AIM-AHEAD Program for Artificial Intelligence Readiness (PAIR)
Call for Proposals
AIM-AHEAD Program for Artificial Intelligence Readiness (PAIR)
Call for Proposals
Solicitation Release Date: April 29, 2023
Application Due Date: June 20th, 2023
Earliest Start Date: September 15, 2023
Synopsis of Program
The Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity (AIM-AHEAD) consortium was established to increase the participation and representation of researchers and communities currently considered underrepresented by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) definition (https://diversity.nih.gov/about-us/population-underrepresented) in biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social science professional careers in the development and application of AI/ML, to address health disparities and inequities.
The AIM-AHEAD Program for AI Readiness (PAIR) aims to leverage AIM-AHEAD resources to jump start AI research for health equity in minority serving institutions (MSI) with inadequate resources. Many of the low-resource organizations face considerable challenges due to their limited experience in AI/ML research as applied to health equity, insufficient AI/ML infrastructure, lack of synergies across disciplines, and inadequate grant funding capabilities. The PAIR program is designed for these organizations to strengthen the foundations for sustainable success in AI/ML health equity research. Through a two-phase funding model, PAIR will connect institutions with AIM-AHEAD resources, AI/ML and health equity experts, and grant-writing coaches to help establish AI/ML Health Equity Research Labs that host cross-disciplinary teams for research projects and grant writing.
PAIR will facilitate collaboration from multiple disciplines such as computer science, biomedical sciences, social sciences, behavioral sciences, healthcare, ethics, and statistics, which is essential for using AI/ML to improve health equity.
AIM-AHEAD program has established mutually beneficial, coordinated, and trusted partnerships to enhance the participation and representation of researchers and communities currently underrepresented in the development of AI/ML models and to improve the capabilities of this emerging technology. The AIM-AHEAD coordinating center was established to enhance diversity in the field of AI/ML, with emphasis on reducing health disparities and promoting health equity. AIM-AHEAD will achieve this goal by engaging in a fair, equitable, and transparent process of building a consortium of AI/ML to promote health equity and an inclusive and diverse workforce. Many communities have untapped potential to contribute new expertise, data, recruitment strategies, and cutting-edge science to the AI/ML field. AIM-AHEAD Coordinating Center seeks to increase participation and engagement through mutually beneficial partnerships, stakeholder engagement, and outreach to advance health equity.
NIH is committed to leveraging the potential of AI/ML to accelerate the pace of biomedical innovation, while prioritizing and addressing health disparities and inequities. Tackling the complex drivers of health disparities and inequities requires an innovative and transdisciplinary framework that transcends scientific and organizational silos. Mutually beneficial and trusted partnerships can be established to enhance the participation and representation of researchers and communities currently underrepresented in AI/ML modeling and application, and improve the capabilities of data curation. The AIM-AHEAD Coordinating Center is a consortium of institutions and organizations that have a core mission to serve minorities and other under-represented or underserved groups impacted by health disparities.
The AIM-AHEAD Coordinating Center consists of 4 Cores:
- Administration/Leadership Core - Lead, recruit, and coordinate the AIM-AHEAD Consortium
- Data Science Training Core - Assess, develop, and implement data science training curriculum
- Data and Research Core - Address research priorities and needs to form an inclusive basis for AI/ML
- Infrastructure Core - Assess data, computing, and software infrastructure to facilitate AI/ML and health disparities research
PAIR will support multidisciplinary teams from low-resource MSIs according to the criteria specified in the Eligibility Section, to build capacity for AI/ML health equity research. We strongly encourage a multi-PI structure that promotes cross-disciplinary collaboration among public health researchers, healthcare professionals, data scientists, and behavioral scientists or ethicists. The research objectives are as follows:
- Acquaint low-resource organizations with AIM-AHEAD resources for long-term success of AI/ML Health Equity research
- Facilitate the formation of a multidisciplinary research team focused on the application of AI/ML to Health Equity research
- Strengthen research skills via mentor support and training
- Jumpstart AI/ML Health Equity research via a learning-by-doing approach
- Improve grant infrastructure and writing skills for long-term sustainability
- Establish AI/ML Health Equity Lab with strong institutional support
- Engage and mentor next generation of researchers at various levels (such as undergrad, masters, doctoral, post-doc and early-stage investigators)
- Generate translational knowledge of establishing AI/ML Health Equity research labs for broader impact and attracting more members to AIM-AHEAD with similar needs
PAIR is a collaboration among all the cores and hubs of AIM-AHEAD, that will enable the program to build strong synergies with existing programs.
- Leadership core will assist in matching mentors with research teams and coordination.
- Training core will provide training resources and consulting.
- Infrastructure core will provide necessary AI/ML infrastructure.
- Research core will assist in determining data availability for awardee projects.
- Applied Ethical AI sub-core will assist in applying ethics and equity principles and mentorship recruitment.
- All hubs will facilitate outreach, solicitation, coordination, and dissemination.
- Learners from existing AIM-AHEAD programs are encouraged to apply for PAIR grants or serve as mentors.
PAIR Program Plan
PAIR program will be conducted in two phases.
Phase 1: In the 12 months duration of the Phase 1 of the PAIR program, about 15 awardees would engage in the following activities:
- Form a multidisciplinary team focused on AI/ML Health Equity research
- Learn how to take advantage of AIM-AHEAD resources, like:
- Data Science Training Core courses
- Infrastructure Core support
- Training on de-identified datasets
- Support from Data and Research Core
- Establish the institutional procedure to support PAIR Labs for AI/ML research and grant proposal writing
- Train on grant writing and grantsmanship skills
- Follow the curriculum as listed in Table A
- Team up with mentors to design a detailed research plan proposal
PAIR program will co-design with the organization and the researcher for a customized research program, rather than a one-size-fits-all solution. The pool of talents on AIM-AHEAD Connect will provide both dedicated mentoring and ad hoc support.
All selected teams for phase 1 will receive the curriculum schedule after the announcement of the decision.
At the end of Phase 1, the research plan proposals will be evaluated on the basis of the following:
- Level of institutional bonding
- Research team collaboration
- Engagement of trainees at the institution
- Feasibility of the research/study plan
- Alignment with North Stars
- Sustainability and scalability of the proposal
Phase 2: After the completion of Phase 1 award, up to 10 awardees will be selected to proceed to Phase 2 of the PAIR program to continue with activities and curriculum (Table A), such as:
- Carry out exploratory projects with the support of AIM-AHEAD on
- AI for health equity research design and innovation
- Data scientist and Cloud ML engineer for data analysis and computing
- Continue with the grant writing trainings and secure extramural funding
- Engage trainees at the institution in performance of the project
- Document each team’s journey and use cases to share with the AIM-AHEAD community and beyond
- Distill translational knowledge on enhancing AI Readiness for Health Equity research in low-resource MSIs
- Establish institutional support for AI/ML Health Equity research lab
TABLE A: PAIR Program Curriculum
PAIR Program Curriculum
Phase 1 (12 months)
Phase 2 (12 months)
Health Equity Training (Essentials)
Health Equity Research (Advanced)
AI Training (Essentials)
AI Methodology Training (Advanced)
Grant Writing Training (Essentials)
AI Ethics and Fairness
AIM-AHEAD Connect Platform Training
Grant writing workshop (Hands-on): Every month
Team Science: Build an AI Lab for Health Equity
Research Webinars on Health Equity (monthly)
Project Management (at institution level)
Research Webinars on AI Research (monthly)
Expected Program Outcomes
- Outcomes from phase 1 include:
- Commitment from institution
- Team building
- Pairing with mentors
- Grant essential training
- Knowledge on frontiers of AI for health equity
- Detailed research plan for phase 2 (AI/ML Health Equity Lab)
- Evaluation Report for Phase 1
- Outcomes from phase 2 include:
- Established AI/ML Health Equity Lab
- Literature review on knowledge boundaries and gaps
- Feasibility study and/or initial explorations
- Successful submission of grant proposal (at R21 or RO1/U01 level)
- Survey and interviews from participants and mentors
PAIR contributes to the NIH AIM-AHEAD mission by providing the framework for low resource MSIs to work with AIM-AHEAD to develop long-term sustainability of AI research and education. PAIR also aims to generate translational knowledge (such as best practice handbooks, guidelines and educational cases) on improving AI readiness for low-resource organizations to facilitate capacity building in a more effective way.
The PAIR program is intended for organizations that are not well-supported by grants from NIH on AI/ML research. An institution may suggest one team with key personnel from the same institution or affiliated institutions. Only one application per institution (normally identified by having a unique DUNS number or NIH IPF number) is allowed.
Higher Education Institutions
- Public/State Controlled Institutions of Higher Education
- Private Institutions of Higher Education
The following types of Higher Education Institutions are always encouraged to apply for NIH support as Public or Private Institutions of Higher Education:
- Hispanic-serving Institutions
- Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
- Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs)
- Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions
- Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs)
To be eligible for this FOA, the applicant institution must be a domestic institution located in the United States and its territories which:
- Hold an active RCMI award or has received an average of less than $50 million per year of NIH support for the past three fiscal years; and
- Has a historical and current mission to educate students from any of the populations that have been identified as underrepresented in biomedical research as defined by the National Science Foundation NSF, see http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/) (i.e., African Americans or Blacks, Hispanic or Latino Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, U.S. Pacific Islanders, and persons with disabilities) or has a documented record of: (1) recruiting, training and/or educating, and graduating underrepresented students as defined by NSF (see above), which has resulted in increasing the institution's contribution to the national pool of graduates from underrepresented backgrounds who pursue biomedical research careers and, (2) for institutions that deliver health care services, providing clinical services to medically underserved communities.
- Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are not eligible to apply.
- 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 not allowed.
Expectation for Awardees:
- Initiating the formation of a multidisciplinary team focused on AI/ML Health Equity research.
- Familiarizing themselves with AIM-AHEAD resources, such as the AIM-AHEAD Connect platform, Data Science Training Core courses, Infrastructure Core support, de-identified datasets, and support from Data and Research Core.
- Participating in grant writing and grantsmanship skills training.
- Following the curriculum outlined in Table A.
- Collaborating with mentors to design a detailed research plan proposal.
- Working on institutional procedures to support AI/ML research and grant proposal writing.
- Documenting each team's journey and use cases to share with the AIM-AHEAD community and beyond.
- Demonstrating strong institutional bonding and research team collaboration.
- Ensuring the feasibility of the research/study plan and alignment with North Stars.
- Carrying out proposed research projects with guidance from AIM-AHEAD.
- Exploring the sustainability and scalability of the proposal.
- Continuing grant writing training and refining the proposal.
- Establishing institutional procedures to support AI/ML research and grant proposal administration.
- Generating translational knowledge on enhancing AI Readiness for Health Equity research in low-resource MSIs.
Award Amounts and Project Periods
The PAIR program plans to award grants to institutions in two phases:
- The first phase will provide awards of $100,000 each to around 15 institutions to build multidisciplinary teams, assess feasibility and further develop their research proposals. Up to 10 of these institutions will advance to the second phase based on the criteria described in the PAIR Program Plan section above.
- In the second phase, awards of $150,000 each will be provided to up to 10 institutions for setting up their AI/ML Health Equity Lab and finishing their proposal for NIH-funded research. It is expected that all funds will be expended on or before September 10, 2025.
Friday, April 29, 2023
CFP public/Application Process Open
Wednesday, May 10, 2023
PAIR Application Preparation Webinar
Tuesday, May 23, 2023
Application Preparation Workshop
Tuesday, June 20, 2023 5:00PM EST
Close of Phase 1 Application
Friday, August 18, 2023
Winning Phase 1 Applications Announced
Monday, August 14, 2023
Teaming with AIM-AHEAD resources Begins
Friday, July 26, 2024
Deadline for the Phase 2 Research Plan
Friday, August 30, 2024
End of Phase 1
Monday, September 23, 2024
Phase 2 Winning Team Proposals Announced
Friday, August 29, 2025
End of Phase 2/Program Evaluation
Monday, September 16, 2024
Application Process and Deadline
The application is due by 5:00 pm on June 20, 2023. The PAIR board will review all applications. Reviews will be sent to all applicants after the selection of the fundable proposals, unless deemed not scored. Proposals must be submitted as a single word or pdf document via our online submission system. The awardees will be notified on Aug 18, 2023. Questions regarding the submission process may be directed to: https://helpdesk.aim-ahead.net/ticket/create/PAIR
To address the specific challenges faced by low-resource organizations, PAIR will assist the awardees with idea proposal and research proposal in phase 1 and phase 2, as well as IRB applications, via proposal workshops, help desks, and IRB.
Proposal Requirements for Phase 1
- Arial font and no smaller than 11 point; margins at least 0.5 inches (sides, top and bottom)
- Single-spaced lines; Consecutively numbered page, in Word or PDF format.
- Submit as a single word or pdf document to the application portal.
- Title Page (2-page limit): Project Title, List of Principal Investigator(s) with institutional affiliations, cross-disciplinary multi-PI structure, and a summary up to 300-words outlining the proposed idea, the goals and objectives, and the intended target demographic.
- Project Plan (3-page limit): Description of the proposed project must include the following elements:
- Describe how your project is aligned with 1 or more North Stars:
- North Star I: Develop a diverse, equitable, and inclusive AI/ML Workforce
- North Star II: Increase knowledge, awareness, and community engagement/empowerment in AI/ML
- North Star III: Use AI/ML to address disparities and minority health in behavioral health, cardiometabolic health, and cancer
- North Star IV: Build community capacity and infrastructure in AI/ML to address community-centric health disparities and minority health
- Ways in which the institution will benefit from this program in building AI/ML research capacities to address health inequity and increase diversity.
- Current AI research capacity if available, as well as faculty and staff expertise to establish AI research lab.
- Well-defined outcome measure for rigorous evaluation.
- Describe how your project is aligned with 1 or more North Stars:
- Project Timeline (0.5-page limit): Submit a clear timeline and plan to achieve project milestones.
- Project Budget and Budget Justification (1-page limit): Funds may be used only for those expenses that are directly related to the development of the proposed idea. The award is subject to the negotiated indirect cost rate, and the 10% applies in the absence of a negotiated rate. Phase 1 grant awards, totaling $100,000, will be disbursed in 2-3 installments while Phase 2 awards will follow standard grant administration procedures. Please make a copy of the budget template provided.
- NIH-style Biosketch of the Principal Investigator and any key personnel (5-page limit per person)
- Letters of Support (minimum one required): Letter(s) of support from the school or institution leadership (such as deans, provosts, or vice presidents for research) should spell out commitment to the project and outline resources that will be made available to the project’s leader, including protected time for the faculty and staff to participate in this program. These letters should also detail how the proposed program fits into the institution’s overall plan for better serving the community and advancing the cause of health equity.
- Sub-recipient Commitment Form (6pages): A completed Sub-recipient Commitment Form, signed by the organization’s authorized official, along with any applicable documents referenced therein. (To address the concerns regarding the submission of the sub-recipient commitment form, we have decided to extend the deadline for submitting the sub-recipient commitment form. The new deadline for submission is July 31, 2023.)
Submission using AIM-AHEAD Connect and InfoReady platform
Step 1: Click here to register as a “mentor” on AIM-AHEAD Connect (our Community Building Platform)
Step 2: Click here to submit a PAIR application for review using InfoReady platform*.
* To submit your application in InfoReady, please use Chrome, Firefox, or Edge. If you're using Safari, make sure to clear your cache before logging in.
Please note both steps must be completed for consideration.
All applications must be received by June 20, 2023 5 PM Eastern Time.
Scored Review Criteria
It is expected that competitive PAIR Program applications will address the following impact criteria:
- Does the proposal clearly state how the proposed idea will improve AI/ML in health disparities and increase diversity in the workforce engaged in AI/ML?
- Is there a commitment from the institution at multiple levels to build sustainable AI research capacities for health equity?
- Do the research ideas respond to one or more of the AIM-AHEAD North Stars?
- Are the outcomes and deliverables clearly defined, measurable, reasonable, and aligned with the goals of the CFP?
- Does the MPI team have the expertise, project plan, experience, and multidisciplinary collaboration necessary to carry out the proposed project?
- Are the projects feasible within the time and budget proposed?
- Is there a supportive environment for inclusive proposals?
- Is there evidence of institutional support such as time release for faculty to devote time to this project?
Progress and Post-Award Reporting Requirements
- Awardees will be required to submit a post award report at the end of the project period. In addition, at the end of the PAIR program, institutions will be requested to complete electronic feedback forms on the extent to which expectations/objectives were met. The PAIR Helpdesk will assist with post- assessment and evaluation.
- Awardees are expected to demonstrate the following accomplishments by the end of their respective project periods: 1) accomplishment of participation goals; 2) program findings will be summarized and communicated to other organizations and individuals that highlight health related outcomes and their intersection with AI/ML application in improving healthcare outcomes for underrepresented populations.
Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions document before creating a help-desk ticket.
If your question is not answered in the above FAQ document, please create a help-desk ticket using the link below.
PAIR Webinar Recording:
To gain further insight into the PAIR program, we invite you to explore our recorded webinar. It delves into comprehensive details and offers valuable insights about the PAIR program.
Please feel free to contact us with questions or to discuss project ideas. Questions may be directed to Gordon Gao <Gordon.Gao@jhu.edu>, Toufeeq Ahmed <Toufeeq.Ahmed@vumc.org>, and Harlan Jones <Harlan.Jones@unthsc.edu>
Appendix: PAIR Mentorship
All teams will have access to AIM-AHEAD Mentors that will be chosen through the AIM-AHEAD Mentor Matching Process. The AIM-AHEAD Mentors will be chosen from a pool of AIM-AHEAD Mentor applicants, and the PAIR committee will set up a Mentor Recruiting Committee to actively seek new mentors for unmet needs.
Eligibility criteria for AIM-AHEAD Mentors
- Expertise in (AI/ML or statistical analysis or Bioethics or EHR analysis expertise) and/or clinical, Social determinants of health expertise.
- Prior Mentorship experience.
- Can come from different sectors such as industry, non-profit organizations, healthcare organizations, faith-based institutions, or academic institutions.
Mentor’s expectations for AIM-AHEAD Mentors:
- Mentor will make time and effort commitment towards mentorship of the mentee.
- Mentor will facilitate access to expertise to conduct the work.
- Mentor will have monthly communication between AIM-AHEAD Mentors and Institutional Mentors (if any)
- Mentor will attend mandatory monthly PAIR Meetings.
- Mentor will attend monthly check-in with the mentees for research progress and review mentee’s monthly progress report.
- Mentor will provide mentees in field expertise and advice.
- Mentor will have weekly communication with mentees and will add goals and task for mentee.
- AIM-AHEAD Mentors will receive a stipend of up to $10,000 as allowed by their institutional policy.
- Mentor will adhere to these expectations.
- AIM-AHEAD MPI cannot participate as AIM-AHEAD mentors per NIH requirements.
Terms and Conditions for AIM-AHEAD Mentors:
The Terms and Conditions will include the benefits and responsibilities that the mentors agree to when they accept the AIM-AHEAD mentor role.
- Mentor should have Ph.D., MD or equivalent qualification (such as Phrm. D., DNP, or Dr.PH).
- Mentor will submit a W9, EFT, and signed contract.
- Mentor should be associated with an organization (educational institution, private sector, community organization, etc.). Mentors cannot be individuals without an organizational affiliation.
- Mentor will have no conflict of interest with AIM-AHEAD. A conflict of interest would be individuals that are AIM-AHEAD Research Fellowship Stakeholders, and current individuals that work with AIM-AHEAD Coordinating Center for the Research Fellowship.
- AIM-AHEAD Coordinating Center members selected as AIM-AHEAD mentors should consult with their institutions about COI and acceptance of payment.
- Mentor is to be in good standing with their organization.
- Mentor cannot have a Mentee that is from the same institution/organization.
- Mentor will include a $10K stipend benefits paid in two equal installments; first installment at mid-year and the second installment at the end of the year.
- Mentor will adhere to AIM-AHEAD Coordinating Center policies, termination, non-compliant agreements, and these terms & conditions.
Awardees will be matched with Mentors who have AI/ML and health equity expertise. Mentees and Mentors will be required to participate jointly in select health equity education activities and to adhere to best practices in mentoring.
Mentors will be compensated $10,000 for their time dedicated to mentorship in each phase. Payment will be made in one installment of $10,000 each. The installment of this professional fee will be paid mid-point of each phase.
Once Mentors are selected, they will receive an official email notification from UNT Health Science Center’s AIM-AHEAD office. The notification will specify the award amount and next steps.
- Mentors will be given a weeks’ time to accept or decline the mentorship opportunity.
- If accepted, Mentor will be required to provide the recipient's W9 form. Recipients can be the Mentor themselves or Mentor’s currently enrolled institution. A blank W9 form will be provided along with the email notification.
- UNT Health Science Center, no longer makes any paper checks. Hence, if accepting mentorship, Mentors must provide a completed EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) Form. Blank EFT form will be provided along with the notification email.
- Once the AIM-AHEAD office receives the two required documents (W9 and EFT), Mentor will be sent a Service Agreement from UNTHSC’s Contracts Administration Office. Mentors must return the signed copy of the agreement by the assigned deadline to receive timely payment.
Taxability of Mentorship Fee:
In some states Professional Fee is a taxable income, whereas in some states, Professional Fee for certain services are tax deductible. For questions about how this professional fee might impact your taxes, please consult with your tax professional.