MARC UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT TRAINING IN ACADEMIC RESEARCH (U-STAR) PROGRAM

Release Date:  August 19, 1999

PA NUMBER:  PAR-99-150

National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Application Receipt Dates:  January 10 and May 10

PURPOSE

This program announcement replaces PAR-98-093, which was published in the NIH
Guide, July 31, 1998.

The Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Program Branch of the Division
of Minority Opportunity in Research (MORE) of the National Institute of
General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) provides research training opportunities for
students and faculty from minority groups who are underrepresented in
biomedical research.  For the purposes of this announcement, biomedical
research includes such areas as cell biology, biochemistry, pharmacology,
genetics, etc., and behavioral research as well as the more quantitative areas
such as mathematics, physics, chemistry and computer sciences.  As part of its
ongoing commitment to the development of prospective underrepresented minority
researchers and the enhancement of their training environment, the MARC
Program provides support to underrepresented minority undergraduate students
to improve their preparation for graduate training in biomedical research.

This re-announcement for the MARC U-STAR program retains all of the
flexibility and program objectives of the previous MARC U-STAR program
announcement, but describes a more defined format that can be used as a guide
to applicant institutions for the presentation of the narrative section of
their training plan. As before, the emphasis of the MARC U-STAR program is on
the measurable goals and specific objectives as adopted and stated by the
applicant institution in fulfilling the objectives of this program
announcement.  This re-announcement supersedes all previous MARC U-STAR
program announcements.

HEALTHY PEOPLE 2000

The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health promotion
and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy People 2000", a PHS-led national
activity for setting priority areas.  This PA, Minority Access to Research
Careers, is related to one or more of the priority areas.  Potential
applicants may obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2000" (Full Report: Stock No.
017-001-00474-0 or Summary Report: Stock No. 017-001-00473-1) through the
Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402-
9325 (telephone 202-512-1800).

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Institutional

Only domestic, non-profit, private or public institutions which offer the
baccalaureate degree and in which undergraduate student enrollments are drawn
substantially from ethnic minority groups that are underrepresented in the
biomedical and behavioral sciences, including mathematics may apply.  For
purposes of this program announcement, underrepresented minority students are
individuals belonging to a particular ethnic or racial group that has been
determined by the grantee institution to be underrepresented in biomedical
research.  Nationally, individuals who have been found to be underrepresented
in biomedical research include but are not limited to US citizens who are
African American, Hispanic American, Native American, and natives of the US
Pacific Islands.  The training program director at the institution will be
responsible for the selection and appointment of trainees to receive National
Research Service Award (NRSA) support and for the overall direction of the
program.  Only one grant per eligible institution will be awarded.

Student

The MARC program is open to qualified undergraduate honors students majoring
in the sciences with an expressed interest in a career in biomedical research
and intentions to pursue graduate education leading to a Ph.D., M.D./Ph.D. or
other combined professional degree/Ph.D.

The period of appointment to the MARC U-STAR program is two years at the
junior/senior level. U-STAR programs should be designed for student
participation for up to 24 months.  Appointments of less than nine months are
discouraged and require prior approval from the MARC Branch.

Although freshmen/sophomore traineeships are not provided, institutional
programs may be designed to include pre-MARC student development activities to
increase student retention and academic preparedness of students in the
freshman/sophomore years, and/or identify and prepare students for the MARC U-
STAR program.

MECHANISM OF SUPPORT

Awards under this PA will use the Institutional National Research Service
Awards (NRSA) T34 mechanism.  The responsibility for planning, direction,
execution and evaluation of the proposed project lies solely with the
applicant institution.  The maximum initial grant period is five years, with
opportunity for competitive renewal at the end of that period.

Allowable Costs

The requested budget may include costs for stipends, tuition, and fees for
trainees and limited travel for trainees and faculty, and salary support for
faculty involved in MARC training activities. Funds for trainee-related costs
such as course supplies and equipment essential for research training or
faculty costs for enhancing their professional credentials may be requested
with strong justification.

Stipend:  The MARC U-STAR award provides an annual stipend of $9,492 to help
defray the costs of the trainee's living expenses, and a tuition and fee
allowance in accordance with NIH policy.  It is not provided as a condition of
employment with either the Federal Government or the awardee institution.  No
departure from the established NRSA stipend schedule may be negotiated by the
institution with the trainee.

Stipend Supplementation:  An institution is permitted to provide funds to a
MARC trainee in addition to the stipend paid by the NIH.  Such additional
amounts may be in the form of augmented stipends (supplementation) or
compensation for services.  Supplementation, when provided, must not obligate
the fellow in any way.  Additionally, no Federal funds may be used for
supplementation.

Under no circumstances may the conditions of stipend supplementation for
services interfere with, detract from, or prolong the fellow's approved NRSA
training program.

A fellow 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.

Concurrent Awards:  A MARC traineeship may not be held concurrently with
another Federally sponsored traineeship or a similar training award that
provides a stipend or otherwise duplicates provisions of the NRSA.  However,
an individual may accept concurrent educational benefits from the Department
of Veteran's Affairs (e.g., G.I. Bill) and Federal loans.

Tuition and Fees: Tuition and fees, including self-only medical insurance, for
the individual in training, are allowable trainee costs if such charges are
required of all persons in a similar training status at the institution,
without regard to their source of support.  Family medical insurance coverage
is not an allowable charge to the MARC U-STAR grant.

Travel:  Trainee/faculty travel including attendance at scientific meetings
that the institution determines is necessary to the individual's research
training is an allowable expense. Faculty travel is also allowable, however, a
strong justification must be provided in the application.  In addition,
support for trainee travel to a summer research training experience away from
the applicant institution is permitted.

Training Related Expenses: Research training supplies up to $1,500 per student
may be requested. Training related expenses may be requested to defray the
cost of other research training needs such as equipment and research training
supplies.  However, requests for these expenses must be strongly justified.

Faculty Related Costs: MARC faculty related costs for workshops or to take
courses to enhance their professional credentials may be requested.

Administration and Evaluation costs: Administration costs related to a Program
Director's percent time and effort, and costs for a secretary or a program
assistant may be requested. Costs related to an institution's evaluation of
its MARC program also may be requested.

Student Development Activities: Costs related to pre-MARC student development
activities to aid freshmen and sophomores may be requested, and should be
strongly justified.  However, the MARC U-STAR program will NOT provide
tuition, stipends and student travel for freshmen and sophomores.  Funds
provided for pre-MARC student development activities MAY NOT in any
circumstance be used to compensate freshman and sophomore students, in any
form.

Salary Support: Salary Support for specifically identified faculty, who are
directly involved in special training activities for MARC students, and whose
responsibilities for training these students extend beyond what is routinely
and normally expected of faculty at the applicant institution may be requested
with significant and strong justification. In general, the MARC program will
NOT provide research support and research salary for faculty research.

Facilities and Administration Allowance: A facilities and administration
allowance (indirect cost allowance) based on eight percent of total allowable
direct costs.  The total allowable direct costs excludes tuition and
equipment.

Tax Liability

Section 117 of the Internal Revenue Code applies to the tax treatment of all
scholarships and fellowships.  Under that section, non-degree candidates are
required to report all stipends, and any monies paid on their behalf for
course tuition and fees required for attendance as gross income.  Degree
candidates may exclude from gross income (for tax purposes) any amounts used
for tuition and related expenses such as fees, books, supplies, and equipment
required for courses of instruction at a qualified educational institution.

The taxability of stipends, however, in no way alters the relationship between
NRSA trainees and institutions.  NRSA stipends are not considered salaries. 
In addition, trainees supported under the NRSA are not considered to be in an
employee-employer relationship with the NIH or the awardee institution.

It must be emphasized that the interpretation and implementation of the tax
laws are the domain of the Internal Revenue Service and the courts.  PHS takes
no position on what the status may be for a particular taxpayer, and it does
not have the authority to dispense tax advice.  Individuals should consult
their local IRS office about the applicability of the law to their situations
and for information on the proper steps to be taken regarding their tax
obligations.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

Responsible Conduct of Research

Applicants must describe in detail plans for teaching responsible conduct in
biomedical research to all trainees (attendance mandatory) and provide
progress reports of the type of instruction provided, who attended, and who
taught.  This is mandatory for all U-STAR grant applicants.  Applications
without plans for instruction in the responsible conduct or research will be
considered incomplete and may be returned to the applicant without review.

Although NIH does not establish specific curricula or formal requirements, U-
STAR programs are encouraged strongly to consider instruction in the following
areas: conflict of interest, responsible authorship, policies for handling
misconduct, policies regarding the use of human and animal subjects, and data
management.  Within the context of training in scientific integrity it is also
beneficial to discuss the mutual responsibilities of the institution and the
students supported by this program.

Plans must address the subject matter and format of the instruction, the
degree of faculty participation, trainee attendance, and the frequency of
instruction.  In addition, the rationale for the proposed plan of instruction
must be provided.

During peer review the plans will be judged acceptable or unacceptable
separately from the overall merit of the training program.  The judgement will
be based on the appropriateness of the topics, format, participation of the
faculty, and the frequency and duration of instruction to the level and type
of training being provided.  The plan will be discussed after the overall
determination of merit, so that the quality of the plan will not be a factor
in the determination of the priority score.  Regardless of the priority score,
applications with unacceptable plans will be not be funded until the applicant
provides a revised, acceptable plan. Professional staff within the NIGMS will
judge the acceptability of the revised plan.

Reporting Requirements

A progress report will be required at the end of each budget period. A final
report will be required within 90 days after the termination date of the
award.  All progress reports must include information on each student
participant delineating the student's progress and all benefits the student
derived from the program, as well as the training plan for the coming year. 
For competing applications, this progress report must also contain information
on all MARC graduates for the past five years, their subsequent schooling
and/or their careers.

TRAINING OBJECTIVES

It is the intent of the MARC U-STAR program to address the current deficiency
of, and the anticipated crisis regarding, the paucity of minority students
earning degrees in biomedical sciences, including mathematics. To this end,
the objectives cited below have been identified.

The objectives of the MARC U-STAR Program are: to increase the number of
competitively trained underrepresented minority students enrolled in programs
that lead to the research doctorate; to strengthen the faculty, science course
curriculum and research training programs in biomedical sciences at minority
serving institutions; and to aid in the development of research training
infrastructure at minority serving institutions.

The MARC Branch recognizes that there are differences in institutional
environments and institutional missions. Therefore, the emphasis of this
program will be on the goals and measurable specific objectives as adopted and
stated by the applicant institution in fulfillment of the objective of this
announcement.

For those institutions with MARC U-STAR programs, the institution should be
able to demonstrate the benefits of the MARC U-STAR program on the
recruitment, development, retention, graduation rates and career outcomes of
students in the biomedical sciences at the applicant institution. These data
will be used as a baseline to determine progress for future evaluation of the
goals and measurable specific objectives that the applicant institution
proposes.

APPLICATION PROCEDURES

Submission of Applications

Applications are to be submitted on the grant application form PHS 398 (rev.
4/98).  Application kits are available at the offices of sponsored research of
most institutions and may be obtained from Division of Extramural Outreach and
Information, National Institutes of Health 6701 Rockledge Drive, MSC 7910,
Bethesda, MD 20892, telephone (301) 435-0714, email: grantsinfo@nih.gov.

Minority serving institutions wishing to apply for support under this program
may request application forms, guidelines, and additional information by
calling (301) 594-3900, or writing to the MARC Program Branch Office, National
Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institute of Health, 45 Center
Drive, Room 2As.37D, MSC-6200, Bethesda, MD 20892-6200.

Submit a signed, typewritten original of the application, including the
Checklist, and three photocopies of the signed application in one package to:

CENTER FOR SCIENTIFIC REVIEW
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
6701 ROCKLEDGE DRIVE, ROOM 1040-MSC 7710
BETHESDA, MD 20872-7710
BETHESDA, MD 20817 (for express/courier service)

At the time of submission, two additional copies of the application and
appendix materials must be sent to:

Helen Sunshine, Ph.D.
Office if Scientific Review
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
45 Center Drive, Room 1AS.13, MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD  20892-6200

Application receipt dates are January 10 and May 10 for funding on June 1 of
the following year.

Preparation of the Narrative Section of the Training Program Plan

All training grant applications are expected to present criteria for trainee
recruitment and selection, detailed plans of the training program
organization, and mechanisms for evaluation of the quality and success of the
training effort.  The application should also provide information on the
qualifications of the proposed faculty participants, including their
experience as mentors and their current research programs and support. 
Applicants must also describe their program plans to provide instruction in
the responsible conduct of scientific research.

In a narrative section, BACKGROUND, applicants should define the nature and
extent of under-represented minority student participation in the biomedical
sciences at the applicant institution and the previous history of the MARC U-
STAR (formerly the MARC HURT program) program at the applicant institution (if
applicable).  This discussion should address the uniqueness, coherence and
success of this program in sending competitively trained students on to
graduate programs that lead to the research doctorate.

Under a separate heading, GOALS AND SPECIFIC MEASURABLE OBJECTIVES, applicants
should define the goals and specific measurable objectives, utilizing metrics
where appropriate, of the institution's program and how meeting these
institutional goals and objectives will fulfill the aims of this announcement. 
These goals and specific measurable objectives should be consonant with the
institution's vision, mission, and values and should reflect the institution's
particular strengths and commitment.

In a section labeled, TRAINING ACTIVITIES, applicants should explain their
proposed MARC U-STAR program in detail.  Discussion should include, but is not
limited to, an explanation of how their MARC U-STAR Program as designed will
significantly strengthen the capability for training students in the
biomedical sciences; the impact of their proposed program on retention and
academic success of students majoring in the biomedical sciences, including
mathematics; how students will be selected and the specific arrangements for
any special extramural activities; and how student participants will be better
prepared for graduate training leading to the research doctorate.  The
application should make clear how each of the proposed programmatic activities
will contribute to the achievement of the stated goals and specific measurable
objectives.

Applicants who request funds for student development activities must specify
why such activities are appropriate for the overall goals of the institution's
MARC U-STAR program.  These applications should describe how the extension of
preparatory training to the freshman and sophomore levels with a combination
of mentoring, tutoring, science preparatory courses and laboratory experiences
during the academic years and summers is appropriate for this specific
population.  For example, a student development activity may need additional
resources to serve the academic non-research needs of the students. The
applicant institution should describe any specific arrangements for providing
special extramural summer training at universities and laboratories other than
the applicant institution.
 
Academic institutions with other programs for supporting student development
and research training such as a Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS)
grant, Bridges to the Future grants, NRSA training grants, National Science
Foundation grants or Howard Hughes Medical Institute grants, should define the
relationship between those programs and the MARC U-STAR program.  The
application should delineate the manner in which MARC U-STAR trainees will
interact with the programs supported by these other sources.

Under a separate heading, EVALUATION, the applicant institution should
describe the institution's plans for assessing its proposed program, by
stating the purpose of the evaluation, the kind of questions that will be
addressed by the evaluation instruments, and the methods that will be used for
analyzing the data.  This evaluation plan should contain metrics, with each
component linked to a specific goal and measurable objective of the
institution's training program.  Tracking of student participants in the
institution's program must extend to determining the careers/postgraduate
school outcomes of the MARC U-STAR students. In this regard, an institution's
track record, while important, is to be considered a starting point or the
baseline from which the institution now proposes to grow towards its stated
specific measurable goals and objectives.

REVIEW CONSIDERATIONS

Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed administratively by NIH staff. 
Incomplete and/or unresponsive applications will be returned to the applicant
without further consideration.  Those applications that are complete and
responsive will be evaluated in accordance with the criteria stated below for
scientific and technical merit by appropriate peer review groups.  The
National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council will provide the second
level of review.

Review Criteria:

o  feasibility of the proposal as defined by the stated goals and specific
measurable objectives;

o  qualifications and experience of the Program Director and faculty to carry
out the proposed program;

o  availability of honors undergraduate underrepresented minority students in
the participating science departments who are interested in graduate study
leading to the Ph.D. in the biomedical sciences;

o  evidence of graduating underrepresented minority students are progressing
to, and completing, graduate programs leading to the research doctorate in the
biomedical sciences;

o  feasibility of the student development activity, if proposed;

o  the value added of a special MARC curriculum, if proposed;

o  for institutions with limited research capabilities, the value added of an
extramural research experience for MARC trainees;

o  appropriateness of the program's plan to meet the goals of this
solicitation as well as the goals and specific measurable objectives which the
institution proposes to adopt;

o  appropriateness of the administrative plan for managing the proposed
program, including adequacy of space for research training, additional courses
and/or workshops; and the proposed plan for the trainee's off-campus research
experience;

o  appropriateness of the applicant institution's plan for evaluating the
impact of the program, including a system to track the future course of
program participants and their academic and career outcomes;

o  evidence of institutional commitment and strength of the efforts of the
institution to foster professional development of underrepresented minority
faculty and to train underrepresented minority students in biomedical
sciences; and

o  confidence that eventually, significant change in the research training
capabilities of the applicant institution is likely to occur.

Additional Review Considerations

o  acceptability of the Responsible Conduct of Research plan.

AWARD CRITERIA

Award decisions will be based on the merit of the applications, the
applicant's ability to meet the goals and objectives of this PA and an
acceptable responsible conduct of research plan.  Awards are made only to
institutions with financial management systems and management capabilities
that are acceptable under NIH policy. Awards will be administered under the
NIH Grants Policy Statement.

INQUIRIES

Written and telephone inquiries concerning this PA are encouraged. The
opportunity to clarify any issues or questions from potential applicants is
welcomed.

Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues to:

Adolphus P. Toliver, Ph.D
Division of Minority Opportunities in Research
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
45 Center Drive, Room 2AS.37, MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD  20892-6200
Telephone:  (301) 594-3900
FAX:  (301) 480-2753
Email:  tolivera@nigms.nih.gov

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Ms. Antoinette Holland
Grants Management Officer
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
45 Center Drive, Room 2AN.50B, MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD  20892-6200
Telephone:  (301) 594-5132
FAX:  (301) 480-3423
Email:  HollandA@nigms.nih.gov

AUTHORITY AND REGULATION

NSRA Institutional Training Grants are made under the authority of Section 487
of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act as amended and administered under Title
42 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 66.  The Catalog of Federal
Domestic Assistance 93.880 is applicable to these awards.

The PHS strongly encourages all grant recipients to provide a smoke-free
workplace and promote the non-use of all tobacco products.  In addition,
Public Law 103-227, the Pro-Children Act of 1994, prohibits smoking in certain
facilities (or in come 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
PHS mission to protect and advance the physical and mental health of the
American people.


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