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Mental Health Research Dissertation Grant to Enhance Workforce Diversity (R36)


To enhance the diversity of the mental health research workforce by providing dissertation awards in all research areas within the strategic priorities of the NIMH to individuals from underrepresented groups  in biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social sciences research.

Notice of funding opportunity 


Due dates

New Applications: August 10, December 9, April 11
Resubmissions: August 10, December 9, April 11
AIDS Applications: January 7, May 7, September 7

Program director(s)/Principal investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s)) eligibility

Predoctoral students enrolled in research doctoral programs from groups underrepresented in biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social sciences research .

By the time of award, the individual must be a citizen or a non-citizen 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).

Institution eligibility

U.S. domestic institutions

Additional information

Award recipients will receive 1-2 years of support to complete their dissertation leading to a Ph.D. or equivalent research degree, a combined M.D./Ph.D. degree, or another formally combined professional and research doctoral degree in biomedical, behavioral, health services, or clinical sciences. The R36 allows for budget requests to cover, per year, a salary consistent with the current fiscal year National Research Service Award (NRSA) predoctoral stipend level and up to $15,000 for additional expenses such as fringe benefits (including health insurance for self and family members), travel to scientific meetings, and dissertation research costs according to institutional policies. Support is NOT available for individuals enrolled in medical or other professional schools unless they are enrolled in a combined professional doctorate/Ph.D. program in biomedical or behavioral research.

The faculty advisor, dissertation committee chair, or university official directly responsible for supervising the dissertation research must submit a Letter of Certification explaining how the candidate’s participation would further the goals of the program to promote diversity in health-related research (see Notice of NIH’s Interest in Diversity (NOT-OD-20-031 )).

Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to review the funding opportunity and the FAQs below before contacting the appropriate NIMH Research Training and Career Development representative for additional information.


Q: When should I submit an R36 application?

A: At the time of award, applicants are expected to require 1-2 years of dissertation research to complete their Ph.D. requirements. Note that the time between submission and receipt of an award is approximately 6-9 months. You must have an approved dissertation proposal at the time of award, and show evidence of high academic performance in the field of study and a commitment to a career as an independent research scientist, physician-scientist, or other clinician-scientist (dual-degree training).

Q: I’m a student in a combined M.D./Ph.D. program. Can I apply for the R36 to cover the last couple of years of my medical training?

A: This award supports the completion of the doctoral research project. Except for costs associated with the dissertation (such as dissertation credits), no funds may be used to pay tuition or fees. If you are an M.D./Ph.D. student and have already completed your Ph.D. dissertation research, you are not eligible.

Q: How do I know if my project aligns with NIMH priorities?

A: We encourage you to identify the NIMH Division that best fits your proposed research and send your Specific Aims and NIH Biosketch to the appropriate program officer.

Q: How will my R36 application be evaluated? What makes a competitive application?

A: See Section V of the funding opportunity for application review criteria.

Here are some general tips for writing your R36:

  1. Carefully read the funding opportunity, including Section V to understand how your application will be evaluated.
  2. Be sure your mentor’s commitment to your project is apparent in the narrative, which should enthusiastically describe your research project and the resources they will provide for you over and above the award.
  3. Be as thorough as possible in your description of your dissertation study and provide appropriate justification for the proposed work through literature citations, data from other sources, or investigator-generated data.
  4. Try to frame your dissertation study in terms of your path to becoming a leader in the field. Provide context for your research, why it interests you, and where you might go with future research.
  5. Don’t wait until the last minute! Ask your mentor and people outside your mentoring team to carefully read your application and note any errors, inconsistencies, or other mistakes.

Q: Do you have examples of R36 applications or other resources that may aid me in completing the application?

A: NIMH does not provide examples of R36 applications. For NIMH and NIH resources on the application process and grant writing tips, see the NIMH Funding Page.