NIMH NRSA Practices and Guidance
The following guidance is offered to prospective applicants for National Research Service Award (NRSA) programs (F30, F31, F32, T32) supported by NIMH. NIMH is most enthusiastic about applications that are aligned with NIMH’s scientific priorities as outlined in our Strategic Plan and our Strategic Priorities, and that are consistent with the following NIMH practices:
Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the appropriate NIMH Training and Career Development Program Officer before preparing an NRSA application to determine if their application is aligned with the Institute’s priorities.
The NRSA Fellowship application should document a viable source of funding from the Sponsor to support the research proposed.
Applicants for individual fellowships are strongly encouraged to include plans for the development and continued refinement of Individual Development Plans through the course of their training.
Some sponsors may not yet have successfully mentored a predoctoral student or postdoctoral scholar to the next stage of their research career. In such case, a co-sponsor with a strong mentoring track record may be a helpful addition to the individual fellowship training plan. The co-sponsor’s role in the training plan should be clearly described.
Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research is an integral component of any training program. Successful completion of such instruction is required during Year 01 of a fellowship award. Instructional details must be reported in the Year 02 Progress Report. Full details about this policy requirement can be found in the NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-10-019 and NOT-OD-22-055 . This requirement is fulfilled if the fellow provides documentation that acceptable instruction has been completed within the last four years and during the current career stage (e.g. if a postdoctoral fellow, during the postdoctoral period).
For predoctoral fellowships, support will be limited to the first 6 years of PhD research training (excluding clinical internship) except in exceptional circumstances. Potential candidates are encouraged to discuss their individual situation with an NIMH Program Contact before applying if they intend to request support beyond 6 years.
F30: Over the total duration of dual degree support, at least 50 percent of the award period must be devoted to graduate research training leading to the doctoral research degree. This 48-month window is calculated from the start date of entry into medical school or other equivalent (e.g., veterinary) school. For questions regarding F30 eligibility, potential applicants should contact the appropriate NIMH Training and Career Development Officer.
For F30 applications for dual-degree candidates other than DDS/PhD, DMD/PhD, and AuD/PhD candidates, applicants must have matriculated into a dual-degree program no more than 48 months prior to the due date of the initial (-01) application.
F31: NIMH uses the omnibus NRSA for Individual Predoctoral Fellows to support individuals conducting dissertation research who have matriculated to PhD candidacy (typically after completing a “qualifying exam” or some other program-specific threshold). Applicants generally request 2-3 years of individual NRSA support to complete their dissertation research training and related activities.
Individuals submitting applications for the NRSA F31 for Individual Predoctoral Fellowships to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research are eligible to do such at any point in during their graduate training, but should do so only when they can document a cohesive and sustained line of research and research training that would allow for an appropriate review of the application.
F32: NIMH uses the NRSA for Individual Postdoctoral Fellows mechanism to support early-stage postdoctoral research. The F32 training plan should clearly describe how the candidate will develop additional expertise that is distinct from what was learned as a graduate student.
Institutional Training Grants
T32: Applications for the NRSA Institutional Research Training Grant mechanism are strongly encouraged to include Individual Development Plans for all trainees.
At the predoctoral level, NIMH T32s typically support "late-stage" research training. That is, NIMH T32s are typically used to support individuals conducting dissertation-stage research who have matriculated to PhD candidacy (i.e., after completing a "qualifying exam" or some other program-specific threshold). Candidates are typically appointed to a T32 for 2-3 years when they can benefit from the programmatic activities of the T32 and complete their dissertationresearch training. NIMH encourages T32 programs to foster submission of individual predoctoral fellowships by their trainees.
Note that the NIMH also participates in the trans-NIH Jointly Sponsored NIH Predoctoral Training Program in the Neurosciences that supports "early-stage" predoctoral training (typically years 1-2 of graduate education).
At the postdoctoral level, NIMH T32s typically support early-stage, postdoctoral research training when individuals are most likely to benefit from the structure and programmatic activities of an institutional training program.
Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research is an integral component of any training program. Successful completion of such instruction is required during the first year a trainee is appointed to a NIMH T32. Instructional details for appointed trainees must be reported annually in the Progress Report. Note that trainees must fulfill this instructional requirement during each career stage (e.g. predoctoral or postdoctoral) and at an interval no greater than four years. This requirement is fulfilled if the Progress Report documents that acceptable instruction has been completed during the current career stage and within the last four years. Full details about this policy requirement can be found in the NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-10-019 .