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Trainee FAQ

Below are some frequently asked questions regarding NIH diversity supplements. A huge thank you to our colleagues at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center Office of Training and Education for allowing us to share these helpful FAQs with the Duke Community. For additional information, please visit the Duke Clinical & Translational Science Institute’s website on diversity supplements or see the NIH announcement.

What are NIH-diversity supplements?

They are supplemental funding that can be added onto an existing grant a faculty member already has to study a particular topic. A faculty member and a trainee typically write these applications together. If awarded, the funds are added onto the faculty member’s active grant in order to support the trainee’s salary while he/she works on the project outlined in the diversity supplement proposal.

The overall goal of these supplements is to enhance the diversity of the biomedical workforce. Diversity supplements provide additional funding to support individuals underrepresented in biomedical, behavioral, clinical, social and basic science research by providing training, mentorship and career development opportunities.


As a trainee can I submit a proposal for a diversity supplement?

No, only a Principal Investigator (PI) who has an eligible grant for a diversity supplement can submit an application. You can search NIH Reporter to see if there is a PI with an active grant that could support an NIH diversity supplement in an area of research you are interested in.


Who is eligible for a diversity supplement?

Trainees: The trainee named in the diversity supplement application must identify as belonging to a race or ethnicity that is underrepresented in science, come from a disadvantaged background, or have a disability. This includes racial or ethnic groups identified by the National Science Foundation as underrepresented in science (such as Black/African American, Hispanic/ Latinx, American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander). Alternately, if the individual comes from a financially disadvantaged background or has a disability, he or she may also qualify. More information can be found here. NIH guidelines state that trainees supported through diversity supplements must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, you can read more here. Diversity supplement candidates may be considered for a supplement at the following career stages: high-school students, undergraduate students, baccalaureate and master’s degree holders, pre-doctoral students, postdocs, and faculty. Importantly, most NIH Institutes do not allow a trainee to be listed as a diversity supplement candidate if they are already listed as personnel in the budget section of the PI’s grant (the parent award). Ideally, the trainee would be a new member of the PI’s lab who has not received any salary support from the parent grant. Exceptions can sometimes be made, especially if the trainee has been supported by discretionary funds. Always ask an NIH Program Officer for clarification if this is unclear.

Parent awards: The PI or Co-PI must have an active NIH award that typically has 2 or more years remaining before it is due for a competitive renewal at the time of the start of the supplement.


How can I find faculty who has an eligible grant to apply for a diversity supplement?

Attend our event on November 3, 2023! Here you will have the opportunity to virtually meet with faculty who have active grants that can support NIH diversity supplements.

To participate in this matching opportunities, you need to complete the application HERE, no later than October 6, 2023.


When will the matching event take place?

The event will take place on November 3, 2023, from 9am to noon EDT via Zoom. Details will be distributed as the date approaches.


What will the event be like? 

We will use the responses from the registration form to pair you with one or more Duke faculty members with similar research interests for short 10-minute informational interviews. During the event we will start with introductions on the matching program and then proceed to a series of interviews with faculty.


During the matching event, I found a faculty whose research I found to be interesting, can I contact her/him?

Yes! You are encouraged to contact them via email to follow-up and figure out the next best steps for proceeding.


Once I find a faculty match, what are the next steps? 

That is up to you and the faculty you match with. Likely next steps include meeting for a longer time (virtually or in person) to talk more about your interests, drafting an outline of the proposal, developing a timeline, etc. Ideally, you will work together to develop a diversity supplement proposal for submission to NIH.


How long does the diversity supplement application process take?

Experienced individuals suggest it takes 8-12 weeks to prepare a supplement, and another 12 weeks for the supplement to be reviewed.


What is the duration of the award?

This varies; a common duration is 1-2 year(s).


Will I be funded during this time? 

If your NIH diversity supplement proposal is awarded, yes! These funds provide for salary support. Your salary will vary depending on the career level. Depending on your career level, you may also request funds for research supplies and travel. More information can be found here.

If your NIH diversity supplement proposal is not awarded, you will need to speak with the faculty member you wrote the grant with to see if there are alternative sources of funding for you to work within their lab. While the success rate of these grants is much higher than many NIH grants, it is unfortunately not guaranteed. If this happens, try not to be discouraged. It is extremely common to not receive a grant in science. Talk with the faculty member about re-applying as that may be an option.


Is a match guaranteed?

No, unfortunately we cannot guarantee a match will be made.


I have additional questions, who do I contact?

You can contact CRTEC.