NIH Diversity Supplement March Webinar Q&A Responses

NIH Diversity Supplement March 3, 2021
Webinar Q&A Responses


  • What are the research priorities for the NIH diversity supplement?
    • As stated in the most recent PA-20-222 announcement: “This administrative supplement is designed to provide support for research experiences for individuals from diverse backgrounds throughout the continuum from high school to the faculty level. In all cases, 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. Each Institute and Center (IC) may have additional priorities in line with their mission, be sure to view the IC Specific Information table:
  • Can we apply as an individual or does the PI needs to apply?
    • The grantee institution submits the application on behalf of the parent grant, PI, and the candidate.  The parent award PI is also listed as PI on the supplement.
  • Does the candidate have to be located at the prime institution, or can they be at a partner (e.g., subcontracting) educational institution?
    • The candidate may be located at another institution. It is important to verify with both the IC specific Program Officer and the home institution of the award if any restrictions exist.
  • Do these grants have a set time frame? I.e. you request the amount of time/money you need to get yourself through the process to get your next NIH grant.
    • The time frame cannot exceed the life of the parent grant. The parent grant should have at least 2 years remaining (unless the candidate is a high school or undergraduate student, then 1 year remaining of the parent grant is acceptable).


  • What is the award amount for diversity supplements? Is there a funding maximum limit for NIH Diversity supplements?
  • Is there a difference between institutes in proportion of supplements funded?
  • Are the administrative supplements eligible for no cost extension (e.g., if the trainee has to go on leave and project deliverables are delayed)?
    • No cost extensions may be applicable depending on the regulations of each IC.  It is important to verify with the Program Officer.
  • Does the supplement have to be more than what was already proposed in the R01 parent grant?
    • The supplement needs to be tangential to the parent grant, the degree of relatedness depends on the training level of the candidate.

Early Career

  • What is the first step students should take? Should we reach out to researchers with a qualifying grant and express interest? Do you have advice on how to find a strong mentor?
    • For all eligible students, their first step should be to find a mentor whose lab they would work in. Ideally, this PI should have a qualifying grant with a participating IC. To find a mentor, it is recommended students research the work being done in different labs, within an area of study they are interested (i.e. biology, chemistry, biochemistry, immunology, cancer, etc.). Once a list of mentors is identified, students can ask to set up informational interviews with the potential mentor, to discuss their science goals and what they hope to gain by working in that lab. If you and the mentor agree on what the outcomes of your experience in their lab should be, this could be a sign you have found a strong mentor.
  • What level of flexibility is possible in the level of effort that will be supported for early career researchers (e.g. assistant professors)? Can it adjust up and down over the budget period depending on other funding? Could one apply for 75% time but reduce to the “summer funding” model if other grants are successful? Especially given the salary cap — if 75% time exceeds $75k, how does that work?
    • For early career researchers 75% time must be dedicated to the research.  There are some occasions when a scholar can reduce the percent effort, but that requires NIH prior approval. The candidate cannot shift their percent effort up and down throughout the period of award.
  • If I am a postdoctoral scholar, can I apply for a Diversity Supplement to get a research position above a postdoctoral position?
    • If you are not already in a research position, you will need to include a letter that states you will have a qualifying position at the start of the award.
  • What types of candidates are typically supported by these supplements—graduate students and postdocs?
    • These supplements can support high school students all the way through the post-doctoral level. However, it will depend on the IC the candidate is applying to. Always check the IC-specific guidelines. Reaching out to the IC-specific PO can help with this as well.
  • Can the supplement be used for only one individual or can it be used for a small-group training program such as for high schoolers or undergraduates?
    • A parent grant can only support more than one individual if the candidates are high schoolers or undergraduates, but the request must be strongly justified and include a breakdown of how funding will be allocated to each candidate with appropriate mentoring provided. An individual statement and biosketch is required for each candidate applying.
  • For a graduate student candidate, we are including a plan for submitting an F31 as recommended in the FOA. Can the supplement proposal time line go beyond the target F31 date in case the F31 is not funded?
    • It is highly encouraged to utilize the time on a diversity supplement to garner new career development funding.  With the difficulty of successfully receiving funding on a first application, it is acceptable to build in time to resubmit during the period of diversity supplement support.  Note: once a new NIH career development funding is received, the diversity supplement will end and the candidates effort will be transferred to the new award.


  • Any suggestions for when we contact the PO, what should we have ready (e.g. a specific aims page, a summary paragraph)? What information is most helpful to have prepared when reaching out to the PO?
    • Having your specific aims draft and an abstract is helpful to inform the PO of what you are trying to accomplish with the supplement. The PO will be able to advise if your project falls within the scope of Diversity Supplements or if it needs to be modified. Also bring a list of any questions that you might have that your mentor cannot answer.
  • In the PA, it describes Short term vs. Long term Investigator Research Supplements for early career faculty applicants. Are there advantages/disadvantages to the competitiveness of one or the other from the reviewers’ perspective?
    • The level of competitiveness varies greatly between the ICs.  It is important to discuss the funding type with the diversity supplement program officer.
  • One of my biggest concerns as a result of my Teaching Assistant responsibilities in my PhD program, is the lack of publications in my CV. Publications metric is important but what would you advise to make the   Diversity Supplement application stronger considering this limitation?
    • Having a strong research training plan, mentoring plan, and career development plan are key to a strong diversity supplement application. Yes, publications are an important metric; however, ensuring the plans listed above are well developed is very important to the success of the overall application.
  • How much are the optional/additional letters of support mentioned in the FOA encouraged?
    • Letters of support can be helpful to the application. If the PI feels it will help strengthen the overall application, we encourage you to include them.


  • Does the candidate need to be a U.S. citizen? Yes.
  • Does the diversity candidate (named as the PI of the admin supplement to a R01) lose KL2/K08 eligibility?
    • No, the diversity supplements will not change your status as an early career investigator.  Diversity Supplement Scholars are still eligible to apply for K awards and still eligible to receive Early Stage Investigator status on R-01 applications.
  • Regarding someone being funded by an NIH grant not being eligible to apply — is there any wiggle room there? - A scenario for example: a recent grad is funded for 1 year only by an NIH grant with limited funds, in a time-limited appointment, and no clear path to continue funding for that individual. Would this person be eligible for a diversity supplement after this time-limited appointment ends (applying while in the appointment)?
    • It is best to verify with the program officer if the candidate would be eligible.
  • If our lab has not won any NIH awards, can we still apply for the supplement as a minority in a group?
    • No, these awards are only available to supplement certain NIH funded research. Individuals can apply for career development awards through F or K mechanisms to receive support.
  • If I am a Co-PI on a subcontract NIH R01 grant, can I submit a NIH diversity supplement for my graduate students if I am not the actual PI on the overall NIH R01 Grant?
    • As a Co-PI, the application cannot be submitted through you. It will need to be submitted through the contact PI on the grant. The actual application, and all application materials, would be developed by you and the candidate who will be working in your lab. The work described in the supplement would be done in your lab; however the application would be submitted by the R01 contact PI.
  • I am aware that the proposals are revised on monthly basis as far as NHLBI. What are the rules to reapply? Is it limited to one application per fiscal year?
    • Since applications submitted to this announcement will only receive administrative review by the awarding Institute or Center, and will not receive peer review, the NIH policy on resubmission applications will not apply. However, applications not accepted by the Institute or Center for review, or not funded by the Institute or Center, should not be submitted again without either responding to any written concerns or contacting the awarding Institute or Center for instructions first. The NHLBI may have specific limitations as to when the application may be resubmitted. Reach out to the PO to discuss.
  • Are there example of winning grants/proposals for applicants to review?
    • Yes, please see the UCGHI list of resources specific to each UC campus. If your campus is not listed, please check with your Research Development Office (if applicable). 
  • If you can't move someone from your R01 to a Diversity Supplement, how can you recruit a specific graduate student? When a grad student says he/she wants to join your lab you will have to support them somehow until you can apply and hopefully get the supplement.
    • If your institutions has a T32 it is preferable they move from the T32 onto a Diversity Supplement.  Notably there is small provision in the FOA that allows a person to be supported briefly on the R01 while awaiting the outcome of the diversity supplement. In this case, do contact the IC before placing the candidate on the R01 and in anticipation of the supplement application.  With pre-clearance up to three months can be on the R01 per the following clause - In addition, individuals may not be transferred to a supplement to increase the availability of funds to the parent grant for other uses. Individuals may be supported by the parent grant for short periods, at the recipient’s risk, pending Institute/Center decision on the supplement application.  (See “Pre-Award (Pre-Agreement) Costs” in the Section 7.9.1 of the NIH Grants Policy Statement for further information).
  • As the panelist said, the project has to be within the scope of the parent grant, but is it good enough to propose that the diversity applicant work on say, Aim 1, or do we have to propose a new, related project?
    • It should be a new, related project.
  • If I have a candidate in mind that is already in the lab, when I am applying for the parent grant should that candidate not be put into the budget? If the parent grant is funded and the GSR has effort listed in the budget does that disqualify them from getting a supplement?
    • Yes, if they are already listed on the budget, they would not qualify for a diversity supplement.
  • For confirmation of eligibility, a statement from an official at the university is needed. Who at the university can confirm eligibility as requested?
    • An official from the Graduate School or Department should be fine in confirming eligibility.
  • Do any of the panelists have any experience with a diversity supplement for a candidate with a intellectual/developmental disability?
    • For the diversity supplement: individuals with disabilities are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, as described in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended.  See NSF data at Review the criteria and verify with the IC specific Diversity Supplement program officer to verify eligibility.
  • What kind of grant opportunities do international students have to progress in career?


  • Should junior faculty have senior faculty serve as co-mentors?
    • Mentorship can strengthen an application.  However, the mentorship described should be substantive.
  • Can the diversity candidate be co-mentored by another faculty not named in the parent R01 grant in addition to the PI of the parent R01 for the supplement award?
    • Yes.

Multiple awards/grants

  • How do ICs decide how many diversity supplements to fund annually?
    • This is dependent on the IC budgeting practices. 
  • How likely is the NIH to award a diversity supplement to a trainee who has already received one?
    • This varies depending on the trainee level that was awarded in the past, the new trainee level and the IC.  Reach out to the PO to verify eligibility.
  • How many diversity supplements can a PI have for each parent grant award?
    • One supplement per parent grant (possible exception - the candidate is a high school or undergraduate student; check with the PO)
  • Are postdocs that are funded by diversity supplements allowed to receive other types of salary (ex. from consulting, other non-NIH grants, other NIH grants, etc.)?
    • Post-docs funded on a diversity supplement should not receive other funding from NIH grants.
  • I’ve seen examples of supplements that “adds on” to the parent grant and others that “continue” what the parent grant is doing. Does this vary by rank (e.g., pre-doc, postdoc, early career faculty)?
    • Typically for graduate students and older, the plans are typically an extension to the parent award and tangential to the work, to allow for the candidate to apply for their own individual funding (e.g., F-31, F-32, K- Series).  However, for high school students and undergraduates, the proposed work is typically just a sub bullet of one of the aims in the grant.
  • If you are funded with a diversity supplement at one level (ex. pre-doc) would that make you no longer eligible for applying for a diversity supplement at a different level (ex. post-doc or early career) even if it is from a different IC and possibly different institution?
    • At NIDDK you can only receive a diversity supplement once during each career stage. (Shakira added)- NIGMS has a similar policy, you are only able to receive a diversity supplement once during each career stage. The allowability of this may differ by Institute/Center. Please check with the Program Officer of the Diversity Supplement at the IC you are interested in applying under.

Career Development

  • Given that less than 30% of Ph.D. recipients end up working in academic institutions in tenure-track positions, are reviewers favorable to career development plans that focus on non-academic positions, for example in pharmaceutical companies, clinical biotechnology institutes, etc.?  This would be consistent with the defunct NIH program “Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training” (NIH BEST). 
    • Depends on the training planning and goals for the candidate; We would encourage you to speak  with the Program Officer at the particular Institute.  As we aim to broaden diversity in the biomedical research workforce we recognize the value in several different career paths.
  • For the career development & training plans for a junior faculty member, how distinct should the new skills/training proposed be from the skills the applicant already has if existing skills are necessary to do the work proposed in the Specific Aims? For example, if the applicant is a qualitative researcher and their goal is to be a mixed methods researcher is it okay for the Aims to still rely on qualitative methodologies so long as some of the skills are quantitative/integrative?  How can we best balance the science with the training components of the grant?
    • The skills and training could build on the existing skill set as part of the diversity supplement application and also build the research and mentoring network for the junior faculty member.  The scientific component should provide an avenue for training. 

Contacting NIH Program Officers

  • Who is the appropriate NIH Program Officer to contact - the one assigned to your parent grant or the Diversity Supplement contact listed on the Diversity Supplement contact webpage from NIH?
    • The PO listed on the diversity supplement is the appropriate contact.
  • How do you find NIH program officers in our department and university as an individual from a lab? Or do we need to ask our PI to contact them?
    • It is best to have the candidate and the PI of parent award reach out together.  Discuss the communications with the parent award PI.
  • What would you suggest we do when a Program Officer is hard to get ahold of?
    • Should the Diversity Supplement PO not respond to the PI of the parent award, have the PI reach out to the PO of the parent award.
  • Our University prefers that we not contact the NIH program officer directly, our Sponsor Projects team does. Any suggestions?
    • Have the PI reach out to the Sponsored Projects team to coordinate discussions with the Program Officer. 


  • Is there any advocacy work to expand the requirements to DACA students in the future?
    • As a federal official answering, I have no comment.
  • Should trainees include publications that are in progress or submitted but not yet published on their Biosketch?
    • Publications that are in progress may be included in the body of the grant, but not on the Biosketch. 
  • How often are we able to resubmit a Diversity Supplement if it was not funded after the first submission? On Assist, would this be designated as a “Revision” or a “Resubmission” for type of application?
    • Since applications submitted to this announcement will only receive administrative review by the awarding Institute or Center, and will not receive peer review, the NIH policy on resubmission applications will not apply. However, applications not accepted by the Institute or Center for review or not funded by the Institute or Center, should not be submitted again without either responding to any written concerns or contacting the awarding Institute or Center for instructions first.