Supplemental Information for National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Institutional National Research Service Awards (T32 and T35)
 

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 announcements “Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Institutional Research Training Grants (Parent T32)” (PA-20-142) and “Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Short-Term Institutional Research Training Grant (Parent T35)” (PA-20-162).  This NIAAA supplemental information and policies are in effect for all T32 and T35 applications submitted to NIAAA.

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 Strategic Plan.

Each of the NIAAA Institutional Research Training Programs provide a unique training experience focused on a significant issue in alcohol research. 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 and T35 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 announcements: PA-20-142 and PA-20-162.

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), 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 F Training Data Tables

For blank data tables, instructions, and sample data see Form F Training Data Tables. Note that the SF424 Forms F Training Data Tables are required for training applications due on or after May 25, 2020, 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 Data Tables). 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.

T32 and T35 Budget Information

  • Stipends: See Research Training and Career Development Homepage for Current Stipend Levels  for more details.
  • Facilities and administrative costs based on eight percent of modified total direct costs. State and local government agencies may request full reimbursement.
  • Tuition and fees: I0t is advised that applicants request actual needs as the NIAAA will adjust the grants to adhere to the NIH policy below.
    • Predoctoral trainees—60 percent of level requested by applicant institution, up to $16,000 per year; 60 percent up to $21,000 for formally combined dual-degree training.
    • Postdoctoral trainees—60 percent of level requested by applicant institution, up to $4,500 per year; 60 percent up to $16,000 for formally combined dual-degree training.
  • Trainee travel, including attendance at essential scientific meetings: We recommend travel budgets up to $2,250 per trainee per annum. However, recipients are encouraged to request travel funds needed to meet the training objectives and provide a strong programmatic justification to support the request. Please contact your Program Officer for more details. 
  • Training-related expenses, including administrative support, health insurance, and research supplies:—of $4,200 a year per predoctoral trainee and $11,850 a year per postdoctoral trainee Training-related expenses are announced annually in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, and are also posted on the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) webpage.

NIAAA T32 and T35 Budgetary and Administrative Frequently Asked Questions 
 

  1. Can funds be re-budgeted between categories on a training grant?

    Funds may be re-budgeted only as follows:

    • Trainee Costs: For re-budgeting purposes, trainee costs include funds awarded in the stipends and tuition/fees budget categories. These costs may not be used for other purposes except under unusual circumstances and then only with the prior approval of the NIH awarding IC. Unless otherwise restricted by the terms and conditions of the grant award, re-budgeting into or within the stipends and tuition/fees is allowable without prior approval. Any re-budgeting needs to ensure all trainee slots will be filled. 
    • Trainee-Related Expenses: Re-budgeting of funds awarded in a lump sum for trainee-related expenses does not require NIH awarding IC prior approval.
    • Trainee Travel: For re-budgeting purposes, trainee travel is not considered a trainee cost and, therefore, may be re-budgeted into any other budget category without prior approval of the NIH awarding IC.

    See 11.3.9 Rebudgeting of Funds for more information.

  2. How do we change the principal investigator (PI) on the training grant?

    The request for prior approval of any additional or substitute PD/PIs, or change from a multiple PD/PI model to a single PD/PI model, must be submitted promptly, and must be accompanied by a strong scientific justification related to the scientific project, including any proposed changes in scope, the biographical sketch of any new individuals proposed and other sources of support, and any budget changes resulting from the proposed change. A new or revised Leadership Plan is required if the request is to change from a single PD/PI model to a multiple PD/PI model, or to change the number or makeup of the PD/PIs on a multiple PD/PI award. The Commons ID must be provided for any new PD/PIs. Please refer to NOT-OD-20-124 for more information.

  3. If the PI plans to be absent from the program for more than 3 months, what is required?

    A countersigned letter requesting approval of an acting PI should be submitted to NIAAA. The letter should describe plans for the conduct of the program during the original PI's absence and indicate that the acting PI will have signature authority on trainee forms. A copy of the acting PD's biosketch should be included. PI will review the request and provide a written decision to the grantee.

  4. On an FFR, how do we reflect the dollars associated with stipends and tuition for appointments that cross over into the next budget period (overlapping appointments)? Should they be shown as an unobligated balance, or an unliquidated obligation?

    These monies should be reflected as an unliquidated obligation since these are bona fide expenses charged/incurred to the Stipend and Tuition categories but have not yet been paid. As a reminder, if the FFR report covers the final budget period of the project period, it must have no unliquidated obligations and must indicate the exact balance of unobligated funds.

  5. Is automatic carry-over of unexpended balances permitted on NIAAA training grants?

    No. NIAAA does not permit automatic carryover from one budget period to the next. These funds are used by the Institute to offset future year commitments. This helps us to utilize the training budget available in the most judicious manner possible.

  6. Can the PI request to change the number of predoctoral trainees to postdoctoral trainees or vice versa? 

    The AOR should submit a prior approval request including a justification for the need of the change in trainee distribution. Explaining how the Institution plans to pay for the change, especially if this change will be for more than one more than one budget period. As well as providing a statement regarding recruitment efforts. Also, if the request is to add an additional postdoc trainee, the Institution will need to provide a statement regarding Payback implications should the trainee not be reappointed.

  7. Is there an effort requirement for Trainees on Training Grants? 

    Typically, trainee appointments require full-time effort (40 hours per week), 12-person months a year. In addition to the full-time training, trainees may spend on average, an additional 25 percent of their time (e.g., 10 hours a week) in part-time research, teaching, or clinical employment, so long as those activities do not interfere with, or lengthen, the duration of their NRSA training.  Please see 11.3.6.2 and 11.3.10.2 in the NIH GPS for more information.

  8. Is there a budget cap for T32 and T35?

    As the FOA states, before submission IC approval for direct cost at $500 K and above is required for both new and competing renewals. Competing renewals with over $500 K direct cost in the last year of the previous funding period may be considered provided there are no increases in the numbers of slots. (Table of IC-Specific Information, Requirements and Staff Contacts)

  9. Are T32 and T35 grant mechanisms eligible for Diversity Supplements?

    T32 and T35 grant mechanisms are not eligible.

FAQ on Joint NIDA-NIAAA T32 review
 
NIAAA and NIDA Institutional NRSA Applications Reviewed by a Common Panel of Experts
 
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. 
 
To provide applicants and study section reviewers with a common set of expectations, the following description 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. 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 How to Apply--Application Guide

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.
 

V. AWARD DECISIONS

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

VI. INQUIRIES

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

Program Contact:
Mariela C. Shirley, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator; Co-Chair NIAAA Centers and Training Working Group
Division of Treatment and Recovery Research (DTRR)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Institutes of Health
6700B Rockledge Drive, MSC 6902
Bethesda, MD 20892-6902 [for deliveries use 20817]
Telephone: 301-402-9389
Email: shirleym@mail.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
6700B Rockledge Drive, Room 2114, MSC 6902
Bethesda, MD 20892-6902
[For express mail use: Rockville, MD 20817] 
Telephone: (301) 451-2067
FAX: 301-402-0250
Email: srinivar@mail.nih.gov

Financial or Grants Management Contacts:
Lauren E. Early
Grants Management Branch
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
6700B Rockledge Drive, MSC 6902
Bethesda, MD 20892-6902
[For express mail use: Rockville, MD 20817] 
Telephone: 301-443-2434
FAX:  301-443-3891
Email: earlyle@mail.nih.gov

Last reviewed November 2020