Center for Global Mental Health Research Webinar Series: Training Mechanisms for Early Career Scientists in Global Mental Health Research at NIH
LEONARDO CUBILLOS: Good morning and good afternoon and good evening to you. Thanks for attending today’s webinar on training mechanisms for early career scientists in global mental health research at NIH. I am Leonardo and actually I am not at NIH today – colleagues from the Fogarty International Center.
I am Leonardo Cubillos. I am the Director of the Center for Global Mental Health Research of the National Institute of Mental Health. Today, we are delivering the fourth of seven webinars of the 2022 webinar series. During today’s webinar, we will be discussing various career development award that are available to NIH for early career scientists, including K awards from NIMH and the Fogarty International Center as well as diversity supplements. We will also hear the experience from currently funded early career scientists that you will get to meet shortly and as usual, attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the webinar.
The fifth webinar of this 2022 webinar series is scheduled for September. We will be announcing the day and time in the very near future. The topic of that fifth webinar is establishing an independent career in global mental health research. Our third webinar was training mechanism awards for graduate students. Today is on early career scientists and the one in September will be mechanisms to establish an independent carrier in global mental health research.
As announced, we always archive these webinars so you can view them later on NIMN’s webpage. You will see the webpage or the like to the webpage on the screen at the end of today’s webinar. As of today, you can access the first three webinars that we held here in April, May, and June. The one in April was a submission and peer review. The one in May was on pre-award aspects of grants management. And the one in early June was precisely the one I mentioned earlier on training mechanisms for graduate students that my colleague, Susannah Allison, led. In fact, Susannah, will lead us through today’s conference.
As you know, Susannah is the Training Director within the Center for Global Mental Health Research in the Division of AIDS Research at NIMH. She oversees a portfolio of grants that focuses on how to best prevent HIV infection among children, adolescents, and young adults. She also serves as the co-chair of the Sexual and Gender Minority Research Coordinating Center at NIH. Susannah completed her PhD, her doctorate at George Washington University in clinical child psychology with an emphasis in child health psychology.
Like in previous webinars and throughout this series, I want to thank all of you for attending this webinar series, for continuing viewing the offline recordings, and my special gratitude to the NIMH Bizzell team and finally to Susannah and the team she has invited and, in the past, has accepted the invitation to share with us their experience.
Over to you, Susannah. Thank you very much.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: Thanks so much, Dr. Cubillos. I am so happy to be here today to talk about some of the funding opportunities for early career scientists at NIH along with my good colleague, Dr. Christine Jessup, from the Fogarty International Center. As Dr. Cubillos mentioned, we are going to be joined by four NIH K awardees throughout the webinar who will share their insights and to the NIH K process.
Here is a brief overview of the webinar for today. I am going to talk a little bit about NIH and NIMH. Then I am going to spend some time talking about the different NIMH awards or mechanisms for early career researchers. We are then going to talk with two NIMH-funded K awardees and then going to turn the mike and the camera over to Dr. Jessup to talk about Fogarty K Awards. She will then have a conversation with two current Fogarty-funded K awardees and then I will talk briefly about diversity supplements and the NIH Loan Repayment Program and will end our time with you all with Q&A.
The National Institutes of Health is one of the world’s foremost medical research agencies. And the overall mission is to advance our understanding of living systems and apply that knowledge to enhance health. The NIH consists of the intramural program or the internal research program at NIH and the extramural program, which is what we will be talking about today. And that is the part of NIH that awards grants to researchers around the world. Within the extramural program, there is a strong emphasis on training future researchers.
While Dr. Collins recently retired as the NIH director, his legacy continues. He was very supportive of the global health research focus at NIH and promoted it as one of his five priorities when he first became the NIH director.
It is important to know that NIH is a big place. It is made up of 27 different institutes and centers. Today, we will be just focusing on two of them, NIMH and the Fogarty International Center. However, it is really important to know that there are many other institutes and centers that support K awards and global health research. I encourage you to look into the other institutes and centers, especially if your interests extend beyond global mental health.
The National Institute of Mental Health where I work recently updated its strategic plan. The NIMH developed the plan to advance our mission and guide and guide research over a five-year period. The plan outlines four high-level goals. I will not read through them all for you because you can see them here. But again, I encourage you to spend some time reviewing the strategic plan. There is the link there on the slide. But you can also Google NIMH strategic planning report and it should pop up. This will help you to really understand the priorities for the institute moving forward.
Today we are going to be talking about the global mental health program. Within NIMH, we have our Center for Global Mental Health Research. Here is our website. It is a wonderful overview of the center. It also includes all of the individuals who work within the center. It includes the current priorities, which I also really encourage you to review the different program areas and areas where we are looking to fund more research.
Lastly, it includes links to and updates on any events that the center is involved with, including these webinars, as you can see on the right.
What I want to do here is just touch quickly on some of the center’s priorities. And some of those priorities are highlighted through our funding announcements that you will find on the center’s website. And really the priority overall for NIMH and for the center is to support science to equitably improve mental health worldwide. This really spans the gamut in terms of the type of research that we are interested in from delivery or from more services research to discovery research.
With regards to the services research, some of the priorities include integrating mental health care into other systems and how best to optimize training and supervision for non-specialist providers who are providing mental health care.
In terms of medium term or more of the translational research priorities, we have a strong interest in how best to prevent suicide among under-served populations and just an emphasis really on reducing the mental health disparities that exist around the world.
In terms of longer-term or more basic behavioral and social science research, we are really interested in understanding the etiology and the pathophysiology of mental illness and especially how that might vary as you look at those factors around the world globally.
Now that we have quickly touched on some of the center’s priorities, I would like to spend some time talking about some of the funding opportunities that are available directly from the NIMH to support the mentored research training of early career scientists. The NIH Research Training Website is a great place to start if you are interested in a training award from the NIH no matter where you are in your research career. As you can see on the bottom, there are links that can take you to more information whether you are an undergraduate, a postdoc, or an early career scientist or even someone who is more seasoned.
I love this slide because it really shows that all of the training opportunities that the NIMH supports across the career stages. In the last webinar, we talked about some of the graduate school and postdoctoral opportunities for funding. Today, we are going to talk more around early career faculty opportunities.
We are going to focus really on the K01, K08, and K23. We also do provide support through research education grants. I am not going to be talking about those today. These are awards that go directly to institutions to provide research education. But if you are interested in learning more about this program, I am happy to talk to you about it. But it would be folks who are beyond their early career, folks who are more senior and who now want to engage in providing research education to others. But it can be a great opportunity for you to seek out R25s that re supported by NIMH to learn about some other opportunities that might exist. We will also talk about diversity supplements and also the loan repayment program.
Here, I wanted to talk a little bit about some of the individual mentored K awards. A mentored K award is for folks who are still looking for a mentored research training experience and the goal really is to ensure that at the end of that mentored K that they would be ready to become an independent researcher. It typically funds individuals from three to five years. NIMH directly funds three different kinds of mentored K’s. We fund the K01, the K08, and the K23.
Now, there are some differences between these three K’s in terms of the type of degree that someone has or the type of research that they want to engage in during their mentored training. But there are a lot of similarities that I am going to touch on in the next slide.
I am happy to talk with you individually about which specific K would be right for you. But I think for this webinar, I just wanted to talk about some of the similarities.
NIMH does co-fund the K43 emerging global leader program. We are lucky to have Dr. Christine Jessup on the webinar so she will be talking more about this program and other Fogarty K opportunities.
Lastly, we do also support the K99/R00, which is called the Pathway to Independence. I am going to spend a little more time talking about that too. The nice aspect to the K99 is that it is available to individuals who are not US citizens. However, you do have to apply. You do have to be working at US institution to be able to apply for the K99.
I want to just talk a little bit about the K01, K08, and K23 that we provide here at NIMH. At the time of the award, the candidate must be a US citizen or permanent resident. You must have a research or clinical doctoral degree. And you must have a full-time appointment at the institution where you are applying. You have to be able to commit at least 75 percent of your time to your research career development. That would include time towards your training goals and your research during the K.
Folks who are ineligible to apply include individuals who have already had an R01 or another K. You cannot have two K’s.
And again, this link at the bottom really shows more around – that will take you to the overall NIH website that talks more about some of the different K’s at NIMH and at other institutes and centers.
NIMH also supports the K99/R00, as I said. This is designed – it is slightly different in that it is for folks who are still in their postdoc and the idea is to support someone in their postdoc for one or two years and then transition them into an independent award for maybe about three years.
As I mentioned before, K99s are open to non-US citizens. However, you do have to apply at a US institution. We do have two types of K99 awards. The MOSAIC is an award that is specifically for individuals who come from diverse backgrounds.
I just want to talk really briefly about developing a strategy for your K. I think it is really important to think about what is the value added to you receiving a K. Are there really skills that you still need to learn that will help you to become independent or are you already ready to launch your own independent research career? Sometimes we do get applications from folks and the reviewers say wow, this person already has so much experience. They really do not need anymore mentored time. It is good to really assess what is it that you really want to gain from the mentored award.
If you just remember one thing from this webinar, I hope it is this one, which is that really, we encourage you to reach out to an NIH program officer before you submit your application. Please send us an email, introducing yourself, introducing the science and your thoughts about your next steps. We can find a time to talk with you or we can put you in touch with the right person to talk with you.
Make sure that the area of research that you are interested in that that institute or center funds K awards in your research area. As I mentioned, NIH has a number of different institutes and centers, and we are all slightly different in terms of the different kinds of K’s that we support. It is really important to ensure that you are applying to the right institute.
Another great tool is NIH RePORT. You can go on and look to see what is already being funded by NIH. If something is already being funded that does not necessarily mean that you cannot also propose to do similar science and similar training. But it is good to know what kinds of K’s the different institutes and centers are funding and it also might help you to identify other individuals who are doing similar work that you could partner or collaborate with or individuals that you could reach out to for support as you are working on your K application.
It is really important that you identify a strong set of mentors that will help you. Please make sure you do this early because you want to make sure that they are on board and that they support you not only once you get your K but also when you are applying for your K.
You really want to consider your strengths and your areas for growth. The K application is where you want to make yourself shine. I sometimes say you want to say how amazing you are and all of the amazing things you have already accomplished and then lay out just maybe two, three, four areas where you still need some mentored training to be able to become even more – to be able to become an independent researcher.
And then identify what are the resources and support that you need whether it is within your organization or from elsewhere.
And just quickly, I want to mention a couple of issues that we often see with K awards. It is highlighted in purple the two that we see most often, which is that a K is too ambitious. I know sometimes we get so excited and passionate about our research. But really the goal of a K is not just to do the research. It is for you to learn new skill areas or to advance your competence in particular areas. You need to make sure that you are giving yourself the time to do that as well as the research.
And the other issue that we often see is that the career plan does not match the research plan. If your plan is to learn more about structural equation modeling but your research plan does not include actually running some structural equation models then that is a disconnect and something that reviewers are likely to highlight.
And my last point is really just to start early. It is really never too early to start planning your K. You really want to make sure that you give yourself a time to put together a really solid competitive grant and one where you can talk to folks, make sure that you have all the right mentors and get feedback and really proofread it before you submit it to your institution and then to the NIH.
At this time, I would like to ask Dr. Kathryn Carlson and Dr. Haley Carroll to join me for a conversation around K awards. Wonderful. Thank you so much for joining today. Let me introduce both of – Dr. Catherine Carlson is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Alabama. She is in her final year of a K01 mentored research scientist career development award. She is implementing depression treatment in Ugandan schools. Prior to her K, she completed a T32 postdoctoral fellowship in global mental health implementation science at Columbia University in the Department of Psychiatry. She earned her PhD from Columbia University School of Social Work. Thank you so much joining, Dr. Carlson.
Dr. Haley Carroll is currently in her first year in a five-year K23, investigating treatment adaptations for evidence-based therapies for use in forcibly displaced populations in Lima, Peru where she works in collaboration with researchers at the Universidad del Pacifico. Dr. Carroll is a licensed clinical psychologist and earned her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Washington. She completed her postdoctoral studies at Boston University and Harvard Medical School in global psychiatry and is now an assistant professor at Boston University. Thank you both so much for joining me and being willing to share all of your insights with everyone who is listening.
I thought we could start with – there are many different pathways to a K. I was wondering if maybe Dr. Carroll, you could share a little bit about your background and how you decided to apply for a K.
HALEY CARROLL: Yes, of course. Listening to you talk was very validating for all the reasons that I decided to apply for a K. It really was that I fit all those criteria that you were mentioning. I was not ready for an R01, for instance, or a faculty job. I think I was exactly the type of a candidate that reviewers would look at and say great. You have these research goals and you need some training in these areas in mentor training. I am just getting started so I am very glad I am in that space.
Besides that, I wanted too more the 75 to 100 percent research position. Again, have those training goals that aligned with my research goals. A K is just I think such an awesome opportunity to explore both of those things.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: You are right. To be able to have that protected time to be able to work on your research and learning new skills or expanding your skills is so valuable when you are at a time in your career when you can be pulled in so many different directions. This really gives you that protected time.
Dr. Carlson, would you want to comment on your pathway to your K?
KATHRYN CARLSON: Yes. I was in a T32 and at that time, I was the second person in the T32 fellowship and global mental health and the person before me was applying for a K. AT that time, there was a special global mental health K specifically. This was like 2015 or something. I do not know. A long time ago She applied for that and I watched her go through that process and I saw the kind of ins and outs and what it was that she was trying to do. I realized this is also – it would be really good for me. Then that specific global mental health K went away but I was told that NIMH still wanted to encourage global mental health K’s.
I pursued it for that reason because I had just seen somebody before me go through a similar thing and being in a similar position like Dr. Carroll said, wanting to get some additional skills and then as well as the effort. At that time, I was in an institution where I needed to get a K in order to have full salary coverage. I think that if I had been in a tenure track position that I am in now, for example, that was more hard money. I may not have realized the value of the K as much. I may have more considered doing an R21 or something like that. But in retrospect, even though now I am, I switched positions and now I am in a tenure track hard money position. The K was just so invaluable for the training and the protected time. I am just really glad that I ended up going through that path.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: You raised some really good points. Hopefully the two of you and we are going to hear from some K43 awardees too, a good example of how you can be successful and what the K can provide you at this point in your career. Maybe you can be that impetus for others to apply for a K as well.
I think you are right. I think too the other point that I just wanted to comment on is that everyone is in a slightly different situation at their institution and the level of support they receive and what kind of support they are looking for. A K is not always – a K is not for everyone. But I think if you are looking for more protected time and that ability to work with mentors for three or four or five years, I think it can be a nice next step on people’s trajectories to independence.
Dr. Carlson, we will start with you for the next question. What were maybe one or two challenges that you encountered when you were applying for a K and how did you overcome them?
KATHRYN CARLSON: I think in answering this question, I just want to be broad and say first of all, it is really hard. It is a very intense process. As I was writing my K, I had one of my mentors say that she had a written a K. In her opinion, it was harder than writing an R01 because there are so – you have the training and you have the research. There are so many puzzle pieces to align. You have to get letters of support. You have to get recommendation letters, the human subject, the budget. And it all has to align. It is just a big process. I definitely agree with having a lot of time, like you said, six months. I think really you need to start thinking and percolating and having discussions probably a year in advance. But I do not say that to people to try to discourage you. I think it is the most valuable experience that I have had – one of the most valuable in my professional life.
I just say that to normalize it so that if it is hard for people and just know that this is part of the process and not to discourage you but just to give yourself a lot of time, trust your mentors, ask for help. I definitely agree. Your mentorship should start when you start working on the K, not when you get the K. And also, I very much valued – got a lot of value from peers, from other doctoral, postdoctoral and early K awardees and getting their feedback and support.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: Wonderful. Really pulling from your network to get that support as you are working on it. I think you are right. You do not want to – I say the same thing. They are complicated applications to write but it is not to discourage you. It is just to say you do have to put in the time. While a year sounds horrible, it is not like you are working on it full time for a year. It is working it in stages and breaking it down. Again, always to talk to people about how to maybe even break down those steps towards a K, the mission, and how to do that. You can start with timeline but breaking it down even into more manageable chunks.
Dr. Carroll, do you want to comment on some of the – maybe one or two challenges that you had in applying and how you overcame them.
HALEY CARROLL: I echo everything that Dr. Carlson said already. I think the one piece I would potentially add to that too that it is just something to think about is not only the front loading of your time but also thinking about potentially having to go through two or three review cycles however many – like if you are going to start a new application. That was something that did not work out perfectly so having a lot of institutional support was really helpful on my end to fill the gap in between my T32 and starting the K23. It takes a long time.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: That is a good point. You do have to factor in that time for after submitting, waiting to the review and then seeing how it fares and then the potential for – it is more typical than not is that you have to resubmit and sometimes a third or fourth submission as well.
What would you – go back to Dr. Carroll. Do you have any tips that you would share with folks who are interested in applying for a K in global mental health? What would your tips?
HALEY CARROLL: Absolutely. I think it is expanding again on that idea of starting to think about it now, laying the groundwork now. I think any institute that you are collaborating with but especially in global mental health, really having strong ties wherever you are working. For me, that is in Peru. I worked there – I left Fogarty a long time ago. I came into the T32 with strong ties and that really helped me a lot, having collaborators especially during COVID of course where travel was harder. Laying that foundation now I think of course is ethically important, scientifically important but also practically important really helped to prepare me to write that K. In that year of planning, as we are talking about, that would be the kind of stuff that is not the full time writing the K but is preparing you for submitting something that is possible, practical, scientifically valuable.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: That is an excellent point and actually something we see pop up in the review of K’s for global research when folks do not have that existing relationship with the sites or collaborators in country. You cannot just say I am going to start working with so and so and here for my K. That is just not the kind of research and training opportunities that I think NIH is interested in funding. We want there to be equitable relationships and relationships that have already been established so that – that it really is the science that is going to advance the needs of the folks who are in country.
Dr. Carlson, do you have any tips for individuals who are thinking about applying for a K in global mental health.
KATHRYN CARLSON: I totally agree with having existing partnerships. If there is a place you want to work that you do not have, maybe your mentor does and you can start building those relationships through your mentor’s research.
My tips are in choosing a mentorship team that you really want to have a mentorship team you can go to for a range of questions. I think it is really important to have a mentor on your team who has done global mental health research. They could be an expert in doing domestic research on your topic but US based. But if it is not global mental health, there is going to be a whole host of other questions and challenges that you are going to encounter that I think is really important.
I think it is also good to have a locally based mentor as well that can help you navigate the systems and the nuances of the in-country research. But I think in terms of your mentorship team, you also want people who can give you great scientific support and mentorship but also career advice, career support, and the logistical. Just managing the budget and the sub-award and all of that stuff is all part of the mentorship experience, at least that is how it has been for me.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: That is such a good point. Your mentors are going to be with you through thick and thin through the K. You are right. It is a lot more than just how do you improve recruitment or what are some of the measures that I should be using. But I think there are added complexities to doing work globally and doing mental health research as well. I think making sure that you pick and you seek out mentors that have the right expertise but that also are going to be there for you. If it is someone who is new to you, ask around and make sure that they are going to be able to give you the time and support that you are going to need because I think you are right. Everyone encounters challenges in their research. It is important to have the right team there to support you.
KATHRYN CARLSON: Can I say one quick other thing – is to not focus only on your research strategy because I had to reapply and all of my comments were almost on my training plan so to make sure you give that a lot of attention as well.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: That us a great point. And I have to say whenever I have a call with someone, I always try to spend more time talking about their training plan than maybe even the research. But it makes sense. We are all so used to talking about our research and that is the focus. That has been the focus of writing manuscripts and talking to people about what we are doing. But when we think about what are my training goals and what are the activities going to be that I am going to engage in to be able to achieve my goals, it is just not something we have as much experience with. It is important.
For that one slide about pitfalls, I think one of them is you are in very good company, Dr. Carlson, like it is an underdeveloped training plan because we do. We spend time on the research. I think sometimes we also think it is sort of intuitive that – I have these mentors. Well, of course I am going to be meeting with them and they are going to be talking with me about ethics or depression management or these various topics.
One thing I have learned is you definitely need to spell these things out in a K grant and really make it explicit as to how you are going to be achieving those training goals. Excellent point. Be sure to give all of those training activities a good amount of space as well.
The last question. Is there something you wish you had known when you were applying that you know now after having received your K? Dr. Carlson, do you want to go first?
KATHRYN CARLSON: Sure. Shortly after having received my K, I was at a conference with a few other global mental health K awardees and we were chatting. The biggest thing that came out from all of us was the challenges in terms of the logistics of managing the K and especially the global mental health, things that we had not anticipated, that we had not thought about. We just thought writing the grant and we got it. But some of those things, for example, are IRB approval. You cannot start your project until you get your institutional and in-country IRB approval. For some people, that can take a long time. I know somebody that took almost a year because of extreme delays of in-country IRB. Again, having the institutional support that Dr. Carroll talked about while you are waiting for that to happen.
The other thing is that if you have a sub-award, your sub-awardees will be reimbursed for spending. Typically, that is what I have encountered. Making sure that your partners that you are identifying to work in country are aware of this and know and are okay with that and can manage it. That is something else I have – it was not an issue for me but with other fellow global mental health K’s that I have talked about.
It is kind of the logistical stuff that really comes at you when you first get it and you are just like learning how to manage the grant and that is why I mentioned that for having that mentorship is so important and the peer support as well.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: Those are great things because you are right. Those are other aspects that we gloss over I think sometimes in thinking through but are vital to the success of the program and being able to navigate IRBs too with maybe if you are working with a particular population that might be more vulnerable. How do you ensure that you are doing it in a way that is ethical and is really protecting them from any risks? Again, importance of the right team and the right – having a good set of peers to also pull support from.
Dr. Carroll, do you have any – is there something that you wished you had known before you had submitted your K?
HALEY CARROLL: I think I could have been at that conversation with Dr. Carlson because that is exactly the type of advice I would have given especially with the sub-award piece. That is the piece I am – because I am in the early stages of my K that I am still navigating and have had to become really creative in trying to navigate. Like Dr. Carlson was commenting on, that is where, I think, the institutional support, the support in country, those are pieces that have helped a lot. The mentorship team. It is all huge. I think it is also validation for me that this is the right career stage. This is helping me learn all these other sides of the grant management process that will help me become an independent scientist in the future. It is a good piece of information to know ahead of time to help things go smoothly as you start.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: Wonderful. Thank you both so much. This has been really invaluable, I think, and great to hear your experiences. I have learned more too around some of the things to help potential applicants look out for and think about as they are planning their K. That is really helpful for me too.
I am going to turn the microphone and video over to Dr. Christine Jessup from Fogarty International Center. And then we are going to have Dr. Carlson and Dr. Carroll come back and join us at the very end for the Q&A when we will be taking questions from the Q&A. For now, I am going to turn it over to Dr. Jessup. Thank you so much.
CHRISTINE JESSUP: Thank you and thank you for inviting me to participate in this webinar. I am a Program Officer at the Fogarty International Center, which I will also refer to as Fogarty or as FIC throughout my presentation.
The Fogarty International Center is the component of the NIH whose mission is advancing science for global health. We are dedicated to advancing the mission of the NIH by supporting and facilitating global health research, conducted by US investigators and by investigators internationally. We also focus on building partnerships between health research institutions in the US and abroad. A key focus of our mission is training the next generation of scientists to address global health needs.
In this presentation, I am going to provide an overview of Fogarty’s two mentored career development programs. I will also provide some insights and helpful hints on preparing mentored career development awards for these two programs. You will have access to these slides. There are a number of hyperlinks throughout the slides that I would encourage you to look into further.
We will start with an overview of Fogarty career development opportunities. I will share a little bit about what has been supported through Fogarty K awards and I will provide some application tips.
A central focus of the mission of the Fogarty International Center is really building a robust global health workforce comprised of scientists in the US and in low- and middle-income countries or LMICs. We recognize that developing leaders in the field really requires fostering well-training individuals. We need individuals who have protected time to conduct research in low- and middle-income countries. And developing these individuals really requires strong mentorship from both US investigators who are experienced in working in low- and middle-income countries and from LMIC investigators.
The Fogarty International Center has a number of opportunities for individuals at various career stages, both for US investigators and LMIC investigators. We have research training programs such as our D43 mechanism, our Global Health Fellows and Scholars program and these target earlier career stages. At the other end of the spectrum, we do have some R01 programs and we have more in the way of R21s and R03s.
But it is this intermediate stage that I will focus on today and these are the two programs circled that I will discuss, the International Research Scientist Development Award or Fogarty’s K01 award for US investigators. Our parallel program, the Emerging Global Leader award of the K43. This is for low- and middle-income country investigators.
There are two funding announcements that support each of these mechanisms. This is because NIH requires all applications involving clinical trials to be submitted through a clinical trial FOA funding announcement. If you are looking at these programs, you will see that there are two different funding announcements and which one you apply to depends on whether you are proposing independent clinical trial or not.
Again, the K01 is for US investigators based at US institutions and the K43 is for low- and middle-income country investigators who are based on LMIC institutions. If you are a US citizen, you would not be eligible for the K43 that is targeted at individuals who are from low- and middle-income countries.
This slide highlights some of the similarities and a few of the differences between the programs. The programs are similar in many respects. They are both mentored career development awards. Again, the IRSDA, the International Research Scientist Development Award, the K01, is for US scientists and the Emerging Global Leader is for LMIC scientists. There are some exclusions in terms of country eligibility. You will want to make sure that you are looking at the funding announcement to clarify your eligibility.
But both these programs provide three to five years of mentored research and career development in global health as you heard similar to NIMH’s K’s and other K’s across the NIH. Both programs require that the candidate put in 75 percent effort or 9 person-months annually. The salaries are specified here. Both of them provide salary support and both provide some research cost to the investigator on an annual basis to cover some of the research costs.
The K01 is open to postdocs and junior faculty at US institutions. For the K43, the candidate has to have a junior faculty or a junior research scientist position at an LMIC institution so that is one of the key eligibility requirements and slightly different between the two programs.
Similar to other NIH K awards, the candidate cannot have any independent funding. Anything equivalent to an R01 from any funder would make you ineligible for these programs.
Both of these programs require that the applicant come in with two mentors, a US mentor, and a low- and middle-income country mentor. This is a requirement of the program and so that is important to start to work on identifying those mentors early, as you have heard from some of our other presenters.
The IRSDA K01 is unique in that it requires that the individual spend at least half of their time at the LMIC site. For the K43, the expectation is that the majority of the research is taking place in the candidate’s home country, the LMIC where they are applying from.
Both of these programs support global health broadly. We cover any area that is covered by the NIH in a low- and middle-income country or global health context would be supported by either of these programs. As you can see for the K01, we partner with NCI and they have co-funded some of our cancer-relevant K01s. There is broad interest in the K43 across the NIH in part because it is unique. It is the only mentored career development award for which LMIC individuals are eligible if they – LMIC institutions. NIMH is among the partners on that K43 program as are a number of other institutes and centers.
As I mentioned, there are a number of hyperlinks here. But we do maintain program pages for these both programs. We have extensive FAQs for both the programs. Dr. Allison already provided you a link to this research training website but that is an excellent resource that we direct all our potential applicants to. There are unique requirements for each K. But a lot of the shared advice is very useful.
I will briefly touch on what has been supported through Fogarty’s K awards. This map shows the global distribution of Fogarty career development awards. The international sites for the IRSDA K01 are shown in red. The sites for the emerging Global Leader Awards are shown in blue. And the size of the start corresponds to the number of awards in that country.
The K43 program is relatively new. We are only entering our sixth year of that program. It is not extensive a distribution at this point. Our K01 global health IRSDA award has been around for over 20 years.
We, in 2017, conducted an evaluation of our IRSDA K01 program. I would refer you to the link at the bottom of this slide to learn a little bit more about this particular K01, the IRSDA program. I think our number of awards is now over 100 in this time period. Research has been supported. The grantees have worked in more than 33 countries, in 6 world regions, covering a wide range of biomedical research areas. They have been involved in over 1500 publications.
And what is really important is that awardees to this program have really built lasting collaborations, international collaborations with other investigators. At this time this evaluation was conducted, almost half of them have been successful in obtaining subsequent research funding. That success rate is comparable to other individuals who have come through other NIH K01 programs. The majority of alumni of this program have remained in global health research.
The K43 Emerging Global Leader program is newer and has not had a full evaluation yet. But here, I think we are close to 70 awardees now in almost 40 institutions and quite a few low- and middle-income countries. Again, research through these programs cover a wide range of topics. Recently, more than half of the awards were co-funded by some of our other NIH partners. Even though the program is relatively new, several awardees of our K43s, have gone on and been successful in competing for other NIH funding.
A few application tips for these programs given some of the unique features of these programs. First, read the funding opportunity announcements carefully. This is true for any application that you are putting into the NIH. But for these in particular, make sure that you are reading the eligibility requirements. There is individual eligibility and there is institutional eligibility. These are specified in the funding announcement.
It is also helpful to read and re-read the review criteria as you consider applying and thinking about whether you have a well-justified concept but also as you are preparing your application. Those review criteria are the questions that reviewers will address as they review your application. It is really important that you have addressed them in the body of your application, especially your need and justification for the protected time that is provided by a mentored K.
In addition to the funding announcement, make sure you check the NIH guide for any notices associated with that funding announcement. Sometimes there are changes in funding announcement language or eligibility that are communicated through guide notices. Usually these are hyperlinked in the funding announcement, but it is good to double check that you have seen everything related to the funding announcement you are considering applying for.
There are a lot of instructions in the funding announcement itself and there are also instructions in the application guide, the SF424. And what can be very helpful are annotated forms that the NIH makes available. Those are linked here. Those can be helpful as you are looking at some of the various sections of a K application.
As we have heard from others already, it is important to remember that you are not preparing an R01 research application. A K award supports research activities but equally important to the research plan is the career development plan. You need to really give some thought to your strategy, why you are applying for a K, what is the value added, consider, as you have heard, what is already being supported and the NIH reporter database system is a helpful tool for identifying that.
You really want to think about a K award as a steppingstone to future research awards that you will apply for. You do not want to bite off more than you can chew or be overly ambitious in your K. You want to set yourself to be successful during this defined period that you are requesting support for.
We had already heard about identifying mentors and having them involved. Again, both of Fogarty’s programs require that you have two primary mentors. You will have a US primary mentor and you will have a primary mentor based in the low- and middle-income country. Discuss your plans with them early. Make sure they are committed to mentoring you. Coordinate with their schedules to maximize their feedback and input on your application. Prepare talks and give those to your peers and involve your mentors.
I think one of the most important pieces is that the mentors should really -- in their letters of support that you will include with your application, they should discuss their plans to support your transition to independence. They should be conveying clear support for your pathway to independence.
One important piece also number six is that the applications for mentored career development awards require both letters of support from your mentors and they also require reference letters or some people refer to these as recommendation letters. These are submitted separately from your application. You need to notify your referees early. These are people who are not involved with your application itself, but people who can comment on your background, your skills, your career trajectory and those are submitted separately and then linked to your application for peer review.
You have already heard this but number seven, contact the program officer. Our K43 program invites letters of intent. The letter of intent deadline is 30 days before the application deadline. But really, you should be reaching out to the program officer long before that where that is where we are here for. We are happy to talk with you about your plans and answer any eligibility questions that you may be unclear on.
And then lastly, start the application process early. This especially important for applicants at foreign institutions who are applying for the K43. There are a number of NIH registrations and some of them can take months to establish. There is a sequence in which you and your institution have to make sure that these registrations are in place. It is critical to not only plan your concept and your application early but begin some of these registration steps so that you can submit your electronic application.
I am not going to go through these slides individually, but I have included some resources, some information about peer review, a link to the application guide, some sample applications that are available. On the next slide, I have direct links to the International Research Scientist Development Award program page, our Emerging Global Leader Program page, and the Research Training and Career Development Portal.
I have put my contact information here as well. You are welcome to email me. At this point, I would like to invite our K43 awardees to turn on their cameras. I will introduce them.
We have Dr. Oscar Flores-Flores and Dr. Lola Kola. Thank you. Good to see both of you. I will start with Dr. Lola Kola. Dr. Kola is a global mental health researcher and medical sociologist at the Department of Psychiatry in the College of Medicine at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. She is also an affiliate member of the University of Washington’s BRiTE Center and an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Psychology at Lead City University, also in Ibadan.
She has experience conducting large-scale epidemiological studies, clinical trials, and implementation studies in perinatal mental health and other vulnerable populations in primary care in low resource settings. Her current work is centered around developing psychosocial interventions on digital platforms to increase mental health services access. Dr. Kola is currently in the fourth year of her Fogarty Emerging Global Leader K43 award, which is jointly by the Fogarty International Center and the National Institute of Mental Health. Thank you for joining us.
I would also like to introduce Dr. Oscar Flores-Flores, who is an assistant professor at the School of Medicine and a research associate to the Center of Research on Aging at the University of San Martin de Porres in Lima, Peru. He is also an affiliated researcher to the Johns Hopkins Center for global noncommunicable diseases. He completed his MD at the University at San Martin de Porres and he obtained a Master of Science in global health and development at the University College London. He held a Fogarty Global Health Fellowship Award in 2018 to 2019. He is currently in the second year of his Fogarty Emerging Global Leader K43 Award, which is also jointly supported by Fogarty and NIMH.
His research interests are in aging research with a focus on mental health, multi-morbidity interventions and primary care. He is currently leading a research study to design and test a community-based intervention of mental health tailored to Peruvian older adults with depression and anxiety. Thank you for joining us.
I would like to start the conversation by asking both of you why you chose to apply for the K43. Your bios touched a little bit on your previous research training. But I would like to hear why you pursued the K43 and what you hope to achieve through it. We will start with Dr. Kola.
LOLA KOLA: Thank you, Dr. Jessup, for inviting me to participate in this. I came to applying for my K at a period when I actually (inaudible). My K was just tailored to meet my particular need at the time. Like I said, I come from the background of large epidemiological studies that do not – I worked with many researcher at coordinated large projects. And then I participated in quite a number of publications and things like that.
It was in a period when I had all these experiences but I had no experience leading my own study. That piece of it was missing. It was then we were working with the uniting NIMH. It was along that line that I got confidence to – that it was not going to be a bad idea to actually go for it because – initially because NIH and all the stringent rules and all the administrative bottlenecks. It was initially not – it was not something I was looking forward to but with lots of encouragement.
What I will say – informal mentors at the NIMH. Working with those on the uniting. That is why I got to applying for it and that was why I got it. Thank you.
OSCAR FLORES-FLORES: I worked (inaudible) K was. My mentors also encouraged me to look for that opportunity. It is true. LMICs are more difficult to get protected time for research. I think it was a mixture of things to encourage me. That I was in the right moment of my career because it is difficult to know when you are starting to learn about these opportunities if you are early enough to apply and not so advanced. That is the kind of thing that encouraged me to apply. I am looking for more tools in implementation science for doing my projects.
CHRISTINE JESSUP: Thank you. I think that is very helpful. I think it is challenging to find that right – that perfect time. That is true across mentored K awards because, as you heard earlier, reviewers may look at a candidate and think that the individual based on their previous experience is on the cusp of research independence so what is the need for the mentored K.
I think that is important to consider as you are considering applying but it is also important to really articulate and clearly justify in the application, which leads me to my next question. I would like to hear from each of you of what tips you might have for individuals especially those from low- and middle-income countries who are thinking of applying. What tips do you have for preparing a successful K43 application? And especially if you were unsuccessful on your first attempt and you submitted a re-submission application, what did you learn in that interim period? Any tips you can provide would be very helpful.
LOLA KOLA: The first thing is – the talk you gave – it was the kind of thing that led to the success of my K. Firstly, written instructions. NIH seemed to have – I am talking from my own background here. We do not have all these details, long instructions and information. NIH seemed to have a lot of information that sometimes you just could think that you do not need to – that you could gloss through some of the information. Sometimes you just miss one or two things that are either trip you or help you. It is very important to read instructions. The pages are long but it is very important.
Secondly, again, everybody has been talking about mentorship. It is very important. I do not know how I could have written a successful application without the support of my US mentor. We came together in some accidental ways in global mental health because of our interests. This now developed into some mentorship relationship and he was willing, encouraging me, – it was just at a point when I was looking for somebody to work with for my K too. Having good mentors – having a good team, local mentor too because a local mentor is needed. Sometimes in the low- and middle-income countries, people tend to tell me at least that is what I hear that having a mentor, it is a little bit more challenging. Having the local mentor. Since the requirement is worth looking for early.
And then preparing – giving yourself time. There are no tricks to this. You have to give yourself time because you have to read it, especially it is not something – it is not what we are used to. The (inaudible) is not some of the things that – NIH is already prestigious anyway.
Preparing for it and reading over and over. One of the things that helped me was I shared my draft with not just my mentor, some of the senior people that I trust that were like informal mentors to me. They were able to critique it. Like I tell people, share with academics, respect people that like you or do not like you. The ones who do not like you will help you to make your paper better.
And then finally, trust the program officers. There was one thing I learned from the (name). I was always like I cannot get these people. Nobody is replying to me. And then she would always tell me that you stay with it. People are busy. It is worth getting their time. She would tell me that – it is has nothing to do with whether they like you or they do not like you. They do not even know you but they are busy and they get a lot of mails, a platform, the work that they have to do. She would always tell me to be patient. Trust the program officers. Having to talk to them, it is very much worth it. That is the last advice I can give. Thank you.
CHRISTINE JESSUP: Thank you. I think that is helpful. As program officers, we are managing multiple programs and we are busy and we do not always respond within a day or sometimes within a week. If we get a follow-up email and if you are specific in your questions, it is helpful. But we are here to answer those questions and set up a call with individuals who are interested in our programs. That is great advice to be persistent. At the same time, if the information is in the FAQs or in the instructions, we will send you there. But we are happy to have these conversations as well.
Dr. Flores, can you comment on some application tips that you would share?
OSCAR FLORES-FLORES: Sure. I would like to share some advice as well. I totally agree about the mentors and start early. That is common. I think also it helped me that I knew someone who was a K awardee also that – two years ahead of me in the US even if the applications are not exactly the same. This recent awardee remembered more about the process than your own mentors because mentors usually are seniors and maybe they got or not a K but they do not know each of the process but the application process is difficult, at least if it is first time. Someone who already did the process – an awardee, knows a little bit more about the process itself. I think that is also important.
In my case, my institution was the first time that received an NIH grant. I had to go over each step from the beginning. It takes me – the first year, I did not finish because the process did not finish on time. My recommendation is also taking care of yourself. It is a long application. So you need to decide if you – you probably finish but without energy. I think if you in the moment in the first time that I was going to apply, I decided not to continue because I was going to finish and burn out. But I applied the next year, and I did not get it. And then I applied in the next year, and I got it. It requires time especially if your institution never received an NIH grant.
Unfortunately, as a researcher, you will need to push that process because I had a lot of support from my institution. But they also don’t know where to start. I need this information. We need to apply for this for the Duns number and the SAM and then the other process. It requires time. Probably you will need to lead that. But if the institution is willing to help you, they will provide what is required.
CHRISTINE JESSUP: I think that is great. Yes, it is challenging, especially for an institution that has not previously received NIH funding. So there is not just the applicant and your registrations, but you need to make sure that the institution is registered and that is a multi-step process.
Dr. Flores, I am wondering if you can comment on how you developed your mentoring team, whether your mentors are individuals, as you previously had research collaborations or training experience with and how you engage them in the application process and how frequently you are working with them now. If you could talk a little bit about your mentorship team that would be helpful.
OSCAR FLORES-FLORES: Sure. I was working with two of my mentors in Atlanta before, three years before the K award. The relationship was there so it was easier to really ask for help. We would have meetings weekly, read the application and get feedback. Also, my core mentor from the US, Dr. (name), was the mentor of five or six K awardees before. He really knew how the process was. He was very – the first time I did not get it. He encouraged me to apply because the feedback was not bad. It was something that we can improve. That also helped me not to feel bad for not getting the first time.
I think it is important to (inaudible) before as was said. And then try to really schedule in a way how it will be for now, I am in the second year of my K. I think the relation continues. Things happen in your life, in the life of your mentors, in your own life that for sometimes maybe there is a space where you do not contact so often. But in general, I think it has been – the K has strengthened our bond together. You recognize people that are really supporting you, try to incorporate them into your mentor team especially if you have more than one or two mentors. It is better because, as I said, people are busy or have family problems or illness problems as well. Better to have a mentor team.
CHRISTINE JESSUP: The program requires the two primary mentors, the US and the LMIC mentors. How many mentors do you have on your mentoring team?
OSCAR FLORES-FLORES: I have two core mentors. One in the US and one in Peru and then two additional mentors for specific part of my application for implementation science and for clinical trials science.
CHRISTINE JESSUP: Great. I think that is important to convey that even though the two are required, you are not limited to the two. And a mentoring team can be very helpful in helping you with very specific skills. Those other mentors can be at other institutions and have the relevant expertise to mentor you.
Dr. Kola, can you talk a little bit about your mentoring relationships and your mentoring team?
LOLA KOLA: My mentoring team. My US mentors are my primary mentors. And then I have the local one in Nigeria. The local LMIC mentor, primary mentor, I have been working with him for quite a while before. But my other co-mentors were people that identified in global mental health. They were initially – there was an informal mentorship that they were giving to me. They usually would - and these were quite senior people. It was easy approaching them even though it was not – some of them want to decline that they are busy and things like that. That is just how I approach my mentoring team together.
But interestingly, my mentor – maybe because of my interest again in digital health, I have worked more closely with my mentors in different degrees. All of them in different levels. But I work more closely with my mentor in the US, Dr. (name). It seemed to want to know everything about what you are doing. It is very hands on.
Initially, I was not very used to somebody that - some people might not like it but it was what I needed because it was not coming on but it just wanted – you have to meet your milestones. You have to do things in time. Since I started my K – it is funny. Since I started my K, I speak to my mentor in US regularly. Sometimes every two weeks. Sometimes monthly. It has been like that. It is not like it is not busy. It is quite busy but you seem to just find the time because I think it is just – just wants to put everything at once. That has actually really helped me. It has helped me on focusing, telling me – he guides me into can I develop my path. You get invitation from this place. He tells you not to become a jack of all trade, focus, and things like that. It has actually been very helpful and really making me accelerate.
And then it was like when I – my research strategy. When it was time to start my research strategy -- just months before, he told me that you do not have to wait. Start preparing the work.
When COVID came and some people were actually not – they were (inaudible) I had no problem. I was not looking for any supplement for COVID because things were already on point. I was not late on any of the deliverables. But that was not because of my knowing what to do, those initial stages, but because he has had a lot of NIH grants. It was really very much into the succeeding.
And of course, he invites me to many of the things they do in their center. And then it has just helped me broaden my experience and focus my interest in my area of work.
CHRISTINE JESSUP: Thank you. We have heard a little from each of you about some of the nuances of applying and tips for applying. I would like to turn it to managing your award and thinking – if you could comment on some of the challenges that you faced since your K43 has been awarded whether these are scientific challenges, obviously, COVID, but also administrative challenges and issues around ensuring that your institution honors the requirements for the 75 percent protected time and relieves you of some of your other responsibilities to do that.
Dr. Flores, could you comment on some of the challenges you have encountered and how you may have addressed those?
OSCAR FLORES-FLORES: Thank you. I think for most of us, having the challenges for COVID and do in-person work and do it remotely and things get more delayed in general and so on.
Administrative challenges. I think universities that has more experience especially in US institutions, once you get a good score, you start receiving emails that are potentially – it is notice of award. But you are receiving emails that are telling you science that probably you are getting something. But my mentor told me that means that probably you need to start preparing your IRB, everything. But for my institution because we do not have the official letter, that could not move so much forward.
At the beginning, we had this delay also to prepare all the grants to start for that because I guess each institution also has their own requirements to create a new line of projects or regulations, the bank account, and the system for each project. Everything that takes a bit of time. I think it is part of the learning process. I think in the future, it will be easier. But in the beginning, that is a bit of a delay in terms of administrative challenges.
But after that, I think we are still learning. But at the beginning, I have more – you never know how the NIH office will be. I have more confidence to ask questions and to get the reply. I think I encourage you also to do that. I always get good advice when I do not know what is the right thing or what is the next step in terms of submitting your report, also the system. That is a learning process. I think ask for help at the NIH without hesitation.
CHRISTINE JESSUP: Great advice.
Dr. Kola, can you comment on any unexpected challenges that you faced during your reward?
LOLA KOLA: It is more in the area of administrative support. My university had an NIH grant. We have quite a number of NIH grants. But notwithstanding, the platform – different things happen in the platform. It has been upgraded regularly. Particularly when you have to submit – usually when it is February and I see much in front of me, I am going to submit my report. I am like, deep breath, because I am like – because usually sometimes always a little bit of the itch is there. I thought it was going to get better but it is not particularly better. First year as the same, second, for last year. Yes. You send emails and people are ready to help you.
I am more confident in approaching NIH staff. Before I used to think that – it was not like – I did not think they were on my side, but now I see that. NIH staff – program officers are on your side and they actually want you to succeed. Before it was more of – you do not want to approach them so that they do not think that you do not know what you are doing. But now I know it is better to approach them so they can help you with work you are doing. Administratively, it is a little bit ironed out.
Now in terms of scientific, that is another part. I work with young mothers. I work with young mothers that are adolescents. My population of study, you need a lot of patience actually getting them. If it rains, they do not want to – my design is hybrid. They come and then they still use the app that I prepared, but they still need to come. The care providers sometimes - they complain that the girls are not coming and things like that. Little issues that could make an adult pregnant woman – if it drizzles, they will not come to the clinic and things like that. But even that – I had no problem navigating that.
In terms of protected time, my institution has been very supportive really. It has actually made it very easy for me, particularly again because I’ve been determined - I mean I saw people before me who had K. I saw one before me that had a K and did not have more time for a K. Not because she is not smart but because – you see when you have a K, people are pulling you in different directions and they want to present it, talk about it. You could get carried away. This is not your protected time. This is you not being focused. I saw all these things and I was able to learn from it. With the support of my institution again, I was able to just – to work with the time that was allowed on my K.
CHRISTINE JESSUP: Thank you. I would like to thank both of you for joining us for this conversation. We will also field questions during the Q&A period. But at this point, I would like to turn it back over to Dr. Allison. Thank you very much.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: I was just going to talk very briefly about Diversity Supplements and the Loan Repayment Program at NIMH. And the reason for wanting to mention both of these funding opportunities are because they can both – are both for folks who are early career researchers.
A diversity supplement is a supplement to an existing, actively funded research grant. And the goal is to support someone who is from a diverse and under representative group. And while the diversity supplement can support someone from an undergrad up to an early career or early faculty position, I am mentioning it now because it can support someone at this point in their career.
It can also be a really nice steppingstone or bridge from a postdoctoral position to being able to submit a K award. In fact, we often do have diversity supplement candidates who will be supported on a diversity supplement for one or two years and then be able to submit a K award and be more competitive for a K award after receiving that diversity supplement.
Again, it is a supplement to an existing award so it does have to fit within the purview or the scope of the parent award that you are applying under. You have to work closely with the person, the principal investigator of the research award to be able to put in an application.
I have included a link here to the program announcement. But I also encourage you to reach out in consultation with the principal investigator, the research award, to reach out to the program officer to talk about the specific requirements because each institute and center does diversity supplements slightly differently. It is really important to talk about those differences and what the requirements are for submitting a diversity supplement before you start working on the application. Again, these are for folks who are from – who are US citizens, who are from diverse and underrepresented groups or backgrounds. It can help them in obtaining research and training opportunities.
The next program that I wanted to talk about briefly is the NIH loan repayment program. Basically, what this program involves is you apply, and you commit to engaging in research for the next two years. As a result of your commitment to doing this, NIH will repay up to a certain amount of your debt, your educational debt per year.
And then the goal really is to keep individuals in research careers. We know that sometimes there can be other career opportunities that might pay better and might entice folks away from a career in research. The NIH developed the Loan Repayment Program to help keep folks in biomedical research.
Here is a little bit more about the Loan Repayment Program. There are a number of different programs within the overall Loan Repayment Program. I invite you to explore further on the Loan Repayment Program website. But these are the eligibility criteria for all of the programs. You have an MD or PhD or equivalent doctoral degree. You do have to be a US citizen or permanent resident, which means you could have a green card to live and work in the United States. You have to be willing to commit to doing research for at least 20 hours a week. And your educational loan debt has to be about 20 percent of your annual income, at least 20 percent of your annual income.
Now, this program does change over time. I definitely recommend that you revisit the Loan Repayment Program website before applying as some of these eligibility criteria may change.
Before we move to the Q&A, I just wanted to reiterate a few points that I think Dr. Jessup and I and the K awardees that were part of this webinar have helped to drive home, which is we really encourage you to reach out to a program officer prior to submitting a grant application to NIH. I do not mean one week before. That really is not enough time to determine whether something is a good fit at an institute or provide you with any of our thoughts on the application. But definitely a few months before your due date. We really encourage you to reach out to ensure that you are submitting the most competitive application and you are submitting it to the most appropriate institute or center.
As you have heard, it is so important to find the right set of scientific mentors for your K. It is helpful to have someone that you are working with who has had experience with NIH funding, given all the complexities that exist in applying and for the logistics of just having an NIH grant.
Do not be shy in asking others to review your concept for your draft. At NIH, program officers – we are happy to review your concepts. Unfortunately, we do not have time to review drafts of grant applications. But ask your peers, your mentors to be able to go through your grant application. Make sure you have an example of a prior successful application that you can look at to help you in determining what type – how much information to include that you are including enough detail around your training plan and your research.
I just encourage you to stay in contact with myself and with Dr. Jessup. Please reach out to us if you have any questions about any of the mechanisms that we have been talking about today or any of the funding opportunities.
I am going to stop sharing at this point. I am going to invite Dr. Jessup and Dr. Carlson and Dr. Carroll and Dr. Kola and Dr. Flores-Flores to join us. I have bene trying to go through some of these Q&A – some of the questions that have been coming through. I have answered a few and I know some of you have answered some as well. I really appreciate that. Thank you.
I think a few that might not have been answered are – someone asked, can you speak to advice for people who are coming from small universities or do not have access to a mentor or institution that has a history of large NIH grant funding. How can someone still be competitive for a K? Do any of you have thoughts or advice for Madelynn.
OSCAR FLORES-FLORES: I can tell you my experience that our institution was the first time that we applied for a NIH grant. As long as the application is good in all the parts it has and I think it is important also an institution has received a list of experienced match grants or the government. I can also make the case because institutions are part of the application, institutions support and experience, but it is not the main thing. As long as – has some experience. I think it would be competitive for a NIH grant. It is my experience.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: yes. Thanks, Dr. Flores-Flores. Yes, Dr. Kola.
LOLA KOLA: If I can add to it. We have said so much about mentor supporting us, which is very important. My mentor gave me a lot of support. Just to buttress what Oscar was saying, your mentor is not going to be the one that will write your K for you. If, for example, your institution is small but there has been activity around, some grants in other places, grants that are from senior funders. I call them senior funders. Some of the ones in Europe.
And then you are able to reach out to – technology makes things a little bit more easier for everybody. If you check and reach out to somebody with an award, with a K – people reach out to me and I am able to offer as much as I am able to. And then they can give you more advice. I think if there is a will, there is a way. That is what I just think about.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: I think it is – I would just reiterate some of those points. I think it is about reaching out to other people outside of your institution who have been successful and trying to get an example or examples of successful K applications. Someone was asking about that as well. I think, as some of you have indicated, folks have reached out to you directly, asking you if you would be willing to share your grant application. I know people have different levels of comfort in doing that. It does not hurt to ask people if they are willing to.
I definitely recommend using NIH RePORTER to search for – NIH RePORTER is like the Google of NIH-funded grants. You just type in your key words and a specific institute or not. You can filter by institute and country. You can locate different grants that have been funded. It is a great way to see what has been successful and what is being successful and a way to potentially reach out to meet other people who have gone through the process.
CHRISTINE JESSUP: If I could just add to that. Some institutes do maintain sample applications on their website. Fogarty does not. I do not know about NIMH. But I know that NIAID does and I believe NCI does. Even though those K’s, K01’s are funded through other funding announcements, as we have said, a lot of these mentored career development awards share common themes. If you look at successful K’s from other institutes, there are a lot of commonalities. You will have to keep in mind of the unique requirements for the one you are applying for. But that can be helpful. And I linked to at least one of those in my slides so you can follow that link.
I see a question here about whether a K43 holder is allowed to hold any other minor grants concurrently. This is from somebody who has some smaller research support. I will also let our K43 grantees comment on this. But from an eligibility perspective, you are only ineligible if you have R01 equivalent funding. We look at that from the perspective of the duration of your other funding and the funding level. Smaller grants would not make you ineligible. I do not know whether either Dr. Kola or Dr. Flores had small grants prior to applying for their K43 but such smaller grants would be allowed.
As always, contact the program officer because these are fine distinctions. What may be small funding to us may be large to you. We would need to know the details of your funding situation so who the funder is, what the level is, and what the duration is, and we can help you assess your eligibility.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: We definitely have been getting a lot of questions around just if we are going to be sharing the slides. We will be posting a recording of this webinar on the NIMH website. I really encourage you to sign up for the Global Mental Health – I will put in the chat but the Center for Global Mental Health Research monthly newsletter because we will make sure that we send out the link to this webinar once it is available. It does sometimes take a little bit of time to get through all the approval processes to post it. But we will be posting this online. I will put that request – I will put the email in the chat as to how to sign up for the Center for Global Mental Health Research monthly newsletter.
I think one question that actually I think Dr. Carlson already answered but maybe others have other tips was that wondering what suggestions you have for K applicants about writing the training in human subjects or the training and responsible conduct of research section.
As you may or may not know, all training grants do require you to have some training in the responsible conduct of research. It is a special section that reviewers are going to look at to ensure that you have the appropriate information and that you are proposing to do training in this space.
Dr. Carlson, do you want to just comment of what you entered and then maybe the others could chime in as well with any tips?
KATHRYN CARLTON: I just commented the same – the other sections that we have talked about is what helped me the most is to get an example. I got a couple of examples and then I tailored it from that for my needs.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: Yes, and I do think that there is more and more information on some of the various institutes and center websites around this. I definitely encourage you to use some of the resources on the NIH website on writing the section. The requirements have changed a bit over time and what reviewers and what NIH is looking for in this space. But I think that is always a good suggestion is to find others who had to write it.
There was a question around do all institutes require an in-country mentor or is it just Fogarty. NIMH does not require an in-country mentor. However, I do not think your are going to be reviewed well if you do not have an in-country mentor. It is impossible to go into another country and do research and not have folks in country that you are learning from. I do not think that is a way to do work, training, or research that is ethical. We would never encourage your or think that that was a good plan for your mentorship team not to have in-country collaborators and mentors.
CHRISTINE JESSUP: -- a question that came in about whether LMIC early career researchers who are currently postdocs in the US apply for the K01. At least for Fogarty and I believe this is true across the NIH to be eligible for the K01, you need to be a US citizen or a permanent resident. You need to have your green card to be eligible.
And then on the flipside, you are not eligible for the K43 unless you have an appointment at an LMIC institution that you are applying from. I would advise somebody who is currently a postdoc in the US and not a US citizen – if you later have an appointment at an LMIC institute, the K43 may be appropriate for you at that time or if you are applying for a green card or a US citizenship, you may be eligible for the K01 in the future.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: There was a question around how can you – obviously, having these strong collaborations in country and Dr. Carroll I know spoke specifically to the relationships that she had already established in Peru in prior work before applying and others have as well. But there was a question about how can you demonstrate this in an application that you have a strong relationship with your global collaborators. So really how does that – how do you make that come across in your application?
HALEY CARROLL: I can speak to what I did. I am sure maybe others had different strategies. But I think a couple ways. One is explicitly saying so like I have been working, I met so and so at this time. We have collaborating on XYZ projects both in your letters from your mentors who are maybe supposedly these people you have been collaborating with.
And also, another way I demonstrated collaboration was from publications or presentations, kind of tangible things that you can add to your biosketch but also in you are explaining kind of your connection and who your mentors are. I think it works well to demonstrate my connections.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: Great advice. And I think too being able to have that information may be in a couple of different places, I think, is a good grant writing tip. Sometimes you will get your reviews back and you are like but I included that and you most likely did. But sometimes reviewers need to see information in a couple of different places. It is good to reiterate especially important points like what you have already done to establish collaborations. I think those are some good strategies for the different places to put that information.
OSCAR FLORES-FLORES: Definitely I agree with Dr. Carlson said. Because I had a one-year postdoctoral fellowship. Before that also – with my mentor from the US, that also shows that I have really correlation before and I was writing in my NIH – the CV, the biosketch and also letters and also in application. This is also a way.
I was going to highlight that preliminary work with your mentor also helps you. If you have preliminary work that you can show in the publication and also in a previous small grant, that also helps for that.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: That is a great suggestion too is, if possible, to be able to publish something with your collaborators, with your mentors, or present at a conference or – I think ways to really show that you have started to work together, that you have been able to successfully work together to produce a product can be really helpful.
Is there one more question we can pull before we wrap it up? A lot of these are maybe more specific to people’s unique situations. If we do not get a chance to answer your question now, I really – please reach out to myself or Dr. Jessup with your specific question.
I did put in the list of answered questions – I did include our email addresses. If you just Google Susannah Allison at NIMH, you should be able to find my email address as well. I think the same is true for Dr. Jessup. Maybe we will just take this moment to thank you all for joining and listening to this webinar. We really hope that it has been helpful in terms of learning about some of the different career opportunities or training career opportunities at NIMH and at the Fogarty International Center.
I want to thank the Bizzell Group for running this webinar. I want to thank Dr. Flores-Flores, Dr. Carlson, Dr. Carroll, and Dr. Kola for joining and sharing your insights and your experiences with everyone. It is really invaluable to – I think you could hear from myself and Dr. Jessup for an hour and a half or two hours but to really be able to hear from folks who have gone through this process I think is so much more helpful. And a big thanks to Dr. Jessup for joining me and presenting the different programs that Fogarty runs in this space. Thank you again for joining. We look forward to hearing from you.