Finding the Sweet Spot for Your Diversity Supplement Application

The Research Supplements To Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research funding opportunity announcement (FOA) supports research experiences to enhance participation of individuals from groups identified as underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences.

The proposed research experience must be an integral part of the approved, ongoing research of the parent award, and it must have the potential to contribute significantly to the research career development of the candidate.

As stated in the Notice of NIH’s Interest in Diversity, programs such as these “foster diversity by addressing underrepresentation in the scientific research workforce, which is a key component of the NIH strategy to identify, develop, support and maintain the quality of our scientific human capital.”

Candidate Eligibility

Investigators who mentor underrepresented individuals can apply for diversity supplements to support eligible high school students, undergraduate students, baccalaureate, predoctoral and health professional students, postdoctoral candidates, or even investigators developing independent research careers.

The application should focus strongly on the specific purpose of the diversity supplement and candidate’s research project.

In some instances, we’ve seen diversity supplements serve as a platform for a candidate to gain the research experience necessary to then earn an independent grant award (e.g., fellowship, career development award, or small research grant).

Research Scope

As part of your diversity supplement application, you must include a research plan to describe the candidate’s proposed research, career development, and mentoring. Listed below are further details:

  • Proposed Research Project
    • Describe how the mentored research experiences will expand and foster the research capabilities of the candidate.
    • Describe how the research experience relates to the research goals and objectives of the parent grant and clearly indicate what aspect of the research will be performed independently by the candidate.
    • Provide evidence that the research is appropriate for the career stage of the candidate.
    • Explain how the experience will significantly enhance the candidate’s research potential while furthering the candidate’s ability to pursue a research career.
  • Career Development/Mentoring
    • Include objectives and associated timelines for helping the candidate make the transition to the next stage of his or her research career.
    • Detail interactions between you and the candidate as well as other individuals in the laboratory (e.g., seminars, lab meetings, how progress will be monitored).
    • Provide a projected timeline delineating specific research milestones and other activities (e.g., anticipated publications, grantsmanship workshops, timeframe for grant submissions) that will be made to secure independent research funding for the candidate.
    • Describe how you as the mentor will assist the candidate in achieving the objectives and goals described by the candidate in his or her statement.

Overall, your research plan should focus on enhancing the candidate’s research capability and providing opportunities for growth and development.

Keep in mind that while the proposed research experience must be within the scope of the parent award, it cannot be research already paid for by the parent award. We want you to plan work intentionally designed to build the candidate’s research experience.

In this way, although you are staying within the parameters of the parent award, your application’s Specific Aims should center on creating opportunities for the candidate to gain new research experience and enhance his or her competitiveness for future independent awards.

Learn more at Research Supplements To Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research.

Content last reviewed on March 15, 2017

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