Part I Overview Information


Department of Health and Human Services

Participating Organizations
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, (AHRQ), (http//www.ahrq.govhttp//www.ahrq.gov)

Components of Participating Organizations
Office of Extramural Research, Education, and Priority Populations, (OEREP), (http://www.ahrq.gov)

Title:  AHRQ Individual Awards for Postdoctoral Fellows (F32) Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA)

Note: The policies, guidelines, terms, and conditions stated in this announcement may differ from those used by the NIH.

Announcement Type

This Funding Opportunity Announcement updates and supersedes PAR-06-409 released on May 12, 2006.

Update: The following update relating to this announcement has been issued:

NOTICE:  Applications submitted in response to this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for Federal assistance must be submitted electronically through Grants.gov (http://www.grants.gov) using the SF 424 Research and Related (R&R) forms and the SF 424 (R&R) Individual Fellowship Application Guide for use by NIH and AHRQ applications.

APPLICATIONS MAY NOT BE SUBMITTED IN PAPER FORMAT.

This FOA must be read in conjunction with the individual fellowship application guidelines included with this announcement in Grants.gov/Apply for Grants (hereafter called Grants.gov/Apply).

A registration process is necessary before submission, and applicants are highly encouraged to start the process at least four (4) weeks prior to the grant submission date.  See Section IV.

Program Announcement (PA) Number: PA-09-229  

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number(s)
93.225

Key Dates
Release Date: July 2, 2009
Opening Date: July 8, 2009 (Earliest date an application may be submitted to Grants.gov)
Application Receipt Date(s): Standard dates for Individual Kirschstein-NRSA awards apply: see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm for details.
Peer Review Date(s): Generally two months after receipt date

Earliest Anticipated Start Date(s): Generally two months after peer review date

Expiration Date: New Date: September 8, 2012 (per issuance of NOT-HS-11-007), Previous Date: January 8, 2011 (per issuance of NOT-OD-11-018), Original Date: September 8, 2012

Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not applicable

Additional Overview Content

Executive Summary

Table of Contents


Part I Overview Information

Part II Full Text of Announcement

Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
  1. Research Training Objectives

Section II. Award Information
 1. Mechanism(s) of Support
  2. Funds Available

Section III. Eligibility Information
  1. Eligible Applicants
       A. Eligible Institutions
       B. Eligible Individuals
   2.Cost Sharing or Matching
   3. Other - Special Eligibility Criteria

Section IV. Application and Submission Information
 1. Address to Request Application Information
 2. Content and Form of Application Submission
 3. Submission Dates and Times
     A. Receipt and Review and Anticipated Start Dates
        1. Letter of Intent
     B. Sending an Application Electronically to the NIH
     C. Application Processing
  4. Intergovernmental Review
  5. Funding Restrictions
  6. Other Submission Requirements

Section V. Application Review Information
  1. Criteria
 2. Review and Selection Process
  3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

Section VI. Award Administration Information
   1. Award Notices
   2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
   3. Reporting

Section VII. Agency Contact(s)
   1. Scientific/Research Contact(s)
   2. Peer Review Contact(s)
  3. Financial/ Grants Management Contact(s)

Section VIII. Other Information - Required Federal Citations

Part II - Full Text of Announcement


Section I. Funding Opportunity Description


1. Research Training Objectives 

The purpose of the postdoctoral fellowship (F32) award is to provide support to promising postdoctoral applicants who have the potential to become productive and successful independent research investigators. The proposed postdoctoral training must offer an opportunity to enhance the applicant’s understanding of health services research and must be responsive to AHRQ’s mission, which is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans.  The research sponsored and conducted by AHRQ develops and presents scientific evidence regarding all aspects of health care.  It addresses issues of organization, delivery, financing, utilization, patient and provider behavior, outcomes, effectiveness and cost.  It evaluates both clinical services and the system in which these services are provided.  These scientific results improve the evidence base to enable better decisions about health care, including such areas as disease prevention, appropriate use of medical technologies, improving diagnosis and treatment utilizing comparative effectiveness research, and reducing racial and ethnic disparities.  In addition, AHRQ is interested in the application of health information technology (health IT), as well as reducing medical errors and improving patient safety.

AHRQ has identified strategic goals as priority research areas. Research applications must address one of these areas.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to focus on topical areas unique to AHRQ, demonstrating how expected results can be used or made available for use to improve healthcare quality.  Results should be directly relevant to customers, such as providers and practitioners, administrators, payers, consumers, policymakers, and insurers.  The strategic research goals are:

AHRQ has particular interest in supporting postdoctoral fellows whose research relates to the following portfolios of work:  comparative effectiveness, health IT, patient safety, prevention and care management, value, and healthcare innovations.  To learn more about AHRQ’s focus within these portfolios of work, please visit http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/portfolio.htm

In addition, particular opportunities emphasizing special research areas of interest within AHRQ’s priorities are occasionally posted on AHRQ’s web site at http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/ragendix.htm.  Applicants are encouraged to access AHRQ’s website for updates.

Applicants are further encouraged to address health services research issues critical to AHRQ priority populations, including: individuals living in inner city and rural (including frontier) areas; low-income and minority groups; women, children, the elderly; and individuals with special health care needs, including those with disabilities and those who need chronic or end-of-life health care.

Applicants with a health professional doctoral degree may use the proposed postdoctoral training to satisfy a portion of the degree requirements for a master's degree, a research doctoral degree or any other advanced research degree program.

Individuals from diverse racial and ethnic groups and individuals with disabilities and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds are always encouraged to apply for AHRQ support.

See Section VIII, Other Information - Required Federal Citations, for policies related to this announcement.

Section II. Award Information


1. Mechanism of Support

This funding opportunity will use the Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA individual postdoctoral fellowship award mechanism (F32). As a Fellowship Applicant, the individual together with his/her sponsor and institution, are jointly responsible for planning, directing, and executing the proposed research training program.

This mechanism is intended for candidates who will have received a PhD, MD, DO, DC, DDS, DVM, OD, DPM, ScD, EngD, Dr PH, DNSc, ND (Doctor of Naturopathy), PharmD, DSW, PsyD, or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited domestic or foreign institution prior to activation of the award.

Additional information and detailed requirements for this NRSA award mechanism can be found at: http://grants.nih.gov/training/nrsa.htm.

2. Funds Available

Although the financial plans AHRQ provide support for this program, awards pursuant to this funding opportunity are contingent upon the receipt of a sufficient number of meritorious applications, the AHRQ program priorities and availability of funds.

2.A. Allowable Costs

Stipends: Kirschstein-NRSA awards provide stipends to fellows as a subsistence allowance to help defray living expenses during the research and clinical training experiences. The awards are not provided as a condition of employment with either the Federal government or the sponsoring institution. For the most recent stipend levels, see the following website: http://grants2.nih.gov/training/nrsa.htm.  AHRQ will adjust awards on the anniversary date of the fellowship award to ensure consistency with the stipend level in effect at that time.  No departure from the published Kirschstein-NRSA stipend schedule may be negotiated between the institution and the fellow. 

Fellows with less than one full year of relevant postdoctoral experience at the time of award will receive initial support at the zero level. Relevant experience may include research (including research in industry), teaching, internship, residency, clinical duties, or other time spent in full-time studies in a health-related field beyond that of the qualifying doctoral degree. AHRQ will adjust awards on the anniversary date of the fellowship award to ensure consistency with the stipend schedule in effect at that time. No departure from the published Kirschstein-NRSA stipend schedule may be negotiated between the institution and the fellow. The stipend for each subsequent year of Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA support is the next level of experience using the stipend schedule in effect at that time.

For fellows sponsored by domestic non-federal institutions, the stipend will be paid through the sponsoring institution. For fellows sponsored by Federal institutions, the monthly stipend payment will be deposited in the fellow's U.S. bank account or paid directly to the fellow by U.S. Department of Treasury check.

Tuition and Fees: AHRQ will contribute to the combined cost of tuition and fees at the rate in place at the time of award. Tuition, for the purposes of this policy, means the combined costs of tuition and fees. For the most recent tuition/fees levels, see the following website: http://grants2.nih.gov/training/nrsa.htm.

Institutional Allowance: Fellows sponsored by nonfederal or nonprofit institutions (domestic or foreign) will receive an institutional allowance to help defray fellowship expenses such as health insurance, research supplies, equipment, books, and travel to scientific meetings. Self-only health insurance (available to fellows without families) or family health insurance is an allowable cost for fellows at the sponsoring institution only if such self or family health insurance is applied consistently to all persons in a similar training status and regardless of the source of support. This allowance is intended to cover training-related expenses for the individual fellow and is not available until the fellow officially activates the award. If an individual fellow is enrolled or engaged in training for less than six months of the award year, only one-half of that year's allowance may be charged to the grant. The Notice of Award will be revised and the balance must be returned to AHRQ.

Funds are not available to cover the costs of travel between the fellow’s place of residence and a training institution. However, in an individual case of extreme hardship, a one-way travel allowance may be authorized by the sponsoring institution. Such travel must be paid from the institutional allowance.  For the most recent institutional allowance levels, see the following website: http://grants2.nih.gov/training/nrsa.htm.

Other Training Costs: As part of this award, additional funds may be requested. In all cases, the additional funds requested must be reasonable in relationship to the total dollars awarded under the fellowship and must be directly related to the approved research training experience. Such additional funds shall be provided only in exceptional circumstances that are fully justified and explained by the sponsoring institution in the application.

Awards for fellowship training at AHRQ may only be made to domestic institutions.  However, limited travel to a foreign site may be permitted with sufficient justification and prior approval by AHRQ.  Such travel must be paid from the institutional allowance.   For information on NRSA stipend schedule, tuition, fees, and institutional allowance see http://grants.nih.gov/training/nrsa.htm

Supplementation of Stipends, Compensation, And Other Income: The sponsoring institution is allowed to provide funds to the fellow in addition to the stipend paid by AHRQ. Such additional amounts either may be in the form of an augmented stipend (supplementation) or in the form of compensation, provided the conditions described below are met. Under no circumstances may the conditions of stipend supplementation or the services provided for compensation interfere with, detract from, or prolong the fellow's approved Kirschstein-NRSA training program. See also: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps_2003/NIHGPS_Part10.htm#_Toc54600200.

Stipend Supplementation: Supplementation, or additional support to offset the cost of living, may be provided by the sponsoring institution. Supplementation does not require additional effort from the fellow. DHHS funds may not be used for supplementation under any circumstances. Additionally, no funds from other Federal agencies may be used for supplementation unless specifically authorized by AHRQ and the other Federal agency.

Compensation: The sponsoring institution may provide additional funds to a fellow in the form of compensation (as salary and/or tuition remission) for services such as teaching or serving as a research assistant. A fellow may receive compensation for services as a research assistant or in some other position on a Federal research grant, including a DHHS research grant. However, compensated services should occur on a limited, part-time basis apart from the normal research training activities, which require a minimum of 40 hours per week. In addition, compensation may not be paid from a research grant supporting the fellow's research training experience.

Educational Loans or G.I. Bill: An individual may make use of Federal educational loan funds and assistance under the Veterans Readjustment Benefits Act (G.I. Bill). Such funds are not considered supplementation or compensation.

Awards for fellowship training may only be made to domestic institutions.  However, limited travel to a foreign site may be permitted with sufficient justification and prior approval by AHRQ.  Such travel must be paid from the institutional allowance.

Indirect Costs: These costs, also known as Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs, are not allowed on individual fellowship awards.

Section III. Eligibility Information


1. Eligible Applicants

1. A. Eligible Institutions

You may submit an application(s) if your institution/organization has any of the following characteristics:

Awards for fellowship training may only be made to domestic institutions.

AHRQ’s authorizing legislation does not allow for-profit organizations to be eligible to lead applications under this research mechanism, thus for the purpose of this FOA, AHRQ will make grants only to domestic non-profit organizations.  For-profit organizations may participate in projects as members of consortia or as subcontractors only.  Because the purpose of this program is to improve healthcare in the United States, foreign institutions may participate in projects as members of consortia or as subcontractors only.  Applications submitted by for-profit organizations or foreign institutions will not be reviewed.  Organizations described in section 501(c) 4 of the Internal Revenue Code that engage in lobbying are not eligible.

1.B. Eligible Individuals

Any individual with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research training is invited to work with his/her sponsor and institution to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for AHRQ support.

Citizenship:  By the time of award, the individual applicant must be a citizen or a noncitizen national of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence (i.e., possess a currently valid Permanent Resident Card USCIS Form I-551, or other legal verification of such status). Non-citizen nationals are generally persons born in outlying possessions of the United States (i.e., American Samoa and Swains Island). Individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible. Individuals may apply for the F32 in advance of admission to the United States as a Permanent Resident recognizing that no award will be made until legal verification of Permanent Resident status is provided.

Degree Requirements:  Before a Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA postdoctoral fellowship award can be  activated, the individual must have received a PhD, MD, DO, DC, DDS,  DVM, OD, DPM, ScD, EngD, Dr PH, DNSc, ND (Doctor of Naturopathy), PharmD, DSW,  PsyD, or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited domestic or foreign institution.  Certification by an authorized official of the degree-granting institution that all degree requirements have been met is also acceptable.  A Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA fellowship may not be used to support studies leading to the MD, DO, DDS, DVM, or other similar health-professional degrees.  Neither may these awards be used to support the clinical years of residency training.  However, these awards are appropriate for the research fellowship years of a research-track residency program.  Research clinicians must devote full-time to their proposed research training and confine clinical duties to those activities that are part of the research training program.

2. Cost Sharing or Matching

This program does not require cost sharing for applications in response to this FOA.

3. Other-Special Eligibility Criteria

Number of Applications. An individual may not have two or more competing NIH fellowship applications pending review concurrently.

Resubmission(s): Applicants may submit one resubmission application, but such application must include an Introduction addressing issues raised in the previous critique (Summary Statement).

Renewals: Awards are not renewable and are not transferable from one PD/PI to another.

Duration of Support:  Individuals may receive up to 3 years of aggregate Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA support at the postdoctoral level, including any combination of support from institutional training grants (T32) and individual fellowship awards (F32). However, it is not allowable to have concurrent Kirschstein-NRSA support from two different sources (e.g., F32 and T32).  Applicants must consider any prior Kirschstein-NRSA postdoctoral research training in determining the duration of fellowship support requested. Accurate information regarding previous Kirschstein-NRSA support must be included in the application and will be considered at the time of award.  Applications not providing this information or showing a combined prior and proposed duration of NRSA postdoctoral support exceeding 3 years by the time of an award are not eligible for this FOA.

Training beyond the 3-year aggregate limit may be possible under certain exceptional circumstances, but a waiver from AHRQ is required. Individuals seeking additional Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA support beyond the third year are strongly advised to consult with relevant AHRQ staff before preparing a justification.  Any waiver will require a detailed justification of the need for additional research training.  A waiver request should be made to the program official at AHRQ at least six months prior to the termination date of the fellowship award.  A request for a waiver cannot be made prior to the issuance of the initial award.

Fellowship awardees are required to pursue their research training on a full-time basis, normally defined as 40 hours per week, or as specified by the sponsoring institution in accordance with its own policies.  Support for subsequent years of the fellowship award beyond the first budget period is based upon evidence of satisfactory progress in the postdoctoral research training program which is determined by the AHRQ Program staff review of information documented in the progress report. 

Sponsor: Before submitting a fellowship application, the applicant must identify a sponsor (also called mentor or supervisor) who will supervise the training and research experience. The sponsor should be an active investigator in the area of the proposed research training and be committed both to the research training of the Fellowship Applicant and to the direct supervision the applicant’s research. The sponsor must document the availability of sufficient research support and facilities for high-quality research training. The sponsor, or a member of the mentoring team, should have a successful track record of mentoring. Applicants are encouraged to identify more than one mentor, i.e., a mentoring team, if this is deemed advantageous for providing expert advice in all aspects of the research and training program. In such cases, one individual must be identified as the principal sponsor who will coordinate the applicant’s research training program. The applicant must work with his/her sponsor(s) in preparing the application. 

The sponsor should describe the research training plan for the applicant (coordinated with the applicant’s research strategy). The sponsor and any co-sponsors are also expected to provide an assessment of the applicant’s qualifications and potential for a research career. The research environment and the availability and quality of needed research facilities and research resources (e.g., equipment, laboratory space, computer time, available research support, etc.) must also be described. The description should include items such as classes, seminars, and opportunities for interaction with other groups and scientists. Training in career skills, e.g. grant-writing and presentation skills are strongly encouraged.

Sponsoring Institution: Before submitting a fellowship application, the applicant must also identify a sponsoring institution. The sponsoring institution must have appropriate staff and facilities available on site to provide a suitable environment for performing high-quality research training and be demonstrably committed to research training in the particular program proposed by the applicant. In most cases, the fellowship supports research training experiences in new settings in order to maximize the acquisition of new skills and knowledge. However, in unusual circumstances, applicants may propose postdoctoral training experiences at their doctorate institution or at the institution where they have been training for more than a year. In such cases, the applicant must carefully document the opportunities for new research training experiences specifically designed to broaden his/her scientific background.

Section IV. Application and Submission Information


To download a SF424 (R&R) Application Package and SF424 (R&R) Application Guide for completing the SF424 (R&R) forms for this FOA, use the “Apply for Grant Electronically” button in this FOA or link to http://www.grants.gov/Apply/ and follow the directions provided on that Web site.

Registration:

Appropriate registrations with Grants.gov and eRA Commons must be completed on or before the due date in order to successfully submit an application.  Several of the steps of the registration process could take four weeks or more. Therefore, applicants should immediately check with their business official to determine whether their organization/institution is already registered with both Grants.gov and the Commons. All registrations must be complete by the submission deadline for the application to be considered “on-time” (see 3.C.1 for more information about on-time submission).

A one-time registration is required for institutions/organizations at both:

The PD/PI (Fellowship Applicant) should work with their institutions/organizations to make sure they are registered in the NIH eRA Commons.

Several additional separate actions are required before an applicant can submit an electronic application, as follows:  

1) Organizational/Institutional Registration in Grants.gov/Get Registered  

2) Organizational/Institutional Registration in the eRA Commons

3) Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) Registration in the NIH eRA Commons: Refer to the NIH eRA Commons System (COM) Users Guide.

Both the PD/PI and AOR/SO need separate accounts in the NIH eRA Commons since both are authorized to view the application image.

Note: The registration process is not sequential.  Applicants should begin the registration processes for both Grants.gov and eRA Commons as soon as their organization has obtained a DUNS number.  Only one DUNS number is required and the same DUNS number must be referenced when completing Grants.gov registration, eRA Commons registration and the SF424 (R&R) forms.

1. Request Application Information

Applicants must download the SF424 (R&R) individual fellowship application forms and the SF424 (R&R) Individual Fellowship Application Guide for this FOA through Grants.gov/Apply.

Note: Only the forms package directly attached to a specific FOA can be used. You will not be able to use any other SF424 (R&R) forms (e.g., sample forms, forms from another FOA), although some of the "Attachment" files may be useable for more than one FOA.

For further assistance, contact GrantsInfo -- Telephone 301-435-0714, Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov.

Telecommunications for the hearing impaired: TTY:  (301) 451-5936

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

Prepare all applications using the SF424 (R&R) application forms for this FOA through Grants.gov/Apply and in accordance with the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/424/index.htm).

The SF424 (R&R) Application Guide is critical to submitting a complete and accurate application to NIH. Some fields within the SF424 (R&R) application components, although not marked as mandatory, are required by NIH (e.g., the “Credential” log-in field of the “Research & Related Senior/Key Person Profile” component must contain the PD/PI’s assigned eRA Commons User ID). Agency-specific instructions for such fields are clearly identified in the Application Guide. For additional information, see “Frequently Asked Questions – Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.”

The SF424 (R&R) application has several components. Some components are required, others are optional. The forms package associated with this FOA in Grants.gov/APPLY includes all applicable components, required and optional. A completed application in response to this FOA includes the data in the following components:

Required Components:
SF424 (R&R) (Cover component)
Research & Related Project/Performance Site Locations
Research & Related Other Project Information
Research & Related Senior/Key Person
PHS Fellowship Supplemental Form
PHS398 Cover Letter File

Note: Specific instructions related to each of the components are included in the Individual Fellowship Application Guide SF424 (R&R).

3. Submission Dates and Times

See Section IV for details.

3.A. Submission, Review, and Anticipated Start Dates
Opening Date:  July 8, 2009 (Earliest date an application may be submitted to Grants.gov)
Application Due Date(s):  Standard dates apply, please see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm
Peer Review Date(s): Generally two months after receipt date

Earliest Anticipated Start Date(s): Generally two months after peer review date

3.A.1. Letter of Intent

A letter of intent is not required for this funding opportunity.

3.B. Submitting an Application Electronically to the AHRQ

To submit an application in response to this FOA, applicants should access this FOA via http://www.grants.gov/applicants/apply_for_grants.jsp and follow Steps 1-4. Note:  Applications must only be submitted electronically.  PAPER APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.  All attachments must be provided to NIH in PDF format, filenames must be included with no spaces or special characters, and a .pdf extension must be used.

3.C. Application Processing

3.C.1 Submitting On-Time

Applications may be submitted on or after the opening date and must be successfully received by Grants.gov no later than 5:00 p.m. local time (of the applicant institution/organization) on the application due date(s). (See Section IV.3.A. for all dates.) If an application is not submitted by the due date(s) and time, the application may be delayed in the review process or not reviewed. All applications must meet the following criteria to be considered “on-time”:

Please visit http://era.nih.gov/electronicReceipt/app_help.htm for detailed information on what to do if Grants.gov or eRA system issues threaten your ability to submit on time.

Submission to Grants.gov is not the last step – applicants must follow their application through to the eRA Commons to check for errors and warnings and view their assembled application!

3.C.2 Two Day Window to Correct eRA Identified Errors/Warnings

IMPORTANT NOTE! NIH has eliminated the error correction window for due dates of January 25, 2011 and beyond. As of January 25, all corrections must be complete by the due date for an application to be considered on-time. See NOT-OD-10-123.

Once an application package has been successfully submitted through Grants.gov, NIH provides applicants a two day error correction window to correct any eRA identified errors or warnings before a final assembled application is created in the eRA Commons.  The standard error correction window is two (2) business days, beginning the day after the submission deadline and excluding weekends and standard federal holidays.  All errors must be corrected to successfully complete the submission process.  Warnings will not prevent the application from completing the submission process.

Please note that the following caveats apply:

3.C.3 Viewing an Application in the eRA Commons

Once any eRA identified errors have been addressed and the assembled application has been created in the eRA Commons, the PD/PI and the Authorized Organization Representative/Signing Official (AOR/SO) have two weekdays (Monday – Friday, excluding Federal holidays) to view the assembled application before it automatically moves forward to NIH for further processing.

Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness by the Center for Scientific Review, NIH. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

There will be an acknowledgement of receipt of applications from Grants.gov and the Commons. The submitting AOR/SO receives the Grants.gov acknowledgments. The AOR/SO and the PI receive Commons acknowledgments. Information related to the assignment of an application to a Scientific Review Group is also in the Commons. 

Note: Since email can be unreliable, it is the responsibility of the applicant to check periodically on their application status in the Commons.

AHRQ will not accept any application in response to this FOA that is essentially the same as one currently pending initial merit review unless the applicant withdraws the pending application.  AHRQ will not accept any application that is essentially the same as one already reviewed.  However, AHRQ will accept a resubmission application, but such application must include an Introduction addressing the critique from the previous review.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of human subjects is not required prior to peer review of an application (see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-HS-00-003.html). However, initiation of IRB review, if necessary or applicable, is strongly encouraged to assure timely commencement of research. IRB approval is required prior to award.

Although there is no immediate acknowledgement of the receipt of an application, applicants are generally notified of the review and funding assignment within eight (8) weeks.

Use of CMS Data

Purchase of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) public-use data, if required, must be discussed in the application narrative and included in the budget. Projects will ordinarily not use CMS (Medicare or Medicaid) data involving individual identifiers. However, for applications that propose to use Medicare or Medicaid data that are individually identifiable, applicants must state explicitly in the “Research Design and Methods” section of the Research Plan (form 398) the specific files, time periods, and cohorts proposed for the research.  In consultation with CMS, AHRQ will use this information to develop a cost estimate for obtaining the data.  This estimate will be included in the estimated total cost of the grant at the time funding decisions are made.

Applicants should be aware that for individually identifiable Medicare and Medicaid data, Principal Investigators and their grantee institutions will be required to enter into a Data Use Agreement (DUA) with CMS to protect the confidentiality of data in accordance with the confidentiality provision in the AHRQ statute, 42 USC 299c-3(c); the Privacy rules at 45 CFR Parts 160 and 164, if applicable; and standards set out in OMB Circular A-130, Appendix III–Security of Federal Automated Information Systems. The use of the data will be restricted to the purposes and time period specified in the DUA. At the end of this time period, the grantee will be required to return the data to CMS or certify that the data have been destroyed.

Unless AHRQ is able to negotiate exceptional arrangements, the DUA will include the requirement that the data user agrees to submit to CMS, a copy of all findings within 30 days of making such findings, for the sole purpose of assuring CMS that data confidentiality is maintained. The user further agrees not to submit these findings to any third party (including but not limited to any manuscript to be submitted for publication) until receiving CMS's approval to do so.

In developing research plans, applicants must allow time for refining, obtaining approval, and processing of their CMS data requests. Requests may take six months from the time they are submitted to complete. Applications proposing to contact beneficiaries or their providers require the approval of the CMS Director and may require meeting(s) with CMS staff.

CMS data are provided on IBM mainframe tapes using the record and data formats commonly employed on these computers. Applicants should either have the capability to process these tapes and formats or plan to make arrangements to securely convert them to other media and formats.

Questions regarding CMS data should be directed to the AHRQ program official listed under Agency Contacts (see Section VII).

To avoid double counting, applicants must not include the cost of identifiable CMS data in the budget.  In the event the total costs of the project plus the cost of CMS data is greater than the total cost cap of this FOA, the budget for the project will be adjusted so that the total costs awarded to the recipient plus the CMS data costs do not exceed the cost cap. 

4. Intergovernmental Review

This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.

5. Funding Restrictions

For efficient grant administration, AHRQ grant administration procedures will be used and conducted in accordance with the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the HHS Grants Policy Statement. The Grants Policy Statement can be found at http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/hhspolicy.htm

These awards are also subject to the NRSA Policies.  For more information see: http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps_2003/NIHGPS_Part10.htm.

Citizenship: Fellowship Applicants must meet the citizenship/residency requirements as described in the Eligibility section of this announcement (see Section III) at the time of award.

Concurrent Awards:  A Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA fellowship may not be held concurrently with another federally sponsored fellowship or similar Federal award that provides a stipend or otherwise duplicates provisions of this award.

Tax Liability: Internal Revenue Code Section 117 applies to the tax treatment of all scholarships and fellowships. The Tax Reform Act of 1986, Public Law 99-514, impacts on the tax liability of all individuals supported under the NRSA program. Under that section, non-degree candidates are required to report as gross income all stipends and any monies paid on their behalf for course tuition and fees required for attendance. Degree candidates may exclude from gross income (for tax purposes) any amount used for tuition and related expenses such as fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for courses of instruction at a qualified educational organization.

The IRS and Treasury Department released regulations in January 2005 (Revenue Procedure 2005-11) clarifying the student exception to the FICA (Social Security and Medicare) taxes for students employed by a school, college, or university where the student is pursuing a course of study. Our understanding is that these final regulations do not apply to or impact Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA programs or awards. An NRSA stipend is provided by the NIH as a subsistence allowance for Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA fellows and trainees to help defray living expenses during the research training experience. NRSA recipients are not considered employees of the Federal government or the grantee institution for purposes of the award.  Note that the AHRQ takes no position on the status of a particular taxpayer, nor does it have the authority to dispense tax advice. The interpretation and implementation of the tax laws are the domain of the IRS. Individuals should consult their local IRS office about the applicability of the tax laws to their situation and for information on their tax obligations.

Future Year Support:  Funds for continuation beyond the initial year are determined by the progress described in the continuation application (PHS 416-9), the timely submission of all required forms, and the availability of funds.

Service Payback:  As required by the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, postdoctoral fellows incur a service obligation of 1 month for each month of support during the first 12 months of the Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA postdoctoral support. The 13th and subsequent months of Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA support are acceptable postdoctoral payback service. Thus, individuals who continue under the award for 2 years will have paid off their first year obligation by the end of the second year.

Applicants accepting an award for the first 12 months of a Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA postdoctoral support must sign a payback agreement (PHS Form 6031) in which they agree to  engage in health-related research training, research, and/or teaching for 12  months.

Those who do not pay back their obligation through continued Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA supported training may satisfy their obligation by serving in a position in which health- related research, research training, or teaching are the primary activities.  Such individuals must engage in research, research training, or teaching at a rate of 20 or more hours per week averaged over a full work-year. Payback service may be conducted in an academic, governmental, commercial, or nonacademic environment, in the United States or in a foreign country. Examples of acceptable payback service include research associateships/assistantships, postdoctoral research fellowships, and college or high school science teaching positions. Examples of unacceptable payback service include clinical practice and administrative responsibilities not directly related to scientific research.

Payback service positions are arranged by the individual, not by AHRQ or NIH. The NIH/AHRQ will review and approve the activity at the end of the year in which it occurs. Service to satisfy any outstanding obligation must be initiated within 2 years after termination of Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA support, and must be performed on a continuous basis. For individuals who fail to fulfill their service obligation, the United States is entitled to recover the total amount of Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA funds paid to the individual for the obligated period plus interest at a rate determined by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Treasury. Financial payback must be completed within 3 years, beginning on the date the United States becomes entitled to recover such amount.

Under certain conditions, the Secretary, DHHS, may extend the period for starting service, permit breaks in service, extend the period of repayment, or otherwise waive the payback obligation when compliance would constitute a substantial hardship against equity and good conscience.

Policies regarding the Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA payback obligation are explained in the Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA Section of the NIH Grants Policy Statement available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/policy.htm.

Specific questions may appear in a list of Frequently Asked Questions that appears on the Web at http://grants.nih.gov/training/faq_fellowships.htm.  For questions on payback see: http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps_2003/NIHGPS_Part10.htm.

6. Other Submission Requirements

PD/PI Credential (e.g., Agency Login)

The NIH requires the PD(s)/PI(s) to fill in his/her Commons User ID in the “PROFILE – Project Director/Principal Investigator” section, “Credential” log-in field of the “Research & Related Senior/Key Person Profile” component.

Organizational DUNS

The applicant organization must include its DUNS number in its Organization Profile in the eRA Commons. This DUNS number must match the DUNS number provided at CCR registration with Grants.gov. For additional information, see “Frequently Asked Questions – Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.”

Cover Letter (Section 5.2 of SF424 Individual Fellowship Application Guide)

Fellowship Applicants are required to attach a cover letter to the PHS Cover Letter component of the application.  The cover letter must contain the same list of referees (including name, departmental affiliation, and institution) that is included in the Other Project Information Component Item 12, Other Attachments.  In addition, applicants may request assignment (referral) to a particular NIH Institute or Center, as well as a specific Scientific Review Group. See SF 424 Individual Fellowship Application Guide, Section 5.2, for additional information.

PHS Fellowship Supplemental Form (Section 5.3 of SF424 Individual Fellowship Application Guide)

All application instructions outlined in the SF424 (R&R) Individual Fellowship Application Guide are to be followed (see: http://grants2.nih.gov/grants/funding/424/index.htm), taking into consideration the following additional instructions (Note that only selected items are emphasized below). See SF 424 Individual Fellowship Application Guide, Section 5.3, for additional information.

Research Training Plan

Item 1. Introduction: Required for a resubmission or revision application. This section is limited to 1 page. 

Item 2. Specific Aims: The Fellowship Applicant must describe concisely the Specific Aims, broad, long-term objectives and the goal of the proposed research to test a stated hypothesis. The Specific Aims section is required for all Fellowship applications and is limited to 1 page.

Item 3. Research Strategy:

This section, including tables, graphs, figures, diagrams, and charts, is limited to 6 pages. See Table of Page Limits.  This section should address the Significance of the proposed studies, including the background leading to the present application; and the Approach (including preliminary studies, if any) to provide experimental support of the proposed hypothesis.

Fellowship Applicants must describe a tailored research training plan, including a description of the research strategy (preferably hypothesis-driven) well-suited to the stage of his/her career development to date. Describe the skills and techniques that the candidate will learn during the award period, and discuss the relationship of the proposed research training to the applicant’s career goals. The applicant’s plan should be coordinated with the sponsor’s plan (see below), and should include substantive detail that adds to the information about time allocations requested. The applicant must describe the background leading to the proposed research, the significance of the research, the research approach (design and methods) for achieving the Specific Aims (see above), the rationale, and expected/alternative outcomes of the proposed studies.

Other Research Training Plan Sections

Item 16. Resource Sharing Plan:

AHRQ considers the sharing of unique research resources developed through AHRQ-sponsored research an important means to enhance the value and further the advancement of the research. When resources have been developed with AHRQ funds and the associated research findings published or provided to AHRQ, it is important that they be made readily available for research purposes to qualified individuals within the scientific community.

(a) Data Sharing Plan: Not Applicable.

Item 17. Respective Contributions: The Fellowship Applicant and his/her sponsor/mentor should describe how they have collaborated to develop the current research training proposal. This section is limited to 1 page.

Item 18. Selection of Sponsor and Institution: The Fellowship Applicant should discuss how he/she arrived at selecting the sponsor(s) and the institution. This section is limited to 1 page.

Item 19. Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research: Applications must include the sponsoring institution’s plan to provide and the potential fellow’s plans for obtaining instruction in the responsible conduct of research.  The rationale, subject matter, appropriateness, format, frequency and duration of instruction must be described.  The amount and nature of faculty participation must be described.  Although AHRQ has not established specific curriculum or format requirement for this training, it is suggested that the following topics be covered:  conflict of interest, data sharing, responsible authorship, policies for handling misconduct, policies regarding the use of human subjects, and data management.  Applications without plans for training in responsible conduct of research will be considered incomplete and may not be reviewed.  No award will be made if an application lacks this component. This section is limited to 1 page.

Additional Information

Item 7. Goals for Fellowship Training and Career: The Fellowship Applicant should provide details of his/her overall career goals for training, and explain how the proposed research will enable the attainment of these goals. This section is limited to 1 page.

Item 8. Activities Planned Under This Award: The Fellowship Applicant should provide a detailed description of all planned activities under the proposed research training plan, such as coursework, seminars, scientific conferences, opportunities for interaction with other groups and scientists, and any special or unique training opportunities for the applicant that are available in the training environment. Give a year-by-year accounting including an estimate the percentage of time to be devoted to each activity. This section is limited to 1 page.

Item 9. Other Research Experience: The Fellowship Applicant should provide a summary of his/her research experience to date and discuss how the proposed research training plan will add to this experience. This section is limited to 2 pages.

Item 10. Citizenship: Applicants who have applied for and have not yet been granted admission as a permanent resident should check the Permanent Resident of U.S. Pending block. A notarized statement documenting legal admission for permanent residence must be submitted prior to the issuance of an award. Individuals admitted to the United States as Permanent Residents will be required to submit notarized evidence of legal admission prior to the award.

Appendix

Applicants must follow the specific instructions on Appendix materials as described in the SF424 (R&R) Individual Fellowship Application Guide (See http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/424/index.htm).

Do not use the Appendix to circumvent the page limitations. An application that does not comply with the required page limitations may be delayed in the review process.

Other Project Information Component (Section 4.4 of SF424 (R&R) Individual Fellowship Application Guide) – Other Attachments (Item 12) 

Important Note: The following attachments must be included for Fellowship applications.  Submit each attachment separately using the Other Attachments section of the Other Project Information Component.

Sponsor and any Co-Sponsor(s) Information (Limited to 6 pages)

a.     Research Support Available: The sponsor(s) who will directly supervise the applicant’s research, must currently be funded to conduct independent research in the area of the proposed research training (e.g., Principal Investigator on an R01 or equivalent)  

b.    Sponsor's/Co-Sponsor’s Previous Fellows/Trainees: The sponsor(s) must describe past experience in the guidance of other research trainees and fellows.

c.     Training Plan, Environment, Research Facilities: The sponsor(s) must describe in detail his/her commitment to and proposed role in guiding the individual applicant during the research training experience. The sponsor(s) should describe the research training plan for the applicant (coordinated with the applicant’s own research training plan). The description should include items such as classes, seminars, and opportunities for interaction with other groups and scientists. Training in career skills, e.g. grant-writing and presentation skills are strongly encouraged. The description should also elaborate on the research environment and available research facilities and equipment, and discuss the relationship of the proposed research training to the applicant's career.  

The application should describe the quality and appropriateness of the training environment for the applicant’s development including the strength of the institutional commitment to fostering the fellows’ training. Describe the quality and availability of facilities and resources (e.g. equipment, laboratory space, computer time, subject populations) for the proposed training. Additionally, the quality of the facilities and related resources (e.g., equipment, laboratory space, computer time, available research support, etc.) must be described.

d.    Number of Fellows/Trainees to be Supervised During the Fellowship: The sponsor(s) should provide information on other trainees they will be supervising during the period of this fellowship award.

e.     Applicant's Qualifications and Potential for a Research Career: The sponsor(s) are also expected to provide an assessment of the applicant’s qualifications and potential for a research career. The application must include statements that address the planned value of the proposed fellowship experience and research training program, and how these relate to the applicant’s needs in preparation for an independent research career. Applicants should provide evidence of their potential for a productive and successful research career based upon the quality of their previous research training and academic record.

Letters of Reference (Section 5.4 of SF424 (R&R) Individual Fellowship Application Guide)

Candidates must follow the Supplemental Instructions in the SF424 R&R Individual Fellowship Application Guide for Section 5.4 – Letters of Reference.  Please note that the specified Fellowship Reference Form must be used.  This is a separate process from submitting an application electronically. Reference letters are submitted directly through the eRA Commons at https://public.era.nih.gov/commons/public/reference/submitReferenceLetter.do?mode=new and do not use Grants.gov. 

Letters of reference are an important component of the application for fellowship support. Applicants for this fellowship must arrange to have at least three (but no more than five) letters of reference submitted on their behalf to the eRA Commons Web site. The letters should be from well-established scientists (referees) addressing the qualities of the Fellowship Applicant as well as his/her potential to develop research skills needed in preparation for a productive research career as a physician-scientist or clinician-scientist in scientific areas related to the mission of one of the participating Institutes. These letters should be from individuals not directly involved in the application, but who are familiar with the candidate’s qualifications, training, and interests, including advisory committee members (if applicable). Resubmission applications will require new letters of reference.

Letters of reference may be submitted any time after the FOA opens and no later than 5 business days after the application due date. The Fellowship Reference Form  can be submitted through eRA Commons at https://public.era.nih.gov/commons/public/reference/submitReferenceLetter.do?mode=new prior to application submission through Grants.gov.

Applications that are missing the required letters of reference may be delayed in the review process or not reviewed.

Priority Populations

The Healthcare Research and Quality Act of 1999, in amending the Public Health Act, directed AHRQ, in carrying out its mission, to conduct and support research and evaluations, and to support demonstration projects, with respect to the delivery of health care in inner-city and rural areas (including frontier areas), and health care for priority populations.  Priority populations include low income groups; minority groups; women; children; the elderly; and individuals with special health care needs, including individuals with disabilities and individuals who need chronic care or end-of-life health care.  This authority is found at 42 USC 299(c).  To implement this statutory mandate, AHRQ published a Notice in the NIH Guide on February 28, 2003, establishing a new Agency policy on the Inclusion of Priority Populations in health services research (see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-HS-03-010.html).  Applicants under this FOA should consider and discuss including priority populations in the research design as specified in this Notice.

Publication Transmittal: General AHRQ Requirements

In keeping with the Agency's efforts to translate the results of AHRQ-funded research into practice and policy, grantees are to inform the AHRQ Office of Communications and Knowledge Transfer (OCKT) when articles from their AHRQ-supported activities are accepted for publication in the professional literature.  Grantees should also discuss any ideas about other dissemination and marketing efforts with OCKT staff.  The goal is to ensure that efforts to disseminate research findings are coordinated with other Agency activities to maximize awareness and application of the research by potential users, including clinicians, patients, health care systems and purchasers and policymakers.  This is critical when outreach to the general and trade press is involved.  Accordingly, contact with the media will take place with close coordination between OCKT and the press offices of the grantee's institutions.  In cases when products are created (such as annual or final reports, Web-based tools, CD-ROMs), grantees will be asked to submit to OCKT a brief plan describing how the product will be publicized.  An OCKT staff person will be assigned to each product and will coordinate the implementation of the plan, especially issues related to printing and electronic dissemination, and outreach to the media.

Assessment of AHRQ Grant Programs

In carrying out its stewardship of research programs, AHRQ may request information essential to an assessment of the effectiveness of Agency research programs.  Accordingly, grant recipients are hereby notified that they may be contacted after the completion of awards for periodic updates on publications resulting from AHRQ grant awards, and other information helpful in evaluating the impact of AHRQ-sponsored research.

AHRQ expects grant recipients to keep the Agency informed of publications, as well as the known uses and impact of their Agency-sponsored research. Applicants must agree to notify AHRQ immediately when a manuscript based on research supported by the grant is accepted for publication, and to provide the expected date of publication as soon as it is known, regardless of whether or not the grant award is still active.

HCUP & MEPS

Applicants are encouraged to make use of AHRQ’S Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) or the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).  HCUP is a family of health care databases and related software tools and products developed through a Federal-State-Industry partnership.  HCUP databases bring together the data collection efforts of State data organizations, hospital associations, private data organizations, and the Federal government to create a national information resource of patient-level health care data.  HCUP databases provide data beginning in 1988 and contain encounter-level information for all payers compiled in a uniform format with privacy protections in place.  HCUP includes three nationwide databases, the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS),the Kids’ Inpatient Database (KID), and the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) and three types of State databases, the State Inpatient Databases (SID), the State Ambulatory Surgery Databases (SASD), and the State Emergency Department Databases (SEDD).  The NEDS, the newest addition to the HCUP databases, is the largest all-payer ED database in the United States and contains over 25 million (unweighted) records for ED visits at about 1,000 hospitals.  More information on HCUP can be found at http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/home.jsp.

The MEPS is conducted to provide nationally representative estimates of health care use, expenditures, sources of payment, and insurance coverage for the U.S. civilian, non-institutionalized population.  MEPS is composed of three component surveys: the Household Component (HC), the Medical Provider Component (MPC), and the Insurance Component (IC).  The Household Component is the core survey, and it forms the basis for the MPC sample and part of the IC sample.  The MEPS IC collects data on health insurance plans obtained through employers and unions, including the number and types of private insurance plans offered employer characteristics, premiums, and contributions by employers and employees.  More information on the MEPS is available at http://www.meps.ahrq.gov.

Applicants’ use of HCUP and/or MEPS data does not preclude the use of secondary data sources or primary data collection.

Section V.  Application Review Information


1. Criteria

Only the review criteria described below will be considered in the review process.

2. Review and Selection Process

Administrative Criteria: Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed by AHRQ for completeness and responsiveness.

Merit Review Criteria are described below.  The review criteria described below will be considered in the review process.

2. Review and Selection Process

Review Process

Applications that are complete and responsive to the FOA will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by an appropriate peer review group convened in accordance with standard AHRQ peer review procedures that are described in 42 CFR Part 67, Subpart A.  Incomplete and/or non-responsive applications, or applications not following instructions given in this FOA, will not be reviewed.   

As part of the initial merit review, all applications will:

The purpose of the AHRQ NRSA F32 program is to provide support to promising applicants with the potential to become productive and successful independent research investigators in scientific health-related fields relevant to the mission of AHRQ. In their written critiques, reviewers will be asked to comment on each of the following criteria in order to judge the likelihood that the proposed research training will have a substantial impact on the pursuit of this goal. The scientific review group will use information in the letters of reference in consideration of the review criteria. The overall score will reflect the overall evaluation of the entire application. 

Overall Impact/Merit

Reviewers will provide an overall priority score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood that the fellowship will enhance the candidate’s potential for, and commitment to, a productive independent scientific research career in health services research, in consideration of the scored and additional review criteria .

Scored Review Criteria

Reviewers will consider each of the five criteria below in determining scientific and technical merit, and give a separate score for each. An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have a major impact.

Fellowship Applicant:

Sponsor(s), Collaborator(s), and Consultant(s):

Research Training Plan:

Training Potential:

Institutional Environment and Commitment to Training:

Additional Review Criteria

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will consider the following additional items in the determination of scientific and technical merit, but will not give separate scores for these items.

Protections for Human Subjects: The involvement of human subjects and protections from research risk relating to their participation in the proposed research will be assessed.  See the “Human Subjects Sections” of the PHS398 Research Plan component of the SF424 (R&R).

Inclusion: Adequacy of plans to address the needs of genders, racial and ethnic minorities (and subgroups).  Adequacy of attention to AHRQ priority populations (see above discussion on Priority Populations in section IV.6 “Other Submission Requirements,” and inclusion criteria included in section VIII of Required Federal Citations, below.)

Resubmission Applications: Are the responses to comments from the previous scientific review group adequate? Are the improvements in the resubmission application appropriate?

Privacy and Security Protections for Patients:  The resources and processes to be used to address privacy and security issues in the development and implementation of the intervention will be assessed.

Additional Review Considerations

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will address each of the following items, but will not give scores for these items and should not consider them in providing an overall impact/priority score. 

Training in the Responsible Conduct of ResearchEvery NRSA fellow must receive instruction in the responsible conduct of research (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not92-236.html). Applications must include the sponsoring institution’s plans to provide and the fellow's plans for obtaining instruction in the responsible conduct of research, including the rationale, subject matter, appropriateness, format, frequency and duration of instruction. The amount and nature of faculty participation must be described. The plan will be discussed after the overall determination of merit, so that the review panel's evaluation of this plan will not be a factor in the determination of the overall impact score. The plan will be judged as acceptable or unacceptable. The acceptability of the plan will be described in an administrative note in the summary statement. Regardless of the overall impact score, an application with an unacceptable plan will not be funded until the applicant provides an acceptable plan. AHRQ staff will judge the acceptability of the revised plan.

Budget and Period of Support: Reviewers will assess the appropriateness of the requested period of support in relation to the proposed fellowship training.

Selection Process

Applications submitted in response to this funding opportunity will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications.  The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

Generally, applicants must anticipate a minimum of four months between the application submission date and the earliest possible start date.

Section VI. Award Administration Information


1. Award Notices

After the peer review of the application is completed, the PD/PI will be able to access his or her Summary Statement (written critique) via the NIH eRA Commons

If the application is under consideration for funding, AHRQ will request "Just-In-Time" information from the applicant.  Just-In-Time information generally consists of information on other support and certification of IRB approval of the project's proposed use of human subjects.  For details, applicants may refer to the "AHRQ Revised Policy for Institutional Review Board (IRB) Review of Human Subjects Protocols in Grant Applications" (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not-hs-00-003.html). 

Once all administrative and programmatic issues have been resolved, a formal notification in the form of a Notice of Award (NoA) will be provided to the applicant organization.  The Notice of Award will be generated via email notification from the awarding component to the grantee business official.  The NoA signed by the grants management office is the authorizing document.

Selection of an application for award is not an authorization to begin performance.  Any costs incurred before receipt of the NoA are at the recipient’s risk.  See also Section IV.5., “Funding Restrictions.”

A fellow has up to six months from the issue date on the NoA to activate the award.

Activation: No funds may be disbursed until the fellow has started training under the award and an Activation Notice (PHS 416-5) and a Payback Agreement (PHS 6031) has been submitted to AHRQ.  A fellow has up to six months from the issue date on the award notice to activate the award. Under unusual circumstances, AHRQ may grant an extension of the activation period upon receipt of a specific request from the fellow.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowships require a payback agreement. For more information see Section IV.5. Funding Restrictions and http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps_2003/NIHGPS_Part10.htm.

All AHRQ grant and cooperative agreement awards are subject to AHRQ’s grants regulations at 42 CFR Part 67, Subpart A, and are subject to the requirements of the HHS Grants Policy Statement that are applicable based on the recipient type and the purpose of this award (see http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/hhspolicy.htm).

As necessary, Terms and Conditions will be incorporated into the award statement.

Fellowships must be administered in accordance with the current NRSA section of the Grants Policy Statement at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/policy.htm), and any terms and conditions specified on the Notice of Award.

Leave Policies:  In general, fellows may receive stipends during the normal periods of vacation and holidays observed by individuals in comparable training positions at the sponsoring institution. For the purpose of these awards, however, the period between the spring and fall semesters is considered to be an active time of research and research training and is not considered to be a vacation or holiday.  Fellows may receive stipends for up to 15 calendar days of sick leave per year.  Sick leave may be used for the medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth.  Fellows may also receive stipends for up to 60 calendar days of parental leave per year for the adoption or the birth of a child when those in comparable training positions at the grantee institution have access to the same paid leave for this purpose and the use of parental leave is approved by the program director (see NOT-OD-08-064).

A period of terminal leave is not permitted and payment may not be made from fellowship funds for leave not taken. Fellows requiring periods of time away from their research training experience longer than specified here must seek approval from the NIH awarding component for an unpaid leave of absence.

Part-time training:  While Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA awardees are required to pursue research training full time, normally defined as 40 hours per week, or as specified by the sponsoring institution in accordance with its own policies, under unusual and pressing personal circumstances, a fellow may submit a written request to AHRQ to permit less than full-time training.  Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.  They must be approved  by AHRQ in advance for each budget period.  The nature of the circumstances requiring the part-time training might include medical conditions, disability, or pressing personal or family situations such as child or elder care.  Permission for part-time training will not be approved to accommodate other sources of funding, job opportunities, clinical practice, clinical training, or for other responsibilities associated with the fellow's position at the institution.  In each case, the fellow must submit a written request countersigned by the sponsor and an appropriate institutional business official that includes documentation supporting the need for part-time training.  The written request also must include an estimate of the expected duration of the period of part-time training, an assurance that the fellow intends to return to full-time training when that becomes possible, and an assurance that the trainee intends to complete the proposed research training program. In no case will it be permissible for the fellow to be engaged in Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA supported research training for less than 50 percent effort.  Individuals who must reduce their commitment to less than 50 percent effort must take a leave-of-absence from Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA fellowship support.  The fellowship notice of award will be reissued and the stipend will be pro-rated during the period of any approved part-time training. Part-time training may affect the rate of accrual or repayment of the service obligation for postdoctoral fellows.

Certification Requirements:  Individuals admitted to the United States as Permanent Residents must submit notarized evidence of legal admission prior to the award. 

Service Payback:   A Payback Agreement Form (PHS 6031) must accompany the Activation Notice for any award that occurs during the individual's initial 12 months of Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA postdoctoral support. When support ends, the fellow must submit a Termination Notice (PHS 416-7) to the AHRQ.  If the fellow has a payback obligation, he or she must notify the AHRQ of any change in address and submit Annual Payback Activities Certification Forms (PHS 6031-1) until the payback service obligation is satisfied. Forms may be found on the NIH Website at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/forms.htm

Inventions:   Fellowships made primarily for educational purposes are exempted from the PHS invention requirements.  F32 awards will not contain any provision giving PHS rights to inventions made by the fellow.

Data Confidentiality:  Pursuant to 42 USC 299c-3(c), information obtained in the course of any AHRQ supported-study that identifies an individual or entity must be treated as confidential in accordance with any explicit or implicit promises made regarding the possible uses and disclosures of such data.  There are civil monetary penalties for violation of the confidentiality provision of the AHRQ statute 42 USC 299c-3(d).  In the Human Subjects section of the application, applicants must describe procedures for ensuring the confidentiality of the identifying information to be collected.  The description of the procedures should include a discussion of who will be permitted access to this information, both raw data and machine readable files, and how personal identifiers and other identifying or identifiable data will be restricted and safeguarded.  Identifiable patient health information collected by grantees under this FOA will also be obtained and managed in accordance with 45 CFR Parts 160 and 164, the Federal Privacy Rule developed by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).  These regulations serve to limit the disclosure of personally identifiable patient information by covered entities and define when and how such information can be disclosed e.g., to researchers.  Thus, health care plans ordinarily will require either patient authorization for disclosures of identifiable information to be made to researchers or waivers of such authorizations obtained from an IRB or Privacy Board (defined in the regulations), which will involve review to ensure that identifiable health information will be appropriately safeguarded by the investigators.  The DHHS Office of Civil Rights is the enforcement body for this regulation. Additional information about the regulations, their implementation, and alternative methods of permissible disclosures to researchers (limited data sets with data use agreements, de-identified data sets, data about deceased persons, and data use to develop protocols) can be obtained from: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa/

The grantee should ensure that computer systems containing confidential data have a level and scope of security that equals or exceeds that established by the HIPAA Security Rules if applicable (see HIPAA website in prior paragraph) and that established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in OMB Circular No. A-130, Appendix III - Security of Federal Automated Information Systems. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published several implementation guides for this circular. They are: An Introduction to Computer Security: The NIST Handbook; Generally Accepted Principals and Practices for Securing Information Technology Systems; and Guide for Developing Security Plans for Information Technology Systems. The circular and guides are available on the web at http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/800-12/. The applicability and intended means of applying these confidentiality and security standards to subcontractors and vendors, if any, should be addressed in the application.

Rights in Data:  AHRQ grantees may copyright, unless otherwise provided in grant awards, or seek patents for, as appropriate, final and interim products and materials developed in whole or in part with AHRQ funds, including, but not limited to, methodological tools, measures, software with documentation, literature searches, and analyses.  Such copyrights and patents are subject to a worldwide irrevocable AHRQ license to use and permit others to use these products and materials for government purposes.  In accordance with its legislative dissemination mandate, AHRQ purposes may include, subject to statutory confidentiality protections, making project materials, databases, results, and algorithms available for verification or replication by other researchers.  In addition, subject to AHRQ budget constraints, final products may be made available to the health care community and the public by AHRQ or its agents if such distribution would significantly increase access to a product and thereby produce substantial or valuable public health benefits.  Ordinarily, to accomplish distribution, AHRQ publicizes research findings but relies on grantees to publish research results in peer-reviewed journals and to market grant-supported products. AHRQ's Office of Communications and Knowledge Transfer (OCKT) wishes to be consulted in advance of publication in order to coordinate announcements of new AHRQ-supported research results with other AHRQ dissemination activities.  Important legal rights and requirements applicable to AHRQ grantees are set out or referenced in AHRQ's grants regulation at 42 CFR Part 67, Subpart A (available in libraries and from the GPO's website at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/cfr/index.html).

3. Reporting

All forms may be found at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/forms.htm

Activation Notice:  The fellowship award recipient has up to six months from the issue date on the Notice of Research Fellowship Award to activate the award using the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Fellowship Activation Notice (PHS 416-5). Under unusual circumstances, AHRQ may grant an extension of the activation period upon receipt of a specific request from the fellow. Such a request must be countersigned by the Sponsor and an authorized institutional official.

Payback Agreement:  A Payback Agreement Form (PHS 6031) must accompany the Activation Notice for any award that occurs during the individual’s initial 12 months of Kirschstein-NRSA postdoctoral support.

Application for Continued Support:  The fellow will be required to annually submit the form PHS 416-9, Continuation of an Individual National Research Service Award, (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/416-9/phs416-9.htm  as required in the HHS Grants Policy Statement.  The report must describe the current year’s progress as well as the plans for the coming year.  The application is due before the beginning date of the next budget period (the terms and conditions of the fellowship award will indicate the actual date the report is due). Note that the instructions request that a listing of all courses and publications completed during the past year be included in the application for continued support.

Termination Notice:  When support ends, the fellow must submit a Termination Notice (PHS 416-7) to AHRQ within 30 days following termination. If the fellow has a payback obligation, he or she must notify  AHRQ of any change in address and submit Annual Payback Activities Certification Forms (PHS 6031-1) until the payback service obligation is satisfied.  Forms may be found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/forms.htm.

Section VII. Agency Contacts


We encourage your inquiries concerning this funding opportunity and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants. Inquiries may fall into three areas: scientific/research, peer review, and financial or grants management issues:

1. Scientific/Research Contacts

Direct inquiries about general FOA issues to:

Shelley M. Benjamin, M.S.W.
Division of Research Education
Office of Extramural Research, Education and Priority Populations
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
540 Gaither Road
Rockville, MD  20850
Telephone:  (301) 427-1528
FAX: (301) 427-1562
E-mail: Shelley.Benjamin@ahrq.hhs.gov

2. Peer Review Contacts

Ali Azadegan, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Division of Scientific Review
Office of Extramural Research, Education and Priority Populations
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
540 Gaither Road
Rockville, MD 20850
Telephone: (301) 427-1689
Fax: (301) 427-1562
E-mail address:  Ali.Azadegan@ahrq.hhs.gov

3. Financial or Grants Management Contacts

Al Deal
Division of Grants Management
Office of Performance Accountability, Resources and Technology
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
540 Gaither Road
Rockville, MD 20850
Telephone: (301) 427-1806
Fax: (301) 427- 1462
E-mail address: al.deal@ahrq.hhs.gov

Section VIII. Other Information


Required Federal Citations

Inclusion of Women and Minorities in Research Study Populations:

Women and members of minority groups are included in all AHRQ-supported research projects involving human subjects, unless a clear and compelling rationale and justification are provided that inclusion is inappropriate, e.g., because of the lack of connection between the study and the health of women or particular minorities.

All investigators proposing research involving human subjects should read the UPDATED "NIH Guidelines on the Inclusion of Women and Minorities as Subjects in Clinical Research," published in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts on August 2, 2000 (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not-od-00-048.html). A complete copy of the updated Guidelines is available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/women_min/guidelines_update.htm. To the extent possible, AHRQ requires adherence to these NIH Guidelines.

Investigators may obtain copies from the above sources or from the NIH Guide Web site at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/index.html.  AHRQ Program staff may also provide additional information concerning these policies (see Section VII, Agency Contacts).

Human Subjects Protection:

Federal regulations at 45 CFR Part 46 require that applications and proposals involving human subjects research must be evaluated in accordance with those regulations, with reference to the risks to the subjects, the adequacy of protection against these risks, the potential benefits of the research to the subjects and others, and the importance of the knowledge gained or to be gained (http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/humansubjects/guidance/45cfr46.htm).

Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information:

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) "Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information", regulation was mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 which governs the protection of individually identifiable health information.  It is administered and enforced by the DHHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The OCR website (http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/) provides information on the Privacy Rule, including a complete Regulation Text and a set of decision tools that may be used to determine whether a researcher is a staff member of a covered entity. Compliance with the Privacy Rule for those classified under the Rule as "covered entities" is mandatory.  Decisions about applicability and implementation of the Privacy Rule reside with covered entities.  Project Officers will assist grantees in resolving questions about the applicability of HIPAA requirements.

Access to Research Data through the Freedom of Information Act:

The OMB Circular A-110 has been revised to provide access to research data developed with Federal support through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in certain circumstances.  Data that are (1) first produced in a project that is supported in whole or in part with Federal funds and (2) cited publicly and officially by a Federal agency in support of an action that has the force and effect of law (i.e., a regulation) may be accessed through FOIA.  If no Federal action is taken having the force and effect of law in reliance upon an AHRQ-supported research project, the underlying data are not subject to this disclosure requirement.  Furthermore, even if a Federal regulatory action is taken in reliance on AHRQ-supported research data under FOIA, 5 USC 552(b), disclosure of confidential identifiable data from such study is statutorily protected under 42 USC 299c-3(c), and thus is exempted from disclosure under "the (b)(3) exemption” in FOIA, 5 USC 552(b)(3).  It is important for applicants to understand the scope of this requirement and its limited potential impact on data collected with AHRQ support.  Proprietary data might also be exempted from FOIA disclosure requirements under "the (b) (4) exemption", 5 USC 552(b) (4) for example, if it constitutes trade secrets or commercial information.  NIH has provided general related guidance at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/a110/a110_guidance_dec1999.htm which does not include discussion of the exception applicable to confidential identifiable data collected under AHRQ's authorities.

Should applicants wish to place data collected under this FOA in a public archive, which can provide protections for the data (e.g., as required by confidentiality provisions of the statute applicable to AHRQ-supported projects, 42 USC 299c-3(c) and manage the distribution of non-identifiable data for an indefinite period of time, they may. The application should include a description of any archiving plan in the study design and include information about this in the budget justification section of the application. In addition, applicants should consider how to structure informed consent statements or other human subject protection procedures to permit or restrict disclosures of identifiable data, as warranted.

Healthy People 2010:

The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health promotion and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy People 2010," a PHS-led national activity for setting health improvement priorities for the United States. AHRQ encourages applicants to submit grant applications with relevance to the specific objectives of this initiative. Potential applicants may obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2010" at http://www.health.gov/healthypeople.

Authority and Regulations:

This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance at http://www.cfda.gov/ and is not subject to the intergovernmental review requirements of Executive Order 12372. Awards are made under the authorization of Sections 487 of the Public Health Service Act as amended (42 USC 288) and under Federal Regulations 42 CFR 66.    All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the HHS Grants Policy Statement. The HHS Grants Policy Statement can be found at http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/hhspolicy.htm.

The Public Health Service strongly encourages all grant recipients to provide a smoke-free workplace and discourage the use of all tobacco products. In addition, Public Law 103-227, the Pro-Children Act of 1994, prohibits smoking in certain facilities (or in some cases, any portion of a facility) in which regular or routine education, library, day care, health care, or early childhood development services are provided to children. This is consistent with the Public Health Service mission to protect and advance the physical and mental health of the American people.


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