NIH Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) Program: FIRST Cohort (U54 Clinical Trial Optional)

  • Limited
  • Anywhere
  • January 22, 2021

Website National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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 (defined below). 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 overall goals and specific measurable objectives that the program expects FIRST Cohort awardee institutions to accomplish are:

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 NIH intends to commit up to a total of $70.5M to fund up to four awards in 2021. Application budgets are limited to $300,000 direct cost per award in year one; $3,275,000 direct cost per year per award in years 2-4; and $120,000 direct cost per award in year 5 and need to reflect the actual needs of the proposed project.

Internal Application Process

UCI may submit only one application for this award opportunity, therefore interested applicants are asked to submit a preliminary application to the Office of Research (via UCI Review), with the following information by Friday, January 22, 2021:

  • Project Description (no more than two pages) identifying the project scope that addresses the key aspects and elements of the sponsor’s solicitation, principal investigators, collaborators, and partner organizations.
  • NIH Style Biosketch of the PI/CO-PIs

Following receipt of the internal applications, an ad hoc committee will be convened to review the proposals.  The selected candidate will be notified in time to meet the March 1, 2021 deadline for full proposals (though we will make every effort to complete the review before the optional LOI deadline of 2/1/2021, that cannot be guaranteed and will be largely dependent on the number of internal proposals received).

Questions about our internal campus review process may be directed to
Director of Research Development, Mike Gallo at or x-3752.

To apply for this opportunity please visit

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