AACAP Physician Scientist Program in Substance Abuse K12 Award

Number of Openings: 6
Term: Up to 5 years
Type of Research Supported: Clinical Research in Substance Abuse/Addiction
Amount of Non-Salary Yearly Research Support: $50,000

K12 Applications Due: December 15, 2015
Letter of Intent Due (Strongly Recommended): November 1, 2015

Notification of Awards: February 5, 2016
Appointment Start Date: March 1, 2016

Principal Investigator (PI)/Program Director (PD): Paula Riggs, MD, University of Colorado Denver
Program Administrator (PA): Carmen Head, MPH, CHES, AACAP Director, Department of Research, Training and Education

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) is requesting applications for the AACAP Physician Scientist Program in Substance Abuse K12 award (5K12 DA000357-17) funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The grant provides up to five years of salary support, research support, and mentored addiction research training for qualified child and adolescent psychiatrists (CAPs) who intend to establish careers as independent investigators in mental health and addiction research. AACAP’s Career Development Program will support the research career development of junior faculty who complete CAP fellowship training on or before June 30, 2016 and who have mentorship and a solid career development plan for research training in drug abuse and addiction.

Applicants will design career development and research training programs together with their research mentors that will enable them to establish academic careers as independently funded investigators in addiction-related research in basic science, clinical, or translational research which may include:  prevention, early intervention or treatment research related to drug abuse and/or HIV risk reduction; epidemiology; etiology; genetics, gene-environment interactions or pharmacogenetics; developmental risk factors; psychiatric comorbidity; medical comorbidity including HIV, pathophysiology; services research; special populations (minorities, pregnancy, juvenile justice); health disparities; and imaging studies. Other areas of investigation related to child and adolescent psychiatry addiction research will also be considered if the feasibility, significance, and relevance to addiction research and public health impact are clearly articulated and supported in the application.

Any child and adolescent psychiatrist with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research and career development activities is invited to submit an application for support. Eligible candidates must have an MD or DO degree and complete CAP fellowship training on or before June 30, 2016.

Citizenship. Eligibility is limited to United States citizens, non-citizen nationals, or individuals lawfully admitted for permanent residence and possess an Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-151 or I-551) or some other verification of legal admission as a permanent resident. Individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible for this program.

Prior research experience. At the time support begins, Scholars may not have served as the principal investigator (PI) on an NIH research project (e.g. R01) or equivalent non-PHS peer-reviewed research grant over $100,000 in direct costs per year. Scholars may not hold any other PHS award that duplicates the provisions of this career award. During the period of this award, Scholars are encouraged to apply for, and may accept and hold, new independent research grant support.

The following criteria will be used by the K12 Advisory Committee to evaluate applications from Scholar candidates. Top candidates will be interviewed by telephone.

  • Candidate must show evidence of interest in and commitment to research in drug abuse and addiction.
  • Candidate must clearly describe short-term and long-term career goals. These will help identify applicants whose career goals are in accord with the objectives of the K12 program.
  • Applicants must be able to define a specific research question or set of questions to be addressed during the program (see Application Instructions). The scientific and public health significance of the topic and the applicant’s strength of commitment to the topic will be evaluated. The focus of research must be consistent with program objectives, specifically including a focus on drug abuse and aligned with NIDA research priorities.
  • Applicants as Scholars must devote a minimum of 75% of full-time professional effort (9 person months) to the NIDA K12 Program.
  • The applicant’s primary home institution mentor’s expertise, accessibility, mentorship track record, resources, and enthusiasm for the applicant will be taken into account. The applicant’s primary mentor should also have a consistent track record of extramural research funding.  If the applicant’s primary home institution mentor is not a NIDA-funded investigator, the applicant should identify a co-mentor with specific research expertise relevant to the applicant’s proposed research. The applicant’s primary mentor is expected to attend annual K12 retreats.


  1. Duration of the Award. Scholars will receive up to 5 years of salary support at a minimum of 75% effort per year. Each year of funding is contingent on satisfactory participation in K12 activities and progress toward the Scholar’s individual career goals, as well as continued support from the Scholar’s mentor and department.
  2. Career Development Plan. While each K12 Scholar will have an individually-tailored career development and training plan, core aspects of each applicant’s training plan should include coursework and/or mentored training experiences/rotations designed to address the following six objectives: (1) increase addiction knowledge base; (2) develop fundamental clinical research skills; (3) enhance statistical knowledge and skills; (4) enhance research presentation skills; (5) improve scientific writing skills; and (6) provide professional development opportunities. Scholars are required to write and submit an NIH-level grant proposal by the end of the second year of K12 support.
  3. Mentors. Each K12 Scholar must have a primary mentor who is an accomplished investigator with a strong track record of extramural research funding. If the primary mentor is not a NIDA-funded investigator, an appropriate co-mentor should be identified who is actively involved in drug abuse research. Mentors should have a successful record of engendering scholars’ independence and ability to obtain independent research funding. Proposed mentors should also provide evidence of their commitment to mentoring the Scholar throughout the award period. Finally, primary mentors are expected to attend K12 annual retreats held in June.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Program Director (Riggs) for technical assistance early in the application process. Letters of Intent are also strongly encouraged. Letters of Intent should not exceed 4 pages (11 point font) and should be submitted electronically, along with a copy of the candidate’s current CV, to the Program Administrator, Carmen Head (email) on or before November 1, 2015 by 5:00pm EST. Letters of Intent should include the following information:

  • Brief description of candidate applicant’s qualifications, current academic affiliation and position, and contact information
  • Brief description of primary mentor’s qualifications and commitment
  • Brief description of candidate’s primary area of research focus and key questions to be addressed in K12 research proposal.
  • Brief description of candidate’s career goals, interest, and commitment to an academic research career in an area of addiction-related research.


Applications (including the following sections only)* should be prepared according to instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, including Section 7: Supplemental Instructions to the SF424 (R&R) for Preparing an Individual Research Career Development Award (CDA) Application (“K” Series), except where otherwise specified below. You may consult the following Program Announcements for further guidance*: Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23) (NIDA PA-14-049) or Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (K08) (NIDA PA-14-046).

Completed applications must be submitted online in a single PDF file to the Program Administrator, Carmen Head (email) by 5:00 PM EST on December 15, 2015, adhering to the instructions provided below.

  1. SPECIFIC AIMS (1 page)
    All instructions in the SF424(R&R) Application Guide must be followed, bearing in mind the Scholar Selection criteria on page 2 of this document and organized according to the following subheadings:

Candidate’s Background

  • Provide evidence of your commitment to a research career in drug abuse.
  • Describe your previous research experience, including your role in the project(s).
  • Highlight examples of your productivity (e.g. pursuing an original research question, analyzing data, pursuing extramural funding, and presenting or publishing your findings).
  • Describe how your previous training and the research and training proposed in this application are related to short-term and long-term career plans and objectives.

Career Goals and Objectives

  • State your short-term and long-term research career goals, including the type of research you plan to conduct and the potential scientific impact your research will have on drug abuse and addiction
  • Explain how participating in the K12 program will prepare you to compete successfully for an NIH grant, such as an R03, R21, or R01.
  • Justify the need for protected time afforded through a K12 career development award.

Plan for Career Development/Training Activities During the Award Period

  • Explain what additional training you need to achieve your research career development goals in the area of drug abuse and addiction. Identify specific areas where you have deficiencies and describe how you will obtain additional training in each area.
  • Describe the role of your primary mentor and any secondary/co-mentors if applicable.  Be specific and refer back to your proposed training and/or research plan whenever possible.
  • Explain how you will benefit from the K12 program and how it will contribute to the development of your independent research career in drug abuse and addiction.


All applications must include a plan to fulfill NIH requirements for instruction in Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). Applicants lacking a Plan for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research will not be reviewed. The plan must address the five, required instructional components outlined in NIH policy: 1) Format - the required format of instruction, i.e., face-to-face lectures, coursework, and /or real-time discussion groups ( a plan with only on-line instruction is not acceptable); 2) Subject Matter - the breadth of subject matter, e.g., conflict of interest, authorship, data management, human subjects and animal use, laboratory safety, research misconduct, research ethics; 3) Faculty Participation – the role of mentors(s) and other faculty involvement in the instruction; 4) Duration of Instruction – the number of contact hours of instruction, taking into consideration the duration of the program, and 5) Frequency of Instruction – instruction must occur during each career stage and at least once every four years. See also NOT-OD-10-019.

4. RESEARCH PLAN (6 pages)

The Research Plan or Research Strategy (6 pages). Include any tables, graphs, figures diagrams, or charts in this section. If an applicant has multiple Specific Aims, then the applicant may address Significance, Innovation and Approach for each Specific Aim individually, or may address Significance, Innovation and Approach for all of the Specific Aims collectively.

Research Strategy

a. Significance

  • Explain the importance of the problem or critical barrier to progress in the field that the proposed project addresses
  • Explain how the proposed project will improve scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice.
  • Describe how the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive the field will be changed if the proposed aims are achieved.

b. Innovation

  • Explain how the application challenges and seeks to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms.
  • Describe any novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation or interventions to be developed or used, and any advantage over existing methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions.
  • Explain any refinements, improvements, or new applications of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation or interventions.

c. Approach

  • Describe the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses to be used to accomplish the specific aims of the project. Include how the data will be collected, analyzed, and interpreted as well as any resource sharing plans as appropriate
  • Discuss potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success anticipated to achieve the aims.
  • If the project is in the early stages of development, describe any strategy to establish feasibility, and address the management of any high-risk aspects of the proposed work.
  • Address whether minorities, children, and both males and females will be included.

Bibliography and References Cited (no page limit)

Protection of Human Subjects (no page limit)
If applicable, provide justification for the involvement of human subjects. Address the following: 1) risk to subjects, 2) adequacy of protections against risks, 3) potential benefits to the subjects and others, 4) importance of the knowledge to be gained, and 5) data and safety monitoring for clinical trials.

Vertebrate Animals (no page limit)
If applicable, provide justification for the involvement of vertebrate animals as part of the scientific assessment according to the following five points: 1) proposed use of the animals, and species, strains, ages, sex, and numbers to be used; 2) justifications for the use of animals and for the appropriateness of the species and numbers proposed; 3) adequacy of veterinary care; 4) procedures for limiting discomfort, distress, pain and injury to that which is unavoidable in the conduct of scientifically sound research including the use of analgesic, anesthetic, and tranquilizing drugs and/or comfortable restraining devices; and 5) methods of euthanasia and reason for selection if not consistent with the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia. For additional information, please refer to http://grants.nih.gov/grants/olaw/VASchecklist.pdf.

Plans and Statements of Mentor and Co-mentor(s) (6 pages)

  • The candidate must name a primary mentor who, together with the candidate, is responsible for the planning, directing, monitoring, and executing the proposed program. The candidate may also nominate co-mentors as appropriate to the goals of the program.
  • The primary mentor should be recognized as an accomplished investigator in the proposed research area and have a successful track record of training and mentoring new investigators who achieve research independence. If the primary mentor is not an established addiction researcher, a secondary addiction research co-mentor should be named.
  • The application must include a statement from the mentor providing: 1) information on his/her research qualifications and previous experience as a mentor and research supervisor; 2) a plan that describes the nature of the supervision and mentoring that will occur during the proposed award period; 3) a plan for career progression for the candidate to move towards research independence; 4) a plan for monitoring the candidate’s research, publications, and progression towards independence.
  • Include a statement that the candidate will commit at least 9 person-months (75% of full-time professional effort) to the K12 program and related career development activities.
  • Similar information must be provided for any co-mentor. Co-mentors should clearly describe how they will coordinate mentoring of the candidate. If a co-mentor is not located at the sponsoring institution, a statement should be provided describing the mechanism(s) and frequency of communication with the candidate, including the frequency of face-to-face meetings.
  • The Scholar’s primary mentor must agree to attend annual K12 retreats and provide annual evaluations of the candidate’s progress as required for the annual progress report.



  • The sponsoring institution must document a strong, well-established research and career development program with key faculty members and other investigators capable of productive collaboration with the candidate.
  • Describe how the institutional research environment is particularly suited for development of the candidate’s research career and the pursuit of proposed research plan.


  • The sponsoring institution must provide a statement of commitment to the candidate’s development into a productive, independent investigator and to meeting the requirements of this award.
  • Provide assurance that the candidate will be able to devote a minimum of 9 person-months (75% of full-time professional effort) protected time for the candidate to devote to the proposed research, training, and career development activities of the K12 award.


  • Complete according the instructions for Fellowship Applicant Biosketch, Postdoctoral, found on the SF424 Application Information page, except you may eliminate Section D “Scholastic Performance”.


  • Provide according to the instructions for General Biographical Sketch found on the SF424 Application Information page.If additional mentors or consultants are involved, a letter of support and NIH biosketch must be included from each additional mentor.
  • If additional mentors or consultants are involved, a letter of support and NIH biosketch must be included from each additional mentor.


  • Complete a budget and budget justification for research-related expenses (maximum $50,000) and salary support for Year 01 (not to exceed $90,000 for 75% effort) with indirect costs not to exceed 8%, using budget template. Consult the SF424 Application Guide for general guidance on preparing NIH budgets and justifications.
  • For those of you who are starting March 1, or who have already graduated from CAP fellowship, please use the attachment titled, Scholar Budget Template – March 1 start date.xlsx.
  • For those of you who are starting July 1, or who are not graduating from CAP fellowship until the end of June, please use the attachment titled, Scholar Budget Template – July 1 start date.xlsx.

Application Formatting and Submission Information
Font: Arial, 11 point
Paper size: 8 ½” x 11”

Completed applications must be submitted online in a single PDF file by 5:00 PM EST on December 15, 2015, adhering to the instructions provided. DO NOT include any supplementary materials (e.g. appendices) as these will not be reviewed. Please submit your application to (email).

Questions regarding the Program, Letters of Intent or preparation of applications should be directed to Paula Riggs M.D., K12 Program Director (paula.riggs@ucdenver.edu) or to Carmen J. Head, MPH, CHES, AACAP Director of Research, Training, and Education at (email).