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Medical Research

Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists Frequently Asked Questions

If your question is not answered after reviewing the FAQs, email with “COVID-19 FRCS-Last Name” as the subject line. No phone calls please.

Application instructions are available here.


Institutional eligibility

Can a research hospital that is affiliated with a U.S. medical school submit a proposal separate from its affiliated medical school?
Yes, research hospitals affiliated with a U.S. medical school may submit their own application as long as they are an independent 501(c)(3) organization with their own tax ID number. It is possible that affiliated institutions submitting separate applications could each receive the award.

Is there a limit to the number of awards that will be made per institution?
Yes, only one award will be made per institution, regardless of the number of applications submitted by that institution.

Can one individual be named as program director on multiple applications from an institution?
No, institutions submitting more than one application must name a different program director for each application. Furthermore, only one award will be made to a given medical school or to an affiliated academic research hospital, so it is suggested that departments confer on applications.

Is there a recommended qualification to serve as lead evaluator or director of the FRCS?
We do not have recommendations about who may lead the programs or related evaluation efforts. Applicants are free to identify who at their institution may best fulfill each role.

What defines a Minority-Serving Institution in this competition?
The request for applications did not provide a definition of Minority Serving Institution. We acknowledge that a definition is maintained by the US Department of Education and that the NIH identifies these as colleges and universities that focus on serving a large percentage of minority students, but often serve non-minority students as well. The groups identified as minority students typically include: Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-serving Institutions, Asian-serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and other MSIs.

For the purpose of the COVID-19 Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists competition, which is limited to US medical schools and its affiliated hospitals, by minority-serving institutions, we mean medical schools that are part of an institution that includes a historically Black college or university, or a minority-serving institution.


Grant costs

What is the grant term for the institutional grant?
The award is $550,000 ($500,000 direct costs plus $50,000 indirect costs) to be spent over a two-year period. This period is meant to allow some initial time to ramp up the selection process to identify research supplement recipients plus a minimum of one year for the individual research supplements to be used.

What is the grant term for the supplemental research funds?
We recommend a minimum grant term of one year. However, institutions may opt for longer terms within the overall two-year term of the institutional grant based on the individual circumstances of the supplemental research funding recipient.

Is salary support for early-career investigators an allowable cost as part of this grant?
Investigators requesting supplemental funds should have significant research funding, such as a career development award or research project grant that includes salary support. While salary support for the investigator is not excluded, applicants should demonstrate a compelling case for such support from this grant. The applicant institution will be required to provide a description of how supplemental funds will be used as well as selection criteria in the full proposal. Please refer to the Request for Applications for a complete list of allowable costs.

Is there a salary cap for personnel?
There is no salary cap for personnel, but partial personnel support for the program director and administration, if needed, should be no more than 20% of direct costs and should be commensurate with effort toward the project.

Is there a recommended allocation for program evaluation?
No, there is no requirement to allocate funds or a set allocation for evaluation of the effort. However, it is expected that institutions will structure their budgets to maximize the number of research supplements to be awarded. Institutional commitment to evaluate the effort as part of their practice to invest in resources to support faculty with family caregiving responsibilities will be assessed in the review.

Will institutional commitment be evaluated on the basis of available matching funds?
While matching institutional grant funds are a form of institutional commitment, they are not the only form of support, and other nonmonetary forms of support can be indicative of commitment (e.g., effort contributions, other resources made available the scholars).

Is there a preference for the type of research supported through the supplemental funds?
Research supported through the COVID-19 Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists must fit within the definition of clinical research described in the Request for Applications.

Are you looking to support the faculty's existing grant-funded project? Or a new offshoot?
The institutional grants are meant to provide supplemental research funding to accelerate the pace of an existing project that might otherwise either slow down or stall because of competing family caregiving challenges.

Is there a minimum number of researchers who must be supported by the FRCS?
We do not require a minimum number of awards and while it would be desirable for most of the grants to be used toward research supplements, we recognize that there are other costs associated with implementing a program.


Eligibility of supplemental research funding recipients

These questions pertain to the pool of individuals within institutions that may be eligible to receive supplemental funds, should the institution receive a grant.

What is meant by the potential pool of applicants?
The potential pool of applicants refers to the number of faculty that could potentially meet the eligibility criteria for the research supplement outlined in the Request for Applications. Prospective candidates should not be named in the submitted application. 

What is considered a competitive eligible pool of physician scientists?
We seek to support researchers who are conducting an original and rigorous clinical research project that has the potential to address a health issue that poses a significant clinical burden (with considerable morbidity and mortality, whether it is a rare or common condition) and that has potential for societal benefit. As a pool, we would like to understand that overall, the faculty have a track record of scientific achievement and contributions to the advancement of human health.

What is the definition of early-career faculty for this funding opportunity?
For the purposes of this award, early-career faculty are defined as those having a full-time, post-training Instructor or Assistant Professor faculty appointment at the medical school. Associate Professors are included in this definition only if they have been at this rank for one year or less.

Are instructors eligible for research supplements?
Instructors are eligible to apply for institutional research supplements only if their appointment is a full-time, faculty-rank, post-training Instructor position.

Are associate professors considered early-career faculty?
For the purposes of this award, individuals at the associate professor level are considered early-career faculty only if they have been at this rank for less than one year.

I am a faculty member currently serving as a caregiver for a family member. Am I eligible to apply?
No. This award will not be made directly to individuals. This award will be made to institutions that will set up their own internal procedures for distributing funds to faculty based on the requirements outlined in the Request for Applications.

Are candidates eligible for the supplemental funds allowed to work in a laboratory that conducts animal research?
Yes, the candidate may be working in a lab that conducts animal research. However, whether the research supplement can be used toward work with non-human animals will depend on the source of support for the institutional grants. For example, funding from the Doris Duke Foundation may not be used to support research supplements for a project with non-human animal models or their cells.

Are nursing and pharmacy PhD researchers eligible to receive supplemental research funding?
If a grant is awarded, nursing and pharmacy PhD researchers meeting all other eligibility criteria may be considered as candidates for the supplement as permissible by individual funders in the collaborative. Whether funds may be used to support PhD researchers will be stipulated for each grant awarded.

Eligibility criteria in the RFA state that candidates may hold a PhD degree. Does this mean that "non-physician" scientists would also be eligible for consideration as part of this program?
Thanks to the Doris Duke Foundation funding partners, eligibility of scholars to receive supplemental research supports may include PhD researchers carrying out clinical research as defined in the request for proposal or broader biomedical research. However, most institutional grants are earmarked for specific support of physician scientists. If awarded, funding partners will consider the scope of the program to identify specific grants to be supported by each funder.

Can an institution propose a program that would support both physician scientists and broader biomedical faculty?
Yes, an institution may propose a program that would support both eligible physician scientists and broader biomedical faculty with a priority given to the first group. Thanks to the Doris Duke Foundation funding partners, eligibility of scholars to receive supplemental research supports may include PhD researchers carrying out clinical research as defined in the request for proposals or broader biomedical research. However, most institutional grants are earmarked for specific support of physician scientists. If awarded, funding partners will consider the scope of the program to identify specific grants to be supported by each funder.

Does this competition follow a definition for underrepresented populations?
A definition of underrepresented groups in biomedical research was not provided in the request for proposals. For the purpose of the COVID-19 FRCS, if helpful: We are committed to the retention and advancement of early-career scientists who have been disproportionately affected by family caregiving responsibilities due to COVID-19, are conducting seminal research and who belong to populations whose exclusion from research based on their race, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation or lack of resources has resulted in underrepresentation in the workforce.



Is it possible to submit additional documents and appendices, such as letters of support from department chairs or biographical sketches of key personnel, with the application?
Do not include additional documents beyond those required in the application instructions. Applicants must adhere to the page limits within the instructions.

Can institutional applicants include references within the application and does this count towards the page limit?
Applicants may include references, which will not count toward the 10-page limit.

What is meant by the term “extra hands”?
This refers to support offered to researchers to hire an “extra set of hands” such as a research coordinator, technician, etc., who can assist the investigator in continuing their research.

Will there be an external evaluation of the COVID-19 FRCS program?
The Doris Duke Foundation is rigorously documenting outcomes of the Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists model in an ongoing prospective independent evaluation being conducted by Dr. Reshma Jagsi at the University of Michigan. A similar effort is not planned for the COVID-19 Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists grants. Institutions may run their own evaluation if they wish. We recognize that documenting and evaluating outcomes may be key to achieve future buy in from institutional leadership to embed this type of support. Measures, questionnaires and materials prepared for the original program evaluation may be shared with any sites selected for this new endeavor upon request (with the exclusion of proprietary licensed questions that we do not have permission to share).