NIDDK Short-Term Research Experience Program to Unlock Potential (STEP-UP) (R25 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

Funding Agency:
National Institutes of Health

The NIH Research Education Program (R25) supports research education activities in the mission areas of the NIH.  The overarching goal of this R25 program is to support educational activities that encourage individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those from groups underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, to pursue further studies or careers in research. 

To accomplish the stated over-arching goal, this FOA will support creative educational activities with a primary focus on:

  • Research Experiences
  • Mentoring Activities

The NIH Research Education Program (R25) supports research education activities in the mission areas of the NIH.  The over-arching goal of this National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) R25 program is to support educational activities that enhance the diversity of the biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research workforce.  NIDDK's Short-Term Research Experience to Unlock Potential (STEP-UP) provides funding to research institutions to provide for a national summer research experience program for both high school and undergraduate students for eight to ten weeks.  STEP-UP seeks to facilitate exposure opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds, including students from groups underrepresented in biomedical research on a national basis, such asindividuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, and individuals with disabilities.


  • Letter of Intent Due Date(s): August 1, 2021

  • Application Due Date(s): September 1, 2021

RFA-DK-21-023 Expiration Date September 02, 2021

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

For this FOA, applicant institutions are described as Coordinating Centers (CC) and will operate one of the two types of STEP-UP programs:

A high school program for students from diverse backgrounds, including students from underrepresented groups, who are at least 16 years old and either in the 11th or 12th grades at the time of application, or

An undergraduate program for students from diverse backgrounds, including students from underrepresented groups, who have completed their freshman year and will not have graduated prior to the start of the summer research program.

For the high school program, five CC will be awarded to coordinate recruitment across the United States and US territories. The five CC will be distributed geographically and responsible for recruitment in their region. The different areas for recruitment and operations overlap closely with the Department of Health & Human Services Regions and are subdivided as shown below:

  • Region A - District of Columbia, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota
  • Region B - Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands
  • Region C - North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri
  • Region D - Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona
  • Region E - Hawaii and Pacific Island and Territories

NIDDK is seeking geographic diversity in the placement of CC to ensure adequate outreach and coordination. For the undergraduate program, three centers will be funded to coordinate recruitment of students nationally from all US states and territories.

Applicants must specify the type of program that they propose to coordinate. Each of the CC are expected to support 25 participants annually and will manage all aspects of placement, mentoring and follow-up of students in disparate locations in the United States and its territories.  NIDDK seeks CC to use innovative methods in terms of recruitment, outreach and mentoring and applicants should describe how they plan to do this.

Eligibility Requirements

The sponsoring institution must assure support for the proposed program. Appropriate institutional commitment to the program includes the provision of adequate staff, facilities, and educational resources that can contribute to the planned program.

Institutions with existing Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) institutional training grants (e.g., T32) or other Federally funded training programs may apply for a research education grant provided that the proposed educational experiences are distinct from those training programs receiving federal support. In many cases, it is anticipated that the proposed research education program will complement ongoing research training occurring at the applicant institution.

The PD/PI should be an established investigator in the scientific area in which the application is targeted and capable of providing both administrative and scientific leadership to the development and implementation of the proposed program. The PD/PI will be expected to monitor and assess the program and submit all documents and reports as required.

The PD/PI should have experience in and a record of mentoring students from backgrounds underrepresented in the U.S. Biomedical, Clinical, Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Enterprise as described in the NIH's Notice of Interest in Diversity.

Amount Description

For the high school program the direct cost for each of the coordinating centers cannot exceed $220,000 per year for programs focused on recruiting in the contiguous United States, Puerto Rico, Alaska and the U.S. Virgin Islands; and cannot exceed $270,000 per year for the program focused on recruiting students from Region E including Hawaii and territories in the Pacific Islands.  For the undergraduate program, the direct costs for each coordinating center cannot exceed $360,000 per year. The proposed budgets must reflect the actual needs of the proposed project. 

Funding Type





Community Outreach and Engagement
Curriculum Development
Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Clinical Science
Medical - Translational

External Deadline

September 1, 2021