FAQ from trainees

Below are some frequently asked questions we’ve received from trainees interested in NIH diversity supplement funding. For additional information, please visit our UCSF website on diversity supplements (https://guides.ucsf.edu/rdo/diversitysupplements) or the NIH RFA (PA-21-071).

What are NIH-diversity supplements?

The overall goal of these supplements is to enhance the diversity of the biomedical workforce. Diversity supplements provide additional funding to an already existing NIH grant or parent award 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 PI who has an eligible grant for a diversity supplement, usually an R01 or R35 grant and that has at least one year left before it is due for a competitive renewal at the start of the supplement, can submit an application. Check if a PI has an eligible NIH grant here: https://grant-bridge.org.

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 at UCSF.  This includes racial or ethnic groups identified by the NSF as underrepresented in science (such as Black/African American, Hispanic/ Latinx, American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander) as well as other groups not on that list but that have been recognized as underrepresented at UCSF (such as Filipino, Hmong and Vietnamese).  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, post-baccalaureate and post-master's degree students, pre-doctoral students, postdocs, and faculty. More information is listed here. 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 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, but exceptions can sometimes be made.

Parent awards: The PI must have an active NIH award, typically an R01 or R35, that has at least one year left before it is due for a competitive renewal at the time of the start of the supplement. More information is listed here.

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

UCSF has been working on developing infrastructure to match historically underrepresented students with UCSF faculty for research experiences funded through NIH- diversity supplements. As part of these efforts, we plan to have a virtual matchmaking event and a database (matchmaking application) for virtual matchmaking. Faculty with eligible grants for a diversity supplement will participate in the matchmaking event and will have access to the database. To participate in these matchmaking opportunities, you need to complete the matchmaking application (database) found on our home page, no later than December 11, 2023.

When will the matchmaking event take place?

The event will take place on January 26, 2024, from 9am-1pm via Zoom, details will be distributed once the date approaches. If you are interested in attending you complete the matchmaking application by December 11, 2023, a link to the application can be found on the home page. Space is limited, so sign up early!

Do I need to fill out the matchmaking database form?

Yes, this is part of the matchmaking process. The application responses will be used to pair you with faculty of similar research interests during the matchmaking event.  This will also serve as your RSVP for the matchmaking event and you have not filled out the application completely you will not be able to participate in the event. 

The matchmaking database asks for the contact information for one to three references. Do I need to submit letters of recommendation?

No, letters are not required. You just need to submit the contact information for your references. In this manner faculty that you interview with at the matchmaking event will have the choice of contacting the references on your list if they desire to do so.

Do I need to RSVP?

Yes, the matchmaking application will serve as your RSVP for the matchmaking event, we need to have a headcount so that we can plan the event accordingly. If you cannot attend the event, you will have the opportunity to fill out the matchmaking application after the matchmaking event on January 19,2021 so you can participate in virtual matchmaking but attending the event will most likely increase your chances of finding a match. 

What will the event be like? 

We will use the responses on the form to pair you with a faculty with similar research interests for a short 10-minute informational interview. During the event we will start with introductions on the matchmaking program and then proceed to a series of interviews with faculty. 

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

Yes, you are encouraged to contact them. 

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

That is up to the faculty you match with but most likely for the subsequent weeks you will work together to develop your proposal for submission to NIH.  

Additionally, trainees who make a match through the Matchmaking Event will have the opportunity to join the UCSF PROPEL Program (propel.ucsf.edu), which is a new post-baccalaureate program that combines a paid research position in a UCSF lab with career and professional development training sessions, scientific courses, and networking opportunities.  The goal of PROPEL is to provide trainees with the research experience and scientific training to be competitive for admission into top-tier research based PhD programs and to be successful in these programs.

How do I get into PROPEL?

To be a trainee in PROPEL, you must meet all of the eligibility requirements found here.  You must already be working in a UCSF lab to join PROPEL.  If you would like to meet UCSF faculty who are looking to hire historically underrepresented trainees at the postbaccalaureate stage, sign up for the UCSF Diversity Supplement Matchmaking Event by December 11, 2023.  If you meet the eligibility criteria and are interested in joining PROPEL during, contact program administrator, Jessica Allen ([email protected]) to inquire about joining.

How long does the diversity supplement application process take?

In our experience, it takes about 12 weeks to prepare a supplement, and another 12 weeks for the supplement to be reviewed.  

What is the duration of the award?

For post-baccalaureate and master’s degree holders the program duration is 1-2 year(s). 

Will I be funded during this time? 

Yes, this is a paid research experience. Your salary will vary depending on the career level. In addition to your salary, you will receive additional funds for research supplies and travel.  More info can be found here

Is a match guaranteed?

No, we cannot guarantee a match will be made.

What is the difference between the Diversity Supplement Matchmaking Event and applying to PROPEL?

The matchmaking event is designed to help make matches between trainees who are eligible for an NIH Diversity Supplement and UCSF faculty who have qualifying grants.  Trainees with an interest in pursuing a career in any of the many career paths that start with a research experience at UCSF, including academic research, industry, medicine, epidemiology, etc. are encouraged to apply.  PROPEL is intended specifically for trainees who are interested in going to a biomedical PhD or MD/PhD program.  Many trainees who make a match through the Matchmaking Event will have an opportunity to apply for PROPEL.

I have additional questions, who do I contact?

You can contact Angel-Max Guerrero, MA