R25 NIH Neuroscience Doctoral Readiness Program (DR. Program)

To provide high quality research experiences for a diverse cadre of postbaccalaureates who have not had access to substantive research opportunities

Program Announcement


Current Awardees

Columbia University 

Columbia Access to Doctoral REadiness (CADRE)

Principal Investigators: Wesley Grueber and Ulrich Hengst 

Harvard Medical School

Program in Neuroscience Post-Baccalaureate (PiNBAC)

Principal Investigators: John Assad, Sandeep Datta, Taralyn Tan

University of Iowa

Iowa: Diversifying Research And Mentorship (iDREAM)

Principal Investigators: Rainbo Hultman, Daniel Tranel, Michelle Webb Voss

University of Kentucky


Principal Investigators: John Gensel, Luke Bradley

University of Utah

Intermountain Doctoral Education to Advance Students (IDEAS) in Neuroscience

Principal Investigators: Karen Wilcox, Ryan O'Connell

Washington University in St. Louis

WashU NeuroPrep

Principal Investigators: Paul Taghert, Timothy Holy, Jose Moron-Concepcion

Additional Information

This Limited Competition Doctoral Readiness (DR) Program is intended to provide neuroscience research experience, neuroscience education, skills development and education about choosing graduate programs, mentors, and careers to research-oriented postbaccalaureate participants from diverse backgrounds, including those from groups underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. The goal of this two-year research education program is to enable participants to successfully transition into strong, research-focused, doctoral degree programs (e.g., Ph.D., M.D./Ph.D.) in biomedical fields. These DR Programs are only intended to support individuals from institutions that do not offer undergraduates access to substantive research opportunities. Funded programs are expected to provide participants with a strong research experience, together with neuroscience education and activities that will build a strong cohort of neuroscience research-oriented individuals. All funded R25 programs are also expected to actively promote fully inclusive research environments (i.e., institutional, departmental, and individual laboratory), where researchers from all backgrounds and career stages are included, fully integrated into, and supported equally by the community.

This research education program will be integrated within an established T32 research training program to enhance neuroscience research identity, self-efficacy, and sense of belonging among all participants within the neuroscience research community. It will facilitate the entry of participants into an existing cohort within which they can participate in career-building activities with others that have similar goals. This integration will afford opportunities to participate in activities that have been developed locally, and evaluated by the NIH peer review process, as best practices for helping individuals succeed as neuroscience researchers. Additionally, the program will demonstrate to participants what graduate school trainees are offered in a strong graduate program, and will expose them to models of mentorship and graduate school education. Combined, the experiences in the Neuroscience DR Program will enable participants to make informed choices about the types of research and/or careers in which they may have an interest, the variety of mentorship models that exist within a graduate program, and differences in institutions and programs to which they might apply for graduate education.

Programmatic activities must include, but are not limited to, active participation in a strong research project, communication skills development, and strong mentorship. Activities should also include those typically associated with graduate education, such as participation in seminars, journal clubs, presentation at national meetings. Didactics should not be the primary focus of the experience. Any courses taken should relate to the requirements for admission to neuroscience-focused doctoral degree programs at research-intensive institutions. Finally, participants should be considered integral contributors to an on-going, funded research project with the opportunity for co-authorship of publications resulting from their contribution to the research project. In addition to the skills, knowledge, and accomplishments that they will gain from the DR Program, a critical objective is for participants to gain a clear understanding of the daily life of a career in neuroscience research and an understanding of the nature of different graduate programs at different institutions. DR Program participants should also have opportunities to learn about other potential careers that utilize PhD Training. DR Program participants will be required to devote full time professional effort to the DR Program and are expected to attend at least one NINDS sponsored meeting of T32 graduate program trainees.

Representational diversity at all levels contributes to innovation and excellence in research environments and strengthens the entire research enterprise. This NOFO is intended to support outstanding research education programs that will directly enhance diversity at the graduate school level. The linking of this R25 to T32 graduate programs is intended to provide participants with the knowledge, research experience, communication skills, and confidence to successfully navigate the admissions process into a strong, neuroscience graduate program.

NINDS supports applications focused on research experiences that address or seek fundamental knowledge in a research area related to the associated NINDS T32. Research can include studies on healthy or diseased brain, spinal cord, or peripheral nerves. NINDS also encourages research focused on understanding and addressing disparities in neurologic health and disease in disparate populations, including racial and ethnic minorities, the geographically disadvantaged, sexual and gender minorities, and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent inequality and socioeconomic disadvantage. Research experience can focus on participation in basic, translational, and/or clinical research projects. 



Stephen Korn, Ph.D. | Director, Office of Training & Workforce Development 

Marguerite Matthews, Ph.D. | Program Director