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LRP Director's Blog

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Cheers to 2024!

Matthew Lockhart, M.B.A.

Posted on

Happy New Year!

I hope your holiday season was a restful and enjoyable one. As the FY 2024 Loan Repayment Program (LRP) application cycle concluded on November 16th, it is noteworthy that more than 2,100 researchers nationwide applied for an award. If you’d like to know where we are in the review process, take a look at our annual application cycle timeline .

A significant change in the recent application cycle was the expansion of the Clinical Research LRP for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds (L32) where applications can now be assigned, reviewed, and potentially funded by any of the 24 NIH Institutes and Centers that participate in the Extramural LRP. We fully expect this expansion to mirror the positive outcomes we observed with the expansion of the Health Disparities Research LRP (L60) that took place in 2020.

Fiscal Year

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

2023

L60 Success Rate

22%

23%

15%

21%

37%

44%

49%

61%

L60 Applications

512

462

451

392

462

437

471

437

L60 Awards

111

105

67

83

171

193

231

267

If you missed the opportunity to apply for an LRP award last November, you can stay informed about upcoming events leading to the next application cycle, which opens on September 1, 2024, by subscribing to our emails. Additionally, you can follow us on X/Twitter and Facebook for updates and announcements.

For inquiries, you can reach us at 866-849-4047 (Mon-Fri 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST) or lrp@nih.gov .

Wishing you a successful and productive 2024.

Best regards,
Matthew Lockhart, M.B.A.

Posted on

Beginning on September 1, 2023, NIH will expand participation in the Extramural Clinical Research LRP for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds (Clinical IDB LRP) to include all NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs). Previously, all Clinical IDB LRP applications were assigned to and reviewed by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). Applicants will now have the option of selecting one NIH IC for primary review assignment and, if desired, one additional IC for secondary review assignment.   Assignments are determined by the Division of Receipt and Referral, Center for Scientific Review. Although an applicant's selection will be taken under consideration, it is not a guarantee of a desired assignment.

An individual from a disadvantaged background is defined as an individual who comes from (1) an environment that inhibited the individual from obtaining the knowledge, skill, and ability required to enroll in and graduate from a health professions school; or (2) comes from a family with an annual income below a level based on low-income thresholds according to family size.  For more information, check out the published notice of funding opportunity (NOFO).

In 2001, during the first year of implementation, 17 applicants received an award through the Clinical IDB LRP. Since 2013, 36% of Clinical IDB LRP applications have been funded.

“We’ve had a number of expansions and additions over the years, and we’re thrilled to usher in a new era for the Clinical IDB LRP,” said Matthew Lockhart, M.B.A., Director, Division of Loan Repayment. “The expansion of this latest subcategory further emphasizes the NIH’s investment in the biomedical research workforce. What we saw with the Health Disparities LRP expansion is pretty remarkable and we’re optimistic that the same will happen with the Clinical IDB LRP.”

As a reminder, the objective of the NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs) is to recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals to careers in biomedical or biobehavioral research.  If you are a qualified health professional who agrees to engage in NIH mission-relevant research for at least 20 hours per week at nonprofit or government institution, you may be eligible to apply to the one of the extramural LRP subcategories:

  • Clinical Research: Patient-oriented research conducted with human subjects;
  • Pediatric Research: Research that is directly related to diseases, disorders, and other conditions in children;
  • Health Disparities Research: Research that focuses on minority and other health disparity populations;
  • Research in Emerging Areas Critical to Human Health (REACH): For researchers pursuing major opportunities or gaps in emerging areas of human health;  
  • Clinical Research for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds: Available to clinical investigators from disadvantaged backgrounds;
  • Contraception and Infertility Research: Research on conditions impacting the ability to conceive and bear young.

This year, the LRP application cycle will open on September 1 and close on November 16.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to review each IC Mission and Research Priorities statement and then contact one or more IC scientific LRP liaisons to discuss their research and career interests as it relates to the research and funding priorities of the selected IC.  Research and funding priorities can change on a yearly basis, so it is essential that applicants contact a liaison – ideally in advance of the opening of the application cycle – to ensure an appropriate understanding of IC priorities. You can find the list of NIH IC scientific LRP liaisons here.

For additional assistance, call or e-mail the LRP Information Center at 866-849-4047 (Mon-Fri 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST) or lrp@nih.gov. You can also follow the NIH Division of Loan Repayment on Twitter and Facebook for more information and cycle updates.

Posted on

Are you a Loan Repayment Program (LRP) awardee or supervisor? If so, I've got some exciting news for you! The Division of Loan Repayment (DLR) and the Office of Electronic Research Administration have been working tirelessly over the past two years to enhance cybersecurity and transition LRP modules into the eRA enterprise.

DLR and eRA were able to move the LRP application to ASSIST, a system used to prepare and submit applications electronically to NIH and other Public Health Service agencies in September 2021.  And the latest result? Two new portals were launched in March 2023 - one for LRP awardees and the other for LRP supervisors.

So, what's in it for you? The new portals are designed to make your life easier by allowing you to view and perform LRP functions within your very own eRA Commons account. Let's take a closer look at what each portal has to offer.

LRP Participant Portal

The LRP participant portal offers a comprehensive snapshot of your LRP award, right at your fingertips. You can now log into your eRA Commons account to view a listing of your student loans, past and future payments, as well as your research, service, and payment verification history. With the participant portal, you can interact with DLR regarding updates and changes to your LRP award. You can even upload documents to verify your LRP payments, making it easier for you to manage your LRP portfolio.

LRP Supervisor Portal

As a research supervisor, you play a vital role in ensuring that LRP awardees are fulfilling their contractual obligations. The supervisor portal makes it easier for you to do just that. You can log into your eRA Commons account to answer questions for each LRP participant under your supervision. At the end of an awardee's service period, you'll receive an email prompting you to log in to eRA Commons, where you can access the portal to engage with an interactive wizard to verify an LRP awardee's research service hours and requirements.

With the new LRP portals, you'll have everything you need to manage your LRP award in one convenient location. Plus, with enhanced cybersecurity measures, our LRP awardees can rest assured that their financial data is safer and more secure.

So, whether you're an LRP awardee or supervisor, be sure to log in to your eRA Commons account to take advantage of these exciting new portals. I’m confident you'll find them to be a game-changer.

Looking Back, Moving Forward

Matthew Lockhart, M.B.A.

Posted on

Spring is in the air, and I can’t wait to get outside to enjoy nature’s playground on a regular basis.  We’re well into the new year, but I wanted to connect with you to provide some updates and introduce myself.

Last June, I was named the new Director of the Division of Loan Repayment within the NIH Office of Extramural Research.  In this role, I’m responsible for administering and providing leadership for the NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs) as well as representing NIH on matters related to the operations, policy development and evaluation of the LRPs.  When I learned that I was going to be the new director, it was a surreal feeling for me because this was where I started my career as a student intern.  Talk about a full circle moment.

As you know, the period to apply for FY 2023 LRP awards closed in November 2022, and we received more than 1,900 applications - all of which are currently under review. If you’re curious about when funding decisions will be announced, take a look at our application cycle timeline. Remember that more than 1,300 scientists benefit from the over $90 million NIH invests each year through the extramural LRPs. On average, nearly 50% of all new LRP applications are funded, and these awards are competitively renewable (for a one- or two-year period) until all educational debt is repaid.

In the spirit of data, this is a reminder that we’ve recently updated our data dashboard to reflect FY 2022 statistics including our newest subcategory, Research in Emerging Areas Critical to Human Health (REACH LRP).  Key features from the Dashboard include:

  • Ready access to 10 years’ worth of program statistics
  • 18 data widgets that can be adjusted/filtered by year, LRP and award type
  • Easy export of all data to an Excel compatible format

I would like to personally thank all of the LRP Ambassadors, and champions of the programs for spreading the word and encouraging your colleagues to apply. Whether it’s a tweet, email, call, or text message – your efforts are invaluable! If you think your institution or organization could benefit from a presentation about the LRP, send an email to lrp.communications@mail.nih.gov and we will be happy to schedule something. We also host several events leading up to the application submission deadline so if you’d like to stay informed, feel free to subscribe to our mailing list.

If you or one of your colleagues plan to apply for during the upcoming cycle, now is the time to reach out to an LRP program officer to discuss your research and career interests as it relates to the research and funding priorities of the selected IC (Institute or Center).  If you need a little inspiration, check out the Q&A with Raushanah Newman, Program Officer in the Office of Research Training and Special Programs, at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). 

While traveling to scientific conferences last fall, I had the opportunity to meet hundreds of people at various stages of their education and/or research careers from all over the country.  I was especially struck by how different people had common misunderstandings about the LRP.  In response to that, we’ve put together a handy document that dispels some of the misconceptions about the LRP that seem to be floating around in the extramural research community.

The period to apply for FY 2024 LRP awards opens on September 1, 2023 and closes on November 16, 2023. For additional assistance, call or e-mail the LRP Information Center at 866-849-4047 (Mon-Fri 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST) or lrp@nih.gov. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more information about the LRP, including program announcements and updates.