1. How many Notices of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) are there and how do they differ?
Nine REI NOFOs were issued during the summer of 2022, and eight of these are currently active. RFA-DA-23-025, the Coordination Center, has expired and is no longer active. Potential applicants should read each announcement carefully prior to applying to be certain to meet all submission requirements. Applicants are encouraged to consult with a scientific/research contact (see section VII of the announcement) prior to submission. Applicants are also encouraged to use the NIH RePORTER search tool to see what studies in this subject area are already being funded by NIDA and the other NIH institutes so that they can highlight how their project complements and adds to existing research projects.
Here’s an overview of the eight active NOFOs:
- RFA-DA-23-023 and RFA-DA-23-024) are focused on observational and intervention research addressing equity in HIV/AIDS outcomes across populations. Examples of desired research concepts are provided in the NOFO. Note that projects should address priorities of the NIH’s Office of AIDS Research. For these NOFOs, at least 50% of the population under study should represent people who are U.S. racial and/or ethnic minorities (see NOT-OD-15-089: Racial and Ethnic Categories and Definitions for NIH Diversity Programs and for Other Reporting Purposes). The NOFOs (R01 and R34) allow both for studies that are and those that are not NIH-defined clinical trials.
- RFA-DA-23-013 and RFA-DA-23-032 support R01 research projects designed to have a major impact in identifying, developing, implementing, or testing strategies to prevent, reduce, or eliminate racial or ethnic disparities in substance use and addiction, thereby advancing health equity. This NOFO will support collaborative, community-partnered investigative teams to conduct research projects that address issues prioritized by the community and that reflect lived experience. These are unique R01 announcements as they allow for an optional planning period of up to one year to further refine aspects of the research and preliminary data are not required for submission. One NOFO requires that the institution awarded the grant be a minority serving institution (MSI, defined below) while the other NOFO does not. Both NOFOs support studies that are and those that are not NIH-defined clinical trials.
- RFA-DA-23-028 and RFA-DA-23-029 use a R61/R33 Phased Innovation Award mechanism to support clinical research applications that are exploratory/developmental in nature and seek to parse the complex effects of structural racism and investigate their impact on neurocognition, with an emphasis on reducing SUD risk and informing preventative interventions. Both NOFOs (MSI and non-MSI) allow for both studies that are and are not NIH-defined clinical trials, including Basic Experimental Studies Involving Humans (BESH).
- RFA-DA-23-026 and RFA-DA-23-031 use the DP1 mechanism to support projects proposing exceptionally creative directions for research focused on equity for people from U.S. racial and/or ethnic minority groups affected by substance use harms. This mechanism allows a single, independent investigator from various career stages to conduct research in collaboration with Both NOFOs (MSI and non-MSI) allow for studies that are and studies that are not NIH-defined clinical trials.
2. Some of these announcements have requirements for institutional eligibility. How do I determine whether my institution is eligible to apply under one of these announcements?
Three of the NOFOs, RFA-DA-23-029, RFA-DA-23-031, and RFA-DA-23-032, have special eligibility requirements. First, institutions must be “minority serving institutions.” For the purposes of these NOFOs, minority serving institutions are defined as those that
- have a historical and current mission to educate students underrepresented in biomedical sciences, including African Americans or Blacks, Hispanic or Latino Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, U.S. Pacific Islanders, and persons with disabilities -or-
- have a documented record of: (1) recruiting, training and/or educating, and graduating underrepresented students (see above), which has resulted in increasing the institution's contribution to the national pool of graduates from underrepresented backgrounds who pursue biomedical research careers and, (2) for institutions that deliver health care services, providing clinical services to medically underserved communities.
Applicants to these NOFOs must provide evidence of eligibility in an attachment titled “Institutional Information.”
In addition to being a minority serving institution as defined above, applicant institutions are required to award graduate degrees in the biomedical sciences and to have received less than $25 million (total costs) per year from NIH Research Project Grants (RPGs) in each of the two preceding fiscal years. This can be determined though conducting an “Advanced Search” in the NIH RePORTER:
- Go to the “Fiscal Year” filed and enter the prior fiscal year. For those submitting an application in the fall of 2023, select “2022.”
- Go to the “Organization” field and enter/select your institution’s name.
- Go to the “Funding Mechanism” field and select “Research Project Grants.”
- Click the Search button. The funded projects should be listed.
- Select the “Charts” tab. This will provide the total funding amount for the selected fiscal year.
- Click “Edit search criteria,” the prior fiscal year, and click “search” to review the records for the prior year.
3. Most of these announcements require a Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives (PEDP)—but I have never written one before. What should this plan contain?
The requirement for PEDPs in some NIH applications is relatively new. This requirement reflects NIH’s commitment to diversity in science (see NIH Commitment to Diversity | Diversity in Extramural Programs and Diversity Matters | Diversity in Extramural Programs (nih.gov)). The contents of the PEDP will depend on the nature of the proposed research. For studies that are required to be community-engaged by the announcement, investigators should ideally provide additional details on unique and creative elements of the research plan to enhance diverse perspectives. The following websites provides examples of elements that can be included in the PEDP: PEDP Key Elements and Examples | Brain Initiative (nih.gov).
4. Will data sharing plans be required for projects submitted under these NOFOs?
All applications, regardless of the amount of direct costs requested for any one year, must address a Data Management and Sharing Plan. See details in NOT-OD-21-013 and https://sharing.nih.gov/. For those working with American Indian/Alaska Native communities, please see: Considerations for Researchers Working with AI/AN Communities | Data Sharing (nih.gov).
5. I see that applications are due in November. Will the announcements be reissued?
The active NOFOs are multi-year RFAs . The next receipt date for these NOFOs is November 14, 2023, by 5pm local time for the applicant organization. The third receipt date for the research awards is November 14, 2024. It has not been determined whether the NOFOs will be reissued beyond their expiration in 2024.
6. Will these applications be reviewed by standing study sections?
Applications will be reviewed by Special Emphasis Panels for each NOFO, created by the Scientific Review Officer (SRO) based on the areas of science described in received applications.
7. Am I required to submit a letter of intent?
A letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does not enter into the review of a subsequent application. However, the information that it contains allows IC staff to estimate the potential review workload and plan the review. Letters of intent are due 30 days before the application submission deadline. See Section IV. Of the NOFO for additional details.
8. Are foreign institutions allowed to apply?
Foreign institutions are not eligible to apply for the announcements. However, well-justified foreign components are allowed. For more information, please consult with the program contact.
9. Are these awards likely to be highly competitive? Is it worth my time to apply?
It remains to be seen how many applications will be submitted, but NIDA Racial Equity Initiative team created the announcements in response to priorities voiced by many across the scientific community. As such NIDA is very hopeful that there will be a robust response that includes multiple, highly innovative and impactful projects involving diverse scientific teams. We are hopeful that these announcements lead to the formation of collaborations, perhaps even unlikely ones, that will lead to new approaches to address persistent disparities.
10. I don’t have much experience with NIH grants. How should I get started?
Information on grants and funding is available at NIH's Central Resource for Grants and Funding website at grants.nih.gov Online tutorials are also available on NIH’s website at How to Apply – Video Tutorials.