NIH: NIH Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) Program: FIRST Cohort (U54 Clinical Trial Optional) RFA-RM-20-022
NIH institutes and centers remain committed to increasing and sustaining the diversity of the biomedical research workforce. The purpose of the FIRST Cohort is to transform culture at NIH-funded extramural institutions by building a self-reinforcing community of scientists committed to diversity and inclusive excellence). Implementing and sustaining cultures of inclusive excellence within the program has the potential to be transformational for biomedical research at the awardee institutions and beyond. This community will be built through recruitment of a diverse group of early-career faculty who are competitive for an advertised research tenure-track or equivalent faculty position and who have demonstrated strong commitment to promoting diversity and inclusive excellence.
The goals of the FIRST program are the following:
Goal 1: FIRST Cohort awardees must demonstrate institutional support and develop or modify a strategic plan with specific goals and strategies, interventions, and organizational policies that will be implemented to achieve significant systemic and sustainable institutional culture change over baseline toward inclusive excellence (at the faculty, department, and institution level). FIRST Cohort awardees are also expected to develop an evaluation plan to assess the impact on their institution of action taken toward FIRST program goals.
Goal 2: FIRST Cohort awardees must conduct recruitment activities for new faculty, outline institutional commitments, and develop recruitment committees based on past interests and commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion. FIRST Cohort awardees are also expected to establish a retention plan to secure institutional commitment and supportive environment for new faculty hires.
Goal 3: FIRST Cohort awardees must develop strategies for the institution to establish individual research and career development plans and mentorship plans for all new faculty hired under this award. The applicants must describe how the program will reduce isolation, increase community building, and foster career development for the new faculty.
The new faculty hires comprising a FIRST Cohort are expected to be clusters of scientists (no fewer than three scientists per cluster) within several scientific areas. For example, an institutional cohort might be comprised of multiple smaller clusters of scientists within various scientific disciplines, such as neuroscience, cardiovascular disease, cancer, minority health, health disparities, community-based participatory research, behavioral, social, population science, or other research areas within the NIH mission. By incentivizing hiring of a co-localized cohort, this initiative offers an added benefit of engaging both university-level and departmental leadership and leveraging departmental faculty to form an extended network for the cohort to access. Although institutional capacity will shape the size of each cohort and the design of any cluster, each cohort must be large enough to create an interactive group and include collaborations among relevant departments, divisions, and institutions to help achieve this goal. Professional and research development, mentoring, and sponsorship are integral elements of the cohort model design, and the program must include activities and resources to reduce isolation, increase community building and networking, and foster career, research, and professional advancement.
Because UofSCï¿½s NIH funding for the past 3 years has been less than $50M per year, we fall into the category that must hire at least 6 new faculty under this program.
UofSC may only submit one application in response to this RFA.
Please submit a four-page letter of intent outlining your plans for the FIRST cohort (including plans for mentoring, professional development, and network-building), along with two-page NIH-formatted biosketches for key personnel, as a single PDF document to Beth Herron (
Please ensure your LOI addresses the following:
(1)Are the types and numbers of strategies, interventions, policies, evidence-based practices, and other activities proposed for implementation adequate and feasible to achieve significant systemic and sustainable institutional change over baseline (at cohort/faculty, institution and department/college institution level)?
(2)Do the strategies for implementing and sustaining cultures of inclusive excellence within the program have the potential to be transformational for biomedical research at the awardee institution(s) and beyond?
(3)Will the program provide an environment that will reduce isolation/discrimination for the new faculty?
The full RFA can be found here: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-RM-20-022.html
The NIH deadline for submission to this competition is March 1, 2021.