Center for Global Mental Health Research Webinar Series: Training Mechanisms for Graduate Students and Post-docs in Global Mental Health Research at NIH
LEONARDO CUBILLOS: Good morning, everyone, good afternoon, and good evening. Welcome to today’s webinar on Training Mechanisms for Graduate Students and Post-Docs in Global Mental Health Research at NIH.
I am Leonardo Cubillos. I am the Director for the Center for Global Mental Health of the National Institute of Mental Health.
Today we have the third of seven webinars in our NIMH 2022 Global Mental Health Webinar Series. As I said earlier, today’s webinar will discuss some of the funding opportunities from the NIH, the National Institute of Health, for graduate research students and post-doctoral fellows who are interested in global mental health.
You will learn today about various funding mechanisms that have developed for the population that we are serving today, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. You will specifically hear, not only from my colleague, Susannah Allison, but from two graduate students which will – an F31 grant and a T32 grant.
The fourth webinar of the series is scheduled for July 26th at 9:30 a.m. The topic for that webinar will be training mechanisms, not for graduate Students, which will be today, but for early career scientists in global mental health. As always, we are capturing this webinar so that you can view them later on the NIH’s webpage. You will send the webpage at the end of today’s webinar.
Today’s presenter is my colleague Dr. Susannah Allison. Dr. Allison is a training director within the Center for Global Mental Health Research in the Division of AIDS Research at the National Institute of Mental Health. Susannah oversees a portfolio of grants that focuses on how best to prevent HIV infection among children, adolescents, and young adults, as well as well -- the health outcomes (inaudible) who are living with HIV.
Susannah also serves as the co-chair of the Sexual and Gender Minority Research Coordinating Committee at NIH. Before coming to NIMH, Dr. Allison worked with children and families living with or affected by HIV in Baltimore, Miami, and Washington, D.C. Susannah completed her doctorate at the George Washington University, where she received a Ph.D. in clinical child psychology with an emphasis child health psychology.
Just like in the previous webinars, I want to thank you all for attending today’s webinar. My gratitude to my NIMH colleagues and the Bizzell team, who make sure that this webinar is possible. And of course, to Susannah, for taking the time to prepare and deliver this presentation.
Over to you, Susannah.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: Thank you so much, Leo. Yes, it is a real honor to be here today to be able to talk with you all about funding opportunities at NIH, in particular, NIMH, which focuses on global mental health research.
Thanks again, to Leo, for the lovely introduction. I think if there is one message that you get from this webinar is that really program staff at NIH are here to help you and provide assistance in a number of ways before you submit your application.
Program can help you determine whether or not it is a good fit at NIMH or at some of the different institutes and centers here at NIH. Whether it fits in with our priorities. Whether the funding mechanism or the type of award that you are applying for makes the most sense for you based on where you are in your research career. We can also help you think about the different review criteria that reviewers are going to be looking at to make sure that you are giving each of those areas adequate attention in your application. And we want to make sure that you are really setting yourself up in your grant, in your training program, to be able to be successful for future funding opportunities.
There are 27 different institutes and centers at NIH, which can seem a bit overwhelming, but what I think is the important part is that all of the institutes and centers have different areas of focus. It is important to know what those different 27 institutes and centers are because your research interest could be a good fit at multiple institutes or centers.
For example, we will be talking about the National Institute of Mental Health, which is where I work, but we will also be talking about the Fogarty International Center, that also has a strong interest in training researchers in global health research.
Here, just on the bottom of this slide, you will see the link to all the different institutes and centers that exist.
As Leo mentioned, I work within the Center for Global Mental Health Research. I just wanted to include a slide here of the Center so that you can find it and learn more about the different priorities that I am going to talk about on the next slide.
The overall priorities of the Center are really to close the treatment gap that exists for individuals with mental illness or who are at risk for the development of mental health disorders and to be able to do that in a number of different ways.
Some of the priorities focus on really being able to scale-up treatments and prevention services that we know work well. Another priority is to be able to integrate mental health care into other systems of care, such as primary care or perhaps school systems. Another priority is to really improve the quality of the mental health care that is being provided. How do we ensure that folks are delivering care or delivering interventions in a way that they are going to have the greatest impact?
Other priorities include addressing the high rates of suicide that exist around the world and really being able to address some of the mental health disparities that we see. And thinking about some of the different m-health or digital tools that we can harness to be able to better serve the needs of individuals who need mental health care or prevention services.
NIH also has a number of excellent resources for folks at wherever they are in their research careers. So a great place to start when you are thinking about applying to NIH is on the researchtraining.nih.gov website. As you can see, it lays out some of the different career stages. So you can click on that to see what some of the different funding opportunities are. We are going to walk through some of what those are on this webinar.
This is the NIMH Training Page, as well. Just to give you some additional resources. NIH is a big place so sometimes it is hard to find exactly the right website but these are both two excellent websites that I encourage you to checkout if you are interested in applying to NIH while you are in graduate school or you are a post-doc.
I am going to start off by talking a little bit about – I love this slide because it really talks about all of the different funding opportunities across different career stages. So for the first few minutes, I am going to talk about individual NIMH awards. So individual awards at the graduate school or the medical school level, include dissertation grants and individual fellowships.
At the post-doctoral level that includes F32s and K99s or ROO or sometimes they are affectionately called kangaroo awards.
I will just start with – I am going to provide a little bit of information about each of these but then always happy to talk specifically with you on a call about how these may apply to you and whether or not it would be a good fit.
So the F30 is a Fellowship award for individuals who are in a joint clinical and graduate training program. So this would include folks who are in like a MD/PhD program. You do have to be within 48 months of having started the program. This can help to support you during your research years, as well as during your clinical years of a MD/PhD program or any other combined doctoral degree program.
Then we also have a F31 Fellowship. We have two different types of F31 Fellowships. But these again, are individual awards to folks who are in doctoral programs. So they are in a PhD program or an equivalent research degree program and are focused on research training and want some additional support in being able to complete their graduate careers.
There is the standard fellowship, and for that program you do have to be at the dissertation phase when the award goes out. You do not have to be at that stage when you apply, but by the time it comes to the award, you do have to be at the dissertation phase. Recognizing the need to address inequities in the inequities we see once folks get to be NIH researchers. NIH has a number of programs to really try to expand and enhance the training of folks who come from diverse backgrounds.
So we do have a F31 Fellowship, which is specifically for folks who come from a diverse background. For that Fellowship program you do have to be in a PhD program, but you don’t have to be at the dissertation phase at the time of award. So you can apply to this fellowship slightly sooner or earlier, if you have a clear idea as to what you want to do in graduate school, but you do have to be in graduate school.
Again, these are all individual fellowships. So you as the graduate student, would be applying through your institution to NIH, to NIMH, to get the award. You would lay out your research goals. You would layout your training goals. You also want to make sure you have a strong set of mentors who are working with you, who have expertise in the areas in which you want additional training. You also need to make sure that what you are proposing to do really builds on your graduate education.
So the F31 should enhance the opportunities that you are getting by allowing you to perhaps take some additional courses or go to some additional conferences or participate in additional workshops. There should be some added benefit to being able to have a F31 or a F30.
Now I just want to shift a little bit to individual awards that are for folks who are post-docs. Once you have completed your PhD or your advanced graduate degree, there are a couple of other options that exist. One is the F32. An F32 is for postdoctoral candidates who are interested in continuing their research career. It is similar to a F31, you have to have a strong research plan. You have to have a very strong training plan as well, that complements your research plan. You have to have a mentoring team. The budget can include money for your stipends, tuition and fees, as well as institutional allowance.
This just goes into a little more information about what you can include for your whether it is a F30, F31, or F32. Again, these are all individual awards. You can ask for money for your stipend, which is a set amount that NIH does set the amount, depending on where you are in your career. You can also request money for tuition and fees at your university. Then there is also an allowable amount to help with things like health insurance and research supplies and books and travel to conferences.
There is a helpful website on the bottom where you can go. It is called the F-Kiosk and where you can go and learn more about the different F mechanisms that exist at NIH.
The next individual award level that I wanted to touch on is the Mental Health Research Dissertation Grant to Enhance Workforce Diversity. This award is for folks who have completed their course work and they are now just focused on their dissertation. It helps to provide the money for salary, as well as some money to help with completing the dissertation or to travel to scientific meetings. This can be – it has to be at least 12 months but can’t be more than 24 months. Again, the goal here is that this is for folks do meet the NIH definition of being from a diverse background. It is really to again, enhance the biomedical workforce to ensure that there is a wide range of voices and folks that are doing important research in global mental health.
Similar to the F30, F31 and F32, applicants do need to be a citizen or non-citizen national of the United States and do need to be at a US institution. I realize that in global mental health that can be a challenge. I know that there are a lot of individuals who are not US citizens who are interested in doing this work. So we are going to talk about some of the other options that are available to them, but for these individual level awards, they are restricted to US citizens and those that are at a US institution. But you can be doing this work in another country or in a low and middle country, as we are going to hear about shortly, from a current F31 awardee.
The next individual level award that I wanted to just mention is the K99/ROO. This is the NIH Pathway to Independence Award. The goal of this is to really help folks who are already in postdocs to completely their postdoc and then move onto a tenure track position. So it provides maybe two years of additional postdoctoral support and then three years of a ROO, which is like a small RO1 or small independent research award.
The goal here is to help people to kind of finish up their postdoctoral training and then move on to an academic position. For this award you do not have to be a US citizen. You do however need to be at a US institution to be able to apply. We do have two different K99/ROO, similar to the F31. There is the standard K99/ROO, and then we do have a MOSAIC Postdoctoral Career Transition Award to Promote Diversity. Again, this is for individuals from diverse backgrounds.
Another really nice part of the MOSAIC award is that as part of that, the scholars are organized into cohorts. So they are able to meet other folks who are at the same level and also get some additional support in training and mentoring as a part of those additional activities.
This is where I apologize – I put my slides in the wrong spot. I apologize. Anyway, so the next of what we are going to do is I am really honored to have a current F31 trainee, Noah Triplett is on the webinar, and his mentor Shannon Dorsey. So should I stop sharing my slides so we can have them both turn on their cameras and I will introduce them both. We thought we would have a little conversation with Noah and Dr. Dorsey around their experiences in applying for a F31 at NIMH. Now that Noah has the F31, kind of his experience in having the award and what it has allowed him to do.
Noah Triplett is a PhD candidate in child clinical psychology at the University of Washington, where he works with Dr Shannon Dorsey. Noah’s research interest includes applying dissemination and implementation science to increase access and quality of mental health care in both domestic and international settings. He is particularly interested in technology-based approaches to support mental health care providers and community and stakeholder engaged research methods. Thanks for joining this morning, Noah. I commend both Noah and Shannon for joining so early because they are on the West Coast. So a big thanks to them for joining at a time that is earlier than usual.
Shannon Dorsey is a professor and associate chair in psychology at the University of Washington. She is adjunct professor in global health and in psychiatry, and her expertise is in treatment effectiveness research and implementation science research typically focused on children and families. She is a principal investigator of multiple NIMH funded studies, and mentor to multiple graduate students who have received NRSA training awards. So those are the individual training awards that we were talking about, like the F30, F31, F32, as well as diversity supplements, which we will be talking about after this conversation. She loves supporting students and celebrating in their successes.
Thank you again, both. To start off, Noah, why don’t we start with you. Could you tell us a little bit about how you decided to apply for a F31?
NOAH TRIPLETT: Sure. I think I knew pretty early on in my graduate career that I was interested in applying for a F31. As Shannon said, there were other students in our lab who had had them or had diversity supplements and I think they did a great job of selling all of the benefits of having the F31 and everything that it allowed to do beyond what they would have traditionally gotten in our program or just in grad school.
I think Shannon also encouraged me to apply with also noting that it wasn’t an expectation, it was just like truly if you want to do this, I am happy to support you to do it. So I started looking and then realized that I was eligible for the diversity F31 later on in the process and didn’t really pivot my application much for that but just noted our eligibility after seeing the criteria of NIH.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: The next question I was sort of wondering about how long it took to put the application together? How long did you start thinking about – it sounds like you started thinking about different opportunities pretty early on, but once you sort of decided that you would apply for the F31, can you walk us through that timeline until you submitted it?
NOAH TRIPLETT: Sure. So I was thinking back about this earlier and I think in total it was about six months but not all at full speed. I think around – I submitted in December, so actually around the beginning of June I started thinking through different ideas. Shannon and I had a few meetings about what sort of project I could propose. What might be an interesting method to take. Things like that. Then at the beginning, I feel like we really focused on the three key documents being my training goals, my specific aims in the research strategy, and really for a long time just like worked on those intermittently and continued to refine them.
Then probably the two months right before, so maybe once our fall quarter started, so October, November, before the deadline, then I started to really focus a lot more on writing and finalizing everything. Six months, but not a full sustained effort the entire time.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: That rings true with a lot of conversations that I have had with folks that sort of you do – I think it is important to give yourself a long period of time because some of it, it is not like you are doing full time, but it does take a lot of conversations with folks and finding the right people to help you with I guess the framing your training goals and framing your research goals, as well as who are the folks that are going to be the ones to really help you to achieve them.
So maybe at this point, we might turn it over to Dr. Dorsey to talk a little bit more about what was her role in helping to put together the application. What was your role in working with Noah?
SHANNON DORSEY: Sorry, I was laughing at my cat in the background. Kids and cats, all welcome.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: Is your cat asking if he can use the iPad?
SHANNON DORSEY: Or asking if they mentor someone on a F31. I really love mentoring students and to me it is a real delight to help people figure out what they want to do and how they are going to build their careers.
One of the biggest support mentors can provide, and if you are a student, you can ask for these things from your mentor. I think there is a lot that is unwritten about our grad curriculum, but students can say I’ve heard on this NIH webinar that this is a really helpful way to help be structured in this work. Mentors can help a lot with setting up the timeline and how long these things take.
Like Noah said, starting six months early gives you time to put a bullet out of what are your training goals? What do you want to learn? I try to start from like not writing a grant, but like with my students, what are the goals? What is the training you want to have before you get out of here? We start by just writing those up in bullet form, not grant form. Then we start thinking about how I can use my connections as kind of Noah was mentioning and Susannah was mentioning, to link my students in with the people they need to be on those grants. I start those conversations early.
As someone who is a full professor, that may be easier for me to do than a newer mentor, but for students with newer mentors, or faculty members that may be an assistant professor or newer, they can reach up to their senior colleagues to help make some of those connections that they don’t have.
I feel like one of the biggest roles of a mentor for students is being a connector, being a person who helps set a structure and a timeline and is there to kind of be a cheerleader and supporter as students are undergoing the work.
Reading and editing are a big piece of it. Again, people who are writing these, you can ask for these from your mentors if your mentors aren’t naturally doing it.
Mentoring is a learned skilled and I think a lot of time, as someone who has done this for a while, focused on mentoring. But I think there is also a strategy to, I think it is called mentoring up, so you can ask for I am going to have drafts. Can you read something in two weeks or three weeks?
I do think that as a mentor, just helping support the structure and timeline. This came pretty easily to Noah, I feel like, but when I was doing this kind of work, I needed the mentoring and support for a timeline. So I think structuring and setting deadlines, and even setting a submission date, I do this with a lot of mentees. Even if you might not make that one, it is helpful because you are working towards a goal and then you can always say I am planning to submit for the end of summer deadline or the December-ish deadline. You can move it if you want, but setting a deadline is critical. Protecting your calendar to be able to do the work.
In our lab, a lot of people have done it over summer because grad students have fewer classes. A little bit more flexibility. You can protect time. That is probably in part why Noah started six months in advance, too, because we used summer to do a lot it.
Then the other thing, grant writing takes time. To have a good grant it takes time to do it. Grants can be overwhelming from start to finish, but if you look at the individual pieces. So for students who are doing this work, and the role of the sponsor I think, is to really think about how do you break that application into the small pieces that students can work on. There is an aims page. There is an aim 1. There is the idea of your training goals.
Then as you know Susannah, one thing I have tried to do for students is really link them to you because you are my project officer for other work that I have done and also have the role here on the training grants. But I think, ask your sponsors to join you in a meeting with the project officer. Meet early with your project officer. And those meetings are really fun and a sponsor can really play that role.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: Thanks, Shannon. Those are excellent points. I really like sort of how available you have been and I think too, reiterating that timeline. The timeline that is needed to kind of put together a solid application. And they are, they are long, grant applications have multiple pieces and it can seem very overwhelming that you are going to have to put together 80 to 100 pages at the end of the day.
But all of that long application is made up of little pieces. And I think breaking it down into really manageable goals and starting off with bullet points, oftentimes when I talk to someone, I just want them to send me their training goals. Let’s not even think about the research yet. I think we are trying to become better researchers, right, but we jump in and just focus on the research. But really the goal of all these training awards, is to help you to get new research skills. So the focus should really be from the very beginning, on what those next two, three, skills that you need to go onto the next step?
Noah, he put forward training goals that he is learning right now that are going to make him really competitive for a postdoctoral position. Later we are going to hear from someone who was a post-doc and kind of what she did during her post-doc to kind of make her successful.
Again, it is really focusing on those next few skills that you need to move on and make you more competitive for that next phase.
SHANNON DORSEY: If you don’t mind me just adding, don’t let the 80 number stay in your mind because most of that is attachments and things. Your grant staff side, really for you it is like maybe like 12 pages. It is maybe a little bit more with the bio sketch, but each one breaks down to a small task that you can do. But, yes, starting with your training plan I think is the smartest.
If I can say this last thing, no one can write these without examples. I have never written a grant myself, and I have a Center grant and multiple RO1s, without looking at examples. Another thing sponsors can do is help get you examples if they don’t have them within the lab, and don’t feel like you have to start from scratch because there are ways to set up grants. So sponsors can be really helpful, and your grad mentors, in having them or linking you to people who can give examples. Because we all need examples to think about how do you structure a grant. How do you set it up? The examples make it a lot easier.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: Absolutely. The piece that you are actually writing isn’t that long, so it is sometimes hard to figure out what to include and what to include and how much detail to go into. That is where having examples of successful F31 applications or F32s or K99/ROOs, are really beneficial and can help you how to layout the application you are writing. Excellent points, thanks Shannon.
Noah, I just maybe want to turn it back to you, now that you have applied and were successful in obtaining the F31, can you just talk a little bit about what you have been able to do because of the F31, maybe above and beyond what you are doing in your graduate school program.
NOAH TRIPLETT: I think really going back to the training goals, which feels like that is where the F31 has had the biggest impact on grad school or my grad school experience. My training goals, as I think probably most people within the Center for Global Mental Health, we are pretty interdisciplinary. My training that I proposed went above and beyond what would have just been expected or required in the grad school or in my program in clinical psychology.
So through the F31, I was able to do additional trainings in team science or work with mentors who were in psychiatry and health services, and also in human centered design. I think one of the biggest things was just additional connections, like Shannon was saying, to people that were in outside departments that had different expertise that I probably would not have gotten to connect with if it weren’t for something like this mentor training grant that they had signed on for.
The also just like the actual training experiences or classes or workshops that I proposed as part of the F31. So I think those are big things.
Then also the research itself, which of course is its own training experience, which having the F31 resource has allowed me to propose a more ambitious dissertation study. So having that really allowed me to do the community engage and stakeholder engage work that I really wanted to do and like pay the people that I would have been working with in Kenya and send resources to Kenya to run my study and things like that. So that in itself, was also just like a great training experience that I wouldn’t have been able to do or would have had to find external funding elsewhere to do either way.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: We will maybe have time for one more question and then we will move back to talking about other funding opportunities. Maybe Shannon, do you have advice to other mentors? You have sort of touched on some things I think, already in terms of reaching up to other folks, if you are maybe an assistant professor and using your network to help potential candidates find the right people to work with. Are there other tips that you would have for mentors who are working with F31 candidates?
SHANNON DORSEY: Sure. Two quick additional tips. It is so linked so some of it comes up for me when I am talking about advice to the applicant themselves. One piece of advice is if you are a more senior researcher that is mentoring a student, if you can help the student build an application that uses some existing data that you have or built onto a project, I think that makes it really feasible.
But I don’t want assistant professors or new faculty to be worried or be afraid of mentoring a student if you don’t have that data because there are lots of ways to support a new student. A new student collecting their own data, which Noah did a lot of his own collection. He wasn’t using secondary data. He was using some connections that I had. But I don’t want new mentors to – or newer faculty, because you hear sometimes people are worried if they don't have those existing data sets. That they may be worried a student can’t be successful.
They can very much be. I think for mentors, I often encourage in your bio sketch that you write up that if you are a new faculty member mentoring someone, you’ve got folks to leverage and lean on and connect to in terms of how to successfully mentor a student.
I did that in my first one. I referenced Mary Larimer, who is in my department, and had mentored 30 students, and even though I had not graduated a single student, are going to mentor on first NRSA that I said I had people to go to. I think that can really strengthen an application and you can also find colleagues – you need the application to be secondary data, you can find colleagues that your student can use some of their data.
We have done that a lot in psychiatry and psychology. So just students and mentors don’t be afraid if you are a newer scientist yourself as a mentor, there are still lots of successful pathways.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: That is a great point. I think sometimes people say, well, my primary mentor, my sponsor, is sort of an associate professor or assistant professor, and doesn’t have four RO1s. That is okay. I sort of talk to people about having mentoring teams and you want to be able to have a group of folks, and yes, you are going to have your primary sponsor. Your primary mentor, but you also want to think about who are the other folks that you are going to ask to be involved and what can they bring. It is more of a collective, making sure that the team of people that you are working with can provide you with the skills that you need to be successful.
Thank you so much, Noah and Shannon. I really appreciate your sharing your insights and advice for others. Noah and Shannon will be joining us at the end of this webinar for the Q&A portion. So we will be hearing from them again later. Thanks.
Now, we will go back. I did see quickly that I agree. So far, we have been talking about individual awards. For the most part, individual awards at NIMH at NIH in individual training awards are limited to US citizens. Now, I did want to make sure that I did talk about the K99/R00 as that is an award that is available to non-US citizens although you do have to be at a US institution.
Now, we are going to be talking about some other opportunities that exist at the Fogarty International Center that are open to international students who are not located in the United States. We will touch on those a bit but always happy to have conversations with folks if you are a non-US citizen and you are working in another country about what some other opportunities might be. I do see that has come up.
And then there was another question about how early can you apply for an F31. Are there fellowships that would allow to work while advancing on a PhD? You do have to be in a PhD program when you apply. There is a distinction as to when you can get the award. If you are from a diverse background then you can apply earlier but you still have to be in the PhD program. But when you get the award, you do not have to be at the dissertation stage. If you are at the standard F31 then you do have to be at the dissertation stage when the award is made. It kind of varies in terms of how early you can apply.
And then let me answer one more and then we will move on to the next set of slides. What are the things that a program officer can help with during the planning of a fellowship application? I apologize. I had a slide on this and I took it out just due to time. A program officer can help you to think about what type of award you could apply for. We have been talking about different types of awards like F30, F31, F32. These are all different mechanisms or award types that NIH has. A program officer can help you to understand and which ones might be the best fit for you.
A program officer can help you to determine whether or not your research is a good fit at the institute or center where they work. And if it is not a good fit, where else it might be a good fit. For example, we oversee obviously a lot of work on global mental health research. But if you are interested in how best to provide contraceptive services to women in Kenya then NICHD or the Child Health Institute might be the best fit for your work. We can help you in making those decisions.
We can also help you in understanding the review process like what happens to your grant once it has been submitted. Those are some of the main things that I think program officers can help you with.
I am going to go ahead and move back to the presentation now. For the next few slides, I am going to be talking about institutional training awards and then as well as diversity supplements. These are just other ways that you could maybe more indirectly get NIH support for your research training while you are in graduate school or while you are a postdoc. The institutional training awards include T32s and R25s. And those can both apply at the graduate school or postdoctoral level.
Now, I did want to just give a little shoutout for the next webinar that we will be holding at the end of July where we will be talking more about early career training grant opportunities. And for those of you who are not US citizens or living and working in another country, there are some other opportunities there. I hope you will be able to join us if you are at that stage in your career. There will be more information about that at the end.
Instead of individual training awards, which is what Noah has where he applied with Dr. Dorsey and his other mentors, but he was listed as the principal investigator or the PI, the lead for the grant.
There are other awards that go to institutions. An established researcher or a set of researchers sometimes put in an application stating that they are going to run a training program. Instead of the money going directly to or supporting a graduate student or a postdoc, the money goes to the institution and then the institution runs that program. If you are interested in being a part of a T32 or an R25, which we will talk about, then you would apply directly to that institution for one of their slots.
NIMH does support a number of T32s that do focus specifically on global mental health research training. We will be hearing from a former postdoctoral fellow who was in one of the T32 programs in a bit so you will get to hear a little bit more about her experience. I am also going to share how you can find out about the different T32 and R25 programs as well.
Another program that NIMH supports are R25s and these are educational program awards. There are a number of different types of these educational training awards that we give. But we also have some of these in global mental health. Again, these do not go to individuals. These go to an institution and it is run by one or more more-established researchers in the field. And then they provide a program that helps individuals to gain more experience in global mental health research. Some of these are mentoring networks. Those are probably ones that we use most often in global mental health. And we also have some short courses as well.
Since that is not something that you come to us to apply for, it is something you need to find out about what we support and then you would contact the specific program. We are more than happy to let you know about those different program areas. And because those programs are kind of constantly changing, I did not want to provide that information right now since this is going to be a recording. But the best way to find out about the currently funded T32s or R25 programs in global mental health at NIMH is to either reach out to myself and you will get my contact information at the end or you can always do a Google search for me at NIMH.
But another really great tool is this NIH RePORTER. NIH RePORTER is kind of like the NIH Google. You can click on this and it will give you just – you can just type in key words. You could type in global mental health, T32, NIMH, and it will provide you with a list of the T32 grants that NIMH supports in global mental health research. The same for the R25 programs.
I did want to talk a little bit about another opportunity. I think Noah did talk a little bit about a diversity supplement. A diversity supplement is another way that we do support individuals at many different career stages. You can be in graduate school or you can be postdoc and could be eligible to work with a team that already has an existing research grant that is being funded by NIH and could apply for. It is an administrative supplement to support you on that grant. Basically, if you know someone at your institution or you know of someone who is doing work in an area where you are really interested and you are someone who is from a diverse or underrepresented background then you could be eligible to apply for one of these administrative supplements in conjunction with the principal investigator of the grant.
These are supplements that go to grants that help to support an individual’s research and career development. It could be when someone is early on in graduate school to help them during that early phase of the PhD program and then towards the middle of their career, their PhD programs. They could then apply for an F31. That is one way that sometimes people use the diversity supplement to really be a bridge to an F31. And then I have included a link there. You do have to be a US citizen to apply for a diversity supplement.
I did want to touch on some other programs, institutional training programs that are supported by the Fogarty International Center. NIMH works really closely with our Fogarty colleagues and Fogarty, as you may know, the focus of that center at NIH is on global health research. They have a huge focus on training and capacity building. They make a wonderful partner because they do have a lot of programs that really focus on training in global health research.
And one of the programs that I wanted to talk to you about today is the LAUNCH program. This used to be the global fellows program. Through this program, people can apply to be supported and they would be supported for one year and they would be mentored throughout that year in an area of global health and that is at a number of different institutions in the United States and abroad.
These are opportunities for US citizens who are pre-docs or postdocs or pre-professional trainees. And then if you are in a low- or middle-income country, you could apply if you are a postdoc.
The LAUNCH program does cover a wide range of global health research. But global mental health is a significant part of a number of the D43 programs.
Here, I am going to share the list of – these are the seven current university consortia that are being funded as a part of this program. If you are a student internationally and are a postdoc, this could be an opportunity for you to get one year of mentored training in global mental health. There is a link there on the bottom to learn more about the program. Fogarty has a great website that includes a lot of wonderful information. I also should have included the name of the person who oversees this program, UnJa Hayes, but she is wonderful and is always open to answering questions about the program.
While NIMH does not oversee this program, we do contribute to it. We are a co-funder because we think the work that has been done and it has been a really successful program and we have seen a lot of really amazing researchers be able to really get started through a D43 and then move on to a K or some sort of a K award and then move on to an independent research career. It can be a really great steppingstone and a great training opportunity.
I just wanted to touch on a couple of issues that come up specifically for training awards. We have talked a little bit about -- when we talked with Noah and Shannon, we talked a little bit about really the importance of talking about your training goals. And something that sometimes comes up when I think you do not start with your training goals and you sort of maybe move straight to what you want to do for your research is that then if you come up with your training goals after that, there can sometimes be a little bit of a disconnect. You really need to make sure that all of these pieces complement each other well and that it is not – that you are saying you want to learn more about qualitative methods but then you are proposing to do structural equation modeling. Really, the training goals and the research goals need to complement each other well.
I think the other issue that we see quite a bit is that applications are too ambitious. As I think we all get, we are all passionate about the work that we do in global mental health. Oftentimes we want to try to cram as much in as possible. But I think it is really important to think that this is really – again, this is a step in your career and you do not need to learn everything. You do not need to accomplish everything during your graduate school dissertation or during your postdoc. You need to focus on those next few goals that are going to get you to a postdoc. Or if you are in your postdoc, you need to focus on those next few skills that are going to make you competitive for an academic position. Make sure that you really are proposing training goals and a research plan that is feasible. I think your mentors can help you with this and also program officers can also help you in judging whether or not something is too ambitious or not.
I think this slide sort of nicely dovetails on the conversation we had with Noah and Shannon around sort of how much time it takes to put together an application and really to give yourself that time and make sure that you are not rushing or that you are not putting in something that is not really well thought out and has been reviewed carefully. Getting an NIH award is competitive so you do not want to put in an application that has not been reviewed and you have gotten feedback from your mentoring team before you send it.
I am just going to go through this quickly. I am not going to read through but these are just some more advice for navigating NIH because I really want to make sure we have some time to talk with PT Le. I am going to go ahead end this show and ask PT to join me on camera. Thanks for much. Thank you so much for joining, PT. Dr. Le is – her research focuses on evidence-based culturally appropriate and community-based approaches to alleviate the mental health burden among vulnerable and marginalized populations, including survivors of human trafficking, racial and ethnic minorities and cancer survivors.
Her work spans many low resource settings globally, including Brazil, Chile, Kenya, Uganda, Ukraine, the US and Vietnam. She earned her BS in applied mathematics from the University of California in Los Angeles, a Master of Public Health from Columbia University School of Public Health, a PhD in public health at UCLA and Dr. Le also completed postdoctoral fellowships, two, at NYU School of Global Public Health and at Johns Hopkins. She is currently a research scientist at NYU School of Global Public Health. She is the recipient of a Fogarty NIH K01 International Research Scientist Career Development Award. Those are the types of awards actually that we will – the one that PT has now are ones that we will be talking about more at the webinar later in July.
But today, we have invited PT because PT was a postdoctoral fellow on a T32 Johns Hopkins in their global mental health program. We invited her to share a little bit about her experiences being a postdoctoral fellow on an institutional training award. Thank you so much for joining us, PT.
Maybe we could start out with how did you find out about the T32 program. We talked a little bit about how we award T32s but how did you find out about this program at Johns Hopkins?
PT LE: I was actually pursuing completing my first postdoc at NYU School of Global Public Health. Towards the end of that, I heard about an open position for a postdoc T32 at Hopkins through my mentor at NYU, whom I have been kind of starting to work on some global mental health research projects. He, Larry Yang, introduced me to Dr. Judy Bass at Hopkins because they had an opening. They also wanted to have a postdoc who would be working specifically on a project in global mental health research and in implementation science, which is an area that I was seeking to try to get some additional training or some preliminary training on. That is how I heard about the T32 at Hopkins.
And the specific project was based on a project that Dr. Bass and Dr. Yang with a group of researchers in global mental health – they were conducting a study on task sharing mental health interventions. That is how I learned about the T32 fellowship at Hopkins.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: Great. It sounds like having mentors that you can talk to about different opportunities and networking and also finding, I think, if I am understanding correctly like finding a position that really allowed you to learn the skills that you were looking to expand during your postdoc in implementation science. It was a good fit for you in terms of what that program was able to provide and kind of the skills that you were looking to develop further.
There are different options to folks especially at the postdoctoral stage. Can you tell us sort of how did you decide to apply for the T32 slot as opposed to maybe applying for an F32 or doing another postdoctoral position?
PT LE: That is a really good question. I think because of – I do not know of other people who have had two postdocs. I think because I was already in my first postdoc, which was an institutional across university postdoctoral position that focused on diversity. It kind of acted like an F32 or maybe F32 for me. I did consider applying for a K99 or 00. But because I wanted to have a slight shift in focus because my prior research was in human trafficking – trafficking but I wanted to get some training on – science, intervention research. When this opportunity for the T32 came up, I thought that having the institutional kind of structures and resources that are provided and I knew also from my MPH program at Columbia that – because Columbia also has a T32 in global mental health that you not only have mentors that you are going to be working with on specific projects. But you have a network within the institution and the resources that are provided to the institution. They have webinars like the public seminars going on. You have an expanded network. That is why I chose the T32 route as opposed to the other mechanisms. And actually, I did not know about the F31s or F32 mechanisms at the time.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: That is a really excellent point is I think the T32 does create a program. There are at least two slots for postdocs if there are postdoc slots. T32s can be focused on pre-docs and postdocs or just one or the other. That is important to know.
When you are a part of a T32, you are part of a bigger program. There is going to be maybe a core curriculum that everyone sort of participates in and then you will have fellow postdocs that are also part of the program. You have a nice cohort.
PT LE: I think having a cohort with the T32 at Hopkins, we had pre-docs and postdocs as well so people at different stages in their research development career and having that structure of curriculum really helps because you do have these very frequent meetings. For us, it was biweekly. Sometimes it would be an additional monthly event that we would attend.
Most of the course work that I was required to take was independent research. That gave me the ability to work on the specific project and other additional projects that I would reach out to my colleagues at Hopkins or even my mentor, my prior mentors, my current mentors at NYU, Columbia, et cetera.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: Great. I think that gives a nice flavor as to kind of what it is like to be in a T32. You have these expanded mentors that are available to you and then you also have the folks that are also in the postdoc with you as well. It is nice to have other – a cohort of postdocs.
I guess you sort of you told us a little bit, PT, about your experience of the T32 fellow. I do not know. Are there any suggestions that you would have for folks who are interested in pursuing a postdoctoral position in a T32 that you think might be helpful?
PT LE: One of the other reasons that I decided to pursue another postdoc was to really improve my publication record. This speaks to whether or not you want to seek advanced research training through the various mechanisms. I think having a mentor or a group of mentors with specific projects in mind that you can work on and focus on and get the publications out is super important in terms of the future steps in your research career. I was able to do that with the specific project that I worked on and then additional projects.
I think one of the highlights for my T32 experience was the ability to work on an R01 application with my mentors from conceptualization to submission. They kind of allowed me the space to kind of grow into the grant writing process, preparing numerous documents and that gave me training for my individual, the K01 application process.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: I think as part of all T32s, there is an emphasis on dissemination so publishing and practicing your – being able to provide – give presentations on your work and then also grants persons, I think that is also a big piece of a lot of the T32s or all the T32 programs that we support just given how important it is. We have talked about different ways to break it down and make it into more manageable steps but being able to have that experience of working with others to learn from them, folks who have been really successful, is a real benefit to being in a T32 program to have those connections and be able to learn from others.
Thank you so much, PT. Why don’t we keep – if you can keep your camera on actually and Shannon and Noah, if you want to join. We will go ahead and – I am going to try to switch to the Q&A questions that we have not gotten to yet and see if there is – should the research goals be aligned with NIMH’s priorities and should they have an international component? You kind of have to start with what your goals are, I think. But if you are going to apply to NIMH then yes. They would need to be in line with NIMH priorities.
In terms of having an international component, again, it depends on what your training goals are and what your research goals are. If you have your ultimate goal to become a global mental health researcher, then it is beneficial to be able to have access to data. I think there are a lot of people who are especially during COVID when travel was really challenging more able to analyze data that already exists or to do some work remotely. I think the ultimate goal would really to be able to work and go and travel to where you are collecting the research and you are doing the work because that really leads to a more thorough understanding.
I do not know, Noah, if you want to comment at all about kind of what you have done and how you have managed that, given COVID.
NOAH TRIPLETT: I feel like I had the pleasure and privilege of being able to work with Shannon’s team who we have been working with for or she has been working with for 15 years, I believe. We have a longstanding relationship in Kenya. I think when we could not travel, that made it a lot easier because we could still keep up regularly communication with the people that were over there.
And then I think I lucked out and just – there was a small window where the COVID cases were decreasing both here and there and the University of Washington allowed me to travel. I was able to go there for three weeks. But I think we were constantly thinking about what could our work arounds be with if I could not go and my project is focused on digital technology and using phones and other mediums like that to replace in-person interactions. We were thinking about how could we apply what we are learning to do these human-centered workshops all virtually and things like that. I think it was all an exercise in flexibility. But it is definitely made easier by having partnerships and partners there that we have known for a while and have really good relationships with.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: I think that is a really great point. I think sometimes folks will contact me and say they want to do an F31 or an individual training award in a site or in a place where they do not have established connections or they do not have a mentoring team with established connections. I do think that is a situation that you do not want to pursue because it takes a lot to establish those collaborations. In all research that we do, I think you need to make sure that the collaborations are strong and that there is not any sense of just popping in to collect some data and then popping out. That is not the kind of work that NIMH wants to support. We want to make sure that there is equity in the work that we are doing and in the communities that we are partnering with and the collaborations that you all are engaged with.
I think having a mentor or that has an established collaboration, if they are working in the United States and have partners in another country, having those established collaborations are really important.
I am trying to see if there is a question here that – I am trying to think if there are questions specifically for any of our panelists. I would love for you to put them in. I will be sure to answer all of the individual questions around opportunities and eligibility after. But I would love to use this time to have questions from the audience for our panelists since we are lucky to have them here.
SHANNON DORSEY: While people are looking, I just wanted to share or waiting to get their question in, I wanted to share one thing. Noah has been very successful with this award but he did not come in with publications. In the first year, Noah and I worked on a first author publication. I just wanted to share that because I think people might think since it said have some publications. People might think if you do not come into graduate school with a publication, you could not proceed in this way but you can. We made our first-year goal for Noah, publishing, kind of like PT was sharing as part of the postdoctoral work. We said okay. The first year. Let us really focus on Noah having a first author publication so that when we apply the second year or the third year and he was able to do it in his second year, we had that on his CV. Just to know that you – it is not a barrier. You just make that an early goal. And we wrote on data. His first authored paper was on data we had already collected so that he could start the writing early.
I just wanted to mention that because I think it is easy for us to throw out the barriers and feel like you might not be ready. But there can be some early goals that you do in your first and second year so you are ready to apply in your second and third.
And lastly, mentors do not miss an opportunity to go for diversity supplement, do not miss an opportunity. That is all.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: That is a great point. I do think that – I think sometimes we will think oh well. I only have X number of publications, whatever it is. I think sometimes it is hard to know who to compare yourself to. Different kinds of people in different kinds of research have different opportunities and the expectations are going to be different.
Also, I think just own it as well in your application. If you do not have as many publications and you want that to be one of your goals, just say this is what I have done. This is how many I have and this is my goal for my F31 or my F32 is to really be able to get more first author publications or opportunities to co-author with folks and build that into your timeline, build that into your mentoring plan. I think own it. Do not try to hide it.
Noah, were you going to say something?
NOAH TRIPLETT: I have not seen more questions come in so I was going to throw a question related to – I think I empathize with people who want to get into global mental health work but do not have the mentor who is doing that and given the importance of partnerships and existing relationships. I am wondering from you, Susannah and Shannon, and you might have thoughts as well like what are options for people who may – their home mentor may be an anxiety expert but they want to do something globally as a trainee. How can they bridge that gap?
SUSANNAH ALLISON: That is a great question. I think there are a number of things that you can do. I think talking to your current set of mentors around those goals and seeing who they might know. Maybe they do anxiety research in the United States. But they know colleagues who are doing this work in Uganda or in Peru. They might have colleagues or they can help you to identify who is publishing maybe in anxiety and that space to reach out to see if there are kind of some opportunities to partner or visit, learn. There can be some different ways to gain experience in global mental health without getting an entire F31 focused on it.
I think if there are two messages from this, one is that just to make sure that you do reach out to program officers when you are interested in global mental health and then relatedly that there is really no one path. I think we have heard from Noah who has an F31 but PT did not have an F31. Then she has now gone on to a successful K01. But she did not have an F31. It does not mean that if you do not get an F31 in grad school, you are not going to be successful. Absolutely not. There are so many different pathways to being a successful researcher. I think it is just having conversations with mentors, with folks at NIH about some of the different opportunities that might be available to you.
Shannon, I do not know if you had anything to add to Noah’s question but that was a good one.
SHANNON DORSEY: I think that is great. I have had a number of people from other universities reach out to me because they will have a student who is interested in global health and they are trying to think about connections. When you build one if we have not already said this, the people on your team are not just from your university. Your sponsor needs to be from your university. But you can have folks from lots of other universities.
We have partnered with our colleagues because I am not Kenyan. We have Kenyans on our team but we have partnered with our colleagues at the University of Nairobi and other universities as well. There are lots of ways I think to build connections.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: Actually, I kind of did my closing two points but I did want to say we did review a number of different mechanisms. I hope I did not bore you with all the alphabet soup of all the different kinds of awards. I just wanted to give you an idea as to the landscape of potential funding at NIMH and at NIH.
There are other ways of getting experience and training in global mental health that I did not talk about. Please talk to your mentors. Please reach out to me if you would like to talk further about what might be a good fit for you.
I just want to thank PT and Noah and Shannon for joining me for this webinar. I think it is really invaluable to hear from folks who are doing the work and are in their careers as opposed to just someone from NIH. Thank you, all, so much for joining.
SHANNON DORSEY: Thank you, Susannah, and NIH for hosting these because it is getting great information out there. Really thankful you are doing this series of workshops.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: Kudos to Leo for helping to organize them all.
LEONARDO CUBILLOS: Susannah, thank you, and Noah and Shannon and PT. I myself have learned a lot. I am sure the audience that is left today that will be seeing this recording will have an opportunity to take good notes from this meeting.
Next webinar, Susannah, is on July 26 at 9:30. Can you give us one or two high-level objectives or learning points that we are going to get from that webinar? With that, I will let you close today.
SUSANNAH ALLISON: Sure. We are excited to have the webinar at the end of July that will focus on early career training opportunities. We will be talking about different K awards both from NIMH as well as Fogarty. We will be joined at that webinar by a colleague, Christine Jessup, who runs the K43 program and will also be joined by some current K awardees as well, who will be able to share their experiences with you all. We hope you can join us.
LEONARDO CUBILLOS: Thank you, Susannah. Thank you, everyone. See you next time on July 26 at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Bye.