Frequently Asked Questions about the NIDA Diversity Scholars Network Program

Can individuals planning to submit applications for other NIH Institutes apply for the NDSN program?

The NDSN scholar’s research proposal must fall under NIDA research priorities.

Is U.S. citizenship is required for the NDSN program?

Yes, being a U.S. citizenship or permanent resident is required by the time of application submission. Please consult with Isabela Ellenwood ( for limited exceptions.

Is a clinical fellowship regarded as terminal degree? 

No, a terminal degree would be a doctoral degree such as a Ph.D., M.D., D.O., D.D.S., etc.

Does a Diversity Supplement count as a prior career development award?

No. Diversity supplement recipients are eligible to apply for the NDSN as the diversity supplement does not qualify as a source of independent research funding.

Does being a Loan Repayment Program recipient disqualify one from eligibility?

No.  Recipients of a Loan Repayment Program (LRP) award are eligible for the NDSN application as the LRP does not qualify as a source of independent research funding.

If someone has received a K99/R00 grant, are they still eligible for the NDSN program?

No, someone who has received a K99/R00 grant would not be eligible for NDSN as this is an individual career development award.

Is it a requirement to be 2+ years outside of a terminal degree?  What if someone received the PhD this year but have another degree such as a JD?

A minimum of two full years of research experience after the terminal degree is required at the time of application. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure the applicant is well positioned to apply for an NIH career development and/or research award.

What are the font and margin formatting guidelines for the 2-page candidate statement?

The formatting for the NDSN candidate statement should mimic the font and line spacing guidelines as required by NIH.

Are K (such as K23) awardees ineligible for the NDSN program, even if they have not secured R funding?

Yes, if you have received a mentored K award from NIH you are not eligible for the NDSN program.

If someone is thinking of applying for a NIH grant for the February 16th deadline, can they still apply to/participate in the program?

We ask that you apply for the program only if you can commit to writing a grant application that fits within NIDA’s mission for a receipt date after September of 2024.  This will put you in the best position to benefit from participation in the program.

Are first-year postdocs ineligible for the NDSN program?

First year postdocs are ineligible to apply.  Applicants must have a minimum of two full years of research experience after the terminal degree.

Can the grant application we prepare for be the Diversity R01 for New and “at-risk” investigators? 


Can individuals interested in an SBIR or STTR grant apply for the NDSN program?

Individuals planning to submit an SBIR or STTR application should consult with Isabela Ellenwood ( prior to applying for NDSN.

Are there no letters needed for the application?

NDSN program applicants do not need to provide letters of recommendation.

If we have submitted a career development award but it was not funded, can we still apply for NDSN and use the same research project that we used in the application?

You are eligible to apply for NDSN.  If you are in this situation, please contact Isabela Ellenwood ( to discuss whether this opportunity is a good fit for you.

Are candidates who previously participated as trainees or scholars on T32, K12, or KL2 mechanism grants eligible to apply?

Yes, individuals who have received institutional awards including the T32, K12, or KL2 mechanisms are eligible to apply to NDSN.

If we are on a two-year T32 postdoctoral grant, without the guarantee of a third year, does that disqualify us from the NDSN program?

Program applicants are expected to have an institutional affiliation that will allow for NIH application submission in September, 2024.

Is there any specific funding mechanism type (e.g. R01 vs R03) applicants are expected to apply for?

Applicants may apply to any NIH career development or research grant in which NIDA participates.

Is an Asian woman scholar eligible to apply for NDSN? I’m not sure if Asian is recognized as diversity scholars or minority.

Yes.  All individuals are eligible to apply for the NDSN program.  We strongly encourage all applicants to describe how their participation in the program aligns with NIH’s Interest in Diversity.

At what point are you too advanced for the NDSN program?

If you are well-versed in how NIH grant funding works, can confidently assemble and submit a NIH grant application, and have a strong support network for receiving feedback on a draft application, you may be too advanced for the NDSN program. For additional clarification, please contact Ms. Ellenwood.

If a researcher has submitted a K application to NIDA or to another institute, and it has not been awarded, can they still apply?

Yes.  However, you should consider using a different grant concept if accepted into the program, such as a concept for a R21 or R34, as you will be writing the application and preparing to submit it during the program.

Can you apply if you will get your green card next year but for now you have an approved I140?

U.S. citizenship or permanent residency are required at the time of application.  
It is recommended that individuals inquiring about limited exceptions email Isabela Ellenwood (

How important is the two first author publication? If there is justification for one first author publication (and why the second one got stalled), and if applicant has multiple second author publication, would they be considered?

Two first-authored publications are required at the time of application. Articles in press are acceptable.

Which NDSN sessions are in person?

Part I (March) and Part II (June) are virtual.  Part III (September) is in-person.

Can I still apply for the NDSN program if I completed an NIH research fellowship (e.g., F31 or F32)?


If you do not qualify for NDSN but are a minority, would your independent application to any of NIDA's funding mechanism be given priority reviews?

NIH adheres to federal law and does not make research grant application funding decisions based on minority status. Funding decisions made by Institutes and Centers are informed by scientific and technical merit reviews conducted by scientists from outside the NIH. Feel free to reach out to Isabela Ellenwood ( for additional information regarding this question.

I am having a hard time finding a study section via the NIH/NIDA websites. When I used the Assisted Referral Tool it gave me a study section but it did not tell me what institute the study section is under. When I used Matchmaker it gave a PO's name but I cannot tell what study section they are a part of. Am I using these tools incorrectly? Where do I find this information?

Sorry if this is a bit confusing.  Most study sections at NIH are run by the Center for Scientific Review (CSR), not by a specific Institute.  For answers to questions like this, please reach out to a NIDA PO (identified through Matchmaker, or by sending an email to

I am a faculty member, but did not complete a postdoc, so I have less than two years since graduating. Am I eligible?

You are eligible to apply if you meet all requirements at the time of application, including having two full years of research experience after the terminal degree.

When NIH aims to support underrepresented researchers, does this refer primarily to numbers of people with that background in a particular field or to those who have been oppressed historically/been disadvantaged in the US?

NIH encourages institutions to diversify their student and faculty populations to enhance the participation of individuals from groups that are underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral, and social sciences.  See the Notice of NIH’s Interest in Diversity.

Are you required to identify as someone interested in a substance use and addiction researcher, and if so, how much such prior experience is required?

The applicant should have a strong interest in conducting scientific research relevant to NIDA research priorities.

Does the two-year post-terminal degree eligibility requirement apply to people who are not in a postdoctoral fellowship as well (for example, research scientists or junior faculty)?

To be considered eligible for the NDSN program, all applicants (even those not in a postdoctoral fellowship) are required to have two years of research experience after the terminal degree.

Is the terminal degree date the same as the dissertation defense date or dissertation accepted date or graduation date?

The terminal degree date is the date listed on your terminal degree certificate.

Will NIDA consider any exceptions to the requirement that scholars be within 10 years of their terminal degree?

Scholars are encouraged to contact Ms. Ellenwood if they would like to request an exception to the requirement that scholars be within 10-years of their terminal degree to participate in the program. Waivers to this requirement will be considered for extenuating circumstances on a case by cases basis.