Frequently Asked Questions for the Multi-Sectoral Preventive Interventions Research Network

  • PAR-24-053: Multi-sectoral preventive interventions that address social determinants of health in populations that experience health disparities (UG3/UH3, Clinical Trial Required)
  • RFA-OD-24-006: Coordinating Center to Support Multi-Sectoral Preventive Interventions that Address Social Determinants of Health in Populations that Experience Health Disparities (U24, Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

The frequently asked questions (FAQs) detailed below are an ongoing compilation of questions related to the funding opportunities for the Multi-Sectoral Preventive Interventions (MSPI) Research Network, PAR-24-053 and RFA-OD-24-006, and will be updated as new questions are collected. Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with the scientific/research contact listed in the relevant funding opportunity to confirm that their research ideas are responsive and aligned with priorities of the participating National Institutes of Health (NIH) Institutes and Centers.

These FAQs are for illustrative purposes only and should not be viewed as definitive or comprehensive.


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What is the NIH definition of populations that experience health disparities?

Populations defined in section 464z-3(d)(1) of the Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. 285t(d)(1) as “health disparity populations” based on higher overall rates of disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity, mortality, or survival rates in the population as compared to the health status of the general population. NIH-designated U.S. health disparity populations currently include Black Americans/African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, underserved rural populations, sexual and gender minorities, and people living with disabilities.

How is a cooperative agreement different from a grant?

Unlike a grant, a cooperative agreement involves substantial involvement of NIH staff. For the MSPI Research Network, NIH staff will serve as project scientists and science advisors on UG3/UH3 research projects and the Coordinating Center U24. Like a grant, every cooperative agreement award has a program official and grants management specialist assigned to engage in the usual stewardship of NIH awards.

More information about roles and expectations for cooperative agreement awards is provided in “Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award” in Section VI of each funding opportunity.

How is a UG3/UH3 phased award different from other awards that include planning or development activities (e.g., the first year of an R01 being used to finalize an intervention protocol)?

Phased awards are different from non-phased awards like R01s in that the transition from planning or developmental activities to the implementation of the main project requires NIH approval. Transition approval is based on achieving stated milestones for the initial phase, and there is no guarantee that all projects funded for the first phase will transition to the next phase. 

How many UG3/UH3 awards will be made for PAR-24-053?

The number of awards is contingent upon NIH appropriations for the participating Institutes, Centers, and Offices and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.

How many U24 awards will be made for RFA-OD-24-006?

There will be a single U24 awarded.

How will the MSPI Research Network be funded?

Participating NIH Institutions and Centers will support the UG3/UH3 applications, with participating NIH Offices providing co-funding. The Coordinating Center U24 will be supported by the NIH Office of Disease Prevention and the NIH Office of Data Science Strategy.

Where will my application be peer reviewed?

Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit via a special emphasis panel convened by the NIH Center for Scientific Review. You can examine your eRA Commons account for review assignment and contact information two weeks after the submission due date.

Will I lose my Early Stage Investigator (ESI) status for a future R01 submission if I’m the Principal Investigator (PI) of a UG3/UH3 or U24 award?

Yes, if you are the Program Director (PD)/PI of a UG3/UH3 or U24 when it is awarded, you would no longer be considered an ESI for future R01 applications. Applicants are encouraged to review NIH’s ESI policies for more information, including a list of NIH grants and awards that a PD/PI can hold and still be considered an ESI.

We submitted an application to the Community Partnerships to Advance Science for Society Community-Led, Health Equity Structural Intervention (CHESI) Initiative that was not funded. Can we submit the same project as a UG3/UH3 in response to PAR-24-053?

Yes, if your proposed structural intervention involved multi-sectoral collaborations and focused on prevention. However, you will need to modify your application to fit the requirements of PAR-24-053 and the UG3/UH3 activity code. The required application sections, components, page limits, and review criteria differ from those in the CHESI OT2 funding opportunity. Please read PAR-24-053 in its entirety and the Research (R) Instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide carefully as you modify your CHESI application.

Eligibility for PAR-24-053 (UG3/UH3) and RFA-OD-24-006 (U24)

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Are non-academic institutions eligible to apply?

Yes. Please see Section III. Eligibility Information of the Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) for a listing of eligible organizations.

Are foreign institutions eligible to apply?

No, non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) and non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are not eligible to apply. Foreign components, as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, are allowed.

Can an organization submit more than one UG3/UH3 or U24 application?

Yes, applicant organizations may submit more than one application, provided that each application is scientifically distinct. NIH will not accept duplicate or highly overlapping applications under review at the same time.

Can an organization submit both a UG3/UH3 application and a U24 application?

Yes, it is possible for the same organization to apply to both funding opportunities. However, the organization should consider whether they would have the resources and personnel to support both awards, as well as an independent governance structure that would ensure adequate and impartial oversight. 

Are New Investigators (NIs) or ESIs eligible to serve as PIs? Will NI/ESI status be considered in peer review?

Yes, new and early stage investigators can serve as PIs or multiple PIs. NI/ESI status will not formally be considered during peer review. 

UG3/UH3: Multi-Sectoral Collaborations

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Does an academic-community partnership count as a multi-sectoral collaboration?


It depends. It would count as a multi-sectoral collaboration if the community partners represented two or more service sectors (e.g., health, public health, education, housing, labor, social services, child welfare, transportation, parks and recreation, commerce, justice, environmental protection, etc.). The academic institution itself would not count as a service sector unless university students were the focus of the preventive intervention. 

Can we show the involvement of collaborators from multiple service sectors through letters of support?

Yes, applicants are welcome to provide letters of support from collaborators. However, this is not sufficient to demonstrate multi-sectoral collaborations. To be responsive to the UG3/UH3 PAR (PAR-24-053), collaborations must be indicated by the inclusion of organizational representatives as key personnel and/or proposed subcontracts to the organizations.

Do multi-sectoral partners refer to organizations or individuals?

“Multi-sectoral partners” refer to organizations or agencies, not individuals. Representatives from these organizations should be included as key personnel as appropriate, and subcontracts to the organization can be used to support organization staff or other expenses associated with the project. Individuals not affiliated with a collaborating organization or agency, or without authority to act on behalf of the organization, would not constitute a multi-sectoral partner.

We are a community-based organization. Can NIH help us find academic or research partners to collaborate with on our application?

No, to maintain impartiality during the grant submission, peer review, and selection process, NIH cannot recommend specific individuals or organizations to potential applicants. However, NIH provides NIH RePORTER as a resource, where potential applicants can search for relevant active awards and reach out to the PIs of those awards.

UG3/UH3: Multi-Sectoral Interventions

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What makes an intervention multi-sectoral beyond having collaborators from different service sectors?

The UG3/UH3 PAR (PAR-24-053) defines a multi-sectoral intervention as “involving two or more service sectors (e.g., health, public health, education, housing, labor, social services, child welfare, transportation, parks and recreation, commerce, justice, environmental protection, etc.).” The nature of this involvement in intervention development, implementation, delivery, and/or evaluation is left up to applicants to specify and justify. Applicants can see the Areas of Research Interest of the participating NIH Institutes and Centers for multi-sectoral preventive interventions of interest in PAR-24-053.

There is a partial list of service sectors provided in the UG3/UH3 PAR. Is there a complete list of service sectors?

No, NIH does not have a definitive list of service sectors for the UG3/UH3. Investigators are strongly encouraged to reach out to the relevant scientific contacts in PAR-24-053 to discuss their proposed multi-sectoral interventions, as the participating Institutes and Centers have different priorities regarding service sectors and types of interventions.

Do community-based organizations count as their own service sector?

For the UG3/UH3 PAR, “sector” refers to the type of services an organization provides (e.g., healthcare, housing assistance) rather than the characteristics of the organization (e.g., public vs. private). Based on this definition, a governmental agency and a community-based organization could be classified within the same sector if they offered the same types of services (e.g., employment assistance). Investigators are encouraged to reach out to the relevant scientific contacts in PAR-24-053 to ensure that their proposed intervention meets the PAR definition of multi-sectoral.

Our project spans multiple service sectors, and we will randomize individuals to different intervention conditions addressing social determinants of health (SDOH). Is that study design responsive?

No, projects that only intervene at the individual level or use an individual-level randomized trial design are not responsive. The objective of the MSPI Research Network is to evaluate interventions that move beyond addressing knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of individuals to intervene upon SDOH that drive inequities. Interventions that modify SDOH beyond the individual level require corresponding study designs that examine units of analysis beyond the individual (e.g., health clinics, schools, neighborhoods, etc.).

Does NIH have a preferred study design to test the multi-sectoral intervention?

No, NIH does not have a preferred study design, with the exception that individual-level clinical trials are non-responsive. Methods consistent with plans for assignment of participants and delivery of interventions in groups or clusters (e.g., families, clinics, schools, worksites, communities, counties, states) should be documented in the application. Information about appropriate study designs is available at the NIH Research Methods Resources website. Sample size calculators for cluster randomized trial designs (both parallel group-randomized trials and stepped wedge group-randomized trials) are available at

Can projects evaluate natural experiments instead of doing a clinical trial?

No, projects that propose to evaluate natural experiments in the absence of conducting a prospective intervention implemented as part of the UG3/UH3 award would be non-responsive to PAR-24-053.

Do all participants in the intervention have to belong to populations that experience health disparities (HD populations)?

No, other populations may be included, as long as the study is adequately powered to identify intervention effects for the HD population(s) of focus and/or the impact of the intervention on reducing or eliminating disparities in health outcomes.

Are preliminary data required for UG3/UH3 research projects?

No, preliminary data are not required. However, describing preliminary studies in the application may help provide justification for the proposed multi-sectoral intervention and/or demonstrate that the research team has experience working in areas relevant to the proposed project. The proposed intervention is not required to be pilot tested prior to the start of the award; this may be proposed as one of the activities in the UH3 (implementation) phase.

Can the intervention include global/international sites?

No, interventions are required to have a focus on U.S. populations that experience health disparities, so international intervention sites are not responsive to PAR-24-053. However, personnel from foreign institutions may be involved as collaborators on UG3/UH3 projects.

MSPI Research Network Activities

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Will the funded UG3/UH3 research projects be required to follow a common/shared protocol and/or include common measures?

No, the MSPI Research Network does not require a common protocol for all projects, and it is likely that projects will be quite different in their focus. However, the expectation is that, with the support of the Coordinating Center, the network will identify common data elements as appropriate for the range of projects in the network.

Should we plan our intervention assuming that we can use data from participants in the other UG3/UH3 research projects to achieve our planned sample size?

No, each awarded UG3/UH3 is expected to be a stand-alone project with enough sites or participants to achieve the study aims without needing data from the other projects.

How much will recipients of UG3/UH3 awards interact with each other and the Coordinating Center?

UG3/UH3 recipients will be expected to participate in the network steering committee and other committees or workgroups as appropriate.  

Applicants are expected to budget for one in-person meeting in the Bethesda, MD, area annually, but the final schedule for in-person and virtual meetings will be established by the Coordinating Center and network steering committee.

Do we need to demonstrate collaborations with other UG3/UH3 or Coordinating Center applicants in our application?

No, the network will be established after the UG3/UH3 and U24 awards are made. There is no requirement to connect with other applicants beforehand.

The UG3/UH3 PAR says to describe “a plan for participating in MSPI Research Network activities.” What are we supposed to include in this plan if we don’t know what these activities will be?

The application should indicate an understanding that the proposed project will be part of a collaborative network and a willingness to work with the Coordinating Center. This plan can be brief.

Will each UG3/UH3 research project have its own advisory committees and data and safety monitoring board, or will these be managed by the Coordinating Center?

UG3/UH3 research projects are expected to establish and manage their own governance and oversight processes, including any advisory committees or boards, that are necessary to conduct the projects.

Will the Coordinating Center be responsible for performing data analysis for the UG3/UH3 research projects?

No, each UG3/UH3 research project will be responsible for analyzing data associated with its study aims and should budget accordingly. The Coordinating Center may be involved in data analysis for collaborative activities across multiple UG3/UH3 research projects.

Will UG3/UH3 research projects all use a single Institutional Review Board (IRB)?

No, because the UG3/UH3 projects will all have their own independent protocols, each UG3/UH3 project is responsible for obtaining IRB approval rather than the MSPI Research Network using a single IRB. However, individual UG3/UH3 projects conducting the same protocol at multiple sites would still be expected to adhere to the NIH Policy on the Use of a Single IRB for Multi-Site Research.

Application Elements for PAR-24-053 and RFA-OD-24-006

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Is a letter of intent (LOI) required?

No, LOIs are not required, are not binding, and are not part of the review of the submitted application. However, the information in the LOI enables scientific review officers to initiate the planning process for the scientific review meeting, which includes identifying expert reviewers. 

Are applications with multiple PIs permitted?

Yes. For institutions/organizations proposing multiple PDs/PIs, visit the Multiple Program Director/Principal Investigator Policy and submission details in the Senior/Key Person Profile (Expanded) Component of the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

Is there an upper limit for how many multiple PIs can be included on an application?

No. The decision of how many PIs to include on a multi-PI application is the responsibility of the investigators and the applicant organization. Those decisions should be consistent with and justified by the scientific goals of the project. Additional information on the NIH multi-PI option is available at

Do key personnel from non-academic organizations need to submit an NIH biosketch?

Yes, per the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, biosketches are required for all key personnel. All key personnel will need to demonstrate the ability to fill the roles that they are assigned for the project based on their relevant experience and expertise.

Is a Data Management and Sharing Plan required?

Yes, all applications, regardless of the amount of direct costs requested for any one year, must include a Data Management and Sharing Plan

Are scientific data required to be shared in a specific repository?

NIH encourages researchers to select the repository that is most appropriate for their data type and discipline.

Applications submitted to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) are expected to adhere to NIAAA’s expectations about scientific data from studies with human subjects as described in NOT-AA-23-002.

Are appendix materials allowed?

It depends. NIH restricts the use of appendices to limited types of materials. Do not include appendices unless you have carefully reviewed NIH requirements (see NOT-OD-18-126).

How many letters of support can be included in an application?

There is no limit to the number of letters of support that may be included in an application.  Submitted letters should describe specific roles and responsibilities of collaborators and/or resources they will provide. Letters of support that solely provide endorsement of the application in the absence of a specified collaborating role are discouraged.

UG3/UH3 Phased Awards

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Are the 12 pages of the Research Strategy primarily to provide details about the work to be completed in the UG3 (planning) phase of the project?

No, both the UG3 (planning) and UH3 (implementation) phases should be addressed in the Research Strategy, which must be no longer than 12 pages.

Can we propose a UH3 (implementation) phase longer than five years if we shorten the UG3 (planning) phase to one year?

No, the UH3 phase cannot be longer than five years, so proposing a shorter UG3 phase would not lengthen the UH3 phase.

What are milestones?

Milestones are objective measures of progress toward research goals and should represent the completion of specific tasks that are projected to have a significant impact on the completion of the project. Milestones must provide objective and quantitative outcomes by which to justify continued funding of the project. They must be measurable, have appropriate endpoints, and have specific due dates. For PAR-23-053, milestones are required for the UG3 and UH3 phases.

Should the milestones be included in the Research Strategy or uploaded as an attachment?

The milestones should be mentioned in the Research Strategy. Milestones can be fully specified in the Research Strategy or referenced in the Research Strategy and then fully specified in the Study Timeline attachment in the PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information section. 

If we reach our UG3 milestones early, can we begin conducting our intervention study before the UH3 phase starts?

No, activities planned for the UH3 (implementation) phase cannot start until NIH has approved the transition from the UG3 (planning) phase to the UH3 phase.

Our proposed UG3 activities do not include conducting an NIH-defined clinical trial, but there is a clinical trial in the UH3 phase. Do we still indicate in the application that a clinical trial is included?

Yes, because the application addresses both the UG3 and UH3 phases, the entire project must be classified as involving a clinical trial.

Does an additional application need to be submitted and peer reviewed for the UH3 (implementation) phase?

No, the request to transition from the UG3 to UH3 phase will be administratively reviewed and awarded by the administering NIH Institute or Center. The administrative review will determine the extent to which the peer reviewed milestones for the UG3 phase have been met.

U24 Coordinating Center

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What role does the Coordinating Center have in collecting, storing, and analyzing data generated by the UG3/UH3 research projects?

The Coordinating Center will provide consultation and technical assistance to the UG3/UH3 projects, which will be responsible for collecting, managing, storing, and analyzing their own local data. The Coordinating Center may conduct data analysis for collaborative activities across multiple UG3/UH3 projects.

Are Coordinating Center personnel expected to have expertise in multi-sectoral preventive interventions and health disparities?

The team for the Coordinating Center is expected to have demonstrated expertise in the three areas of responsibility outlined in RFA-OD-006: (1) administration, coordination, and communication; (2) methodology, data, and analytic support and consultation; and (3) community and other collaborator engagement and dissemination support. Expertise in the specific topic areas of multi-sectoral preventive interventions and health disparities will likely help the Coordinating Center provide effective technical assistance and support in these areas of responsibility.

Application Submission

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Where can I learn more about how to prepare and submit a grant application to NIH?

The NIH Grants and Funding webpage includes tutorials, videos, and other information regarding grant application preparation, writing, and submission. You can also watch videos about the NIH grants process from NIH experts with this YouTube playlist:

Where can I find help registering for or with my application submission?

For help with the registration process, visit or contact customer support at 1-800-518-4726 (toll free) or via email at

Where can I find help registering my institution or organization in eRA Commons?

For more information regarding the eRA Commons registration process, visit

For further information or assistance, contact the eRA Service Desk at 1-866-504-9552 (toll free) or 301-402-7469 from Monday–Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Time), or submit a web ticket at

Are we required to contact a program official or scientific contact before we submit our application?

No, contacting NIH program staff is not a requirement for submission, but it is strongly encouraged. This will help you determine if your proposed project is aligned with the priorities of one or more participating Institutes and Centers and that your application is responsive to the NOFO.

How do we decide which participating Institute or Center to submit a UG3/UH3 application to for PAR-24-053?

As always, applicants are strongly encouraged to reach out to the relevant scientific contacts listed in PAR-24-053 for more information about Institute or Center research priorities. It’s fine for applicants to reach out to multiple Institute or Centers before deciding which Institute or Center to request as the primary assignment.

If you need help determining the potential fit for several Institute or Centers, please contact Jennifer Alvidrez in the NIH Office of Disease Prevention,

Do we need to choose a specific Institute or Center when we submit our UG3/UH3 application to PAR-24-053?

Applicants responding to PAR-24-053 are not required to choose an Institute or Center when the application is submitted. Applicants may indicate their preferred Institute by submitting the PHS Assignment Request Form in the SF424 (R&R) application package, but the final decision regarding Institute or Center assignment will be made by NIH. Applications are assigned based on the relevance to an Institute’s or Center’s mission and scientific interests.

Do we need to request prior approval to submit a budget for PAR-24-053 (UG3/UH3) or RFA-OD-24-006 (U24) if the yearly budget equals or exceeds $500,000 in direct costs?

No, because the budget limits are specified in the NOFOs, permission to submit a large budget is not required.

What does my organization need to do to submit an application through

It is important that you check with your sponsored research office in advance of application preparation to determine whether your institution is registered with The institution’s Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) is responsible for completing the registration process. If your institution is not already registered, it must first register with the System for Award Management and then with

Both the institution and the investigator must also complete a one-time registration in the NIH eRA Commons to submit applications to NIH. Institutional officials are responsible for registering investigators in the eRA Commons. You should work with your AOR (also known as the Signing Official in the eRA Commons) to determine your own institution’s process for registration.

All key personnel now require an individual eRA Commons username/ID. If any key personnel are from organizations not currently registered with eRA Commons, see Special Registration Instructions for Unaffiliated/Independent Applicants (PDF) for available options.

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