NIH Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards (IRACDA)

The following is a limited submission opportunity with only one application per institution per review cycle is allowed. If you are interested in this limited submission please email Michelle Wonsey a single PDF by September 3, 2020 with the following pre-proposal requirements:

1.      A two-page summary that must include your research/project:

a.      goals
b.      objectives
c.       methods, and
d.      a short statement of competitiveness (i.e., what you think will discriminate your proposal from the competition, including anything you have done to pre-position yourself/your team for this funding opportunity)

2.      A pro forma budget, including any cost-sharing and facilities requirements and how you plan to meet them; use template:

3.      A short-form CV for the PI and each senior staff person

4.      Current and Pending Support of PI’s


Program Description:

The overall goal of the NIH Research Career Development program is to help ensure that a diverse pool of highly trained scientists is available in appropriate scientific disciplines to address the Nation's biomedical, behavioral and clinical research needs. The Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award (IRACDA) Program provides support for a mentored postdoctoral research experience at a research-intensive institution combined with an opportunity to develop critical teaching and mentoring skills at a teaching-intensive partner institution  that has a historical mission or a demonstrated commitment to educating students from groups underrepresented in the biomedical research workforce.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognizes the need to diversify the scientific workforce by enhancing the participation of individuals from groups identified as underrepresented in the biomedical research workforce. Research shows that diverse teams working together and capitalizing on innovative ideas and distinct perspectives outperform homogenous teams. Scientists and trainees from diverse backgrounds and life experiences bring different perspectives, creativity, and individual interests to address complex scientific problems. There are many benefits that flow from a diverse NIH-supported scientific workforce, including fostering scientific innovation, enhancing global competitiveness, contributing to robust learning environments, improving the quality of research, enhancing public trust, and increasing the likelihood that health disparities and the needs of underserved populations are addressed in biomedical research.

NIGMS strives to ensure that future generations of researchers will be drawn from the entire pool of talented individuals, bringing different aptitudes, perspectives, interests, and experiences to address complex scientific problems. NIGMS seeks to enhance the diversity of the biomedical research workforce by supporting individuals from a variety of backgrounds at multiple training and career stages in a variety of institutions and educational settings across the country. Accordingly, NIGMS recognizes the growing need for a diverse cohort of biomedical faculty who are skilled researchers and effective teachers and mentors.

The Overarching Objective of the IRACDA program is to develop a diverse pool of well-trained biomedical scientists, who have the technical (e.g., appropriate methods, technologies, and quantitative/computational approaches), operational (e.g., independent knowledge acquisition, rigorous experimental design, and interpretation of data) and professional (e.g. management, leadership, communication, and teamwork) skills necessary to conduct rigorous and reproducible research, and to transition successfully into independent academic careers in the biomedical research workforce. The IRACDA program provides support for a mentored postdoctoral research experience at a research-intensive institution combined with an opportunity at a teaching-intensive partner institution with a diverse student body to develop critical skills, including, but not limited to, the ability to:

  • Implement current evidence-based teaching, mentoring, and research training methods;
  • Teach scientific research methodologies and findings to individuals from diverse backgrounds;
  • Work well in teams with colleagues from a variety of cultural and scientific backgrounds;
  • Mentor students with sensitivity to cultural differences; and
  • Create inclusive, safe, and supportive teaching and learning environments.

An additional goal of the IRACDA program is to benefit the teaching-intensive partner institution(s). Examples of benefits include, but are not limited to, providing research-oriented, early career mentors and role models for the students, enhancing science educational offerings, providing research opportunities for the faculty and students, and bringing expertise with cutting edge research methods and technologies to the institution.

Funded IRACDA programs must have a strong research base comprised of established scientists who will provide expertise, resources, and mentoring to the IRACDA scholars. The mentored research experience must fall within the scope of the NIGMS mission.

NIGMS recognizes that combining research and teaching in a single career development program involving partner institutions requires planning and coordination. Therefore, NIGMS intends to fund programs demonstrating strong working partnerships. All partners should be involved in the planning and execution of the various elements of the career development program.

Applicant institutions have latitude in the design of the program; however, career development activities, which should last 2-4 years, must include the following elements:

  • A mentored research experience that is typical of other competitive postdoctoral opportunities. Nine-person months (75% of a full-time professional effort) must be spent on this activity. The research mentor will sponsor and oversee the proposed research development program and will ensure that the candidate receives the proper guidance and mentoring required for a potential independent research career. The candidate may conduct collaborative research with other experienced researchers, subject to approval of the IRACDA scholars’ career development mentor.
  • Other mentored and/or didactic experiences to improve technical, operational and professional skills important for an individual to prosper in an academic environment. Three-person months (25% of a full-time professional effort) must be spent on mentored teaching and other mentored and/or didactic experiences. The timing of the teaching and skills development may be flexible over the academic year. For example, a plan might involve a 9-person month block of time devoted to research separated by a 3-person month block of time devoted to teaching and skills development. Alternatively, the workshops, didactics and mentored teaching may represent 3 person-months (25% of full-time professional effort) interspersed with mentored research throughout the year. To ensure the mentored research is maintained throughout the time on the award, scholars should not spend two years in mentored research and one year in the mentored teaching experience.

The scholars are expected to be supported full-time using IRACDA funding for up to three years provided their progress toward an independent academic career is on track and satisfactory. Applicants may, and are indeed encouraged to, propose the use of non-IRACDA funds to provide a four-year career development program, with the first or last three years of support from IRACDA and the remaining one year's support from the mentor or other source(s).

Applicants must justify the proposed program size based on the research environment as well as the pool of research mentors and potential IRACDA scholars at the research-intensive institution, and the pool of teaching mentors available at the partner institution(s). NIGMS anticipates that most programs will have 3-4 scholars per cohort for an average size of 9-12 active scholars supported by the IRACDA funding at any one time. To ensure that a broad range of institutions are represented, NIGMS will cap the number of active scholars in any one program at 12.

Awardees are expected to attend the annual IRACDA Conference. The conference is organized by the grantee institutions on a rotating basis. Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PDs/PIs), as well as IRACDA scholars are expected to attend this meeting. These meetings feature keynote presentations by invited guests who are leaders in the areas of science, education, and public policy and administration. The IRACDA scholars are encouraged to present their career development award-supported research to their peers. The conference also provides an opportunity for the IRACDA PDs/PIs, NIGMS program staff, and scholars to exchange ideas about effective teaching pedagogies, discuss solutions for common challenges, and interact with their peers and NIGMS staff.

The proposed institutional research career development program may complement other, ongoing mentored research and career development programs at the applicant institution, but the proposed career development experiences must be distinct from those career development programs currently receiving Federal support.

Note: This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) does not allow appointed scholars to lead an independent clinical trial but does allow them to obtain research experience in a clinical trial led by a mentor or co-mentor. NIH strongly supports training towards a career in clinically relevant research and so gaining experience in clinical trials under the guidance of a mentor or co-mentor is encouraged.