official certifying institutional eligibility as the Primary Institution, a letter describing institutional commitment to the proposed BUILD activities from the applicant institution’s leadership, and letters of collaboration from authorized officials from consortium partner institutions (if applicable) addressing their institutional commitment to proposed BUILD activities. Additional letters of support may be included in the Research Plan section of each Core, per the instructions specified in the PHS 398 application instructions. Letters of support do not count towards the 12-page limit for the Research Strategy section of the component or core.
       
    • NRMN & CEC: Letters of support may be included in the Research Plan section of each component or core, per the instructions specified in the PHS 398 application instructions. Letters of support do not count towards the 12-page limit for the Research Strategy section of the component or core.
       

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    22. If one of the Research Strategy sections of the application doesn’t utilize an entire 12 pages, can the unused pages be used for another section of the application?

    No. The 12-page limit applies separately to the Research Strategy section of each component or core.

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    23. Is the 1-page specific aims section to cover all cores or does each core allow for its own specific aims section?

    The overall component has its own specific aims page, and each core has its own specific aims page.

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    24. Is an evaluation plan required in the BUILD and NRMN applications, or will the CEC conduct the evaluation for BUILD and NRMN projects?

    Evaluation plans are not required in BUILD or NRMN applications. BUILD and NRMN awardees will work collaboratively with the CEC awardee to evaluate the programs. However, as specified in the BUILD FOA instructions for the Research Strategy of the Administrative Core, applicants should describe how the required steering committee will provide oversight of the proposed evaluation activities. As specified in the NRMN FOA instructions for the Research Strategy of the Administrative Core, applicants should describe the infrastructure available and expertise of personnel to collaborate with the CEC to collect and analyze data as part of the CEC’s evaluation.

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    FAQs specific for Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD)

    General Information

    25. Who can apply for BUILD awards?

    Any institution meeting the eligibility criteria (see FAQ #11) as a Primary Institution (applicant organization). These Primary Institutions are encouraged to consider partnerships to optimally position themselves to provide innovative environments for research training. The Primary Institutions is responsible for implementation of the project and for management of the award. They will also identify desired partnerships to enable them to establish a robust research training pipeline. However, partnerships are not required for a successful BUILD application. Partnerships may include one or more of these types of institutions:

    • Pipeline Partners – two- or four-year undergraduate institutions with students that will enrich and expand the pool of students engaged in BUILD activities.
    • Research Partners – research intensive institutions with committed investigators able to serve as effective research mentors. Academic institutions, government institutions, industry, and nonprofit research institutions may all be considered as potential Research Partners.
    • Graduate/Medical Partners – medical or graduate institutions that do not have undergraduate programs but do have research-active faculty and doctoral-level students engaged in research or planning research careers. Graduate/Medical Partners should receive less than $7.5 million (total costs) through Research Grants (calculated as described for Primary Institutions in the Eligibility Section below). Primary Institutions and Graduate/Medical Partner Institutions will work collaboratively to provide joint programs for both undergraduate and graduate students.
       

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    26. Should BUILD applicants collaborate with NRMN applicants as they develop their applications? Should BUILD applicants avoid doing this?

    Coordination among the BUILD and NRMN programs will be established after awards are made. Therefore, it is not necessary for a BUILD application to include collaborations with specific NRMN applicants.  At the same time, there is no restriction on the collaboration between institutions involved in BUILD and NRMN that occur naturally in response to shared goals, expertise, or existing partnerships.

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    27. What is the difference between a Primary Institution and Partner Institutions?

    BUILD awardee institutions (Primary Institutions) are responsible for submission of the application and administration of the award, should funding be approved. Primary Institutions determine the type of partnerships that will allow them to submit a successful application for the BUILD award. Partner Institutions of any type (Pipeline, Medical/Graduate or Research Partners) may receive support from the Primary Institution via the BUILD award, but the Primary Institution will administer these funds via consortium agreements. Primary Institutions will have flexibility in establishing their partnerships. The overarching goal of the program, to design and test innovative strategies to engage students and prepare them to thrive in research careers, should drive decisions about the types of partnerships to establish, how they should be structured, and how funds should be allocated by the Primary Institutions to the partners.

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    28. Where does NIH expect transformation to occur?

    The Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce program provides the opportunity for transformation of the biomedical research workforce through institution-wide and eventually nationwide implementation of successful training and mentoring strategies.  Each application should address efforts toward transformation at the applicant institution and all proposed partner institutions (if applicable). The nationwide transformation is expected to come later as programs are evaluated and successful approaches are disseminated for adoption by other institutions.

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    29. What are some key differences between the Student Training Core and the Research Enrichment Core?

    Student Training Core activities will be supported by a linked Institutional Training award (TL4), similar to a T34 award, to enable institutions to make National Research Service Awards to pre-baccalaureate individuals selected by them for undergraduate research training in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. Research Enrichment Core activities will be supported by a linked Research Education Project award (RL5), similar to an R25 award, to develop and/or implement a research education program in the biomedical and behavioral sciences.  Eligible students at the Primary (Applicant) Institution may receive BUILD financial support through a TL4 award. Eligible students at the Primary Institution, Pipeline Partners and Grad/Med Partners may receive BUILD financial support through a RL5 award.

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    30. What are the RL5 and TL4 linked awards?

    The RL5 and the TL4 activity codes are linked equivalents to existing NIH activity codes. The RL5 is the linked equivalent to the R25, Research Education Projects. The TL4 is the linked equivalent to the T34, Undergraduate Student Institutional Training National Research Service Award.

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    31. If an institution already has support for undergraduate training of underrepresented groups (e.g., MARC or RISE), how should BUILD integrate with those activities?

    Primary Institutions with existing training programs, or engaging Pipeline Partners with existing training programs, should explain what distinguishes this program from these other diversity programs; how the programs will synergize; and how the faculty, potential trainee pool, and resources are robust enough to support additional programs. The BUILD award should expand the numbers of students from underrepresented backgrounds that the institution engages and prepares for graduate training in NIH-relevant research areas. It should also enable the institution to improve its ability to prepare all students for biomedical research careers regardless of background or whether the student is provided financial benefits from BUILD. In the application, the Primary Institution should describe how the BUILD award will integrate with other support mechanisms to enable a significant increase in efficacy. Since the BUILD award is intended to test new models of student engagement, training, and mentoring, lessons learned are expected to benefit ongoing programs at the institution.

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    32. What will the stipend level be for undergraduate BUILD scholars?

    In the Student Training Core, the Primary Institution, in consultation with its partners, will have the flexibility within NRSA guidelines to determine the most advantageous use of financial benefits and may therefore set stipends at the reasonable level it deems appropriate.

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    33. Is tuition going to be limited as it is under MARC and other NRSA mechanisms?

    This will be determined by the Primary Institution.

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    34. Do you foresee this announcement for BUILD (U54) being reissued in 2015?

    No. The next opportunity to apply for BUILD awards will be in 5 years, contingent on the availability of funds.

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     35. Will the entire application be read by the same reviewers so that key material can be presented in a single core or are they being reviewed in separate sections so we should write each core component as if it is a stand alone proposal?

    Yes, the entire application will be reviewed by the same reviewers.

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    Eligibility

    36.  What are the eligibility criteria for BUILD Primary Institutions?

    Applicant Primary Institutions are limited to domestic baccalaureate-granting colleges/universities that receive less than $7.5 million (total costs) of NIH research project grant (RPG) funding, averaged over fiscal years 2010, 2011, and 2012. NIH funding for institutional and individual training programs do not count towards the RPG funding limit. Additionally, the institution must have an award-eligible pool of undergraduate students, at least 25% of whom are supported by Pell grants. These institutions typically emphasize undergraduate training and may be ideally poised to encourage students from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter research careers.

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    37. How were BUILD Primary Institution criteria determined?

    The BUILD Primary Institution eligibility criteria are intended to target funds to relatively underresourced institutions (those with less than $7.5 million in annual research project grant funding from the NIH over fiscal years 2010-2012) with a demonstrated commitment to students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds. The requirement that BUILD institutions have a substantial pool of students from disadvantaged backgrounds (at least 25% must be Pell grant recipients) is based on the recognition that (1) many students from disadvantaged backgrounds are also underrepresented nationally in biomedical, behavioral, social and clinical research, and (2) institutional commitment to these students often comes at the expense of investments in research infrastructure.

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    38. Will BUILD scholars have to be Pell eligible or members of underrepresented groups (underrepresented racial or ethnic backgrounds, students with disabilities, or otherwise disadvantaged) in order to participate in and benefit from the BUILD program?

    No. It is expected that eligibility for BUILD-supported activities will be open to all undergraduate students at participating institutions, and all graduate students at Graduate/Medical partner institutions.

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    39. Is there a limit to the number of applications that can be submitted by an institution?

    For the purposes of this award, an institution is defined as an organization that has a unique Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number. A DUNS number can usually be accessed by contacting a grant administrator, chief financial officer, or authorizing official. Institutions may only submit 1 application per DUNS number. University-affiliated schools of medicine and schools of dentistry may each have a DUNS number and thus would be considered separate institutions.

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    40. Are foreign institutions eligible to apply?

    No, non-domestic (non-U.S.) entities (foreign institutions) are not eligible to apply.

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    41. Can Research Partner Institutions partner with more than one Primary Institution on multiple applications?

    Yes. The BUILD FOA does not limit the number of applications in which research-intensive institutions may be involved.  However, Research Partner Institutions should consider how they would manage multiple partnerships with multiple Primary Institutions if more than one of those Primary Institutions receives a BUILD award.  The rationale and feasibility of proposed partnerships should be clearly described in the application.

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    42. Can non-academic institutions be partners on BUILD?

    Yes.  In addition to academic research universities, partnerships with industry, NIH intramural research laboratories, and/or other research institutions may be established.

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    43. If a research partner has an existing training award, will they have to transfer that program to the Primary Institution? 

    No. The BUILD initiative is not intended to replicate or expand existing programs at applicant institutions. Applicants must clearly distinguish the proposed activities from existing programs at the primary and/or partner institutions.

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    44. What activities are available to BUILD students from participating institutions?

    Eligible students at all participating institutions (including Primary, Research Partners, Pipeline Partners, and Graduate/Medical Partners) may participate in BUILD-supported activities such as seminars, mentor training, and/or research experiences.

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    Budget Information

    45. What is the budget for a 5 year BUILD award?

    The NIH Common Fund intends to commit $30 million in FY 2014 to fund approximately ten awards, contingent on the number of meritorious applications received and availability of funds. Applications may request up to $3.0 million (total costs) in the first year. Applications may propose budget increases in year 2 through year 4 to support additional BUILD students, not to exceed $5.3 million (total costs) in any one year. Because the nature and scope of the proposed projects may vary among institutions, it is anticipated that the size of each award will also vary.

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    46. Does the $3 million cap apply to years 1 and 5? Is the $5.3M million an annual cap for years 2 through 4?

    The $3M cap in total costs applies to year 1 only.  The $5.3M cap in total costs applies annually to years 2-5. The expectation is that awardees will ramp up spending on students in years 2-4 to attain maximum participation by year 4 (if not earlier) and continue at that level through year 5.

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    47. What are allowable expenses for the Student Training Core versus the Research Enrichment Core?

    Student Training Core activities include tuition, fees, and stipends for student trainees. This core will be supported by an NRSA Institutional Training Award (TL4) and is therefore subject to the NIH grants administration policies and requirements specific to NRSA training awards, including eligibility requirements for student trainees and limitations on facilities and administrative costs. Student participants supported under the Research Enrichment Core (RL5) may receive financial compensation for participation in research activities; however, they cannot receive stipends, unlike student trainees supported on the TL4 award. Students at Research Partner Institutions are NOT eligible to receive financial support through BUILD awards.

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    48. Can BUILD funds be used to hire new faculty?

    Yes.  However, remember that there should be a plan for sustaining BUILD activities, including new faculty hires, beyond the 5-year project period.

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    49. Can BUILD Institutional Development Funds be used to hire (e.g., salaries and standard faculty benefits) new faculty at Pipeline Partner Institutions?

    Yes. Examples of activities/cost items that may be supported by the Institutional Development Core (IDC) budget are not meant to be all-inclusive.  The FOA does not specifically prohibit the use of IDC funds to hire faculty at Pipeline Partner Institutions.

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    50. Can the Research Partners (1) receive tuition for summer courses associated with research training they provide to BUILD scholars from the Primary Institution and Pipeline Partners, and/or (2) receive financial compensation for faculty of Research Partners to come to the Primary Institution to teach a course, conduct a workshop, or give a seminar?

    Yes.

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    51. Can faculty at Partner Institutions receive financial support from BUILD, and are there limits on the amount of funding that faculty at partner institutions can receive to support BUILD activities?

    Yes.  Funding may be requested for faculty at partner institutions who participate in BUILD program activities. The FOA does not specify any limits on the amount of funding for faculty at partner institutions.  The Primary Institution is responsible for outlining a novel plan, which includes flexibility to budget the award in order to maximize the effective use of funds.

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    52. Will there be any limit on the proportion of the 5 year BUILD award funds that can be allocated to Research Partner Institutions?

    The Primary Institutions will have the flexibility to develop partnerships that will enable them to have the most significant impact on the pool of students from underrepresented backgrounds that they reach and on the degree to which the students are prepared and motivated for research careers. They will have the flexibility to allocate funds to Partner Institutions as needed to achieve these goals. This flexibility notwithstanding, funds will not be provided to Research Partner Institutions for equipment or other costs that are typically covered by research grants.

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    53. Can BUILD funding be used to support high school students?

    No. BUILD funding cannot be used to provide financial support to high school students. However, high school seniors who are enrolled in college bridge programs may participate in enrichment activities such as research training experiences.

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    54. Are there any limits on budget items not used for financial support of students?

    Yes. The FOA specifies a limit up to $500,000 for alterations and renovations of research training space in the Institutional Development Core.

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    55. Can Pipeline Partner Institutions receive support through a 5 year BUILD award to conduct summer research projects for their own students at their home institution, or must all summer research experiences take place at Research Partner institutions?

    Since the specific situation at different institutions is likely to be variable, the Primary Institution, in discussion with all Partner Institutions, must determine the best way to engage students and to prepare them for research. Institutions will have the flexibility to develop summer research experiences that build on the strengths of all partner institutions to ensure that students are well prepared and motivated for research careers.

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    FAQs specific for National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN)

    General Information

    56. Can we propose to develop a mentoring network for a particular region of the country/ level of trainee/scientific discipline (e.g., biology, neuroscience)?

    Only one multi-year NRMN award will be made, so the proposed network must be nationwide, serve individuals from the undergraduate to junior faculty level, and span multiple disciplines relevant to biomedical, behavioral, social and clinical research. Although only one award will be made, it may involve allocation of funds via consortium agreements to multiple institutions that work together to achieve the National Research Mentoring Network.

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    57. Is the mentoring network only for those undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty traditionally underrepresented in the biomedical research workforce?

    No.  The NRMN is intended to serve any eligible mentee (U.S. citizens or non-citizen nationals or permanent residents as described more fully in the Funding Opportunity Announcement) who may benefit from additional mentoring beyond what they are receiving at their home institutions. However, a critical element of the NRMN will be the capacity and ability to provide effective mentoring and networking opportunities to a diverse population of mentees, including those from backgrounds underrepresented in the biomedical research workforce.

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    58. Will multiple NRMN awards be issued similar to the planning grants?

    No.  The NIH Common Fund intends to fund one NRMN cooperative agreement award for this program.

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    59. Are NRMN applicants required to collaborate with specific BUILD or CEC applicants as part of their application?

    No.  The coordination among the NRMN, BUILD and CEC programs will be established after the awards are made. NRMN applicants should identify plans to work with BUILD institutions in a general sense rather than identifying particular institutions.

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    60. How can the NRMN application describe what will be done with BUILD trainees and participants without knowing what the BUILD awardees will be doing for training and/or mentoring activities?

    Applicants should explain how NRMN activities would be designed to complement rather than duplicate activities provided by the BUILD sites.  Because details about BUILD activities at specific sites will not be available until after the BUILD awards are made, applicants should refer to the BUILD FOA (RFA-RM-13-016) to identify the broad categories of activities in which BUILD sites are expected to engage and develop innovative strategies to meet the complementary mentoring needs of BUILD trainees and participants.

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    61. Which career stage should receive the most mentoring support?

    All career stages from undergraduate to early career faculty must be included in the network and must receive mentoring support in some way. Applicants will make their own determination about the level of emphasis that mentees will receive from each career stage.

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    62. How many mentees and mentors should be included in the proposed network?

    Beyond the inclusion of BUILD trainees and participants, the number of mentee and mentors included in the network is to be determined by the applicant and described in the application. Applicants will make their own determination about the balance between the size of the network and range of mentoring activities offered. Although the NRMN awardee will ultimately determine the size/scope of the network, the NRMN must have a nationwide focus providing mentoring services across the ‘biomedical disciplines’ and career stages.

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    63. Should mentors be identified by name in the application (i.e., biographical sketch, or in a Core description)?

    No.

    • Mentors participating in the proposed Network should not be identified by name in the application, nor should their institution be identified by name in the application. Applicants may describe the selection process for recruiting mentors and characteristics of mentors, such as proposed number to be included in the Network, biomedical field, career stage, type of institution, and region of the country.

    • Biographical Sketches should not be included for individuals serving as mentors in the network and are not otherwise substantially involved in the leadership, development, or conduct of the network.  Additionally, mentors participating in the proposed Network should not be identified by name in the application, nor should their institution be identified by name in the application.

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    64. Can NIH intramural investigators or staff serve as mentors?

    Yes.  NIH staff can serve as mentors for the NRMN.  However, NIH staff cannot receive salary support even if they are substantially involved in the initiative.

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    65. Is a pilot project program required?

    No.  Including pilot project program(s) in the application is not required. Though not required, a pilot project program may be used to provide seed funding to pilot or evaluate new mentoring and/or network activities for the Mentorship and Networking Core, Mentor Training Core, and/or Professional Development Core.

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    66. Do descriptions of pilot projects have to be repeated in each core section (mentoring/networking, mentor training, and professional development) or can there be one description provided in one section that is referenced in the other sections?

    If the pilot project programs in the different cores have different features (e.g., eligibility, selection process, award amount, etc.), these programs should be described separately in the respective cores. If a single pilot project program is being proposed that operates across cores, it is up to the applicant to determine whether to include a description in one core and reference it in the other cores or provide a description in each core.

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    Eligibility

    67. Is there a limit to the number of applications that can be submitted by an institution?

    For the purposes of this award, an institution is defined as an organization that has a unique Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number. A DUNS number can usually be accessed by contacting a grant administrator, chief financial officer, or authorizing official. Institutions may only submit 1 application per DUNS number. University-affiliated schools of medicine and schools of dentistry
    may each have a DUNS number and thus would be allowed to submit separate applications.

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    68. What kinds of institutions are eligible to apply for NRMN grants?

    Institutions of higher education, non-profits, for profits, small businesses, non-Federal governments and other institutions are eligible to apply. There is no restriction of eligibility in terms of funding received from other NIH mechanisms.

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    69. Are foreign institutions eligible to apply?

    No, non-domestic (non-U.S.) entities (foreign institutions) are not eligible to apply.

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    70. Is the NIH Intramural program eligible to apply for a NRMN grant?

    No.

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    71. Can a collaborator on an NRMN application also be included on a BUILD or CEC application?

    Yes.  Eligible collaborators may be included in multiple applications, including CEC, BUILD, and NRMN.  However, the CEC awardee may not receive funds from a BUILD or NRMN award.  If a BUILD/NRMN awardee includes a partnership with a CEC awardee, the CEC awardees to the BUILD/NRMN project(s) may be required to withdraw participation.

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    Budget

    72. What is the budget for a 5 year NRMN award?

    The NIH Common Fund intends to commit $2,225,000 in FY 2014 for a single NRMN award, contingent upon availability of funds. Application budgets are limited to $2,225,000 in total costs annually.

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    73. Can mentors receive financial compensation for mentoring, such as a salary or honorarium? 

    No. Financial compensation should only be provided for individuals who are substantially involved in the leadership, development, or conduct of the network itself (not for their participation or services as mentors) and to support staff time required to develop and conduct activities. Salary, consulting fees, and honoraria are not allowed for mentors who are not otherwise substantially involved in the network. Salaries of federal employees with permanent appointments are unallowable except in certain circumstances.

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    FAQs specific for the Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC)

    General information

    74. What is the Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC)?

    The CEC will coordinate consortium-wide activities and evaluate BUILD and NRMN programs. CEC will facilitate the establishment of program-wide hallmarks of success; it will coordinate activities necessary to achieve and evaluate efficacy of the various consortium goals; it will also work with individual awardees to adjust objectives and strategies in response to evaluative data obtained. The overarching question that the CEC will address is whether the innovative approaches taken by BUILD and NRMN for student engagement, training, and mentoring are more effective than prior approaches and identify what works and for whom. The CEC will also be critical to the dissemination of successful approaches to the community at large, enabling transformation to take place on a nationwide scale.

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    75. How specifically should the plans for coordination and evaluation be described in the application if the BUILD and NRMN projects are unknown?

    The applicant should describe a compelling vision, as well as potential approaches and strategies for coordination of the Consortium and evaluation of the BUILD and NMRN initiatives.

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    76. How specific should CEC applicants be in describing potential evaluation metrics without knowing what specific activities the BUILD and NRMN grantees are proposing?

    The application should provide evaluation approaches and metrics that may be conducive to evaluating the BUILD and NRMN projects given stated goals in their respective FOAs.  Methods should include multi-site evaluation techniques, sophisticated data analytical procedures appropriate for the effort (e.g., comparison group analyses), in addition to coordination strategies that might be used for the consortium-wide activities required.

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    77. Is the CEC expected to conduct its own self-evaluation? 

    No. The NIH is planning to conduct an assessment of the CEC awardee’s progress, process, and outcomes.

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    78. Is it anticipated that the consortium website will be developed by the CEC, with Steering Committee input, but use the existing Common Fund website as a platform hosted by NIH?  Or will it be a separate website hosted by the CEC?

    Applicants should outline their vision for the CEC, including the development of a website and/or other communications tools to convey information to consortium members and the community as needed and approved by the NIH.  Inclusion of plans to develop, host, and maintain a website is strongly encouraged for efficient information sharing and to meet the needs of the Executive Steering Committee (ESC).  The Common Fund website can easily be linked to any web-based tool the applicant might propose building, but it should not be the primary host for the proposed website.

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    79. Are the website and portal solely for Common Fund grantees and NIH, or will there be a public-facing component as well? 

    Applicants should outline their vision for the CEC, including the development of a website and/or other communications tools to convey information to consortium members and the community as needed and approved by the NIH. This involves internal consortium members, including the Executive Steering Committee, and the public, as required.  However, the exact design of such communication strategies or tools should be determined by the CEC applicant.

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    Eligibility

     

    80. Who can apply for CEC awards?

    Institutions of higher education, non-profits, for profits, small businesses, non-Federal governments and other institutions are eligible to apply. There is no restriction on eligibility in terms of funding received from other NIH mechanisms.

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    81. Is there a limit to the number of applications that can be submitted by an institution?

    For the purposes of this award, an institution is defined as an organization that has a unique Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number. A DUNS number can usually be accessed by contacting a grant administrator, chief financial officer, or authorizing official. Institutions may only submit 1 application per DUNS number. University-affiliated schools of medicine and schools of dentistry may each have a DUNS number and thus would be considered separate institutions.

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    82. Can a CEC applicant also be listed on a BUILD or NRMN application?

    Yes.  Eligible collaborators may be included in multiple applications, including CEC, BUILD, and NRMN. However, the CEC awardee may not receive funds from a BUILD or NRMN award.  If a BUILD/NRMN awardee includes a partnership with a CEC awardee, the CEC awardees to the BUILD/NRMN project(s) may be required to withdraw participation.

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    Budget

     

    83. What is the budget for the CEC award?

    The NIH Common Fund intends to commit $1.75 million in FY 2014.  A single award is anticipated contingent upon the availability of funds. Application budgets may not exceed $1.75 million in total costs annually. The allocated budget of $1.75 million includes institutional F&A.

     

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