Supplemental Information for National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Institutional National Research Service Awards (T32)
March 18, 2015

I. INTRODUCTION
 

This policy statement of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) supplements the general guidelines of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as described in the program announcement: “Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Institutional Research Training Grants (T32)” http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-14-015.html.  This NIAAA supplemental information and policies will go into effect for all T32 applications submitted for the May 25, 2015 receipt date.

 

II. PURPOSE AND AVAILABILITY

The purpose of the NIAAA Institutional training program is to help ensure that a diverse and highly trained workforce is available to assume leadership roles in alcohol-related biomedical and behavioral research consistent with the Institute’s Mission and five-year Strategic Plan http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/about-niaaa/our-work/strategic-plan

Each year the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) supports approximately 200 trainees (80 pre-doctoral and 120 post-doctoral) at about 30 Institutional Training programs with a total annual budget of nearly $8 million.  Each NIAAA Training Program provides a unique training experience focused on a significant issue in alcohol research (see http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/ResearchInformation/ExtramuralResearch/trainee.htm). In addition, institutional training programs form an important complement to Alcohol Research Centers, many of which are affiliated with a NIAAA institutional training program.  Given the five-year maximum duration of T32 awards, an average of about six programs come up for competitive renewal each year.  The single receipt date for NIAAA T32 applications is May 25 of each year.

III. SPECIAL NIAAA GUIDELINES

The special NIAAA guidelines listed here do not replace, but rather augment the requirements of the NRSA Institutional Training programs as described in the NIH program announcement: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-14-015.html

Training in Alcohol Research and Co-morbidities: Proposed training programs should focus on areas critical to alcohol use and its comorbidities, and exhibit significant potential to mitigate their injurious effects. Prospective applicants are encouraged to include in their training programs, goals that match the institution’s strengths consistent with the missions of NIAAA and/or the Collaborative Research on Addiction at NIH (CRAN, http://addictionresearch.nih.gov/), which was formed in early 2013 as a functional merger of NIAAA, NIDA, NCI and other NIH institutes to support dynamic and innovative research on substance use, abuse and health outcome-oriented sciences. 

An accomplished alcohol research Program Director: The training Program Director is expected to have significantly contributed to alcohol research and have the potential to maintain a strong alcohol research program.  In addition, the Program Director will have research training experience and the leadership potential to create and sustain an innovative and multidisciplinary program. 

Highly Qualified Preceptors/Mentors: Preceptors must be highly qualified in their area of research as demonstrated by scientific productivity and independent support from NIH or comparable peer-reviewed funding sources. It is anticipated that a high proportion of the preceptors will be researchers that have a strong record of achievement in alcohol research and a history of external support. Successful NIAAA institutional training programs are expected to lead the field in preparing scientists for successful careers in academia, industry or public health service in the field of alcohol or addiction research. This will require creativity and innovation and where appropriate, the incorporation of expertise from outside the field of alcohol research. Recruitment of preceptors who offer unique expertise essential to alcohol research but are themselves not experienced in alcohol research is encouraged. Their selection and anticipated contributions to the field of alcohol research and unique role in the training program should be well justified in the application. Collaborations between investigators with needed expertise and alcohol researchers in the trainee's alcohol research plan and evaluation is anticipated. 

A well-developed training plan: In addition to their research and academic course work trainees should be offered a multidisciplinary orientation in alcohol research issues, techniques, theoretical concepts and future directions. The curriculum should be as wide ranging as possible consistent with the program's goals and include a visiting speaker lecture series and other appropriate mechanisms. A recruitment and retention plan to enhance diversity should be included. 

A well-developed mentoring program: Effective training programs are expected to prepare trainees to develop new questions, approaches and technologies for future alcohol research as well as non-academic careers. The training program should describe an organizational plan that assures individualized trainee guidance from both the preceptor and from the training program itself. This should include the appropriate conduct of research, data analysis, effective writing, the acquisition of the grantsmanship skills required to compete for peer-reviewed sources of funding and guidance for procuring and maintaining a successful career in academia, industry or public sector. 

A well-documented record of training success: An essential credential for a successful training program is a record of trainee publications in alcohol-related research and a history of past trainees who have gone on to productive careers in alcohol research in academia and/or related careers that include but are not limited to education, health services, public administration, public health, industry, community based treatment and recovery. Also needed is core of productive alcohol experts who will serve as the primary mentors. Proposals from applicants of newly constituted training programs will need to demonstrate potential to fulfill these goals.

Using the SF424 Forms D Training Data Tables
Please see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/forms/data-tables/forms-d.htm for blank data tables, instructions, and sample data tables. Note that the SF424 Forms D Training Data Tables are required for training applications due on or after May 25, 2016, or for progress reports. 
 
Prior to preparing your Data Tables, please read the Introduction to the Data Tables and the associated NIH Office of Extramural Research FAQs on Form Updates (see section E). The additional FAQs provided below, although specific to institutional training grant applications submitted to NIDA, are intended to further clarify the data training table instructions and does not supplant or modify the existing instructions or FAQs. 
 
   Frequently Asked Questions:
  • If there are any perceived discrepancies between the SF424 data table instructions and the NIH FAQs, the NIH FAQs takes precedence as they contain the most current information.
     
  • Table 2 should include all current and past students (for the last 10 years) of participating faculty, including those who were not appointed to the training grant. 
     
  • Tables 2 and 5 should not include past faculty.
     
  • Only aggregate data should be provided in Table 6, part II. 
     
  • Since the method of hiring of postdocs can greatly affect the applicant pool count, programs using Table 6B should provide a table footnote specifying how postdocs are recruited (e.g., ad hoc, via a department applicant pool, or other).
     
  • If there are any additional questions regarding these data tables, please contact your NIAAA or NIDA program official.
 
FAQ on Joint NIDA-NIAAA T32 review
NIAAA and NIDA to have Institutional NRSA Applications Reviewed by a Common Panel of Experts beginning in 2016
 
In order to increase efficiency, broaden expertise, and enable functional integration of relevant Institutional NRSA Research Training at NIAAA and NIDA, a single Special Emphasis Panel will be set up each year to review all T32 and T35 applications received by the two Institutes. The panel will be jointly managed by staff from NIAAA and NIDA who will ensure that appropriate expertise is included to review the full breadth of research training proposed in all applications, including those applicable to each institute as well as those responsive to multi-substance priority areas. The Special Emphasis Panel will be effective beginning with applications submitted for the May 25, 2016 (non-AIDS) and September 7, 2016 (AIDS) application due dates for January 2017 Councils.
 
To provide applicants and study section reviewers with a common set of expectations, the following description of the anticipated implementation of the jointly managed Special Emphasis Panel is provided in the form of anticipated questions.
 
   Frequently Asked Questions:
 
Q.   Will Institute mission-specific training programs (e.g., in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, or alcohol related liver disease) be expected to include training for other substances of abuse?
A.   No. There is no mandate to expand a training program to incorporate other substances of abuse. The review will evaluate the significance and quality of the research training based on the stated scientific goals of the training program. 
 
Q.  Is it appropriate for an already funded training program to incorporate faculty who study other substances of abuse in the renewal application?
A.   Yes, where appropriate to the scientific training goals of the program. When the training addresses compatible scientific areas it could be beneficial to add faculty with expertise in other substances and/or polysubstance use.  In contrast, if the scientific areas are widely divergent (e.g., mechanisms of alcohol-induced liver disease and reward mechanisms of abused drugs) this may not be advisable, unless a strong scientific rationale is provided.
 
Q.   Are there examples of research areas that could benefit from training in multiple substances/polysubstance use? 
A.    Yes, they span basic to applied research areas, including neuroscience and cellular/molecular biology, medicinal chemistry and medications development, behavioral treatments and treatment targets, clinical trials research, epidemiology, services and implementation research. 
 
Q.   Will CRAN-related programs or programs that are relevant to both ICs be prioritized over programs that focus on a single IC’s mission?
A.   No.  Programs that are applicable to a single IC remain a priority, as do those with a broader focus on multiple substances and polysubstance use. The intent of a common review panel is to enable fair review of applications from programs that train in multi-substance priority areas, and not to exclude those with a narrower focus.  
 
Q.   To which Institute should applicants request assignment?
A.   Applicants should request primary assignment based on the focus of their training program.
 
Q.   If both alcohol and other substance abuse researchers are already part of a training program, which IC assignment should be requested as primary?
A.   The primary assignment will depend on the balance of the expertise of the training investigators and on the relevance of the training areas to the individual Institute.  It would be anticipated that a training program with a majority of alcohol researchers and a record of training alcohol focused trainees would be assigned to NIAAA. Similarly, a training program with a stronger focus and trainee outcomes related to other substances of abuse would be assigned to NIDA. When investigators with expertise in both research areas are involved, the previous support history may also be considered. Applicants should request primary assignment to the appropriate IC and secondary assignment to the other IC (i.e., if NIAAA is the primary IC, NIDA would be the secondary IC, and vice versa). It may be helpful to discuss assignment with program officials in both ICs prior to application submission.
 
Q.   Is it permissible to submit more than one T32 application in the same review cycle?
A.   Per FOA instructions, applicants should explain what distinguishes the proposed program from other training programs at the same institution. Programs that appear very similar to each other (e.g., high overlap between faculty mentors on each program) should clearly identify the differences in the two training programs and the need for two separate applications; in cases where programs have substantial overlap, it may be beneficial to combine and integrate programs to submit a single application.
 
Q.   If an institution has both a NIAAA and a NIDA funded T32 program, will these be combined into a single T32?       
A.     There is no plan to combine NIAAA and NIDA funded T32 programs. Separate funding by NIDA and NIAAA of their respective Institutional training grants allows for greater flexibility and targeted training opportunities. If the training areas are distinct, separate programs are appropriate. Where the areas of training are similar, training programs may still submit separate applications, but are encouraged to collaborate and enhance the multi-substance research development of the trainees, through, e.g., common course work, seminar series, etc. 
       
Q.   Who will review my application?
A.    The reviewer pool will be selected based on scientific expertise and experience with research training. Representatives from both NIAAA and NIDA training programs and review panels will be included. The review will be comanaged by SROs from NIDA and NIAAA.
 
Q.   Does NIDA now accept T35 applications?
A.     NIDA does not participate in the parent T35 FOA, and thus will not support T35 programs in whole or in part.
 
Q.   Will any other aspects of application preparation guidance change?
A.   Minor changes to the NIAAA institutional training guidance can be found here. NIDA’s guidance does not deviate from the instructions found in the parent T32 FOA, so there are no changes in NIDA’s guidance for T32 application preparation.
 
 
 
IV. REVIEW CRITERIA

The full NIH review criteria for T32 Institutional Training programs can be found in Section V of the program announcement: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-14-015.html In addition to the NIH review criteria, trainee participation in research involving alcohol or alcohol-related comorbidities and publication by trainees in alcohol and related fields are required.

In the process of determining an overall impact/priority score, reviewers are asked to consider the likelihood for the proposed alcohol research training program to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the alcohol and related fields.  In consideration of the five core review criteria, the proposed training program MUST be judged likely to have a major scientific impact on the alcohol and related fields. For example: Are the research facilities and research environment conducive to preparing trainees for successful careers in the field of alcohol research and comorbidities?  Are there sufficient numbers of experienced preceptors/mentors with appropriate research expertise and funding available to support the number and level of trainees proposed in the application?

V. APPLICATION FORMS

New instructions and application forms for T32 Institutional Training programs are available. Prepare all applications using the SF424 (R&R) application forms and in accordance with the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide for this FOA through Grants.gov. Applicants are required to fully complete the Data tables for use with Institutional Research Training grant applications. Examples of these tables can be found at http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/funding/424/index.htm#data.

For NIAAA T32 Applications Table 6 “Publications of Research Completed by Trainees (or Potential Trainees)” applicants are encouraged to add to the citation a short description which highlights the impact or relevance to alcohol research and comorbidities where the title alone is not sufficient.

VI. AWARD DECISIONS

The NIAAA award decisions are largely based on the results of peer-review, but also will take into account programmatic priorities and balance and are contingent upon the availability of funds.

VII. INQUIRIES

For additional information regarding policies of the NIAAA for institutional NRSA grant applications, contact one of the following individuals:

Program Contact:
  Kathy Jung, Ph.D.
  Division of Metabolism and Health Effects
  National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism National Institutes of Health, DHHS
  5635 Fishers Lane, Room 2021 MSC 9304
  Bethesda, MD 20892-9304 
  [For express mail use: Rockville, MD 20852-1705] 
  Telephone: 301-443-8744
  FAX: 301-443-8744
  Email: Kathy.jung@nih.gov

Peer Review Contacts:
  RV Srinivas, Ph.D.
  Chief, Extramural Project Review Branch
  National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
  National Institutes of Health, DHHS
  5635 Fishers Lane, Room 2085
  Bethesda, MD 20892-9304
  [For express mail use: Rockville, MD 20852-1705]
  Telephone: (301) 451-2067
  FAX: 301-402-0250
  Email: srinivar@mail.nih.gov

Financial or Grants Management Contacts:
  Judy Fox
  Grants Management Branch
  National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
  National Institutes of Health, DHHS
  5635 Fishers Lane MSC 9304 Room 3023
  Bethesda, MD 20892-9304
  [For express mail use: Rockville, MD 20852-1705]
  Telephone: 301-443-4704
  FAX:  301-443-3891
  Email: jfox@mail.nih.gov