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Training Grant Support

The Training Grant Support Office (TGSO) supports Northwestern University faculty in the preparation of institutional training grant applications submitted to the NIH, NSF, and other federal agencies, keeps updated on NIH and NSF policies and policy changes, and develops programs and resources to help faculty be competitive with training grant applications. TGSO staff gathers data and prepares several of the NIH-required data tables, provides information and template language to assist with letters of support and funding language, hosts Training Grant Directors meetings and keeps abreast of NIH policy changes. TGSO also plans and coordinates related programming, such as mentor training and training grant evaluation.

Student in lab with professor

Our Process

When TGSO becomes aware that a faculty member plans to submit a T32 proposal, we will first set up a meeting with that faculty member and his/her/their team (grants administrators, financial administrators or anyone who will be assisting the PI with the submission). TGSO has a specific timeline that we follow, which includes four months of preparation.  Accordingly, TGSO prefers to be notified of the faculty member’s intention to submit a grant at least four months before the grant is due.

TGSO keeps track of all grants submitted and will reach out to PIs who have renewals due to begin this process for renewals, but please email us at any time if you ready to start the planning process. For this initial meeting, we ask that PIs provide us with the names of their administrative and research staff and anyone else who will be assisting with the grant. In addition, we need the finalized list of preceptors and the appropriate FOA number.

Getting Started

At the initial meeting, TGSO will go over what areas of the proposal we can assist with, and how. This includes providing several of the required tables (usually Tables 1, 2, 3, 4, 6A, 6B and portions of 8A and 8C, as well as Table A for NIGMS grants), template language for and assistance with the institutional letter of support, template language to assist with several areas for the body of the grant, assistance with determining tuition and stipend top-up funding requests, and training program evaluation. 

Tables 5, 7 and 8 are primarily the responsibility of the PI team because they involve making judgment calls by the PI about what trainees and trainee information to include, although TGSO can provide the funding information required for Table 8. In addition, we provide an excel file called the “All Trainees Report” which will help the PI teams create Tables 5 and 8 for new applications.

NIH Data Tables

TGSO will contact all the preceptors listed on the grant to collect faculty and trainee information that is used for the tables, and information on mentor training and diversity activities. However, we prefer that the PI first sends out an email to all of the preceptors to let them know that an email from TGSO will be coming. Once all the preceptors have submitted their information, TGSO will generate the tables, clean the data and then the tables are reviewed by TGS’s Research & Analysis team.  

Data for the tables is sourced from the faculty preceptors’ self-reported data, Cognos, MyHR, departmental websites and NIH Reporter. TGSO will then distribute the draft tables to the PI team and upload them to the shared folder for the PI team to review. Next, TGSO will work with the PI team to adjust the tables as needed or correct any errors.  We ask that PIs work with us to adjust the tables rather than adjusting the data in the tables themselves.

Institutional Letter of Support

For grants that require a single institutional letter of support (all T32s and most other training mechanisms), TGSO will provide templated language in the form of a letter from the Provost to the PI that addresses several of the categories listed in the FOA such as descriptions of TGSO, TGS, and the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA), professional development activities, Northwestern’s anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies and complaint process, training program evaluation, and mentor training. However, the PI team will need to include any program-specific information called for in the FOA. TGSO will also assist with confirming funding support commitments and language, and will coordinate obtaining the Provost’s signature on the letter. PI teams are expected to obtain supporting documents that confirm commitments, particularly funding commitments outlined in the letter, and upload copies of those documents to the shared Box folder.

Funding Information

All information regarding student or postdoctoral trainee funding must be described in the institutional letter of support. Graduate students will need additional tuition and stipend funding from Northwestern to cover the difference between the NIH tuition and stipend allotment and Northwestern tuition and stipend. 

  • In general, the balance of predoctoral stipend (i.e., stipend supplement or stipend top-up) is the responsibility of the student’s adviser or the adviser’s home school unless other agreements are in place.
  • For training grants supporting graduate students, tuition scholarships to fund the balance of predoctoral tuition not provided by the training grant are covered by TGS or Feinberg and are budgeted in each school’s TGS allocation. When drafting the proposal, the PI will need to notify the schools involved (any school where preceptors have their primary appointment) and obtain that school’s written commitment to pay stipend top-ups for any trainees whose advisor is housed in that school. TGSO can assist with templated emails and determining the appropriate contacts at each school.
  • TGS may award one affiliate slot (four quarters of tuition and stipend) to successful T32s who are submitting a renewal. The affiliate slot may be used to support a student who might not otherwise be able to be appointed to the T32 (e.g., a student who is not a U.S. citizen).
  • Any financial support or commitments for postdoctoral trainees must also be included in the letter of support. For example, if the training program requires postdoctoral trainees to take a class, information on how the tuition will be paid must be included and prior approval from the responsible department/school must be obtained.

What TGSO Assists With:

  • Tables 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 (funding information for “source of support”)
  • Table A (NIGMS only)
  • Provides template language for some parts of the institutional letter of support:
    • TGSO services
    • TGS services and initiatives (graduate and postdoctoral professional development and support services, diversity and inclusion efforts)
    • OPA services and functions
    • Northwestern anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies and complaint process
    • Program evaluation information
    • Mentor training information
    • Language regarding stipend and tuition support
  • Training program evaluation
  • Confirming funding support commitments with the TGS finance team
  • Facilitating signatures for the institutional letter of support
  • Assisting the PI in determining tuition and stipend top-up commitments and with the request language
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion activities and statistics for faculty, postdoctoral trainees, and graduate students

What TGSO Does Not Assist With:

  • Table 5
  • Table 7 (for renewals)
  • Table 8 (except for “Source of Support”)
  • The text of the institutional letter of support is primarily the PI’s responsibility, but as stated above, TGSO can assist with funding approvals and language, and can provide template language for several of the required topics.
  • Drafting the body of the grant
  • Advice on how many slots the PI should request
  • Strategic questions about the nature of the grant
  • Submission of the grant (this is done through the Office of Sponsored Research)

Questions the PI Team should ask their NIH Program Officer:

  • Advice on strategic questions about the grant
  • Advice on how many slots the PI should request

Training Grant Support Office

thoma-web.jpgKristin Thoma

Assistant Director, Training Grant Support Office

Email: kristin.thoma@northwestern.edu

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