A Primer on NIGMS Research Capacity Building Opportunities

This post is part of a series outlining NIGMS research priorities, funding opportunities, and the grant application process. You can read more posts in this series and sign up to receive all future posts delivered straight to your inbox.

Now that you understand the major types of research project grants NIGMS supports and where to apply, let’s discuss our Institute’s funding opportunities that focus on research capacity building.

What Is Research Capacity Building?

Part of NIH’s mission is to increase the participation and representation of researchers at institutions that don’t receive large amounts of NIH funding. This includes institutions that have partnerships with Tribal organizations and that educate students from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical research, and those in states and jurisdictions that traditionally have low levels of NIH funding.

What Are the Different NIGMS Research Capacity Building Opportunities?

NIGMS’ Division for Research Capacity Building (DRCB) offers customized programs to meet the different needs of institutions looking to increase capacity in biomedical research. The programs provide funding for faculty research, mentoring, student research participation, institutional research infrastructure enhancement, and pre-kindergarten to grade 12 (pre-K-12) science education activities to help build the nation’s biomedical workforce.

NIGMS offers the following programs:

Institutional Development Award (IDeA)

The congressionally mandated IDeA program builds research capacity in 24 states and jurisdictions with historically low levels of NIH research funding. IDeA funds basic, clinical, behavioral, and translational research; faculty development; and infrastructure improvements. The program has grown to include five components:

  • The Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) program supports the establishment and development of innovative research centers to grow a critical mass of faculty investigators working in a scientific area and to provide needed research infrastructure.
  • The IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program funds statewide networks of higher education and research institutions to build biomedical research capacity through support for faculty research and research mentoring, student participation in research, and enhancement of institutional research infrastructure.
  • The IDeA Clinical and Translational Research program supports clinical and translational research to develop research infrastructure and human resources, enhance the ability of investigators and institutions to develop competitive clinical research programs, and strengthen collaborative research that addresses prevalent health conditions.
  • The IDeA Co-Funding program supports R01 and R15 applications from investigators in IDeA-eligible states assigned to any NIH institute or center that submitted projects that reviewed well but weren’t selected for funding.
  • The IDeA Regional Entrepreneurship Development (I-RED) program supports small businesses to develop educational products that promote biomedical entrepreneurship in academic institutions.

Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH)

NARCH addresses the needs of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) Tribes or Tribally based organizations by supporting research, research training, and faculty and infrastructure development. It also aims to reduce health disparities by providing a framework for sustainable research within Tribal communities and by enhancing research partnerships among scientists and health research professionals interested in AI/AN health.

Support for Research Excellence (SuRE)

We discussed SuRE in our previous post on research project grants, but the program also plays a critical role in our Institute’s research capacity building efforts. SuRE supports research capacity building at institutions that 1) award B.S. or B.A. degrees and/or graduate degrees in biomedical science, 2) have received less than $6 million of NIH Research Project Grant funds, and 3) either enroll at least 25% of undergraduate students supported by Pell grants or are accredited medical/health professional schools that were founded to educate students from populations underrepresented in the U.S. biomedical, clinical, behavioral, and social sciences research enterprise.

A recently funded resource center will promote the SuRE program nationally and provide resources to strengthen offices of sponsored programs.

Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA)

SEPA promotes development of the scientific workforce by supporting pre-K-12 science education activities, including interactive digital resources. The program provides opportunities for students from underserved communities to consider careers in basic or clinical research, provides teachers with professional development in science content and teaching skills, and improves community health literacy through SEPA-funded science centers or museum exhibits on health and medicine.

In Summary

NIGMS has a robust research capacity building effort. We play a major role in increasing the participation and representation of researchers at institutions across the U.S. that don’t receive large amounts of NIH funding. To learn more about individual programs and initiatives, visit the DRCB webpage, reach out to staff listed on the program webpages or in the funding announcements, or contact us.

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