NIDA Diversity Scholars Network (NDSN)

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Deadline to Apply for the 2024 NDSN Program is January 12, 2024

The NDSN is a comprehensive program aimed at enhancing the funding success of early career investigators from diverse backgrounds, including investigators from underrepresented groups. See: Notice of NIH's Interest in Diversity NOT-OD-20-031. The program provides workshops and supportive coaching as participants prepare a complete research or career development award application for NIDA funding consideration. The program culminates in a mock review of the participants’ applications.

NDSN Program Framework

The NDSN program consists of three separate meetings. The Part I meeting focuses on demystifying the NIH grants process, grant writing fundamentals, and engagement with NIDA Program Officers/coaches. Scholars will be paired with an experienced addiction scientist (coach) and NIDA Program Officer (PO) to discuss their research proposal which will be used as the basis for their NDSN mock review grant application. Scholars have the option to maintain periodic contact with their POs and coaches following the program to further develop and seek feedback on their draft NIH application.

The Part II meeting includes expert advice on starting a research career, understanding peer review, and an overview of the anatomy of a grant application. Scholars will also hear from past NDSN scholars and can network with other program participants.          
The Part III meeting consists of a mock review meeting, discussion with NIDA reviewers on common grant writing pitfalls and strategies and building resilience. 

All scholars are required to participate in all three meetings. The NDSN program's Part I and Part II will be conducted virtually, and the Part III 2-day meeting will be in-person. Scholars are required to attend all three meetings. NIDA will provide scholars with round-trip airfare, lodging, per diem, and ground transportation to travel to Bethesda, MD for the Part III meeting.


Dr. Priscilla Lui

Being an NDSN scholar was one of the best experiences I have had as a scientist! The application to the Program itself challenged me to formulate a coherent research proposal, and the timeline built into the Program provided structure for me to flesh out the idea and compose other elements in the application. The mock review from experts in substance use and addiction—and other relevant content areas—was by far the most eye-opening experience. I also learned about the Early Career Reviewer Program in NIH, and reached out to Scientific Review Officers to become involved in peer reviews. Reviewing others’ applications helped me understand better NIH review criteria and process. Based on my product from the NDSN Program, I recently received funding from NIDA on my first (R01) grant. Having had limited opportunities to assist with mentors’ grant applications and not being eligible for most NIH’s predoctoral mechanisms, I think the NDSN Program offered such opportunities and helped bridge some gaps in my repertoire as a scientist.              
– Priscilla Lui, PhD               
Professor Department of Psychology at the University of Washington

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Doctoral-level investigators (including postdoctoral fellows)
  • Ph.D., M.D., Pharm. D., Psy.D., R.N./Ph.D., or equivalent doctoral degree
  • Minimum of two full years of research experience after the terminal degree (at the time of application)
  • Must be a citizen or a non-citizen national of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence (i.e., possess a currently valid Permanent Resident Card USCIS Form I-551, or other legal verification of such status
  • Must be within 10 years of receipt of their terminal degree 
  • No prior successful NIH research or career development awards (fellowships awardees are eligible)
  • Minimum of two published first-authored peer reviewed papers within the last three years
  • Positioned to submit an NIH Research Grant or Mentored Career Development Award application within a year of program participation
  • Previous NDSN participants are not eligible to apply
  • Attendance at all program meetings are required
  • Priority will be given to those who have not yet participated in a career development program

Application Process:

To apply, send an email to with “NDSN Letter of Interest” in the subject line that includes:

  • A candidate statement (2 pages maximum)
  • Specific aims and abbreviated research strategy 
    • 6 pages maximum, excluding references
    • Include the NOFO and/ or grant mechanism of interest along with the NIDA Program Officer you are currently working with
  • The applicant’s CV (no page limit), must include publications

Please attach all 3 documents in MS Word or PDF format to one email message. Emails must be received by midnight (local time) January 12, 2024. All documents must received by the deadline for the letter of interest to be considered.

Candidate Statement Requirements

The Candidate Statement (maximum of 2 pages) must include:

  • Your background*
  • Your expertise and training (formal and informal) 
  • Your career plans
  • Why you are applying to be an NDSN scholar (i.e., what do you hope to gain from participation?)
  • How your research relates to NIDA’s Strategic Plan 

*Include citizenship status

Consider integrating the following into your candidate statement, as relevant:

  • Previous research and scholarship achievements
  • Your specific contributions to science
  • Your DEIA-related activities and leadership
  • Factors that affected your past productivity
  • How your research goals and background align with NIH’s Interest in Diversity

Selection Criteria:

  • Strength of the candidate statement
  • Candidate well positioned to submit competitive research application
  • Priority of research project for NIDA

An internal committee will select 12-15 scholars to participate in the program. Selected scholars will be notified by email by February 9, 2024.

For any questions about the NDSN Program application process, please contact Isabela Ellenwood (

See Frequently Asked Questions.

2024 Program Timeline:

  • January 12 – Letters of Interest due
  • February 9 – Selected paricipants notified
  • March – Session 1
  • June – Session 2
  • August 2 – Draft application submitted to NIDA
  • September – Session 3

NIDA Diversity Scholars Network Pre-Application Webinar

Held on 11/8/2023

Topics discussed:

  • Eligibility and the application process 
  • Learn about what each part of the program entails
  • Hear about the various NIH funding mechanisms, and determine which is the best fit for you
  • Learn how to connect with NIDA Program Officers to discuss your research direction
  • Hear from the NIDA Deputy Director and Director of the ORTDD, Dr. Wilson Compton

NSDN Pre-Application Webinar (PDF 1.5MB)        
Frequently Asked Questions

NIDA Diversity Workshop: Dr. Dionna Williams

NIDA Diversity Scholars Network Program 2023 Cohort 
NIDA Diversity Scholars Network Program 2022 Cohort                 
NIDA Diversity Scholars Network Program 2021 Cohort


Avila AH, Weixelbaum JH, Goggans KR, Compton WM. The national institute on drug abuse diversity scholars network: success for a diverse addiction science workforce. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2023 Sep 19. doi: 10.1038/s41386-023-01733-x. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37726356.