Implementation Research Institute (IRI)
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What are the expectations of my institution? 
A: Your home institution must:

  • Commit to support your time and your effort to craft grant application for submission to an external funder in the area of mental health implementation research. 
  • Have an on-site mentor in your substantive area of expertise, with a track record of external grant support from NIH or other federal funding, who will commit to helping shape your grant writing. 
  • Be an eligible institution to submit a grant to NIMH or another of Institute of the National Institutes of Health. 
  • Be able to support the logistics of your grant submission and have capacity to manage awarded NIH grants. 

Q: I have a unique appointment whereby my primary appointment is not at a university/ research institution. Am I eligible? 
A: Your primary responsibility in your home institution must be research, and you must be affiliated with an institution that meets criteria associated with question #1 above.   

Q: Must applicants have a position at an institute in the USA, or can they be located in a different country, but work with the faculty mentors in the USA? 
A: You must be eligible to submit an NIH grant, and your home institution must meet criteria identified in #1 above. While we expect the travel expenses of Fellows will vary, we have R25 budget to meet the anticipated needs of domestic travel related to each Fellow’s participation in the IRI activities in the continental US. If a Fellow’s travel expenses would exceed these amounts, their home intuition would need to commit to bearing the expense.

Q: Is the IRI open to only researchers with US residency or citizenship status?
A: We seek IRI Fellow applications from any scientist who is eligible to submit a grant to NIMH or another of the National Institutes of Health.   

Q: Is it required that my identified research mentor be employed at my institution? Would it be possible to identify someone at a neighboring institution that has a relationship with my institution?   
A: As we review applications, we will carefully consider the strength of applicants’ relationships with their mentors. Mentors must be readily and easily accessible to fellows at a "home" for mentoring scientific grant writing skills, especially skills for writing NIH grant applications. Therefore applicants must demonstrate the commitment of a mentor through either an extensive past relationship or, in the case of a recent relationship, a letter of commitment from the mentor. Applicants and mentors can make a case for working together although at separate institutions. However if the scientific (substantive) mentor is at a different institution than the fellow, the fellow also must have a second mentor—one at the home institution who will provide grant writing guidance and support. 

The IRI is not designed to help Fellows who need to become familiar for the first time with the NIH grant submission process, the process of structuring a federal grant proposal, nor the fundamentals of good scientific grant writing skills. We will be well equipped to expedite Fellows' transition to and/or strengthening their substantive knowledge in the area of mental health implementation science and crafting competitive grant applications with aims and methods specific to implementation science. 

Q: I already have a mentor in implementation science. Should I describe this person as one of my mentors?
A: Yes, feel free to do so, or to select someone who might be better suited to mentor you in grant writing skills. Just be sure your mentors meet the criteria listed above. You can describe your relationships to IR experts in your letter, as the core faculty would be pleased to know of the IR expertise to which you have access.   

Q: What is the difference between a home mentor and an IRI mentor?                                                                                                     A: Home or local mentors provide support for the fellows in grant writing and scholarly publication.  Local mentors need not be an expert in IR, but will need to have a successful record of NIH funding to support trainees in grant-writing fundamentals.  The IRI Mentor will provide specific feedback on the implementation science of the fellow's work and will work with the local mentors on assisting the fellows with decisions regarding their IR pilot studies and NIH grant proposals.  Local mentors and IRI mentors meet with their fellow every two months where they will assess the progress of the pilot study, make decisions about their learning site visits, and monitor the development of the fellow's IR research proposal.  IRI mentors will work with the fellows for two years of their training, whereas local mentors can have longer mentor-mentee relationships with the fellows.

Q: I have never submitted any application for external grant support. Should I apply?
A: No, see #3a above. 

Q: What prior grant writing experience is worth mentioning in my application? If I have authored an unfunded NIH grant proposal, should I mention that?  If I have collaborated on writing an NIH grant, but was not the PI, should I mention that?   
A: IRI faculty are interested in applicants’ prior experience writing grants for external federal funding, i.e. an NIH F31, R03, R34/R21, K award or R01 application. Your receipt of prior/current external funding is preferred. However, if you have a grant which was unfunded, we ask that you report the score, describe the primary reviewers’ critique/s, and outcome or plans for the proposed initiative. If you were not the submitting principal investigator, please be explicit regarding your role in the production/submission process grant. If you have a grant under review, please mention that. 

Q: My research has not been primarily in the area of mental health and/or I have been funded but not by NIMH. Is this a problem for my candidacy to the IRI?   
A: The IRI is funded by NIMH, through their R25 mechanism. That PA states, "The overall goal of NIMH's research training and research education programs is to ensure that highly trained scientists will be available in adequate numbers and in appropriate scientific areas to reduce the burden of mental illness and behavioral disorders through research on mind, brain, and behavior."  

We applaud your past NIH or other grant funding and we aspire to invite IRI Fellows whose future research will bring their prior experience, plus the IRI mentoring, to bear on research aims relevant to the mission of the NIMH. Fellows are expected to generate grant applications that address the mission of, and be competitive, to the NIMH.   

Q: I have some level of prior experience/expertise in implementation science/research. Do I qualify to be an IRI Fellow?
A: We welcome applications from individuals who desire to shape and advance a research career in implementation research in substantive areas prioritized by NIMH (see strategic plan). We welcome applications at a variety of levels of previous experience in IR. 

Q: My work is within the area of HIV/AIDS-related interventions—work which is frequently funded by NIMH.  Would I be an eligible candidate for the IRI?
A: We have shaped the curriculum and selected an outstanding roster of multidisciplinary faculty to delivery state-of-art training in implementation science for mental health services research, with a focus on research that informs the implementation of evidence-based behavioral health treatments, services, and interventions. We would welcome applicants whose interests fit this focus for persons with HIV/AIDS. For potential applicants whose research agenda does not fit this mission and feels like a “stretch” (including some within the HIV/AIDS field), you may apply, but understand that our priorities will be on research that informs the implementation of evidence-based behavioral health treatments, services, and interventions. 

Q: Is this a rolling admissions program? Is it to my benefit to apply early? 
A: We welcome earlier applications but the hard deadline for complete applications is 1/21/2012.  Incomplete applications will not be accepted past this date.    

Q: Is there an advantage to applying this year versus next year?
A: We will be taking IRI Fellow applications each year for the next three years. If this year is not ideal for you, please apply by 1/31/13 for the June 2013 cohort. 

Q: Would you like letters of recommendation separately or as part of a full application?
A: You may submit your letters separately OR as part of a whole packet. If they are separate, we would prefer them via email, ideally with "your name and IRI application" in the subject line (3pp single spaced).  A recommendation form should also accompany any letter.

Q: Should the biosketch format be the longer version with the personal statement, or the shorter version without the personal statement? 
A: We request the longer version with the personal statement.

Q: Does the 3-page limit for the concept paper include references? 
A: No, the 3-page limit does not include references.

Q: What if I have to miss some of the days of the IRI Training in St. Louis? 
A: We expect IRI Fellows to participate in all of the training activities. If that is not possible, please consider applying in a future year.

Q: Does this fellowship provide salaries for the Fellows?
A: There is no IRI salary support for Fellows. This is neither a post-doctoral nor medical fellowship (see below) program. It is an R-25 Fellowship training program. The IRI presumes that Fellows have full-time appointments at institutions which support their salary, and give them the infrastructure to launch their research agenda (see #1 above). The IRI has resources for Fellows' travel and pilot work to expedite their research in the area of implementation science.    

Q: How does the IRI experience differ or relate to a fellowship training completed as a period of formalized medical training, which a physician may undertake after completing a specialty training program / residency?
A: The IRI is not designed to advance a physician’s skills as a medical provider. It is intended for scientists who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship, and seek a vehicle for furthering their advanced training in research skills for new knowledge development. The IRI expedites Fellows’ ability to work on their own initiated research projects with identified advisers. Awards are offered to a limited number of persons of outstanding ability who wish to make research a significant component of their career.  Similar to Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships, the IRI Fellowship targets “early” and "mid-career" researchers. 

Q: What are the supports for shaping research in implementation science, and what is the purpose and scope of pilot work for Fellows?
A: As a training initiative, the IRI will help Fellows shape a research agenda in implementation science and develop an NIH grant application. The IRI will provide information on program announcements and funding priorities, sample IRI proposals, consultation, peer review, access to literature, conceptual models, theoretical frameworks, implementation outcome constructs and measurement instruments, resources regarding implementation strategies, and travel funds to a model implementation site. In addition, modest funds will be provided to help support the pilot work, for such expenses as student research assistant time, local travel/mileage, subject reimbursement, transcription costs (no Fellow salary support—see FAQ #8). Such funding will be less than $1,000, and will be awarded the Fellow’s IR primary mentor has approved their pilot plan and budget. 

Q:   What may I say about the IRI in my grant application?
A:   Unless you have received an acceptance letter to be an IRI Fellow, you may not say that you will be an IRI Fellow.  You may say that you have applied or will apply and/or re-apply in January 2011, 2012, or 2013.  Please note that all of our current fellows have received previous NIH, VA, or similar research funding.  The IRI is a highly competitive fellowship and it is likely that grant reviewers will know this.  You may say, however, that you will take advantage of publicly available IRI documents and training materials which are broadly accessible and posted on the IRI website.  These materials include:  IRI required and suggested readings and video recordings of IRI didactic training sessions.