Jump to questions about...

Open All Close All

Program Requirements

What has changed about this latest (2023) re-issue of the ESTEEMED program?

There are only minor changes, the most significant being a required summer research experience (SRE) after the freshman year. This is in addition to the SRE after the sophomore year.  Also, we have introduced budget adjustments which offer greater student and personnel compensation and the encouragement of partnerships with community colleges.

What are the requirements for institutions applying to this program?

Accredited public or private institutions of higher education must have four-year bachelor’s degree programs in engineering and/or the physical/computation sciences. The institution must either have a bioengineering or biomedical engineering department (or concentration/track) or must have a critical mass of faculty with background in above areas and experience in the application of engineering and the physical/computational sciences in medicine and/or biology. Applications are encouraged from Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) such as a Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) or Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI).

At the time of application, institutions must have an active honors program that is open to underrepresented juniors and seniors and that promotes STEM and entrance into a Ph.D. program through educational activities.

What are the required elements of the program?

Program Structure: the ESTEEMED program provides research experiences and mentoring at multiple levels for undergraduate students throughout the summer before freshman year to the summer after sophomore year. The program must contain the following three components and act as a feeder program for an honors program.

  1. Summer Bridge Program: a 5-week (minimum) summer program before the freshman year that emphasizes basic sciences, computation, and science communication.
  2. Academic year activities: should occur throughout the freshman and sophomore year and continue to emphasize basic science, computation, and science communication. Academic year activities should include, but are not limited to, courses, journal clubs, individual development plans for each participant, seminars/workshops, professional development programs, internal and external speakers to introduce the students to different career paths, and participation in national scientific meetings These activities should prepare students for summer research experiences and advanced honors programs.
  3. Summer research experiences: an 8-week (minimum) on- or off-campus research experience at the end of the freshman and sophomore years. Summers should conclude in an oral presentation and written report of their work.

Each student is expected to enter an advanced honors program at the end of the ESTEEMED program.

Does each program need to have all the three components?

Yes. Each ESTEEMED program must have all three components.

What other components are important in the ESTEEMED Program?

Mentoring and an honors program are the other components that the ESTEEMED program emphasizes.

Who should provide mentoring?

Mentoring by the PI and program faculty is required. Mentors must have appropriate expertise in bioengineering or the application of engineering and the physical/computational sciences in medicine and/or biology. The program should ideally include mentoring by peers, alumni, and doctoral students (if any), and encourage family engagement.

What characteristics must the honors program have?

The only requirements for the honors program are that it prepare students for graduate studies and is open to ESTEEMED scholars in their junior and senior years.

What are examples of honors programs?

NIH-funded programs such as such as a MARC(T34), a RISE(T34), or ENDURE(R25) or similar institutional programs that promote STEM graduate studies and are open to students in their junior or senior year.

Can institutions which do not have an honors program but are planning to implement one apply?

No. The honors program must be in place and described in the application.

Can Community Colleges (CCs) apply?

Community colleges (CCs) are not eligible to apply, however they are encouraged to participate via subaward as a collaborator/partner of the applicant institution.

How can Community Colleges participate?

The ESTEEMED program is open to partnerships with community colleges (CCs). Programs may be structured to hold any portion of the activities at the CC and/or the applicant institution. Such programs may allow students to either:

  • participate in the ESTEEMED program for one year at the CC (in their first or second year), transfer to the applicant institution and continue their participation in the ESTEEMED program as a sophomore there, or
  • participate in the ESTEEMED program for two years at the CC and then transfer to the applicant institution.

In both cases, after completing the two-year ESTEEMED program, the CC students are expected to join an honors program and complete a bachelor’s degree program at the applicant institution.

What is the path expected for an ESTEEMED scholar?

timeline showing the path through ESTEEM


The graphic explains the path an ESTEEMED scholar is expected to take for incoming freshman. The ESTEEMED program (green blocks – incoming summer through rising junior summer) will support the students starting with the summer before their freshman year through the summer between their sophomore and junior years. At the end of the ESTEEMED program, the ideal path will take an ESTEEMED scholar to an honors program (yellow blocks – junior and senior years) at the institution that prepares STEM students for doctoral programs in biomedical research fields. Upon graduating with a bachelor's degree, ESTEEMED scholars are expected to enroll in doctoral studies in a related field, most likely at a different institution (orange block).

While this graphic is depicted for incoming freshman, as above, community college students may enter the program in their first or second year, whether starting activities at the CC or applicant institution, but in either case, CC students are expected to complete a 2-year ESTEEMED program and join an honors program at the applicant institution.

What else is an important component of the ESTEEMED program?

Evaluation of the program is an important component of the ESTEEMED program so that best practices can be shared with the scientific community. See the Application Requirements section for developing a strong evaluation plan.

Application Requirements

Do Training Tables need to be submitted in the application?

Yes. For new, resubmission and renewal applications, undergraduate Training Tables 2, 3, and 4 need to be filled out to describe the faculty mentors in the program. Undergraduate Training Table 8D needs to be filled out to describe the undergraduate students.

For new applications, Table 8D Part II must be used to report on all students graduating in a field or from a program similar to the proposed undergraduate program in the last five years who would have been eligible for the proposed program, if an ESTEEMED award were available (U.S. citizens or permanent residents).

For renewal applications, Undergraduate Training Tables 5C which lists trainee publications must be based on all current trainees and those appointed to the grant for up to the past 10 years. Table 8D Part I must list sequentially, by year of entry into the program, all undergraduate students who have been supported by this grant at any time during the last 15 grant years, including those who did not complete the training program for any reason. If the grant has been active for less than 15 years, list all undergraduate students to date.

Where can complete instructions for filling out Training Tables be found?

Instructions for filling out undergraduate Training Tables and sample tables can be found here.

Where can blank Training Tables be found?

Blank undergraduate Training Tables to be filled out can be found here.

Are all ESTEEMED scholars expected to matriculate in a Ph.D. program in STEM field after undergraduate studies?

Yes. The stated goal is for the students to matriculate into a STEM doctoral degree program. Furthermore, the ultimate goal is for participants to complete a doctoral degree and pursue a subsequent research career in academics or industry in bioengineering or NIBIB-relevant field.

What is the maximum amount that can be requested per year?

A program can request up to $325,000 per year in direct costs.

How many programs will be funded?

This will depend on the availability of funds and the number of meritorious of applications.

How many students can be funded per program?

We envision a program will support up to a total of 10 (5 new and 5 continuing) scholars in any grant year.

Do applicants need to have an existing ESTEEMED-like program at their institution?

No. New programs are welcome to apply, as long as an honors program to accommodate the students in their junior and senior years exists at the institution.

Can programs without a federally-funded honors program apply?

Yes. Any internally or externally funded honors program that meets the above criteria is acceptable.

Can institutions with a pending MARC application still apply?

Yes, but we will need confirmation that the institution has an active advanced honors Program before we issue an award.

Are partnerships with other institutions required for this program?

No, they are not required but new programs and smaller institutions are strongly encouraged to have such partnerships (such as with community colleges) to maximize recruitment and research opportunities for scholars.

Is a letters of intent (LOI) required before application submission?

No, but it is strongly encouraged since it helps to estimate our workload. Please submit an LOI to Dr. Tina Gatlin one month ahead of the application due date. It would also be helpful to discuss your application with Dr. Gatlin before you apply.

What letters of support need to be submitted in the application?

We require letters of support indicating institutional commitment to the program (“Institutional Commitment Letter of Support”) and a letter from the director of the honors program. A letter from the director of the Summer Bridge Program, if other than the PI of the proposed ESTEEMED program, is encouraged. If you are partnering with other institutions, they should also provide a letter of support.

What should be included in the Evaluation Plan?

The Evaluation Plan must describe how the success of the program will be evaluated. It must specify baseline metrics (e.g., numbers, educational levels, and demographic characteristics of participants and any comparator groups), as well as metrics to gauge the short or long-term success of the research education award in achieving its objectives. Applicants are encouraged to use the hallmarks of success in assessing the impact of the program. Applications must describe a comparator group (a similar group not in the program), and the timepoints when data will be acquired from the participant and comparator groups (e.g., baseline, after freshman year, after sophomore year, at graduation, etc.), along with the methods used to collect the data. Applicants are encouraged to obtain feedback from participants to help identify weaknesses and provide suggestions for improvements, as well as to identify the strengths of the program to expand on and share with the education community.

Is the data collection performed to evaluate the program considered Human Subjects Research?

Yes, most likely. Your institution or its designee would make this determination. It is likely that human subjects work in ESTEEMED programs falls under Exemption 1 and/or 2. If your institution or its designee has determined that human subject research is involved, your institution’s IRB would determine whether any/which Exemptions apply.

What is a good strategy for preparing a strong application?

Read the NOFO carefully. Clearly describe the required elements and important components/features of your proposed program.  Make sure your description provides sufficient detail to address the review criteria listed in Section V. Application Review Information of the NOFO.

How else can I make sure my application fits ESTEEMED and I prepare a strong application?

Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their application with Dr. Tina Gatlin before starting to prepare their application.

Award Information

How many programs will be funded?

This will depend on the availability of funds and the number of meritorious applications.

How many students can be funded per program?

Depending on the size and resources of the institution, we envision a program will recruit 4 to 5 new participants per year, with a total of 8 to 10 participants supported in any grant year.

Does ESTEEMED provide salaries or stipends for program participants?

Salaries. These must be itemized and justified in the budget.

What are the caps for participant salaries during various phases of the program?

During the Summer Bridge program, participants may receive up to $4,000.

During the academic year, participants may be compensated for part-time work related to research education, up to $12,000.

During the summer research experiences, participants may be compensated for work in the research labs, up to $4,000.

Are faculty salaries allowed?

Yes, salaries may be requested for faculty members involved in the design, implementation and management of the program.

Are administrator salaries allowed?

Yes, salaries may be requested for non-faculty administrators who manage the day-to-day activities of the program.

Are costs for an external evaluator(s) allowed?

Yes, consultant costs for evaluation may be requested and are limited to $3,000 direct costs annually.

What items can be requested under Other Program-Related Expenses?

These are unique expenses that are required by the proposed program, such as consultant costs, equipment, supplies and personnel travel. Items such as supplies and equipment (such as printing paper or computers) generally available at the applicant institution must not be requested. Unique materials and resources that are not available and will only be used for the ESTEEMED program may be allowed at the discretion of the NIBIB Program Official. The total costs under this category may not exceed $25,000 per year. All expenses must be justified as specifically required by the proposed program in the budget justification section of the application.

Are costs for tuition allowed?

No. Tuition costs for participants to attend the institution are not allowed. Registration fees for participants to attend onsite and offsite ESTEEMEED-related workshops and conferences are allowed as other program-related expense.

Are mentoring and tutoring allowable expenses?

When program participants provide the tutoring or mentoring, this should be covered under the salary they receive. If individuals who are not participants of the ESTEEMED program provide the tutoring or mentoring, they can be paid under Program-Related Expenses. See below with respect to allowance for faculty mentors.

Is salary support for faculty mentors allowed?

No, since faculty research and one-on-one student research mentoring associated with this NOFO are considered a regular part of an academician's activities.

What are allowable costs for program participants during the summer?

For both the summer bridge and summer research experiences, NIBIB will provide up to $4,000 in direct costs per summer for salary, housing, and meal expenses. In addition, student participants undertaking an off-campus summer research experience will be allowed travel costs to/from the site if this cost is not covered by other resources.

Are Fringe Benefits allowable?

Yes, Fringe Benefits are allowable when requested.

What is the maximum amount that can be requested per year?

$325,000 in direct costs.

What is a reasonable amount to allocate for travel of speakers, workshop presenters, etc.?

The recommended cap for travel for speakers, workshop presenters, etc. is $1,500 per speaker, although this can be adjusted if strong justification is provided based on the uniqueness of speaker expertise, number of days and flight locations. However, please note that strong justification must be provided for travel of a speaker where similar expertise could be identified locally. Travel support is to be included as part of the $25,000 cap in "Other Program-Related Expenses" and is not a separate budget line item. The travel request, however, should be detailed in the budget justification section.

What is a reasonable amount to allocate for travel for PIs?

Travel for PI is allowed only to attend meetings specifically with the goal of disseminating outcomes of the ESTEEMED program and learn about similar educational programs’ best practices. The recommended cap for travel is $5,000/year for each PI, not to exceed $10,000/year for PI/multi-PI travel for the whole program. Keep in mind that travel support is to be included as part of the $25,000 cap in "Other Program-Related Expenses" and must be balanced with other needed expenses.

What can be included in personnel costs?

Salary and fringe. Total personnel salary must not exceed $80,000 per year.

Whom can I contact if I have other questions?

You can contact Dr. Tina Gatlin with any questions or to make sure your proposal fits the ESTEEMED program.