Ahrq Health Services Research Dissertation Awards R36

Part I Overview Information

Department of Health and Human Services

Participating Organizations
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), (http://www.ahrq.gov/)

Components of Participating Organizations
Office of Extramural Research, Education, and Priority Populations (OEREP), (http://www.ahrq.gov/about/organix.htm)

Title:AHRQ Grants for Health Services Research Dissertation (R36)

Note: The policies, guidelines, terms, and conditions stated in this announcement may differ from those used by the NIH.

Announcement Type

This is a re-issue of PAR-04-039.

Update: The following update relating to this announcement has been issued:

  • July 17, 2009 - This PA has been reissued as (PAR-09-212).
  • January 28, 2009 - See Notice (NOT-HS-09-005) Extending the expiration date.
  • January 28, 2008 - See Notice (NOT-HS-08-006) This Notice extends the expiration date.
  • March 28, 2007 - See Notice (NOT-HS-07-003) the purpose of this notice is to inform the research community of a change in the receipt dates.

NOTICE: Applications submitted in response to this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for Federal assistance must be submitted electronically through Grants.gov (http://www.grants.gov) using the SF424 (R&R) forms and Application Instruction Guide.

APPLICATIONS MAY NOT BE SUBMITTED IN PAPER FORMAT.

This FOA must be read in conjunction with the application guidelines included with this announcement in Grants.gov Apply for Grants (hereafter called Grants.gov/Apply).  A registration process is necessary before submission and should be started at least four weeks in advance of the planned submission. (See Section IV).

Program Announcement (PA) Number:PAR-06-118

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number(s)
 93.226

Key Dates
Release Date: January 13, 2006
Opening Date: March 10, 2006 (Earliest date an application may be submitted to Grants.gov)
ApplicationSubmission Dates(s): April 10, August 10, December 10, annually until April 10, 2007, then Standard dates apply, please see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm.
Peer Review Date(s): within 3 months of submission
Earliest Anticipated Start Date:within 5 months of submission
Expiration Date:  Now Expired July 18, 2009 (per issuance of PAR-09-212); New Date May 8, 2010 (per issuance of NOT-HS-09-005)(Extended to March 17, 2009 per NOT-HS-08-006) Original Expriation Date: March 17, 2008.

Due Dates for E.O. 12372
Not Applicable.

Additional Overview Content

Executive Summary

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) announces its continued interest in the health services research dissertation grant program (R36). This program supports research undertaken as part of an academic program to qualify for a doctorate. The AHRQ dissertation award supports dissertation research costs for students in accredited research doctoral programs in the United States (including Puerto Rico, and other U.S. Territories or possessions).  Dissertation applications must focus on methodological and research topics that address the mission and research interests of AHRQ noted below.

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) will use the dissertation grant (R36) award mechanism. The total direct costs awarded under this FOA for dissertations must not exceed $35,000 for the entire project period, which should be a minimum of nine months and not to exceed 17 months in duration.  The proposed grant start date should not be sooner than five months after the submission deadline.

While grant awards are made to institutions rather than individuals, this FOA and its instructions are written to potential applicants to inform them of this funding opportunity and facilitate the submission of grant applications.  For the purpose of this FOA, AHRQ will make grants only to domestic non-profit organizations.  Any individual with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research is invited to work with his or her institution to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for AHRQ programs.  Applicants may apply for this award provided that:

  • You are registered in an accredited research doctoral degree program;
  • You are in good-standing in that program;
  • You will have completed all non-dissertation requirements for your degree by the anticipated start date of the award (except a clinical internship where that is required to follow the dissertation phase);
  • Your doctoral committee has approved your dissertation proposal by the time of the grant award; and,
  • You are a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national (e.g., residents of U.S. territories), or permanent resident by the time of award.
  • Note that individuals supported under Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award mechanisms including T32, F31 and F32 research training awards are eligible to apply for a dissertation award. However, as these awards cover full-time effort and provide a small amount that may be used to support dissertation research expenses, such students may only receive the up to $15,000 allowed for additional, non-salary expenses, and must provide a statement that these expenses are not supported through the active training grant or fellowship. The request for support must also satisfy institutional policies.
  • Applications must be prepared using the SF-424 Research and Related (R&R) grant application instructions and forms.  Applicants must download the SF-424 (R&R) application forms and instructions for this FOA through the Grants.gov/Apply web site (see: http://www.grants.gov/Apply).
  • Telecommunications for the hearing impaired: TTY 301-451-5936.

Table of Contents

Part I Overview Information

Part II Full Text of Announcement

Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
1. Research Objectives

Section II. Award Information
1. Mechanism of Support
2. Funds Available

Section III. Eligibility Information
1. Eligible Applicants
    A. Eligible Institutions
    B. Eligible Individuals
2. Cost Sharing or Matching
3. Other - Special Eligibility Criteria

Section IV. Application and Submission Information
1. Request Application Information
2. Content and Form of Application Submission
3. Submission Dates and Times
   A. Submission, Review and Anticipated Start Dates
        1. Letter of Intent
   B. Sending an Application to the NIH
   C. Application Processing
4. Intergovernmental Review
5. Funding Restrictions
6. Other Submission Requirements

Section V. Application Review Information
1. Criteria
2. Review and Selection Process
    A. Additional Review Criteria
    B. Additional Review Considerations
    C. Sharing Research Data
    D. Sharing Research Resources
3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

Section VI. Award Administration Information
1. Award Notices
2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

Section VII. Agency Contact(s)
1. Scientific/Research Contact(s)
2. Peer Review Contact(s)
3. Financial/ Grants Management Contact(s)

Section VIII. Other Information - Required Federal Citations

Part II - Full Text of Announcement

Section I. Funding Opportunity Description

1. Research Objectives

Purpose

AHRQ announces its continued interest in supporting the health services research dissertation grant program.

The mission of AHRQ is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans.  The research sponsored and conducted by the Agency develops and presents scientific evidence regarding all aspects of health care.  It addresses issues of organization, delivery, financing, utilization, patient and provider behavior, outcomes, effectiveness and cost.  It evaluates both clinical services and the system in which these services are provided.  These scientific results improve the evidence *base to enable better decisions about health care, including such areas as disease prevention, emergency preparedness, appropriate use of medical technologies, improving diagnosis and treatment in cost-effective ways, long-term care, and reducing racial and ethnic disparities. 

AHRQ has identified strategic goals as priority research areas. Research applications must address one of these areas.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to focus on topical areas unique to AHRQ, demonstrating how expected results can be used or made available for use to enhance patient safety and quality of care.  Results should be directly relevant to customers, such as providers and practitioners, administrators, payers, consumers, policymakers, and insurers.  The strategic research goals are:

  • Safety/quality – Reduce the risk of harm from health care services by promoting the delivery of appropriate care that achieves the best quality outcomes
  • Efficiency – Achieve wider access to effective health care services and reduce health care costs
  • Effectiveness – Assure that providers and consumers/patients use beneficial and timely health care information to make informed decision choices

Applicants are further encouraged to address health services research issues critical to AHRQ priority populations, including: individuals living in inner city and rural (including frontier) areas; low-income and minority groups; women, children, the elderly; and individuals with special health care needs, including those with disabilities and those who need chronic or end-of-life health care. 

This FOA describes the procedures and criteria for the Program. It updates and supersedes the AHRQ Grants for Health Services Research Dissertation PAR-04-039, published December 16, 2003.

See Section VIII, Other Information - Required Federal Citations, for policies related to this announcement.

Section II. Award Information

1. Mechanism of Support

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) will use the dissertation grant (R36) award mechanism.  As an applicant, you will be solely responsible for planning, directing, and executing the proposed project.

AHRQ is not using the Modular Grant Application and Award Process.  Applications submitted in modular format will be returned without review.

Use the SF424 (R&R) Budget Component described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Package and Instructions Guide.

2. Funds Available

The total direct costs awarded under this FOA for dissertations must not exceed $35,000 for the entire project period, which should be a minimum of nine months and not to exceed 17 months in duration.  

Because the nature and scope of the proposed research will vary from application to application, it is anticipated that the size and duration of each award will also vary. Although the financial plans of the AHRQ include support for this program, awards pursuant to this funding opportunity are contingent upon the availability of funds.

Section III. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants

1.A. Eligible Institutions

You may submit (an) application(s) if your organization has the following characteristics:

For the purpose of this FOA, AHRQ will make grants only to domestic non-profit organizations.  The applicant organization must be the doctoral granting institution at which the student is registered and matriculating.   Individuals cannot apply directly.

1.B. Eligible Individuals

Any individual with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research is invited to work with his or her institution to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for AHRQ programs.  Applicants are eligible to apply for this award provided that:

  • You are registered in an accredited research doctoral degree program;
  • You are in good-standing in that program;
  • You will have completed all non-dissertation requirements for your degree by the anticipated start date of the award (except a clinical internship where that is required to follow the dissertation phase);
  • Your doctoral committee has approved your dissertation proposal by the time of the grant award; and,
  • You are a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national (e.g., residents of U.S. territories), or permanent resident by the time of award.

Note that individuals supported under Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award mechanisms including T32, F31 and F32 research training awards are eligible to apply for a dissertation award.  However, as these awards cover full-time effort and provide a small amount that may be used to support dissertation research expenses, such students may only receive the up to $15,000 allowed for additional, non-salary expenses, and must provide a statement that these expenses are not supported through the active training grant or fellowship. The request for support must also satisfy institutional policies. Recipients of mentored career development awards are not eligible for dissertation support.

2. Cost Sharing or Matching

AHRQ does not require cost sharing for applications submitted in response to this FOA.

3. Other-Special Eligibility Criteria

Not Applicable.

Section IV. Application and Submission Information

Registration and Instructions for Submission via Grants.gov

To download an Application Package and Application Guide for completing the SF424 (R&R) forms for this FOA, link to http://www.grants.gov/Apply/ and follow the directions provided on that Web site.

A one-time registration is required for institutions/organizations at both:

The Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) should work with his or her institution/organization to make sure both the institution and the individual applicants are registered in the NIH Commons.

Several additional separate actions are required before an applicant institution can submit an application through Grants.gov. See "Preparing for Electronic Receipt" at http://era.nih.gov/ElectronicReceipt/preparing.htm.

1) Organization/Institutional Registration in Grants.gov/Get Started

  • Your organization will need to obtain a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number and register with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) as part of the Grants.gov registration process.
  • If your organization does not have a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN), allow for extra time. A valid TIN or EIN is necessary for CCR registration.
  • The CCR also validates the EIN against Internal Revenue Service records, a step that will take an additional one to two business days.

2) Organization/Institutional Registration in the eRA Commons

3) Principal Investigator Registration in the eRA Commons: Refer to the eRA Commons User Guide

  • The individual designated as the PD/PI on the application must also be registered in the Commons.
  • The PD/PI must hold a PD/PI account and be affiliated with the applicant organization.
  • This registration must be done by an organization official or their delegate who is already registered in the Commons.
  • It is not necessary for Principal Investigators (PD/PIs) to register with Grants.gov. The individual designated as the PD/PI on the application must, however, be registered in the eRA Commons.

NOTE: Both the Principal Investigator (PD/PI) and Signing Official (SO) need separate accounts in Commons since both need to verify the application.

Note that if a PD/PI is also an NIH peer-reviewer with an Individual DUNS and CCR registration, that particular DUNS number and CCR registration are for the individual reviewer only. These are different than any DUNS number and CCR registration used by an applicant organization.  Individual DUNS and CCR registration should be used only for the purposes of personal reimbursement and should not be used on any grant applications submitted to the Federal Government.

Several of the steps of the registration process could take two weeks or more. Therefore, applicants should immediately check with their business official to determine whether their institution is already registered in both Grants.gov and the Commons. The NIH will accept electronic applications only from organizations that have completed all necessary registrations.

1. Request Application Information

Applicants must download the SF424 (R &R) application forms and SF424 (R&R) Application Guide for this FOA through Grants.gov/Apply.

Note: Only the forms package directly attached to a specific FOA can be used. You will not be able to use any other SF424 (R&R) forms (e.g., sample forms, forms from another FOA), although some of the "Attachment" files may be useable for more than one FOA.

For further assistance contact GrantsInfo, Telephone (301) 710-0267, Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov.

Telecommunications for the hearing impaired: TTY (301) 451-5936.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

Prepare all applications using the SF424 (R &R) application forms and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide (MS Word or PDF) instructions. 

The SF424 (R&R) Application Guide is critical to submitting a complete and accurate application to NIH. There are fields within the SF424 (R&R) application components that, although not marked as mandatory, are required by NIH (e.g., the “Credential” log-in field of the “Research & Related Senior/Key Person Profile” component must contain the PD/PI’s assigned eRA Commons User ID). Agency-specific instructions for such fields are clearly identified in the Application Guide. For additional information, see “Tips and Tools for Navigating Electronic Submission” on the front page of “Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.”

The SF424 (R&R) application is comprised of data arranged in separate components. Some components are required, others are optional. The forms package associated with this FOA in Grants.gov/Apply will include all applicable components, required and optional. A completed application in response to this FOA will include the following components:

Required Components:
SF424 (R&R) (An application cover component)
Research & Related Project/Performance Site Locations

Research & Related Other Project Information
Research & Related Senior/Key Person
Research & Related Budget

PHS398 Cover Page Supplement
PHS398 Research Plan
PHS398 Checklist

Appendices – copies of official transcripts, and copies of any survey instruments or discussion guides if applicable.  (Note: Appendices are to be attached to the PHS 398 Research Plan component, above.)

Optional Components:
PHS 398 Cover Letter -- see instructions for appropriate use.  This does not replace required letters, noted below, which should be included under Section 5.5, line item 13 (Letters of Support)  

R& R Sub-award Budget Attachment Form – not relevant for dissertation applications submitted to AHRQ.

Additional Instructions:
The following instructions are to be used in conjunction with the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide accompanying the SF 424 (R&R) application form:

SF 424 (R&R) (An application cover component) -- Section 4.2 

Line item 8, check if the application is new (first time submitted to AHRQ) or a resubmission (an application which has been previously submitted to the AHRQ but was not funded and is being resubmitted for new consideration).   NOTE: AHRQ will only accept one resubmission for dissertation applications.

Line item 11, enter the title of the dissertation research project.

Research & Related Project/Performance Site Locations – Section 4.4

Line item 7, Project Narrative, AHRQ will use this upload for a description of the “Relevance and Impact” of the proposed research on policy or health practice.  A separate component will be used for the Research Plan itself (see below Section 5.5).

Line item 8, Bibliography and References, was previously section G., Literature Cited, of the PHS 398.

Line items 9 and 10, Facilities and Other Resources and Equipment Resources, are equivalent to PHS 398 Resources Format Page.

Line 11, there are no other attachments to upload for this announcement.

Research & Related Senior/Key Person -- Section 4.5

The dissertation candidate, who must be matriculated in an accredited doctoral program, will be the designated PD/PI.  The mentor for the PD/PI should be listed as a key person.  Other key persons are the other members of the dissertation committee, as well as any other consultants involved in the research project.  Attach a biographical sketch for the PD/PI, mentor, and all other key personnel.  It is strongly encouraged that the doctoral dissertation committee include recognized health services researchers with appropriate interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary expertise necessary to fully support the research activities.

Research & Related Budget – Sections 4.6-4.8

AHRQ does not accept modular budgets.  Applicants need to complete Section 4.6, R&R Budget Component.

For Section 4.7, applicants need to complete Section A.  The Senior/Key Person is the applicant (the person completing the dissertation).  Since no other personnel are eligible to receive financial support through the dissertation grant, Section B does not need to be completed.

Include equipment and travel costs in Sections C and D, as requested.  Do not complete Section E related to participant/trainee support costs.  As noted below, tuition remission and matriculation fees are not allowable. Other direct costs such as health insurance should be included under Section F, along with costs for materials, supplies, and ADP/computer services.

The section 4.8 does not pertain to dissertation grant budgets.      

Allowable Costs:Total allowable direct costs include: stipend/salary compensation up to the current fiscal year NRSA predoctoral stipend level (in FY 2006 this is $20,772, see https://grants.nih.gov/training/nrsa.htm#policy), and up to $15,000 for other expenses, including travel to one scientific meeting.  Total direct costs may not exceed $35,000. The additional amount may be used to cover health insurance for self and family members, as well as research costs of the dissertation.  Travel costs included as part of additional expenses may not exceed $1,500.  General purpose equipment items, such as personal computers, need to be separately listed and estimated under equipment costs (even if costing less than $5,000). The applicant must provide justification for each budget item requested in the detailed budget section for the total period of support being requested. Computer-related purchases need to be fully justified as not being readily available to the student for the conduct of the research.

Unallowable Costs:  Specific costs not allowed on dissertation research grants are tuition, matriculation fees, alterations/renovations, space rental, contracting or consortium costs, dissertation defense or deposit fees, membership fees and costs associated with faculty/advisor mentor supervision. This listing is not exclusive, and the applicant institutions should contact AHRQ staff regarding any other cost item being considered.  

Level of Effort:  Although level of effort is reported in terms of months, it is expected that students will devote 100 percent time and effort (based on 40 hours per week) on the dissertation for a minimum of nine months beginning at the time of award.  The time of award should be estimated to begin no less than five months from the submission date.  Receipt of additional compensation (e.g., pay) for performance of work that is distinctly separate from the actual work involved in the conduct of the dissertation is allowable, but cannot exceed a paid level of effort greater than 20 hours per week.

Facilities and Administrative Costs: (i.e., overhead or indirect costs) are limited to eight percent of approved direct costs.

PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement – Section 5-15

For section 5.4, Modular Budget Component, should not be submitted to AHRQ.  AHRQ does not accept modular budgets.

For section 5.5, Research Plan Component, must be completed.  If the application is a resubmission, Item 1 (Introduction to Application) must be completed, as described in the instructions. However, this section must be limited to one page.

Items 2-5 (Research Plan Attachments) must not exceed 10 pages.  Note that this section will be called “Research Plan” in the system-generated Table of Contents.  Part of the research plan should describe any potential outcomes, products and/or impact of the proposed research on policy or practice, as well as dissemination plans, which involve traditional academic as well as nontraditional means of communicating relevant research findings to policymakers or health care delivery personnel. A clear description of the unique contribution of this effort must be included, especially if the research builds upon ongoing or previously conducted work by the principal investigator, or other dissertation committee member/faculty.

For sections 6-10, Human Subjects Sections, must be completed if the proposed research involves any contact with or data on humans (e.g., patients, providers, administrators), including data obtained from secondary publicly or privately available data sources.  These sections do not count toward the 10-page limitation.  AHRQ does not require completion of item 8, Targeted/Planned Enrollment Table. 

For sections 11-14, Other Research Plan Sections, need to be completed, as appropriate.  For Section 13, Letters of Support, the following two letters are required (NOTE: these differ in content from the optional Cover Letter – see SF 424 (R&R) instructions on the Cover Letter Component):

  • A letter from the faculty committee or the University official directly responsible for supervising the dissertation research must be submitted with the grant application.  The letter should specifically address the potential of the candidate, as well as the qualifications and experience of the candidate to conduct the study as proposed, both in terms of content and methodological expertise gained from coursework.  In addition, the letter must certify that the dissertation grant application reflects the approved work to be conducted by the applicant, and that the applicant has completed all other necessary requirements for completion of the doctorate degree, other than the dissertation proposal defense.  Certification that the proposal defense had been successfully completed will be required prior to awarding the application.  Acknowledgement of the existence of sufficient institutional infrastructure support for the candidate should also be included in the faculty letter, including but not limited to items such as office space, computer access, mentoring plan, etc.  The mentorship description should clearly note the frequency of meetings as well as content and methodological support to be provided.  The letter should also indicate that a collaborative process was established between the applicant and advisors in the development and review of this dissertation grant application.
  • A letter from the applicant must be submitted with the grant application.  The letter should discuss career goals, background and interest in health services research, the anticipated manner in which the proposed dissertation will contribute to career goals, and the unique relevance of the proposed dissertation to AHRQ.

For section 15, Appendix, needs to be completed.The only acceptable appendix materials are (a) a required copy of the official transcript; and (b) copies of any survey instrument(s) to be used in the proposed research.

3. Submission Dates and Times

Applications must be received by the receipt dates below.

3.A. Submission, Review and Anticipated Start Dates

Opening Date:  March 10, 2006  (Earliest date an application may be submitted to Grants.gov)
ApplicationSubmission Dates(s): April 10, August 10, December 10, annually until April 10, 2007, then Standard dates apply, please see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm.
Peer Review Date(s): within 3 months of submission
Earliest Anticipated Start Date: within 5 months of submission

3.A.1. Letter of Intent

A letter of intent is not required for this FOA.

3.B. Sending an Application to AHRQ

To submit an application in response to this FOA, applicants should access this FOA via http://www.grants.gov/Apply and follow steps 1-4. Note: Applications must only be submitted electronically. 
PAPER APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.

Two steps are required for on time submission:

1) The application must be submitted to Grants.gov by the submission date (see “Key Dates” above).

2) Applicants must complete a verification step in the NIH eRA Commons within two business days of notification of the NIH validation. Note: Since email can be unreliable, it is the responsibility of the applicant to periodically check on their application status in the NIH Commons.

3.C. Application Processing

Applications may be submitted to Grants.gov on or after March 10, 2006 (i.e., the Open Date on Grants.gov) and must be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. local time (of the applicant institution/organization) on the application submission dates described in Section IV.3.A. If an application is not received by that date, the application may be delayed in the review process or not reviewed.

Upon receipt, applications will be transferred from Grants.gov to the NIH Electronic Research Administration process for validation. Both the PD/PI and the Signing Official for the organization must verify the submission via Commons within 2 business days of notification of the NIH validation.

Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness by the Center for Scientific Review, NIH. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

The NIH will not accept any application in response to this FOA that is essentially the same as one currently pending initial merit review unless the applicant withdraws the pending application. The NIH will not accept any application that is essentially the same as one already reviewed. This does not preclude the submission of an application already reviewed with substantial changes, but such application must include an “Introduction” addressing the previous critique. Note such an application is considered a "resubmission" for the SF424 (R&R).

There will be an acknowledgement of receipt of applications from Grants.gov and the Commons. Information related to the assignment of an application to the Scientific Review Group is also in the Commons.

The AHRQ will not accept any application in response to this FOA that is essentially the same as one currently pending initial merit review by any component of the US Department of Health and Human Services, unless the applicant withdraws the pending application. The AHRQ will not accept any application that is essentially the same as one already reviewed. This does not preclude the submission of an application already reviewed with substantial changes, but such application must include an Introduction addressing the previous critique. Note such an application is considered a "resubmission" for the SF 424 (R&R).

Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of human subjects is not required prior to peer review of an AHRQ application. The “AHRQ Revised Policy for IRB Review of Human Subjects Protocols in Grant Applications” was published in the NIH Guide on September 27, 2000. (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not-hs-00-003.html).

The FOA is also available on AHRQ's Web site http://www.ahrq.gov/  (see Funding Opportunities).

4. Intergovernmental Review

This program is not subject to the intergovernmental review requirements of Executive Order 12372 or Health Systems Agency review.

5. Funding Restrictions

All AHRQ awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the PHS Grants Policy Statement.  The Grants Policy Statement can be found at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/gps/index.html (see also Section VI.3 Reporting).

6. Other Submission Requirements

Priority Populations

The Healthcare Research and Quality Act of 1999 (See http://www.ahrq.gov/hrqa99a.htm) reauthorized the Agency and directed AHRQ, in carrying out its mission, to conduct and support research and evaluations, and to support demonstration projects, with respect to the delivery of health care in inner-city and rural areas (including frontier areas); and health care for priority populations, which include low income groups; minority groups; women; children; the elderly; and individuals with special health care needs, including individuals with disabilities and individuals who need chronic care or end-of-life health care.  To implement this statutory mandate, AHRQ published a Notice in the NIH Guide on February 28, 2003, establishing a new Agency policy on the Inclusion of Priority Populations in health services research (see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-HS-03-010.html). Applicants under this FOA should address the requirements of including priority populations as specified in the Notice. 

Publication Transmittal: General AHRQ Requirements

In keeping with the Agency's efforts to translate the results of AHRQ-funded research into practice and policy, grantees are to inform the AHRQ Office of Communications and Knowledge Transfer (OCKT) when articles from their AHRQ supported activities are accepted for publication in the professional literature. Grantees should also discuss any ideas about other dissemination and marketing efforts with OCKT staff. The goal is to ensure that efforts to disseminate research findings are coordinated with other Agency activities to maximize awareness and application of the research by potential users, including clinicians, patients, health care systems and purchasers and policymakers. This is critical when outreach to the general and trade press is involved. Contact with the media will take place in close coordination with OCKT and the press offices of the grantee's institutions. In cases when products are created (such as annual or final reports, Web-based tools, CD-ROMs), grantees will be asked to submit to OCKT a brief plan describing how the product will be publicized. An OCKT staff person will be assigned to each product and will coordinate the implementation of the plan, especially issues related to printing and electronic dissemination, and outreach to the media.

Assessment of AHRQ Grant Programs

In carrying out its stewardship of research programs, the AHRQ may request information essential to an assessment of the effectiveness of Agency research programs. Accordingly, grant recipients are hereby notified that they may be contacted after the completion of awards for periodic updates on publications resulting from AHRQ grant awards, and other information helpful in evaluating the impact of AHRQ-sponsored research.

AHRQ expects grant recipients to keep the Agency informed of publications as well as the known uses and impact of their Agency-sponsored research. Applicants are to agree to notify AHRQ immediately when a manuscript based on research supported by the grant is accepted for publication, and to provide the expected date of publication as soon as it is known, regardless of whether or not the grant award is still active.

Specific Instructions for Modular Grant applications.

AHRQ is not using the Modular Grant Application and Award Process. Applicants for funding from AHRQ should ignore application instructions concerning the Modular Grant Application and Award Process, and prepare applications using instructions for the Research and Related Budget Components of the SF 424 (R&R). Applications submitted in the Modular format will be returned without review.

Plan for Sharing Research Data

The precise content of the data-sharing plan will vary, depending on the data being collected and how the investigator is planning to share the data. Applicants who are planning to share data may wish to describe briefly the expected schedule for data sharing, the format of the final dataset, the documentation to be provided, whether or not any analytic tools also will be provided, whether or not a data-sharing agreement will be required and, if so, a brief description of such an agreement (including the criteria for deciding who can receive the data and whether or not any conditions will be placed on their use), and the mode of data sharing (e.g., under their own auspices by mailing a disk or posting data on their institutional or personal website, through a data archive or enclave). Investigators choosing to share under their own auspices may wish to enter into a data-sharing agreement. References to data sharing may also be appropriate in other sections of the application.

All applicants must include a plan for sharing research data in their application. The data sharing policy is available at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/data_sharing. All investigators responding to this funding opportunity should include a description of how final research data will be shared, or explain why data sharing is not possible.

The reasonableness of the data sharing plan or the rationale for not sharing research data will be assessed by the reviewers. However, reviewers will not factor the proposed data sharing plan into the determination of scientific merit or the priority score.

Section V. Application Review Information

1. Criteria (Update: Enhanced review criteria have been issued for the evaluation of research applications received for potential FY2010 funding and thereafter - see NOT-OD-09-025).

Administrative Criteria: Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed by AHRQ for completeness and responsiveness. Merit Review Criteria are described in Section V.2 below.

2. Review and Selection Process

Applications that are complete and responsive to the FOA will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by an appropriate peer review group convened in accordance with standard AHRQ peer review procedures. Incomplete and/or non-responsive applications or applications not following instructions given in this FOA will be returned to the applicant without further consideration.

As part of the merit review, all applications will:

  • Undergo a selection process in which only those applications deemed to have the highest scientific merit will be discussed and assigned a composite score.
  • Receive a written critique

Applications submitted in response to this FOA will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

  • Technical merit of the proposed dissertation application and applicant potential as determined by peer review
  • Availability of funds
  • Relevance to program priorities
  • Potential impact of findings on policy and/or practice

Review Criteria

Reviewers will be asked to balance the technical merit of the grant application with strong emphasis placed on their assessment of the applicant's potential as a future health services researcher, as reflected in accompanying letters, the quality and relevance of the written proposal, the caliber of the infrastructure to provide necessary guidance and support to the student, the dissertation chair or faculty advisor’s evaluation of the student, faculty biosketches, and background of the dissertation committee members. 

The scientific review group will address and consider each of the criteria listed below in assigning an application=s overall composite score. Specific review criteria will include:

(1)   SIGNIFICANCE/IMPACT:  Does your study address an important problem from a scientific and/or translational perspective? If the aims of the application are achieved, how do they advance scientific knowledge or how usable are they to decision makers or consumers?  What will be the effect of these studies on the concepts or methods that drive this field?

(2)   APPROACH:  Are the conceptual framework, design, methods, and analyses adequately developed, well integrated, and appropriate to the aims of the project?  Do you acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative tactics?

(3)   INNOVATION:  Does your project employ original concepts, approaches or methods? Are the aims original and innovative?  Does your project challenge existing paradigms or develop new methodologies or technologies?

(4)   INVESTIGATOR/MENTORING: Is the student-investigator appropriately trained and well suited to carry out this work?  Is the proposed work appropriate to the mentor(s)’ experience and the quality of the dissertation award application?  Are the mentors appropriately qualified to provide guidance as needed?  Have the mentors indicated that they will commit sufficient time and attention to the student?  Is evidence of strong mentoring seen in the quality of the dissertation application?  Does the student-investigator hold promise to be a contributor to the field of health services research, as determined by his/her career plans, mentor’(s)’ written assessments, the topic of the dissertation? 

(5)   ENVIRONMENT:  Does the scientific environment in which the student’s work will be done contribute to the probability of success?  Do the proposed experiments take advantage of unique features of the scientific environment or employ useful collaborative arrangements?  Is there evidence of institutional support in the form of adequate office, computer, methodological, and statistical support?

(6)   BUDGET:  Is the requested budget and proposed period of support reasonable in relation to the planned research and what has been accomplished to date?

2.A. Additional Review Criteria:

In addition to the above criteria, the following items will continue to be considered in the determination of scientific merit and the priority score:

Dissemination Plans:   Does the applicant describe plans to disseminate the results of the dissertation research?   Do these plans include dissemination strategies which avail policymakers, consumers, providers or other users of the results, if appropriate?    

Protection of Human Subjects from Research Risk: The involvement of human subjects and protections from research risk relating to their participation in the proposed research will be assessed (see item 6 of the Research Plan component of the SF 424 (R&R).

Inclusion: The adequacy of plans to address the needs of genders, racial and ethnic groups (and subgroups), and children as appropriate for the aims of the project.  Adequacy of attention to other populations of special priority to AHRQ (see discussion on Priority Populations in the section on Special Requirements, above, and Inclusion Criteria included in the section on Required Federal Citations, below).   

2.B. Additional Review Considerations

Not Applicable.

2. C. Sharing Research Data

Data Confidentiality

Pursuant to section 934(c) of the Public Health Service Act (42 USC 299c- 3(c)), information obtained in the course of any AHRQ supported-study that identifies an individual or entity must be treated as confidential in accordance with any explicit or implicit promises made regarding the possible uses and disclosures of such data. There are now civil monetary penalties for violation of this confidentiality statute [42 U.S.C.299c-3(d)). In the Human Subjects section of the application, applicants must describe procedures for ensuring the confidentiality of the identifying information to be collected. The description of the procedures should include a discussion of who will be permitted access to the information, both raw data and machine readable files, and how personal identifiers and other identifying or identifiable data will be restricted and safeguarded. Identifiable patient health information collected by grantees under this FOA will also be obtained and managed in accordance with 42 CFR Parts 160 and 164, a federal Privacy Rule developed by the Department of Health and Human Services pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).  These regulations serve to limit the disclosure of personally identifiable patient information by covered entities and define when and how such information can be disclosed e.g., to researchers. Thus, for example, health care plans will require either patient authorization of disclosures of identifiable information to be made to researchers or waivers of such authorizations obtained from an IRB or Privacy Board (defined in the regulations) in order that any identifiable health information will be appropriately safeguarded by the investigators. The HHS Office of Civil Rights is the enforcement body for this regulation. Additional information about the regulations, their implementation, and alternative methods of permissible disclosures to researchers (limited data sets with data use agreements, de-identified data sets, data about deceased persons, and data use to develop protocols) can be obtained from: http://www.aspe.hhs.gov/admnsimp/ or http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa/. These regulations are in addition to those privacy protections described in human subjects protections regulations 45 CFR 46, also known as the Common Rule.

The awardee should ensure that computer systems containing confidential data have a level and scope of security that equals or exceeds that established by the HIPAA Security Rules if applicable, (see HIPAA websites in prior paragraph) and that established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in OMB Circular No. A-130, Appendix III - Security of Federal Automated Information Systems. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published several implementation guides for this circular. They are: An Introduction to Computer Security: The NIST Handbook; Generally Accepted Principals and Practices for Securing Information Technology Systems; and Guide for Developing Security Plans for Information Technology Systems. The circular and guides are available on the web at http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/800-12/. The applicability and intended means of applying these confidentiality and security standards to subcontractors and vendors, if any, should be addressed in the application.

2.D. Sharing Research Resources

Rights in Data

AHRQ grantees may copyright, unless otherwise provided in grant awards, or seek patents, as appropriate, for final and interim products and materials including, but not limited to, methodological tools, measures, software with documentation, literature searches, and analyses, which are developed in whole or in part with AHRQ funds. Such copyrights and patents are subject to a worldwide irrevocable Federal government license to use and permit others to use these products and materials for government purposes. In accordance with its legislative dissemination mandate, AHRQ purposes may include, subject to statutory confidentiality protections, making project materials, databases, results, and algorithms available for verification or replication by other researchers; and subject to AHRQ budget constraints, final products may be made available to the health care community and the public by AHRQ or its agents, if such distribution would significantly increase access to a product and thereby produce substantial or valuable public health benefits. Ordinarily, to accomplish distribution, AHRQ publicizes research findings but relies on grantees to publish research results in peer-reviewed journals and to market grant-supported products. The AHRQ's Office of Communications and Knowledge Transfer (OCKT) wishes to be consulted in advance of publication in order to coordinate these issuances with other AHRQ dissemination activities.  Important legal rights and requirements applicable to AHRQ grantees are set out or referenced in the AHRQ's grants regulation at 42 CFR Part 67, Subpart A (Available in libraries and from the GPO's website http://www.gpoaccess.gov/cfr/index.html).

3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

Generally, applicants should anticipate a minimum of five month timeframe from application submission date to the funding decision.

Section VI. Award Administration Information

1. Award Notices

If an award is to be made, a formal notification in the form of a Notice of Grant Award (NGA) will be provided to the applicant organization. The notice of grant award signed by the grants management officer is the authorizing document.

Selection of an application for award is not an authorization to begin performance. Preaward costs are not allowable.  Notification will be made electronically to the designated financial and grants management official, with a copy sent to the designated program contact, both noted below.

All of the information included in a paper NGA is included in an E-NGA.  AHRQ strongly encourages grantees to take the steps necessary to establish a generic and stable e-mail address to allow the receipt of E-NGAs.  Detailed instructions to obtain E-NGAs may be found at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not98-129.html.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

All AHRQ grant and cooperative agreement awards are subject to the terms and conditions of the Public Health Service (PHS) Grants Policy Statement as part of the notice of grant award, found at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/gps/index.html. For terms of the award, see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/gps/5award.htm#terms, and see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/gps/5award.htm#fund for the award and funding process.

A Principal Investigator who discontinues or suspends a project during the grant period must inform the AHRQ program staff immediately in writing. AHRQ may suspend or terminate the grant as requested by the Principal Investigator or on its own initiative.

The dissertation award terminates once the requirements for the doctoral degree are met.  Should the award terminate before the reflected project period end date, submit to the AHRQ a letter, counter-signed by an administrative official, indicating the expected end date.  Unexpended funds are to be reported on the financial status report (FSR) and returned to the AHRQ within 90 days of the expiration date.

3. Reporting

Closeout Reporting Requirements

  • The final Financial Status Report submitted to this office must agree with the final expenditures reported on the PMS 272 to the Payment Management System. Use Standard Form 269 long form. It is available online at: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/fsr_sf269_long.pdf
  • General program income subject to the additional costs alternative shall be reported on lines 10r and 10s, as appropriate, of the financial status report (FSR 269 long form). Refer to 45 CFR part 74 & 74.24 for information concerning program income.
  • The Final Progress Report is needed to describe the results of the research funded by the Agency. It will be made available to the public, and, therefore, should not include any copyrighted, private, or proprietary information.
  • The Final Progress Report is subject to a 20 page limit (minimum of 4 pages). Reports exceeding 20 pages will not be accepted.
  • For further details on the requirements of the Final Progress Report, refer to the terms and conditions of the Notice of Grant Award and contact your project officer.

The AHRQ Grant Final Report Template is available online at http://ahrq.gov/fund/reptemp.htm

Section VII. Agency Contacts

We encourage your inquiries concerning this FOA and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants.  Inquiries may fall into the following areas: application process, programmatic, scientific/research, peer review, data sources, financial or grants management issues, and publication and/or communication issues.

Direct your questions regarding programmatic issues, including information on the inclusion of priority populations in study populations to:

Brenda A. Harding, MA
Division of Research Education
Office of Extramural Research, Education and Priority Populations
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
540 Gaither Road
Rockville, MD  20850                                                         
Telephone:  (301) 427-1527
FAX: (301) 427-1562
Email: bharding@ahrq.gov

Direct your questions about peer review issues to:

Yvette Davis, VMD, MPH
Division of Scientific Review
Office of Extramural Research, Education and Priority Populations
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
540 Gaither Road
Rockville, MD  20850                                                         
Telephone:  (301) 427-1551
FAX: (301) 427-1562
Email: ydavis@ahrq.gov

Direct your questions about AHRQ data sources to:

Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) Household Component
Doris Lefkowitz, Ph.D.
Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends
Phone: (301) 427-1477
E-Mail: DLefkowi@ahrq.gov

Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) Nursing Home Component

Jeffrey Rhoades, Ph.D.
Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends
Phone: (301) 427-1471
E-Mail: JRhoades@ahrq.gov

Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP)

HCUP User Support
Phone: 1-866-290-HCUP (4287)
E-Mail: hcup@ahrq.gov

Direct your questions about financial or grants management matters to:

Alice Sobsey
Grants Management Specialist
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
540 Gaither Road
Rockville, MD  20850
Telephone: 301) 427-1457
FAX: (301) 427-1462
Email: asobsey@ahrq.gov

Direct your questions about communication issues and planned dissemination and/or publication of research findings to:

Barbara Kass
Office of Communications and Knowledge Transfer
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
540 Gaither Road
Rockville, MD  20850
Telephone: (301) 427-1261
Email: bkass@ahrq.gov

Section VIII. Other Information

Required Federal Citations

Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children in Research Study Populations:

Women and members of minority groups are included in all AHRQ-supported or AHRQ–assisted research projects involving human subjects, unless a clear and compelling rationale and justification are provided that inclusion is inappropriate with respect to the health of the subjects or the purpose of the research.

All investigators proposing research involving human subjects should read the UPDATED "NIH Guidelines on the Inclusion of Women and Minorities as Subjects in Clinical Research," published in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts on August 2, 2000 (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not-od-00-048.html). A complete copy of the updated Guidelines is available at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/women_min/guidelines_update.htm. To the extent possible, AHRQ requires adherence to these NIH Guidelines.

Investigators may obtain copies from the above sources or from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse, listed under INQUIRIES, or from the NIH Guide Web site https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/index.html. AHRQ Program staff may also provide additional information concerning these policies (see INQUIRIES).

AHRQ also encourages investigators to consider including children in study populations, as appropriate.

Access to Research Data through the Freedom of Information Act:

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-110 has been revised to provide access to research data through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) under some circumstances. Data that are (1) first produced in a project that is supported in whole or in part with Federal funds and (2) cited publicly and officially by a Federal agency in support of an action that has the force and effect of law (i.e., a regulation) may be accessed through FOIA. If no Federal act is taken, having the force and effect of law, in reliance upon an AHRQ-supported research project, the underlying data are not subject to this disclosure requirement. Furthermore, even if a Federal regulation action is taken in reliance on AHRQ-supported data under FOIA, 5 USC 552(b), disclosure of statutorily protected confidential identifiable data from such study is exempted from disclosure under "the (b) (3) exemption." It is important for applicants to understand the scope of this requirement and its limited potential impact on data collected with AHRQ support. Proprietary data might also be exempted from FOIA disclosure requirements under "the (b) (4) exemption", for example, if it constituted trade secrets or commercial information collected. NIH has provided general related guidance at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/a110/a110_guidance_dec1999.htm which does not include discussion of the exception applicable to confidential identifiable data collected under AHRQ's authorities.

Should applicants wish to place data collected under this FOA in a public archive, which can provide protections for the data (e.g., as required by the confidentiality statute applicable to AHRQ supported projects, 42 U.S.C. 299c-3(c)) and manage the distribution of non-identifiable data for an indefinite period of time, they may. The application should include a description of any archiving plan in the study design and include information about this in the budget justification section of the application. In addition, applicants should consider how to structure informed consent statements or other human subject protection procedures to permit or restrict disclosures of identifiable data, as warranted.

Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information:

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) issued the last modification the "Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information", on August 14, 2002. This regulation was mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 which governs the protection of individually identifiable health information. It is administered and enforced by the DHHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Mandatory compliance with the Privacy Rule (for those classified under the Rule as "covered entities") must have begun by April 14, 2003 (with the exception of small health plans which had an extra year to comply).

Decisions about applicability and implementation of the Privacy Rule reside with covered entities. The OCR website (http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/) provides information on the Privacy Rule, including a complete Regulation Text and a set of decision tools that may be used to determine whether a researcher is a staff of a covered entity. Project Officers will assist grantees in resolving questions about the applicability of HIPAA requirements.

Healthy People 2010:

The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health promotion and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy People 2010," a PHS-led national activity for setting health improvement priorities for the United States. AHRQ encourages applicants to submit grant applications with relevance to the specific objectives of this initiative. Potential applicants may obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2010" at http://www.health.gov/healthypeople.

Authority and Regulations:

This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance at http://www.cfda.gov/, Number 93.226. Awards are made under Title IX of the Public Health Service Act (42 USC 299-299c-7) as amended by P.L. 106-129 (1999). Awards are administered under the PHS Grants Policy Statement and Federal Regulations 42 CFR 67, Subpart A, and 45 CFR Parts 74 or 92.

The PHS strongly encourages all grant recipients to provide a smoke-free workplace and discourage the use of all tobacco products. In addition, Public Law 103-227, the Pro-Children Act of 1994, prohibits smoking in certain facilities (or in some cases, any portion of a facility) in which regular or routine education, library, day care, health care, or early childhood development services are provided to children. This is consistent with the PHS mission to protect and advance the physical and mental health of the American people.

Human Subjects Protection:

Federal regulations 45 CFR 46 require that applications and proposals involving human subjects research must be evaluated with reference to the risks to the subjects, the adequacy of protection against these risks, the potential benefits of the research to the subjects and others, and the importance of the knowledge gained or to be gained (http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/humansubjects/guidance/45cfr46.htm).


Weekly TOC for this Announcement
NIH Funding Opportunities and Notices


Office of Extramural
Research (OER)
 National Institutes of Health (NIH)
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
 Department of Health
and Human Services (HHS)
 


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Part I Overview Information

Department of Health and Human Services

Participating Organizations
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), (http://www.ahrq.gov)

Components of Participating Organizations
Office of Extramural Research, Education and Priority Populations (OEREP), (http://www.ahrq.gov)

Title:AHRQ Grants for Health Services Research Dissertation Program (R36)

Announcement Type

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is a re-issue of PAR-09-212, which was previously released July 17, 2009.

Update: The following update relating to this announcement has been issued:

  • August 4, 2015 - This PA has been reissued as PA-15-318.
  • February 20, 2014 - See Notice NOT-HS-14-009. Notice of Correction to Section IV. Application and Submission Information 6. Other Submission Requirements.
  • January 31, 2014 - See Notice NOT-OD-14-047. NIH and AHRQ Extend Due Dates for Applications Due Jan 31-Feb 3 to Feb 4.
  • May 30, 2013 (NOT-OD-13-074) - NIH to Require Use of Updated Electronic Application Forms for Due Dates on or after September 25, 2013. Forms-C applications are required for due dates on or after September 25, 2013.

Program Announcement (PA) Number: PA-12-256

NOTICE: Applications submitted in response to this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for Federal assistance must be submitted electronically through Grants.gov (http://www.grants.gov) using the SF424 Research and Related (R&R) forms and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

APPLICATIONS MAY NOT BE SUBMITTED IN PAPER FORMAT.

This FOA must be read in conjunction with the application guidelines included with this announcement in Grants.gov/Apply for Grants (hereafter called Grants.gov/Apply).

A registration process is necessary before submission and applicants are highly encouraged to start the process at least four (4) weeks prior to the grant submission date. See Section IV.

Note regarding applicability of NIH Grants Polices and related Guidance:  The policies, guidelines, terms and conditions stated in this FOA are not identical to those used by the NIH.  This FOA will reference NIH grants policies and guidance where these issuances are applicable or relevant to submissions.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number(s)
93.226

Key Dates
Release/Posted Date: August 7, 2012
Opening Date:  October 1, 2012
NOTE: On-time submission requires that applications be successfully submitted to Grants.gov no later than 5:00 p.m. local time (of the applicant institution/organization). 
Application Due Date(s):  (Extended to February 4, 2014 per NOT-OD-14-047 , Originally February 1), May 1, August 1, and November 1 annually, beginning November 1, 2012
Peer Review Date(s): Generally four months after receipt date
Earliest Anticipated Start Date(s):Generally four months after peer review date
Additional Information to Be Available Date (Activation Date):Not Applicable
Expiration Date:August 2, 2015

Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not Applicable

Additional Overview Content

Executive Summary

The overall goal of the AHRQ Health Services Research Dissertation Grant Program is to help ensure that a diverse pool of highly trained health services researchers is available in adequate numbers and appropriate research areas to address the research mission and priorities of AHRQ.  This program is authorized by 42 U.S.C. 299a(b), which provides that AHRQ may provide training grants in the field of health services research.  The mission of AHRQ is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans in the United States.

  • Purpose: This announcement represents the continuation of an AHRQ program that provides support to individuals who are conducting research undertaken as part of an accredited academic program to qualify for a research doctorate degree.
  • Mechanism of Support: This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) utilizes the dissertation research grant mechanism (R36).
  • Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards: The total amount to be awarded and the number of awards will depend upon the quality and merit of applications received and the availability of funds.
  • Budget and Project Period: The direct costs awarded to a grant under this FOA will not exceed $40,000 for the entire project period, which must be a minimum of nine months and may not to exceed 17 months from the time of award.  Individuals supported under National Research Service Award (NRSA) mechanisms, including T32, F31 and F32 research training awards, are eligible to apply for a dissertation award.  However, such individuals may only request up to $20,000 direct costs for additional, non-salary expenses, and no funds may be requested for salary support.  In such instances, the application must include a statement describing the expenses requested under the dissertation grant application which are not supported through the active training grant or fellowship. The proposed start date be at least 4 months after the application submission deadline
  • Application Research Strategy Length:The R36 application Research Strategy component of the PHS398 (Items 2-5) may not exceed 6 pages, including tables, graphs, figures, diagrams, and charts. Specific Aims is limited to 1 page. This does NOT include the Plan for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research, which may not exceed one page.
  • Eligible Institutions/Organizations: For this FOA, AHRQ will make grants only to domestic non-profit organizations. The applicant organization must be the doctoral granting institution at which the student is registered and matriculating.  Individuals cannot apply to AHRQ directly. Further details are available in Section III.
  • Eligible Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI). Also referred to as the ‘Candidate’, individuals with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research and career development activities are invited to work with their mentor and sponsoring institution to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds are always encouraged to apply for AHRQ support.  Candidates must be U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals, or permanent residents by the time the award is issued.  Candidates must be full-time students in good standing, who are enrolled in an accredited research doctoral program in such fields as the social or behavioral sciences, mathematics, engineering, health services research, nursing, social sciences, epidemiology, biostatistics, health policy, and health informatics.  Candidates with more than part-time employment (defined as greater than twenty hours per week), in addition to the requirements of their current, full-time academic student appointments, are not eligible to apply for this grant mechanism.  Students must complete all non-dissertation requirements for their doctoral degree by the time of submission of the application (except in cases where a clinical internship is required to follow the dissertation phase).  Approval of the dissertation proposal by the doctoral committee is required before the grant award is issued. 
  • Number of PDs/PIs: Only one PD/PI may be designated on the application and this individual must be the student seeking dissertation support.
  • Number of Applications: Candidates may only have one individual dissertation grant application pending peer review within the Public Health Service at any time. 
  • Resubmissions: One resubmission is allowed.  A resubmission application must include an Introduction addressing the previous peer review critique (Summary Statement), not to exceed 1 page.  Resubmission applications to this FOA have the same due dates as new applications.
  • Renewals:  Awards are not renewable.
  • Application Materials: See Section IV for application materials.
  • General Information: For general information on SF424 (R&R) Application and Electronic Submission, see these Web sites:
  • Hearing Impaired: Telecommunications for the hearing impaired are available at: TTY 301-451-5936. 

While grant awards are made to institutions rather than individuals, this announcement and its instructions are written to inform individual researchers of this funding opportunity and facilitate the submission of grant applications by their organizations.

Required Application Instructions


Applicants must complete the application for individual research grants (R36), not the Individual Fellowship Application (e.g., NRSA F31, F32).  It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide except where instructed to do otherwise (in this FOA or in a Notice from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts).  Conformance to all requirements (both in the Application Guide and the FOA) is required and strictly enforced.  Applicants must read and follow all application instructions in the Application Guide as well as any program-specific instructions noted in Section IV.  When the program-specific instructions deviate from those in the Application Guide, follow the program-specific instructions.  Applications that do not comply with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.

Table of Contents

Part I Overview Information

Part II Full Text of Announcement

Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
1. Research Objectives

Section II. Award Information
1. Mechanism of Support
2. Funds Available

Section III. Eligibility Information
1. Eligible Applicants
    A. Eligible Institutions
    B. Eligible Individuals
2. Cost Sharing or Matching
3. Other-Special Eligibility Criteria

Section IV. Application and Submission Information
1. Request Application Information
2. Content and Form of Application Submission
3. Submission Dates and Times
    3.A. Submission, Review, and Anticipated Start Dates
    3.A.1. Letter of Intent
3.B. Submitting an Application Electronically to AHRQ
    C. Application Processing   
4. Intergovernmental Review
5. Funding Restrictions
6. Other Submission Requirements

Section V. Application Review Information
1. Criteria
2. Review and Selection Process
2.A. Additional Review Criteria
2.B. Additional Review Considerations
2.C. Resource Sharing Plan(s)
3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

Section VI. Award Administration Information
1. Award Notices
2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
3. Reporting

Section VII. Agency Contacts
1. Scientific/Research Contact(s)
2. Peer Review Contact(s)
3. Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Section VIII. Other Information - Required Federal Citations

Part II - Full Text of Announcement

Section I. Funding Opportunity Description

1. Research Objectives

Applications for dissertation research grants must be responsive to AHRQ’s mission, which is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans.  The research sponsored and conducted by the Agency develops and presents scientific evidence regarding all aspects of health care in the United States.  It addresses issues of organization, delivery, financing, utilization, patient and provider behavior, outcomes, effectiveness and cost.  It evaluates both clinical services and the system in which these services are provided.  These scientific results improve the evidence base to enable better decisions about health care, including such areas as disease prevention, appropriate use of medical technologies, improving diagnosis and treatment in cost-effective ways, long-term care, and reducing racial and ethnic disparities. 

AHRQ has identified strategic goals as priority research areas.  Applied research applications must address one of these areas.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to focus on topical areas unique to AHRQ, demonstrating how expected results can be used or made available for use to enhance healthcare quality.  Results should be directly relevant to customers, such as providers and practitioners, administrators, payers, consumers, policymakers, and insurers.  The strategic research goals are:

  • Safety/quality – Reduce the risk of harm from health care services by promoting the delivery of appropriate care that achieves the best quality outcomes
  • Efficiency – Achieve wider access to effective health care services and reduce health care costs
  • Effectiveness – Assure that providers and consumers/patients use beneficial and timely health care information to make informed decision choices.

AHRQ has specific research portfolio areas of interest which include comparative effectiveness/patient-centered outcomes, health information technology (health IT), value, patient safety, prevention and care management, and healthcare innovations.  To learn more about AHRQ’s focus within these portfolios of work, please visit http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/portfolio.htm

Candidates are required to address health services research issues critical to AHRQ priority populations, including: individuals living in inner city and rural (including frontier) areas; low-income and minority groups; women, children, the elderly; and individuals with special health care needs, including those with disabilities and those who need chronic or end-of-life health care. 

Candidates must conduct dissertation projects which focus on health care delivery in the United States. AHRQ will not accept international health care research projects.

This FOA describes the procedures and criteria for the AHRQ dissertation grant program.  It updates and supersedes the AHRQ Grants for Health Services Research Dissertation PAR-09-212, published July 17, 2009.

See Section VIII, Other Information - Required Federal Citations, for policies related to this announcement.

Section II. Award Information

1. Mechanism of Support

 This FOA will use the research dissertation grant (R36) award mechanism.  Candidates will be solely responsible for planning, directing, and executing the proposed project.

AHRQ is not using the Modular Grant Application and Award Process.Applications submitted in modular format will not be reviewed.

2. Funds Available

The direct costs awarded to a grant under this FOA will not exceed $40,000 for the entire project period, which must be a minimum of nine months and may not to exceed 17 months from the time of award.  Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs (i.e., overhead or indirect costs) are limited to 8% of modified total direct costs.

Individuals supported under National Research Service Award (NRSA) mechanisms, including T32, F31 and F32 research training awards, are eligible to apply for a dissertation award.  However, such individuals may only request up to $20,000 direct costs for additional, non-salary expenses; no funds may be requested for salary support.  In such instances, the application must include a statement describing the expenses requested under the dissertation grant application which are not supported through the active training grant or fellowship.  The request for support must also satisfy applicant institutional policies.  Recipients of mentored career development awards are not eligible for dissertation support.

Because the nature and scope of the proposed research will vary from application to application, it is anticipated that the size and duration of each award will also vary. Although the financial plans of AHRQ include support for this program, awards pursuant to this FOA are contingent upon the availability of funds. 

Section III. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants

1.A. Eligible Institutions

You may submit an application(s) if your institution/organization has any of the following characteristics:

  • Public or non-profit private institution, such as a university, college, or a faith-based or community-based organization;

AHRQ’s authorizing legislation does not allow for-profit organizations to be eligible to lead applications under this research mechanism, thus AHRQ will make grants only to non-profit organizations.  Applications submitted by for-profit organizations or foreign institutions will not be reviewed.  Organizations described in section 501(c) 4 of the Internal Revenue Code that engage in lobbying are not eligible.

For dissertation grants, the applicant organization must be an accredited doctoral granting institution at which the student is registered and matriculating.  Individuals cannot apply directly.

HHS grants policy requires that the grant recipient perform a substantive role in the conduct of the planned project or program activity and not merely serve as a conduit of funds to another party or parties. If consortium/contractual activities represent a significant portion of the overall project, the applicant must justify why the applicant organization, rather than the party(s) performing this portion of the overall project, should be the grantee and what substantive role the applicant organization will play. Justification can be provided in the Specific Aims or Research Strategy section of the PHS398 Research Plan Component sections of the SF424 (R&R) application.  There is no budget allocation guideline for determining substantial involvement; determination of substantial involvement is based on a review of the primary project activities for which grant support is provided and the organization(s) that will be performing those activities.

1. B. Eligible Individuals

Any individual at the dissertation stage of training with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as the PD/PI is invited to work with his/her organization to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for AHRQ support. Candidates are eligible to apply for this award provided that they:

  • Are U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals, or permanent residents by the time of the grant award
  • Are full-time students in good standing, who are enrolled in an accredited research doctoral program in such fields as behavioral sciences, health services research, nursing, social sciences, epidemiology, biostatistics, health policy, health informatics, engineering, and mathematics
  • Will have completed all non-dissertation requirements for their doctoral degree by the time of submission of the application, including completion of their qualifying exams.  The only exception allowable will be the completion of required clinical internships that follow completion of the dissertation.
  • Have received approval of the dissertation proposal by the doctoral committee by the time of the grant award

Candidates with more than part-time employment in addition to the requirements of their current, full-time academic student appointments (defined as greater than twenty hours per week), are not eligible to apply for this grant mechanism.

As noted above, individuals supported under National Research Service Award (NRSA) mechanisms, including T32, F31 and F32 research training awards, are eligible to apply for a dissertation award, with funding limitations as described above.  In such instances, the application must include a statement describing the expenses requested under the dissertation grant application which are not supported through the active training grant or fellowship.  The request for support must also satisfy applicant institutional policies.  Recipients of mentored career development awards are not eligible for dissertation support.

2. Cost Sharing or Matching

This program does not require cost sharing for applications in response to this FOA.

3. Other-Special Eligibility Criteria

Number of applications:  AHRQ will not accept any application in response to this FOA that is essentially the same as one currently pending initial merit review by the Public Health Service unless the applicant withdraws the pending application.  This does not preclude the submission of an application already reviewed with substantial changes, but such application must include an “Introduction” addressing the previous critique.  Note such an application is considered a "resubmission" for the SF 424 (R&R).

Resubmissions:  Applicants may submit one resubmission application, but such application must include an Introduction addressing issues raised in the previous critique (Summary Statement).  Resubmissions should follow the submission date schedule noted in Section IV.3.

Renewals:  Renewal applications will not be allowed for this mechanism.

Section IV. Application and Submission Information

To download a SF424 (R&R) Application Package and SF424 (R&R) Application Guide for completing the SF424 (R&R) forms for this FOA, use the “Apply for Grant Electronically” button in this FOA or link to http://www.grants.gov/Apply/ and follow the directions provided on that Web site.

Registration:

Appropriate registrations with Grants.gov and eRA Commons must be completed on or before the due date in order to successfully submit an application.  Several of the steps of the registration process could take four to six weeks. Therefore, applicants should immediately check with their business official to determine whether their organization/institution is already registered with both Grants.gov and the Commons. All registrations must be complete by the submission deadline for the application to be considered “on-time” (see 3.C.1 for more information about on-time submission).

A one-time registration is required for institutions/organizations at both:

PDs/PIs should work with their institutions/organizations to make sure they are registered in the NIH eRA Commons.

Several additional separate actions are required before an applicant can submit an electronic application, as follows:  

1) Organizational/Institutional Registration in Grants.gov/Get Registered

  • Your organization will need to obtain a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number and register with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) as part of the Grants.gov registration process.
  • If your organization does not have a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN), allow for extra time. A valid TIN or EIN is necessary for CCR registration.
  • The CCR also validates the EIN against Internal Revenue Service records, a step that will take an additional one to two business days.
  • Direct questions regarding Grants.gov registration to:
    Grants.gov Customer Support
    Contact Center Phone: 800-518-4726
    Business Hours: M-F 7:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time
    Email support@grants.gov

2) Organizational/Institutional Registration in the eRA Commons

3) Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) Registration in the NIH eRA Commons:  Refer to the NIH eRA Commons System (COM) Users Guide.

  • The individual designated as PD/PI on the application must be registered also in the NIH eRA Commons. 
  • The PD/PI must hold a PD/PI account in the Commons. Applicants should not share a Commons account for both an Authorized Organization Representative/Signing Official (AOR/SO) role and a PD/PI role; however, if they have both a PD/PI role and an NIH Internet Assisted Review (IAR) role, both roles should exist under one Commons account.
  • The PD/PI at the applicant organization must be affiliated with that organization. A PD/PI located at another institution need not be affiliated with the applicant organization, but must be affiliated with their own organization to be able to access the Commons.
  • This registration/affiliation must be done by the AOR/SO or his/her designee who is already registered in the Commons.

Both the PD/PI and AOR/SO need separate accounts in the NIH eRA Commons since both are authorized to view the application image.

Note: The registration process is not sequential.  Applicants should begin the registration processes for both Grants.gov and eRA Commons as soon as their organization has obtained a DUNS number.  Only one DUNS number is required and the same DUNS number must be referenced when completing Grants.gov registration, eRA Commons registration and the SF424 (R&R) forms.

1. Request Application Information
Applicants must download the SF424 (R&R) application forms and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide for this FOA throughGrants.gov/Apply.  Do not use the Individual Fellowship Application.

Note: Only the forms package directly attached to a specific FOA can be used. You will not be able to use any other SF424 (R&R) forms (e.g., sample forms, forms from another FOA), although some of the "Attachment" files may be useable for more than one FOA.

For further assistance, contact GrantsInfo -- Telephone 301-710-0267; Email:GrantsInfo@nih.gov.

Telecommunications for the hearing impaired: TTY 301-451-5936.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

Prepare all applications using the SF424 (R&R) application forms for this FOA throughGrants.gov/Applyand in accordance with the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/424/index.htm).

The SF424 (R&R) Application Guide is critical to submitting a complete and accurate application to AHRQ. Some fields within the SF424 (R&R) application components, although not marked as mandatory, are required by AHRQ (e.g., the “Credential” log-in field of the “Research & Related Senior/Key Person Profile” component must contain the PD/PI’s assigned eRA Commons User ID). Agency-specific instructions for such fields are clearly identified in the Application Guide. For additional information, see “Frequently Asked Questions – Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.”

The SF424 (R&R) application has several components. Some components are required, others are optional. The forms package associated with this FOA in Grants.gov/APPLYincludes all applicable components, required and optional. A completed application in response to this FOA includes the data in the following components:

Required Components:   
SF424 (R&R) (Cover component)
Research & Related Project/Performance Site Locations
Research & Related Other Project Information
Research & Related Senior/Key Person
PHS398 Cover Page Supplement
PHS398 Research Plan
PHS398 Checklist
Research & Related Budget  (See Section IV.6, “Special Instructions,” regarding appropriate required budget component.) 

Optional Components:
PHS398 Cover Letter File
Research & Related Subaward Budget Attachment(s) Form

SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS  

Applications Involving a Single Institution

When a single institution is involved, follow the instructions contained in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

Applications Involving Multiple Institutions 

When multiple institutions are involved, one institution must be designated as the prime institution and funding for the other institution(s) must be requested via a subcontract to be administered by the prime institution. When submitting a detailed budget, the prime institution should submit its budget using the Research & Related Budget component.  All other institutions should have their individual budgets attached separately to the Research & Related Subaward Budget Attachment(s) Form.  See Section 4.8 of the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide for further instruction regarding the use of the subaward budget form. 

3. Submission Dates and Times

3.A. Submission, Review, and Anticipated Start Dates
Opening Date: October 1, 2012
Application Due Date(s):  February 1, May 1, August 1, and November 1 annually, beginning November 1, 2012
Peer Review Date(s): Generally four months after receipt date
Earliest Anticipated Start Date(s):Generally four months after peer review date

3.A.1. Letter of Intent

A letter of intent is not required for this funding opportunity announcement. 

3.B. Submitting an Application Electronically to AHRQ

To submit an application in response to this FOA, applicants should access this FOA via http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/applicants/apply-for-grants.html  and follow Steps 1-4. Note:  Applications must only be submitted electronically.  PAPER APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. 

In order to expedite the review, applicants are requested to notify the AHRQReferral Office by email Gerald.Calderone@ahrq.hhs.govwhen the application has been submitted.  Please include the FOA number and title, PD/PI name, and title of the application.

3.C. Application Processing

Applications must be received on or before the application due date described above (see Section IV.3.A. for all dates).  If an application is received after that date, the application may be delayed in the review process or not reviewed.

Submission to Grants.gov is not the last step.  Applicants must follow their application through to the eRA Commons to check for errors and warnings and view their assembled application.

There will be an acknowledgement of receipt of applications from Grants.gov and the Commons.  The submitting AOR/SO receives the Grants.gov acknowledgments.  The AOR/SO and the PI receive Commons acknowledgments.  Information related to the assignment of an application to a Scientific Review Group is also in the Commons.  Information on the status of an application should be checked by the Principal Investigator in the eRA Commons at: https://commons.era.nih.gov/commons/.

Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness by the Center for Scientific Review.  Incomplete or non-responsive applications will not be reviewed.

Note: Since email can be unreliable, it is the responsibility of the applicant to check periodically on the application status in the Commons.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of human subjects is not required prior to peer review of an application (see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-HS-00-003.html). However, initiation of IRB review, if necessary or applicable, is strongly encouraged to assure timely commencement of research.

Although there is no immediate acknowledgement of the receipt of an application, applicants are generally notified of the review and funding assignment within eight (8) weeks.

4. Intergovernmental Review

This initiative is not subject tointergovernmental review.

5. Funding Restrictions

For efficient grant administration, AHRQ grant administration procedures will be used and conducted in accordance with the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the HHS Grants Policy Statement. The Grants Policy Statement can be found at http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/hhspolicy.htm

AHRQ Dissertation (R36) awards DO NOT allow pre-award costs.

6. Other Submission Requirements

PD/PI Credential (e.g., Agency Login)

AHRQ requires the PD(s)/PI(s) to fill in his/her Commons User ID in the “PROFILE – Project Director/Principal Investigator” section, “Credential” log-in field of the “Research & Related Senior/Key Person Profile” component.

Organizational DUNS

The applicant organization must include its DUNS number in its Organization Profile in the eRA Commons. This DUNS number must match the DUNS number provided at CCR registration with Grants.gov. For additional information, see “Frequently Asked Questions – Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.”

Special Instructions for PHS398 research Plan Component (Section 5.5 of SF424 (R&R) Application)

PHS 398 Research Plan Component Sections

All application instructions outlined in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide are to be followed, incorporating "Just-in-Time" information concepts, and with the following additional requirements:

  • Introduction (required attachment for resubmission and revision application) is limited to one page.
  • Specific Aims is limited to 1 page.
  • Research Strategy, including tables, graphs, figures, diagrams, and charts, is limited to 6 pages.
  • Research Strategy should include the Significance, Innovation, and Approach.

Additional Instructions: In preparing the application, the following instructions are to be used in conjunction with the instructions provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide:

Research Strategy:  Part of the research strategy must describe any potential outcomes, products and/or impact of the proposed dissertation on policy or practice, as well as dissemination plans, which involve traditional academic as well as nontraditional means of communicating relevant research findings to policymakers or health care delivery personnel.  A clear description of the unique contribution of this effort must be included, especially if the research builds upon ongoing or previously conducted work by the principal investigator, or other dissertation committee member/faculty. Note: As described in the SF 424 (R&R), the “Project Summary/Abstract” and “Project Narrativeare separate from the Research Strategy

Letters of Support: Two letters are required. (NOTE: these differ in content from the optional Cover Letter described in the SF424 (R&R) instructions). 

These letters are uploaded where indicated in the “Other Research Plan Sections” of the PHS 398 Research Plan.  Because only one pdf file is allowed for the Letter of Support item in the PHS Research Plan Component, combine these letters with any other optional Letters of Support (below) into one file.  Each letter is limited to a total of two pages.

The required letters are:

  • A letter from the faculty committee or the University official directly responsible for supervising the dissertation research must be submitted with the grant application.  The letter must specifically address the potential of the candidate, as well as the qualifications and experience of the candidate to conduct the study as proposed, both in terms of content and methodological expertise gained from coursework.  In addition, the letter must:
    • certify that the dissertation grant application reflects the planned dissertation work to be conducted by the Candidate;
    • certify that the Candidate has completed all other necessary requirements for completion of the doctorate degree, other than the dissertation proposal defense.  This includes certifying that all coursework required for the completion of the Ph.D. will be completed prior to submission.  (Please note that certification that the proposal defense has been successfully completed will be required prior to AHRQ issuing an award, should the application be selected for funding) 
    • acknowledge the existence of sufficient institutional infrastructure support for the candidate, including but not limited to items such as office space, computer access, mentoring plan, etc. 
    • include a mentorship description that clearly notes the frequency of meetings as well as content and methodological support to be provided. 
    • indicate that a collaborative process was established between the applicant and advisors in the development and review of this dissertation grant application.
  • A letter from the Candidate which must discuss career goals, background and interest in health services research, the anticipated manner in which the proposed dissertation will contribute to career goals, and the unique relevance of the proposed dissertation to AHRQ.

Research & Related Senior/Key Person Profile:  The dissertation candidate, who must be matriculated in an accredited doctoral program, will be the designated PD/PI.  The mentor for the PD/PI must be listed as a key person.  The only other listed key persons are the other members of the dissertation committee. Attach a biographical sketch for the PD/PI, mentor, and all other key personnel.  It is strongly encouraged that the doctoral dissertation committee includes recognized health services researchers with appropriate interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary expertise necessary to fully support the research activities.

Budget:  AHRQ does not accept modular budgets.  The budget component is described further below.

Allowable CostsThe Candidate is the person completing the dissertation.  Stipend/salary compensation can be requested for the Candidate up to the current fiscal year NRSA pre-doctoral stipend level (information for FY 2012 can be found at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-12-033.html).  Salary must be consistent with the established salary structure at the institution if it were using its own funds to support other staff members of equivalent qualifications, rank, and responsibilities at the institution.  Fringe benefits can be requested only if the candidate is employed by the applicant organization.

Salary may not be requested for any personnel other than the Candidate.  Funds may not be requested for consultant costs.

Include equipment, travel, and other expenses costs as appropriate. General purpose equipment items, such as personal computers, must be separately listed and estimated under equipment costs.  Justifiable costs associated with data collection/coding, such as the need for additional data transcription services (other than that provided by the Candidate) for qualitative data, are allowable.  Candidates can request up to $1,500 in travel costs to attend appropriate scientific meetings or conferences focusing on his/her research topic that take place in the United States, Mexico or Canada. The applicant must provide justification for each budget item requested in the detailed budget for the total period of support being requested. In particular, proposed computer-related purchases need to be fully justified in terms of not being readily available to the student for the conduct of the research. 

The only allowable tuition-related costs are those associated with dissertation credits and matriculation fees that are required during the course of the grant period. Tuition related costs should be itemized in the budget.  If requested, health insurance fees should also be listed in the budget, as well as other direct costs associated with completing the dissertation, such as materials, supplies and ADP services.

Unallowable Costs:  Specific costs not allowed on dissertation research grants include:  alterations/renovations, space rental, contracting or consortium costs, consulting costs, dissertation defense or deposit fees, membership fees and costs associated with faculty/advisor mentor supervision. Salary support for individuals, other than the candidate, is not allowable. Computer and statistical consulting support is not allowable.  This list is not all inclusive, and the applicant should contact AHRQ staff regarding any other items being considered for which there are questions regarding whether or not the items are allowable.  

Level of Effort:  The candidate must devote at least 40 hours per week to the dissertation for a minimum of nine months beginning at the time of award.  The requested start date of award must be estimated to begin no less than four months from the submission date.  Receipt of additional compensation (e.g., pay) from other sources for performance of work that is distinctly separate from the actual work involved in the conduct of the dissertation is allowable, but cannot exceed a paid level of effort greater than 20 hours per week.

Facilities and Administrative Costs: (i.e., overhead or indirect costs) are limited to no more than eight percent of modified total direct costs.

Protection of Human Subjects:  A discussion of human subjects protection must be included if the proposed research involves any contact with or data on humans (e.g., patients, providers, administrators); including data obtained from secondary publicly or privately available data sources.  This section does not count toward the 10 page limitation.  If human subjects are involved, the applicant must also check ‘yes’ in the appropriate box described in the ‘Other Project Information Component Section’ of the SF424 R&R application form.

Targeted/Planned Enrollment: AHRQ requires completion of targeted/planned enrollment.

Other Project Information Component:

  • Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research:  A detailed plan for the Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research must be included (see NOT-OD-10-019). The plan must include the rationale, subject matter, appropriateness, format, frequency and duration of instruction.  Applications without plans for training in the responsible conduct of research will be considered incomplete and may be returned without review. No award will be made if an application lacks this component. For additional information, see the US DHHS Office of Extramural Research, NIH on Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research (http://grants1.nih.gov/training/responsibleconduct.htm) or the USDHHS Office of Research Integrity (http://ori.dhhs.gov/). The description of the plan for the Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research is limited to one page and must be placed in the Other Attachments section of the Research & Related Other Project Information, not in the Appendix.
  • Transcripts.  The application must include a transcript of the student's record to date in the doctoral program of which the dissertation is a part. The transcript must be placed in the “Other Attachments” section of the Other Project Information Component, not in the Appendix.

Appendix materials: The only acceptable Appendix materials are copies of any survey instruments or questionnaires, data collection or interview guides used in the proposed research, if applicable.

Do not use the Appendix to circumvent the page limitations of the Research Plan component.  An application that does not comply with the required page limitations may be delayed in the review process and will not undergo review.

Warning: Please be sure that you observe the total cost, project period, and page number limitations specified above for this FOA.  Application processing may be delayed or the application may not be reviewed if it does not comply with these requirements.

Priority Populations

The Healthcare Research and Quality Act of 1999, in amending the Public Health Service Act, directed AHRQ, in carrying out its mission, to conduct and support research and evaluations, and to support demonstration projects, with respect to the delivery of health care in inner-city and rural areas (including frontier areas), and health care for priority populations.  Priority populations include low income groups; minority groups; women; children; the elderly; and individuals with special health care needs, including individuals with disabilities and individuals who need chronic care or end-of-life health care.  This authority is found at 42 USC 299(c).  To implement this statutory mandate, AHRQ published a Notice in the NIH Guide on February 28, 2003, establishing a new Agency policy on the Inclusion of Priority Populations in health services research (see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-HS-03-010.html).  Applicants under this FOA should consider and discuss including priority populations in the research design as specified in this Notice. AHRQ policy also requires that women and members of minority groups be included in all AHRQ-supported research projects involving human subjects, unless a clear and compelling rationale and justification is provided that inclusion is inappropriate with respect to the health of the subjects or the purpose of the research.

Publication Transmittal: General AHRQ Requirements

In keeping with the Agency's efforts to translate the results of AHRQ-funded research into practice and policy, grantees are to inform the AHRQ Office of Communications and Knowledge Transfer (OCKT) when articles from their AHRQ-supported activities are accepted for publication in the professional literature.  Grantees should also discuss any ideas about other dissemination and marketing efforts with OCKT staff.  The goal is to ensure that efforts to disseminate research findings are coordinated with other Agency activities to maximize awareness and application of the research by potential users, including clinicians, patients, health care systems and purchasers and policymakers.  This is critical when outreach to the general and trade press is involved.  Accordingly, contact with the media will take place with close coordination between OCKT and the press offices of the grantee's institutions.  In cases when products are created (such as annual or final reports, Web-based tools, CD-ROMs), grantees will be asked to submit to OCKT a brief plan describing how the product will be publicized.  An OCKT staff person will be assigned to each product and will coordinate the implementation of the plan, especially issues related to printing and electronic dissemination, and outreach to the media.

Assessment of AHRQ Grant Programs

In carrying out its stewardship of research programs, AHRQ may request information essential to an assessment of the effectiveness of Agency research programs.  Accordingly, grant recipients are hereby notified that they may be contacted after the completion of awards for periodic updates on publications resulting from AHRQ grant awards, and other information helpful in evaluating the impact of AHRQ-sponsored research.

AHRQ expects grant recipients to keep the Agency informed of publications, as well as the known uses and impact of their Agency-sponsored research. Applicants must agree to notify AHRQ immediately when a manuscript based on research supported by the grant is accepted for publication, and to provide the expected date of publication as soon as it is known, regardless of whether or not the grant award is still active.

HCUP & MEPS

Applicants are encouraged to make use of AHRQ’S Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) or the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).  HCUP is a family of health care databases and related software tools and products developed through a Federal-State-Industry partnership.  HCUP databases bring together the data collection efforts of State data organizations, hospital associations, private data organizations, and the Federal government to create a national information resource of patient-level health care data.  HCUP databases provide data beginning in 1988 and contain encounter-level information for all payers compiled in a uniform format with privacy protections in place.  HCUP includes three nationwide databases, the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) and the Kids’ Inpatient Database (KID), and the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS), and three types of State databases, the State Inpatient Databases (SID), the State Ambulatory Surgery Databases (SASD), and the State Emergency Department Databases (SEDD).  More information on HCUP can be found at http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/home.jsp.

The MEPS is conducted to provide nationally representative estimates of health care use, expenditures, sources of payment, and insurance coverage for the U.S. civilian, non-institutionalized population.  MEPS is composed of three component surveys: the Household Component (HC), the Medical Provider Component (MPC), and the Insurance Component (IC).  The Household Component is the core survey, and it forms the basis for the MPC sample and part of the IC sample.  The MEPS IC collects data on health insurance plans obtained through employers and unions, including the number and types of private insurance plans offered, employer characteristics, premiums, and contributions by employers and employees.  More information on the MEPS is available at http://www.meps.ahrq.gov.

Use of HCUP and/or MEPS data does not preclude the use of secondary data sources or primary data collection.

Health Literacy

AHRQ encourages applicants to write Informed Consent (IC) and HIPAA

Authorization documents for research to be understandable to all potential research participants, including those with low levels of literacy and limited English proficiency.   AHRQ recommends that IC and Authorization documents be written in accordance with health literacy principles, and that IC and Authorization documents be available in multiple languages if potential research participants include individuals with limited English proficiency. AHRQ also recommends adopting a process to verify potential research participants’ understanding.

IC documents must provide information in language understandable to potential participants (45 CFR 46.116). For covered entities under the Privacy Rule, authorization documents must include core elements and required statements in 45 CFR 164.508(c) and must be written in plain language. The AHRQ Informed Consent and Authorization Toolkit for Minimal Risk Research (http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/informedconsent/) provides sample forms and guidance on adapting them, and also describes an appropriate process for obtaining informed consent and authorization.

Consumer Products

All consumer products produced under an AHRQ-funded grant should be appropriate for the target audience. This includes individuals from diverse cultural, language, and literacy backgrounds.  Audience testing should be part of the development process. AHRQ’s Talking Quality website (http://www.talkingquality.gov/) and AHRQ’s guide and checklist for developers and purchasers of health information (IT) that is designed to be accessed and used by consumers (http://healthit.ahrq.gov and select Health IT Tools) are resources applicants can use to ensure appropriateness of consumer products.

Plan for Sharing Research Data
The precise content of the data-sharing plan will vary, depending on the data being collected and how the investigator is planning to share the data. Applicants who are planning to share data may wish to describe briefly the expected schedule for data sharing; the format of the final dataset; the documentation to be provided; whether or not any analytic tools also will be provided; whether or not a data-sharing agreement will be required and, if so, a brief description of such an agreement (including the criteria for deciding who can receive the data and whether or not any conditions will be placed on their use); and the mode of data sharing (e.g., under its own auspices by mailing a disk or posting data on its institutional or personal website or through a data archive or enclave). Investigators choosing to share under their own auspices may wish to enter into a data-sharing agreement. References to data sharing may also be appropriate in other sections of the application.

The reasonableness of the data sharing plan or the rationale for not sharing research data will be assessed by the reviewers. However, reviewers will not factor the proposed data sharing plan into the determination of scientific merit or the priority score.

Section V. Application Review Information

1. Criteria

Administrative Criteria:  Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed by AHRQ for completeness and responsiveness.

Merit Review Criteria:  Merit Review Criteria, as described below, will be considered in the review process.

2. Review and Selection Process

Applications that are complete and responsive to the FOA will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by an appropriate peer review group convened in accordance with standard AHRQ peer review procedures that are described in 42 CFR Part 67, Subpart A.  Incomplete and/or non-responsive applications or applications not following instructions given in this FOA will not be reviewed. 

As part of the initial merit review, all applications will:

  • Undergo a selection process in which only those applications deemed to have the highest scientific merit will be discussed and assigned a priority score
  • Receive a written critique

The mission of AHRQ is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans. As part of this mission, applications submitted to AHRQ to support health services research dissertations are evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the AHRQ peer review system.  Reviewers will include in their overall and individual assessments both the research project and the potential of the candidate to become an independent health services researcher (based on assessments of such items as: letters submitted, biosketches, etc.)

Overall Impact. Reviewers will provide an overall impact/priority score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood for the project and the candidate to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the research field(s) involved, in consideration of the following five scored review criteria, and additional review criteria (as applicable for the project proposed). 

Scored Review Criteria. Reviewers will consider each of the review criteria below in the determination of scientific and technical merit of the proposed research project and the candidate, and give a separate score for each criterion.  An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact.  For example, a project that by its nature is not innovative may be essential to advance a field.

Significance.  Does the proposed dissertation project address an important problem unique to the mission of AHRQ?  If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, health care delivery, or clinical practice be advanced?  What will be the effect of this research on the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, preventative interventions, or health care policies that drive this field? 

Investigators. Are the PD/PI and mentor(s) appropriately trained and well suited to the proposed research project? Is there evidence that an appropriate level of effort will be devoted by the mentor(s) to ensure the successful completion of the dissertation project? Is there evidence that mentor(s) have been adequately prepared to actively work with the PD/PI and have actively worked with the PD/PI to date in the development of the proposed dissertation project? Does a viable mentoring plan and/or mentor/PD/PI agreement exist?  Does the PD/PI demonstrate potential to have a successful career in health services research?

Innovation.  Is the dissertation project original and innovative?  For example: Does the project challenge existing paradigms or clinical practice; address an innovative hypothesis or critical barrier to progress in the field?  Does the project develop or employ novel concepts, approaches or methodologies, tools, or technologies for this area?  

Approach.  Are the conceptual or clinical framework, design, methods, and analyses adequately developed, well-integrated, well-reasoned, and appropriate to the aims of the project?  Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative tactics?   

Environment.  Does the scientific environment(s) in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success?  Does the proposed research project benefit from unique features of the scientific environment(s)?  Is there evidence of institutional support (e.g., computers, data, and office space)?   

2.A. Additional Review Criteria

In addition to the above criteria, the reviewers will consider the following additional items in the determination of scientific merit and the rating, but will not give separate scores for these items.

Degree of Responsiveness.How well does the application address the purpose and objectives of this FOA?  How responsive is the application to the special eligibility criteria, including the project requirements, noted in the FOA?

Inclusion. Are there adequateplans to address the needs of genders, racial and ethnic minorities (and subgroups)?  Adequacy of attention to AHRQ priority populations (see above discussion on Priority Populations in section IV.6 “Other Submission Requirements,” and inclusion criteria included in section VIII of Required Federal Citations, below).

Protection of Human Subjects from Research Risk. The involvement of human subjects and protections from research risk relating to their participation in the proposed research will be assessed.  See the “Human Subjects Sections” of the PHS398 Research Plan component of the SF424 (R&R).

For research that involves human subjects but does not involve one of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate the justification for involvement of human subjects and the proposed protections from research risk relating to their participation according to the following five review criteria: 1) risk to subjects, 2) adequacy of protection against risks, 3) potential benefits to the subjects and others, 4) importance of the knowledge to be gained, and 5) data and safety monitoring for clinical trials.For research that involves human subjects and meets the criteria for one or more of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate: 1) the justification for the exemption, 2) human subjects involvement and characteristics, and 3) sources of materials. See the “Human Subjects Sections” of the PHS398 Research Plan component of the SF424 (R&R).

Privacy and Security Protections for Patients. The resources and processes to be used to address privacy and security issues in the development and implementation of the intervention will be assessed.

Resubmission Applications (formerly “revised/amended” applications). Are the responses to comments from the previous scientific review group adequate? Are the improvements in the resubmission application appropriate?

Budget and Period of Support. Is the proposed budget reasonable and is the requested period of support appropriate in relation to the proposed research?

Selection Process

Applications submitted in response to this funding opportunity will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

  • Scientific merit of the proposed project as determined by peer review
  • Availability of funds
  • Responsiveness to goals and objectives of the FOA
  • Relevance to program priorities and programmatic balance
  • Portfolio balance within AHRQ

2.B. Additional Review Considerations

Not Applicable.

2.C. Resource Sharing Plan(s)

Data Confidentiality

The AHRQ confidentiality statute, 42 USC 299c-3(c), requires that information that is obtained in the course of AHRQ supported activities and that identifies individuals or establishments be used only for the purpose for which it was supplied.  Information that is obtained in the course of AHRQ-supported activities and that identifies an individual may be published or released only with the consent of the individual who supplied the information or is described in it.  There are civil monetary penalties for violation of the confidentiality provision of the AHRQ statute. 42 USC 299c-3(d).  In the Human Subjects section of the application, applicants must describe procedures for ensuring the confidentiality of the identifying information to be collected.  The description of the procedures should include a discussion of who will be permitted access to this information, both raw data and machine readable files, and how personal identifiers and other identifying or identifiable data will be restricted and safeguarded.  Identifiable patient health information collected by grantees under this FOA will also be obtained and managed in accordance with the HIPAA Privacy Rule, 45 CFR Parts 160 and 164.  These regulations serve to limit the disclosure of personally identifiable patient information by covered entities and define when and how such information can be disclosed e.g., to researchers.  Thus, health care plans ordinarily will require either patient authorization for disclosures of identifiable information to be made to researchers or waivers of such authorizations obtained from an IRB or Privacy Board (defined in the regulations), which will involve review to ensure that identifiable health information will be appropriately safeguarded by the investigators.  The DHHS Office of Civil Rights is the enforcement body for this regulation. Additional information about the regulations, their implementation, and alternative methods of permissible disclosures to researchers (limited data sets with data use agreements, de-identified data sets, data about deceased persons, and data use to develop protocols) can be obtained from: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa/

The grantee should ensure that computer systems containing confidential data have a level and scope of security that equals or exceeds that established by the HIPAA Security Rules if applicable (see HIPAA website in prior paragraph) and that established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in OMB Circular No. A-130, Appendix III - Security of Federal Automated Information Systems. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published several implementation guides for this circular. They are: An Introduction to Computer Security: The NIST Handbook; Generally Accepted Principals and Practices for Securing Information Technology Systems; and Guide for Developing Security Plans for Information Technology Systems. The circular and guides are available on the web at http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/800-12/. The applicability and intended means of applying these confidentiality and security standards to subcontractors and vendors, if any, should be addressed in the application.

Sharing Research Resources:  Rights in Data

Unless otherwise provided in grant awards, AHRQ grantees may copyright, or seek patents for, as appropriate, final and interim products and materials developed in whole or in part with AHRQ support, including, but not limited to, methodological tools, measures, software with documentation, literature searches, and analyses.  Such copyrights and patents are subject to a royalty-free, non-exclusive, and irrevocable AHRQ license to reproduce, publish, use or disseminate for any purpose consistent with AHRQ’s statutory responsibilities and to authorize others to do so for any purpose consistent with AHRQ’s statutory responsibilities. In accordance with its legislative dissemination mandate, AHRQ purposes may include, subject to statutory confidentiality protections, making project materials, databases, results, and algorithms available for verification or replication by other researchers.  In addition, subject to AHRQ budget constraints, final products may be made available to the health care community and the public by AHRQ or its agents if such distribution would significantly increase access to a product and thereby produce substantial or valuable public health benefits.  Ordinarily, to accomplish distribution, AHRQ publicizes research findings but relies on grantees to publish research results in peer-reviewed journals and to market grant-supported products.  AHRQ's Office of Communications and Knowledge Transfer (OCKT) wishes to be consulted in advance of publication in order to coordinate announcements of new AHRQ-supported research results with other AHRQ dissemination activities.  Important legal rights and requirements applicable to AHRQ grantees are set out or referenced in AHRQ's grants regulation at 42 CFR Part 67, Subpart A (available in libraries and from the GPO's website at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/cfr/index.html) which incorporates additional applicable provisions on Rights in Data, including 45 CFR Part 74 and 37 CFR Part 401. 

3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

Generally, applicants should anticipate eight months between the application submission date and the earliest possible start date.

Section VI. Award Administration Information

1. Award Notices

After the peer review of the application is completed, the PD/PI will be able to access his or her Summary Statement (written critique) via the NIH eRA Commons. 

If the application is under consideration for funding, AHRQ will request "Just-In-Time" information from the applicant.  Just-In-Time information generally consists of information on other support, any additional information necessary to address administrative issues, and certification of IRB approval of the project's proposed use of human subjects.  For details, applicants may refer to the "AHRQ Revised Policy for Institutional Review Board (IRB) Review of Human Subjects Protocols in Grant Applications" (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not-hs-00-003.html). 

Once all administrative and programmatic issues have been resolved, a formal notification in the form of the Notice of Award (NoA) will be generated via email notification from the awarding component to the grantee business official at the applicant organization.  The NOA signed by the AHRQ grants management officer is the authorizing document.

Selection of an application for award is not an authorization to begin performance.  See also Section IV.5., “Funding Restrictions.”

AHRQ Dissertation grants are included under expanded authorities, but pre-award costs are NOT allowed.  

The dissertation award terminates once the requirements for the doctoral degree are met. Should an award terminate before the reflected project period end date, the grantee is required to submit a letter to the AHRQ Grants Management Specialist, countersigned by an administrative official, indicating the expected end date. Unexpended funds are to be reported on the Federal Financial Report (FFR) and returned to the AHRQ within 90 days of the project period end date.

Any application awarded in response to this FOA will be subject to the DUNS, CCR Registration, and Transparency Act requirements as noted on the AHRQ web site at http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/postawrd.htm#terms.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

All AHRQ grant agreement awards are subject to AHRQ’s grants regulations at 42 CFR Part 67, Subpart A, the HHS Grants Policy Statement (see http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/hhspolicy.htm), and the terms and conditions set forth in the notice of award.   

As necessary, additional Terms and Conditions will be incorporated into the award statement.

3. Reporting

Expenditure data is to be reported on the Federal Financial Report (FFR; SF 425). AHRQ requires annual financial expenditure reports for ALL grant programs as described in the HHS Grants Policy Statement (see http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/hhspolicy.htm).  AHRQ implementation of the FFR retains a financial reporting period that coincides with the budget period of a particular project.  However, the due date for annual FFRs will be 90 days after the end of the calendar quarter in which the budget period ends.  Note that this is a change in due dates of annual FFRs and may provide up to 60 additional days to report, depending upon when the budget period end date falls within a calendar quarter.  For example, if the budget period ends 4/30/2013, the annual FFR is due 9/30/2013 (90 days after the end of the calendar quarter of 6/30/2013).

A final Progress Report and final Federal Financial Report are required when an award ends.  For further details regarding grant closeout requirements, refer to http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/closeout.htm.

Section VII. Agency Contacts

We encourage your inquiries concerning this funding opportunity and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants. Inquiries may be written or by telephone, and fall into three areas: scientific/research (program), peer review, and financial or grants management issues.

Scientific/Research Contact(s):

Direct your questions about general FOA issues, including information on the inclusion of priority populations to:

Brenda A. Harding, M.A.
Office of Extramural Research, Education and Priority Populations (OEREP)
Division of Research Education
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
540 Gaither Road
Rockville, MD 20850
Telephone: (301) 427-1527
Fax (301) 427-1561
Email address:  Brenda.Harding@ahrq.hhs.gov

1.  Peer Review Contact(s):

Direct inquiries regarding peer review issues to:

Ali Azadegan, D.V.M, Ph.D.
Office of Extramural Research, Education and Priority Populations (OEREP)
Division of Scientific Review
540 Gaither Road
Rockville, Maryland 20850
Telephone: (301) 427-1869
Fax: (301-427-1561
Email address:  Ali.Azadegan@ahrq.hhs.gov

2.  Financial/Grants Management Contact(s):

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to: 

Anna Caponiti
AHRQ Grants Management
Office of Performance Accountability, Resources and Technology
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
540 Gaither Road
Rockville, MD 20850
Telephone: (301) 427-1402
Fax: (301) 427- 1462
E-mail address: Anna.Caponiti@ahrq.hhs.gov

Section VIII. Other Information

Required Federal Citations

Human Subjects Protection:

Federal regulations at 45 CFR Part 46 require that applications and proposals involving human subjects research must be evaluated in accordance with those regulations, with reference to the risks to the subjects, the adequacy of protection against these risks, the potential benefits of the research to the subjects and others, and the importance of the knowledge gained or to be gained (http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/humansubjects/guidance/45cfr46.htm).

Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information:

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) "Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information", regulation was mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 which governs the protection of individually identifiable health information.  It is administered and enforced by the DHHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The OCR website (http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/) provides information on the Privacy Rule, including a complete Regulation Text and a set of decision tools that may be used to determine whether a researcher is a staff member of a covered entity. Compliance with the Privacy Rule for those classified under the Rule as "covered entities" is mandatory.  Decisions about applicability and implementation of the Privacy Rule reside with covered entities.  Project Officers will assist grantees in resolving questions about the applicability of HIPAA requirements.

Access to Research Data through the Freedom of Information Act:

OMB Circular A-110 provides access to certain research data developed with Federal support through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552, in certain circumstances.   Data that are (1) first produced in a project that is supported in whole or in part with Federal funds and (2) cited publicly and officially by a Federal agency in support of an action that has the force and effect of law (i.e., a regulation or administrative order) may be accessed through FOIA. If no Federal action is taken having the force and effect of law in reliance upon an AHRQ-supported research project, the underlying data are not subject to this disclosure requirement.  Furthermore, even if a Federal regulatory action is taken in reliance on AHRQ-supported research data, disclosure of such data is limited in accordance with the AHRQ confidentiality statute, 42 USC 299c-3(c).  NIH has provided general related guidance at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/a110/a110_guidance_dec1999.htm which does not include discussion of the exception applicable to confidential identifiable data collected under AHRQ's authorities.

Should applicants wish to place data collected under this FOA in a public archive, which can provide protections for the data (e.g., as required by confidentiality provisions of the statute applicable to AHRQ-supported projects, 42 USC 299c-3(c) and manage the distribution of non-identifiable data for an indefinite period of time, they may. The application should include a description of any archiving plan in the study design and include information about this in the budget justification section of the application. In addition, applicants should consider how to structure informed consent statements or other human subject protection procedures to permit or restrict disclosures of identifiable data, as warranted.

Healthy People 2020:

The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health promotion and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy People 2020," a PHS-led national activity for setting health improvement priorities for the United States. AHRQ encourages applicants to submit grant applications with relevance to the specific objectives of this initiative. Potential applicants may obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2020" at http://www.health.gov/healthypeople.

Authority and Regulations:
This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance at http://www.cfda.gov/ and is not subject to the intergovernmental review requirements of Executive Order 12372 or Health Systems Agency review. Awards are made under the authority of 42 USC 299 et seq. and, 42 CFR Part 67 and in accordance with 45 CFR Parts 74 or 92 and other referenced applicable statutes and regulations.  All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the HHS Grants Policy Statement. The HHS Grants Policy Statement can be found at http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/hhspolicy.htm.

The PHS strongly encourages all grant recipients to provide a smoke-free workplace and discourage the use of all tobacco products. In addition, Public Law 103-227, the Pro-Children Act of 1994, prohibits smoking in certain facilities (or in some cases, any portion of a facility) in which regular or routine education, library, day care, health care, or early childhood development services are provided to children. This is consistent with the Public Health Service mission to protect and advance the physical and mental health of the American people.


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