FAQs About ECHO Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research

Important Dates

1. Do I need to submit a Letter of Intent? If so, when?

We highly encourage you to submit a Letter of Intent by May 14, 2021, informing your ECHO Program Officer that you expect to apply for an ECHO Supplement to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research.

2. When is my diversity supplement application due?

You should submit applications for ECHO Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research by May 26, 2021. The ECHO Program Office will not consider applications submitted after May 26, 2021 for funding.

Candidate Eligibility

3. What qualifies as an underrepresented group for the purposes of eligibility for ECHO Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research?

Please refer to PA-21-071 (Part 2, Section I) to determine if the candidate is eligible. If the applicant believes that the candidate is eligible based on the criteria, we encourage him or her to apply. Please discuss the candidate’s eligibility in the application.

4. At which career levels are candidates for ECHO Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research?

Candidates are eligible if they are enrolled in a doctoral degree program toward completion of a terminal scientific degree (e.g., Ph.D., Sc.D., M.D.) or engaged in Postdoctoral, Medical Internship, Residency or Clinical Fellowship Training. Candidates receiving Public Health Service (PHS) support at the time of submission are not eligible.

5. If I enroll in a terminal scientific doctoral degree program (e.g., Ph.D., Sc.D., M.D.) by August 2021, am I eligible to apply?

Yes, you would be eligible if you enroll before we award the diversity supplement in September 2021.

6. Can I apply for a postdoctoral diversity supplement even though I completed my terminal scientific doctoral degree more than five years ago?

No, you are not eligible for a postdoctoral diversity supplement. Only those who have less than five years of relevant training since the receipt of their doctoral degrees are eligible. If you have more than five years of postdoctoral training, then we encourage you to consider the ECHO Opportunities and Infrastructure Fund, which allows for early career investigators to apply for a two-year opportunity to conduct innovative research

7. How do I document my eligibility?

Per the guidelines in PA-21-071 (see below), the application must contain a signed statement from an institutional official stating the candidate is eligible.

Candidate Eligibility Statement: A signed statement from an institutional official establishing the eligibility of the candidate for support under this program. The statement must include clearly presented information on citizenship of the candidate and a description of how the appointment of this specific candidate would further the goals of this funding opportunity, consistent with the Notice of NIH’s Interest in Diversity (NOT-OD-20-031). The strength of this statement will be considered by the NIH administrative review committee along with all other material provided.”

8. Our plan is to obtain signatures from College Deans (as institutional officials) to verify the candidate’s statement on eligibility for support. Does this sound right to you?

Yes, if they are your institutional officials, it is fine to obtain signatures from College Deans to verify the candidate’s statement on eligibility.

Institutional Eligibility

9. Are candidates from ISPCTN Clinical Sites eligible to apply?

Yes, for this cycle, the following ECHO Components can apply: ISPCTN Clinical Sites, Cohorts, PRO Core, CC, DAC, and ISPCTN DCOC. Please submit applications through the parent grant, under the stipulations in PA-21-071 Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (Admin Supp - Clinical Trial Not Allowed).

Research Topics

10. What research topics can we propose as part of the ECHO Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research?

Proposed projects must address the mission of ECHO and focus on at least one of ECHO’s five key pediatric outcome areas: pre-, peri-, and postnatal; upper and lower airway; obesity; neurodevelopment; and positive health. Cohort projects should contribute to ECHO-wide Cohort science. ISPCTN research topics could include but are not limited to secondary analysis of data resulting from planned, ongoing, or completed ISPCTN trials or qualitative and quantitative studies to support current or future trials in ISPCTN.

11. Can my ISPCTN project include or contribute to a clinical trial?

You cannot propose a new clinical trial. Appropriate research topics could include but are not limited to secondary analyses of data resulting from ongoing or completed ISPCTN trials; qualitative and quantitative studies designed to support current or future trials in ISPCTN (e.g., factors affecting rates of informed consent at different sites; factors influencing the accuracy of extraction of research data for analyses).

Application & Review Process

12. Who should submit the application?

The contact PI and institution for a parent award should apply on behalf of the candidate.

13. How many applications can I submit?

ECHO allows only one application per parent award.

14. What is the length of support for the diversity supplement?

ECHO will fund these diversity supplements for up to two years of support.

15. What criteria will the ECHO Program Office use to review applications?

The ECHO Program Office will determine the merit of applications based on evaluation of the following three equally weighted components:

  • Candidate
  • Mentoring & Training Plan
  • Research Proposal

16. What application materials should I submit so the Program Office can evaluate the candidate?

Please include a one-page signed statement describing the candidate’s career goals, a Candidate Biosketch, a statement of eligibility signed by an institutional official, transcripts, and reference letters of support.

  1. Career Goals Statement (up to 1 page): The Career Goals statement should include A) rationale for candidate’s desire to pursue a career in health research; B) short- and long-term research objectives and career goals; C) description of how the planned activities will facilitate achieving their career goals; and D) plans for the development and submission of career stage-appropriate grant applications during or at the end of the period of support (see Choose an Award by Career Stage). The candidate should sign this Career Goals statement.
  2. Candidate Biosketch: The Candidate Biosketch should be complete and adhere to the NIH Fellowship Biosketch format.
  3. Statement of Eligibility: Please provide a signed statement from an institutional official establishing the eligibility of the candidate for support under this program, consistent with the Notice of NIH’s Interest in Diversity (NOT-OD-20-031) and PA-21-071.

    The statement should include clearly presented information on:
    • Citizenship
    • Nature of the candidate's disability, circumstances, background, or characteristics
    • Description of any Public Health Service (PHS) research grant support the candidate has received, including start and end dates—Candidates receiving PHS support at the time of submission are not eligible (see PA-21-071).
  4. Transcripts: Provide a scanned copy of most recent official transcript(s).
  5. Reference Letters of Support: The ECHO Program Office encourages applicants to have at least one letter from the candidate’s primary mentor. You may also consult guidance on Letters of Support and SF 424 instructions on Letters of Support.

17. What application materials should I submit so the ECHO Program Office can evaluate the mentoring and training plan?

For all mentors, please include Biosketches, a Career Development Plan, a description of track record as a mentor, and a description of the training environment.

  1. Biosketches: Primary Mentors and senior or key persons directly involved in activities related to the supplement should provide Biosketches that adhere to the NIH Biosketch format.
  2. Career Development Plan: This plan should provide details on skills that the candidate will acquire and a timeline for milestones, i.e., goals that the candidate will reach during the supplement experience, such as abstract and publication submission, preliminary data, and oral scientific presentations at local or national conferences. Describe how the mentor(s) will assist the candidate in achieving the objectives and goals described in the candidate's career goals statement. Articulate the interactions you expect between the candidate and the mentor, research team, and others such as students, postdocs, and junior faculty. Provide plans, objectives, and timelines outlining how you will help the candidate successfully transition to the next stage of their research career.
  3. Track Record as a Mentor: Primary Mentors and other senior and key persons should provide evidence of past mentoring experience.
  4. Training Environment: The statement describing the training environment should underscore the institutional commitment to the candidate, including access to facilities necessary to support the candidate’s research project and opportunities for lateral mentoring opportunities, e.g., potential sustained and meaningful interactions with other students, postdocs, and junior faculty.

18. What application materials should I submit so the Program Office can evaluate the research plan?

Proposed projects should articulate a clear research question(s), approach to data analysis, and ultimately result in a scientific publication. The proposed research must be within the scope of the parent grant and should be a logical extension of the parent grant goals and objectives. The proposed research cannot differ from the parent grant enough to constitute new research or program expansion. A Research Plan redundant with any portion of the study approved under the parent grant will not be supported under this supplement program.

The Research Plan should include a summary or abstract of the funded parent grant project and a 5-page description of the candidate’s proposed research project. The project description should include specific aims, timeline of research activities, and enough details for the Program Office to determine the feasibility of the project for the two-year supplement award period. The Research Plan should present evidence that the proposed experience is appropriate for the stage of the candidate’s research development and that it will significantly enhance his or her research potential, while furthering the candidate's ability to pursue a research career.

19. What is the page limit for the Research Plan?

The page limit for the research plan is five pages. The specific aims should be part of the five pages.

20. What are the page limits for the compiled Statement of Eligibility section or any of the individual sections listed under Mentoring & Training Plan?

There are no page limits for the mentoring and training plan. Typical mentoring plans are 4-5 pages. For the candidate’s statement of eligibility, about 1 page is typical.

21. Should I use the NIH Fellowship format for my Biosketch?

Yes, you should use the NIH Fellowship Biosketch format.

22. How many letters of support or references are allowed or suggested?

There is no specific number regarding how many reference letters applicants should submit. We encourage applicants to have at least one letter from the Primary Mentor. Please use best judgment in including letters of support and consult guidance on Letters of Support and SF 424 instructions on Letters of Support.

Budget

23. How much should I budget for stipend and other expenses?

NIH establishes stipend and other budgetary limits for National Research Service Award (NRSA) Predoctoral and Postdoctoral Trainees each fiscal year, and the ECHO program office uses these limits for the diversity supplements.

  1. Graduate (Predoctoral) and Health Professional Students enrolled in a doctoral degree program toward completion of a terminal scientific degree (e.g., Ph.D., Sc.D., M.D.)

    For more guidance on salary, please see PA-21-071, under Section IV. 6. Funding Restrictions, which states: “The total amount requested for salary, tuition and fringe benefits cannot exceed the amount allowable for a first year postdoctoral fellow (i.e., level zero) at the same institution performing comparable work (see NIH Guide announcement, http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-02-017.html).”
  2. Individuals in Postdoctoral Training

    For more guidance on salary, please see PA-20-166, under Section IV. 6. Funding Restrictions, which states: “The requested annual salary must be in accordance with the salary structure of the grantee institution, consistent with the level of effort. Requested salary may not exceed the maximum allowable NRSA stipend level for postdoctoral fellows in effect at the time of appointment (see: https://grants.nih.gov/training/nrsa.htm). Fringe benefits are provided in addition to salary, and should be in accordance with the fringe benefits provided to other postdoctorates at the awardee institution. The supplement budget may include up to $6,000 per year to support supplies and travel for the candidate.”

24. Would we be able to budget an (hourly) research assistant to help with data collection as part of that $4,000 for predocs and $6,000 for postdocs?

No, the parent announcement PA-21-071 does not allow costs for a research assistant.

25. Is the $4,000 or $6,000 for travel and supplies allowed in each of the two project years?

Yes, the award allows $4,000 for predoctoral awardees or $6,000 for postdoctoral awardee per year for travel and supplies.

26. Is full indirect allowed for the (postdoc) performance site? Or, is indirect capped at 8% similar to a training grant?

Applicants may request F&A in accordance with the Institution’s negotiated rate agreement.

Other Questions

27. I am having trouble with the electronic submission system in ASSIST. How can I get assistance?

If you need assistance, please contact the following for support:

Application Submission Contacts:

  • eRA Service Desk (Questions regarding ASSIST, eRA Commons, application errors and warnings, documenting system problems that threaten submission by the due date, and post-submission issues)
    Finding Help Online: http://grants.nih.gov/support/ (preferred method of contact)
    Telephone: 301-402-7469 or 866-504-9552 (Toll Free)
  • General Grants Information (Questions regarding application instructions, application processes, and NIH grant resources)
    Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov (preferred method of contact)
    Telephone: 301-945-7573
  • Grants.gov Customer Support (Questions regarding Grants.gov registration and Workspace)
    Contact Center Telephone: 800-518-4726
    Email: support@grants.gov

28. Where can I find additional information about guidance for the ECHO Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health Research?

29. Whom do I contact if I have other questions?

If you have any other questions, please contact Susan Laessig (susan.laessig@nih.gov) or Tonse Raju (tonse.raju@nih.gov).

This page last reviewed on May 13, 2021