Request for Applications – NIH Grant Development Teams 

Population Health Research Collaboration

NIH Grant Proposal Development Teams

Request for Proposals

To promote cross-institutional collaboration in our joint primary research interests and incentivize NIH grant proposal development and submission, the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at Syracuse University and the Population Research Institute at Penn State (PRI) are joining forces to fund teams of researchers working together across our institutions to develop NIH research proposals to be submitted by the end of 2023. Although we have a preference for R01, U01, or R21 proposals submitted to NICHD, teams can propose to submit a proposal to any NIH institute and for any of the following mechanisms: R01, U01, R21, R03. In addition, the proposed topic must focus on one of the following areas:

Population Health and Health Disparities: Studies of the impacts of race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, gender, sexuality, families, social networks, migration and immigration status, work, place/geography, institutions, systems, and/or policies that may pose disparate health risks and/or lead to disparate outcomes across groups and/or communities.

Families, Childhood, and Health: Studies that examine demographic changes in family formation, family functioning, intergenerational relations, and reproductive health and their relationships to observed health and well-being disparities.

Communities, Neighborhoods and Spatial Processes: Studies of human population distribution across neighborhoods and communities, the social processes that bring about these spatial patterns, segregation and residential conditions, and their consequences for the health and wellbeing of individuals, families, and/or children.


March 14, 2022: RFA available
April 25, 2022: Proposals due
Mid-May, 2022: Funding decisions announced
Grant Period: May 31, 2022-May 30, 2023

Faculty teams affiliated with Penn State’s Population Research Institute or Syracuse University’s Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion or Center for Policy Research are eligible to apply. The Population Research Institute at Penn State ( has a long tradition of promoting demographic research and training around the world. PRI is working to expand these collaborations even further, creating new networks where synergies between population scientists exist across institutions. The Pennsylvania Population Network (PPN) at Penn State seeks to develop population and policy research of importance to communities in Pennsylvania and beyond. PRI and the PPN are joining this new call for proposals in conjunction with the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at Syracuse University. The Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at Syracuse University ( is a population health research center with expertise in the social, spatial, and structural determinants of physical, mental, and behavioral health. The Center regularly awards Faculty Fellow grants to SU faculty and is using this year’s Faculty Fellows mechanism to encourage cross-institution collaboration on NIH proposal development. SU’s Center for Policy Research ( supports policy-relevant research to tackle pressing social problems related to education, taxes, social welfare, the environment, housing, crime, and health.

Proposal Guidelines

This funding mechanism is designed to support the development of an NIH R01, U01, R21, or R03 proposal. Activities may include writing the proposal, pilot grant data collection/analysis and/or preliminary analysis of secondary data that would be used to demonstrate scientific rigor and feasibility in the NIH proposal, and getting feedback from others to strengthen the proposal.


Research teams must include at least one principal investigator (PI) who is affiliated with the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion or the Center for Policy Research at Syracuse University and at least one PI from the Population Research Institute at Penn State. Research faculty (tenure line and non-tenure line) are eligible to serve as PIs. Postdoctoral scholars and graduate students may be included on the research team but may not serve as PIs.


We anticipate spending a maximum of $25,000 per team for teams proposing R01 or U01 preparation and up to $15,000 per team for teams proposing R21 or R03 preparation. Funds must be spent by May 30, 2023. We anticipate funding 2-3 teams. Budgets should propose equitable funding across institutions.

Funds may be used for:

• Course releases. Penn State investigators may request salary of up to $7,500 (replacement cost for one-course buyout or equivalent). SU investigators may request salary that reflects the allowed percentage for the first-course release according to specific college policies (e.g., 12.5% in Maxwell). All requests for course releases should be made in consultation with your department chair/head and must include a letter of support agreeing to the terms of the course release.

• Summer salary up to $7,500 per investigator to allow for dedicated grant proposal writing only. PRI faculty should note that summer salary is allowed only in this specific RFP.

• Graduate student time or hourly support of activities from research staff

• Travel (MUST comply with university rules for travel; conference travel is excluded.)

• Data acquisition fees associated with specialized data sources.

• Data collection costs for a project proposing to collect pilot data.

Funds are NOT intended to support:

• Projects of individual faculty members

• Delivery of outreach programs or services

• Funding for activities supported by departments and colleges (travel to conferences, computer or software purchase unless specific to the proposed study, etc.)

• Publication costs

• Graduate student tuition

• Indirect costs

Criteria for Review

Funding decisions will be based primarily on the likelihood that the team will develop a strong proposal to be submitted to NIH by the end of 2023. This includes:

• Significance of the problem to be addressed

• Likelihood that the proposed project will be novel.

• Planned approach and likelihood that the team will be able to develop a rigorous research design • Likelihood that the team will submit the proposal to NIH by the end of 2023.

• The qualifications and experience of personnel and feasible plan for collaboration across institutions.

NOTE: Investigators are expected to prepare and submit the appropriate requests for IRB approval. Funds will not be released without IRB exemption or approval.

Proposal Development Mentoring and Review Requirements

• Meet with Sarah Damaske (PRI) and Shannon Monnat (Lerner/CPR) shortly after seed grant proposal receipt to discuss the project idea, discuss additional potential collaborators, and go through the various NIH proposal sections and how they will be scored by an NIH review panel.

• Participate in the PRI NIH Writing Group, including presenting the Specific Aims and the Research Strategy to get developmental feedback throughout proposal preparation.

• Submit the full draft of the Research Strategy to Damaske and Monnat by May 30, 2023. Via the PRI NIH Writing Group, we will recruit mock reviewers to score and provide feedback on your proposal.

• Seed grant recipients are expected to continue participation in the Writing Group to mentor new grantees after their seed grant award has ended.

Lerner Center Faculty Affiliate Program

The PIs on the funded team will be automatically granted Lerner Center Faculty Affiliate status. Affiliates have access to Lerner Center events, research resources, and mentoring. It is expected that funded PIs will maintain their affiliate status upon completion of the project, present their findings at Lerner Center research events, and assist the Lerner Center with reviewing future grant proposals. Other key personnel on funded projects may also apply for Faculty Affiliate status.

Population Research Institute Faculty Associates

All PIs and key personnel on funded teams are encouraged to apply for associate status at the Population Research Institute at Penn State. All associates have access to PRI events, working groups and mentoring.

Proposal Submission Requirements

Please complete all sections below and send entire proposal as one PDF document to Sarah Damaske ( and Shannon Monnat ( by 5:00 EST on April 25, 2022. Proposals must be single-spaced, in Arial font size no smaller than 11-point type, with one-inch margins. Follow all page guidelines; The proposal narrative cannot exceed 3 pages. Do not include appendices beyond the supplemental information requested below.

COVER PAGE (1 page)

1. Project Title
2. Name of MPIs, MPI titles, departmental affiliations, and emails (there should be at least one PI from each institution)
3. Names, titles, and departmental affiliation of all co-Investigators and other key personnel
4. Abstract: Provide a succinct overview that includes the significance and innovation of the project you intend to propose to NIH, the expertise of the investigator team, and your plan for submitting a proposal to NIH by the end of 2023 (<300 words).

PROPOSAL NARRATIVE (3 pages single spaced max)

1. Specific Aims/Purpose: List the specific aims that you plan to include your NIH proposal.
2. Significance: Provide a brief explanation of the significance of the problem you plan to address in your NIH proposal. How will the project you plan to propose to NIH address a critical barrier to progress in the field? How will successful completion of your aims change the concepts, methods, treatments, services, or interventions that drive this field?
3. Innovation: Describe the state of the current research in this area and the innovation of the project you will propose to NIH.
4. Approach: Describe your anticipated research approach and how/why it is appropriate for addressing the described aims. We understand that your approach will evolve as part of the proposal development. In this section, you should describe your anticipated data and methods.
5. Description of Activities: Describe your plan for developing an NIH proposal, including frequency of team meetings, the resources you will need to successfully complete the proposal, and who will be responsible for various sections of the proposal. Include a timeline of your activities. If you are proposing to conduct preliminary analysis with existing data, your plan should describe data availability and your analysis plan. If you are planning to collect pilot data to inform the preliminary analysis section, your plan should detail your methods and articulate the feasibility of being able to collect and analyze the necessary data within the required time frame.
6. Investigators: Describe the substantive and methodological expertise of the investigators and how each will contribute to the project you plan to propose to NIH. Note that being MPIs on this proposal does not mean that you need to be MPIs on the NIH proposal.
7. Potential target NIH mechanism and RFA/PA: Please identify a specific NIH mechanism and/or target RFA and provide that information.


1. Literature Cited: List publications cited in the proposal narrative.
2. Budget and Justification: Provide an itemized budget and budget justification that includes salaries, fringes, and other expenses. Applicants must discuss budgets with staff in their respective Centers to ensure all proposed activities are appropriately accounted for, budgeted, and available.
3. Biosketches: Include an NIH biosketch for each of the principal investigator(s), collaborating investigator(s), and other key personnel included in the proposal.
4. Letters of Commitment: All investigators should indicate their willingness to collaborate on the NIH proposal development team by writing letters specifying: (a) their commitment to participate in the proposal and the proposed research if funded by NIH, (b) their acknowledgement that they have reviewed the full proposal prior to submission, and (c) their willingness to engage in the proposal development mentoring and review. For applications requesting course releases, include a letter of acknowledgement from the Department Chair/Head.
5. Additional Documentation: Applicants who have corresponded with NIH Program Officials are encouraged to include relevant correspondence with their application.

For questions about this RFP, please contact Sarah Damaske ( and Shannon Monnat (