Office of Research Training, Diversity, and Disparities Newsletter, September/October 2020

NIDA Virtual Career Workshop

Mark your calendars! NIDA is hosting a virtual Career Workshop on November 9th, 2020 from 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM (ET) for all Predoctoral, Postdoctoral, and Early Stage Investigators interested in NIH Grants and Substance Use and Addiction Research. This workshop will include an introduction from the NIDA Director, Dr. Nora Volkow; presentations on NIDA/NIH Training, Career Development and Diversity funding opportunities; and breakout sessions that will further discuss and answer specific questions relevant to your career stage. Each session will end with an interactive Q&A. This is a great opportunity for early-stage investigators to connect with NIDA program staff to learn about all the various funding awards and opportunities supported by NIDA, as well as whom to contact when you have questions about NIDA grants in the future.

To register for the NIDA Virtual Career Workshop, visit the following registration link. Please let us know if you have any questions by contacting our NIDA Training and Career Development email address:

What’s New at NIDA

NIDA Racial Equity Initiative

In a message from the Director on Racially Motivated Violence, Dr. Nora Volkow stated “We know that science itself is at its best when it is most inclusive, and humans are best when we embrace diversity.” This past June, the NIDA Director Dr. Volkow launched the NIDA Racial Equity Initiative. The initiative is comprised of three workgroups which aim to address inequities within the: 1) NIDA Workplace 2) Scientific Research Workforce, and 3) NIDA’s Research Portfolio.

The NIDA Racial Equity Initiative Workplace Workgroup is focused on building an inclusive culture across the NIDA workplace. Through awareness of our current culture, through listening sessions, and through implementation of transformative projects, we seek to foster an environment in which everyone feels safe and to promote a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion.

The NIDA Racial Equity Initiative Scientific Workforce Diversity Workgroup seeks to increase racial and ethnic diversity, equity, and inclusivity within the addiction research community by identifying disparities and barriers, engaging the community at all education and career levels, and implementing programs and funding opportunities to enhance, promote, and retain historically underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities in addiction science within the US. 

The NIDA Research Gaps and Opportunities Workgroup will activate NIDA’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity in addiction research by examining the current landscape of health disparities and developing short-and long-term measurable objectives for enhancing the research portfolio. Objectives will center on research in areas where there is scientific promise and where research has the greatest potential to reduce those disparities.

The co-leads of each workgroup have led multiple listening sessions to gather as much feedback as possible on how to best accomplish the overarching goal of the program. For those who have not had the opportunity to provide feedback, we want your ideas! Keep an eye out for the Request for Information (RFI) on behalf of the Scientific Research Workforce and Research Gaps and Opportunities Workgroups to reach a wider audience on these important issues. The RFIs will be published on the NIH Guide for Grants & Contracts in the near future.

Program Updates

New Diversity Supplement Applications are now required to be submitted through ASSIST:

Submit applications electronically to NIH

The Application Submission System & Interface for Submission Tracking (ASSIST) system is used to prepare and submit applications electronically to NIH and other Public Health Service agencies. Prior to using ASSIST, applicants should identify a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to which they'd like to apply. FOAs are posted in the NIH Guide for Grants & Contracts and/or in each of which has robust search capabilities. The FOA text will indicate whether ASSIST can be used to apply to that opportunity. You will need the FOA number (e.g., PA-XX-XXX) to initiate an application. 

Active and eRA Commons credentials are required to prepare and submit applications using ASSIST. For more information about the NIDA Diversity Supplement Program application process, visit the Office of Diversity and Health Disparities webpage.

Requirement for Trainee Diversity Report to be Submitted Electronically for Institutional Research Training, Career Development, and Research Education Awards Beginning in Early FY 2021

An automatically generated Trainee Diversity Report will replace the manual report that signing officials are required to submit with RPPRs for certain T, K and Research Education awards, effective October 30, 2020.  The automated report will leverage existing electronic demographic data entered by trainees in the Personal Profile of eRA Commons to minimize the need for manual data entry by recipients. For more information, visit NOT-OD-20-178.

The NIH Loan Repayment Program

The NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs) application has officially opened for Fiscal Year 2021! The NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs)  are a set of programs established by Congress and designed to recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals into biomedical or biobehavioral research careers. The escalating costs of advanced education and training in medicine and clinical specialties are forcing some scientists to abandon their research careers for higher-paying private industry or private practice careers. 

The LRPs counteract that financial pressure by repaying up to $50,000 annually of a researcher's qualified educational debt in return for a commitment to engage in NIH mission-relevant research. Since tomorrow's medical breakthroughs will be made by investigators starting in their research careers today, the LRPs represent an important investment by NIH in the future of health discovery and the wellbeing of the Nation. For more information about the LRPs and the application process, visit download the LRPs Application Process Interactive Roadmap.  

Online Application Period

  • Sep 1, 2020 - Nov 20, 2020

Supporting Documentation Period

  • Sep 1, 2020 - Nov 20, 2020

New Individual Training Awards for 2020 (F30, F31, and F32)

ORTDD is excited to start a tradition of spotlighting new NIDA awardees in each newsletter! In this newsletter, we would like to congratulations the awardees of individual NIDA F30, F31, and F32 grants for Fiscal Year 2020! We would like to recognize these awardees for achieving this major milestone in their research careers. See below for a full list of FY2020 Individual Fellowship Awardees.

COVID-19 Updates

The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation. Visit the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Information for NIH Applicants and Recipients of NIH Funding webpage for the latest information and guidance about programs in place to help with NIH projects. This webpage provides information about proposal submission, award management, human subjects, clinical trials, animal welfare, peer review, and lists funding opportunities related specifically to COVID-19. We encourage you to check this webpage often for updates and don’t hesitate to reach out to your Program Officer or our office if you have questions.

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (blue) heavily infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (yellow), isolated from a patient sample
Image by NIAID
Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (blue) heavily infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (yellow), isolated from a patient sample 

Substance use disorders linked to COVID-19 susceptibility

An NIH-funded study discovered that people with substance use disorders (SUDs) are more susceptible to COVID-19 and its complications. The findings suggest that health care providers should closely monitor patients with SUDs and develop action plans to help shield them from infection and severe outcomes. For more details on the study visit the archives webpage.

NIDA Funding Opportunities

New Fellowship (F) and Career Development (K) awards are released on a continuous basis. For more information on NIDA Funding Opportunities, visit the Funding Opportunities at NIDA webpage. For a full list of NIH training, fellowship, career development, and research education funding opportunities including parent announcements, please see the NIH Guide to Grants and Funding.

The Science

Science Behind Addiction: Race, Equity, and Inclusion

In the latest edition of Science Behind Addiction: Race, Equity, and Inclusion, NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow and University of Maryland, Baltimore County President Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski discuss major challenges across the country, specifically how underrepresented populations are impacted by discrimination and how this can be changed from a science perspective. Drs. Volkow and Hrabowski take a deep dive into how to create successful training programs and discuss the importance of building an environment of trust among scientists. The full video can be found on the NIDA News webpage.