U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

NIH: Fogarty International Center NIH: Fogarty International Center
Advancing Science for Global Health
Advancing Science for Global Health
Home > Global Health Matters Mar/Apr 2024 > Fogarty’s G-11 program builds support infrastructure so scientist can focus on research Print

Fogarty’s G-11 program builds support infrastructure so scientists can focus on research

March/April 2024 | Volume 23 Number 2

By Susan Scutti

The photo on this page shows four women laughing together in an office hallway. They are research administrators who have taken part in the training sessions sponsored by UNN and UCSD. All wear colorful African dresses.Photo courtesy of Nicole JoyceResearch administrators who have taken part in the training sessions sponsored by UNN and UCSD. From left to right: Joy Udeoma, Pamela Ukeoma, Oge Ojinta, and Amaka Ogidi

Fogarty’s “Infrastructure Development Training Programs for Critical HIV Research at Low-and Middle-Income Country (LMIC) Institutions” aims to develop educational programs for improving research support in the areas of technical, administrative, and financial management within organizations located in lower revenue nations. Partnerships uniting U.S. and LMIC institutions are considered most capable of cultivating these critical functions.

Program Director Dr. Geetha P. Bansal explained, “Our G-11 program is a mechanism to build infrastructure at institutions that lack adequate support structures—to help them develop an administration office that can help identify research opportunities, submit applications, manage funding, and complete all compliance and post-award activities.” The intention is to establish or reinforce common areas of research administrative support, which any investigator within an institution can access, said Bansal. “The goal is to benefit all researchers, not just one program.” 

In particular, the program, which has been around for over a decade, addresses gaps in grants management training, which can become barriers to applying for and administering NIH grants. (Notably, responders to a 2021 NIH request for information on promoting equity in global health research also identified the lack of grant expertise in LMICs as a pain point.)And, while G-11 grants can be used to support administration capacity building efforts, they are intended to augment all ancillary activities crucial to conducting high-level scientific investigations. Critical functions include but are not limited to: research integrity oversight; ethical review of research for the protection of human subjects; laboratory animal welfare oversight; advanced laboratory instrument services; health sciences library and information services; information and communications technology systems (ICT) for research; biostatistics and data analysis; technology transfer and intellectual property protection; and harassment and discrimination policy and prevention.

Administrative collaborators

Few researchers question the necessity to increase institutional support. “We investigators can't do the work we do unless our administrators are well-trained, proactive, and really engaged with us,” said Dr. Gregory Aarons of University of California, San Diego (UCSD). To do their jobs, administrators must possess many skills, including “content area exposure and expertise, and also institute-specific expertise. Research administrators have to be aware of the unique grant administration issues at each institute so they can help investigators navigate that,” he added. 

“Research administration is the most important profession you never knew existed,” said Nicole Joyce, a UCSD research administrator. She cited a statistic from COGR, a professional society of research universities, affiliated medical centers, and independent research institutes: Changes in policy and regulations increased 172% over the last 10 years. “Researchers who are focused on their scientific proposals, outcomes, and dissemination don't have time to understand all of these regulatory changes. By having solidly trained research administrators, researchers can get more proposals submitted and they’ll have better compliance with regulatory changes,” said Joyce.

Dr. Eche Ezeanolue of University of Nigeria Nsukka said the G-11 mechanism “allows you to train the people that you don't see—the people who make investigators that apply for grants successful.” He added that although this funding may appear small, “it's critical for research.” He compared the systemic improvements that can be accomplished with a G-11 grant to erecting a Christmas tree. “If the Christmas tree is there, then everybody can hang their ornaments. I am one of those who hang my ornaments on the tree, but it’s also there for the many U.S. and Nigerian institutions to hang ornaments as well. If we all decorate the tree, then that will make a pretty Christmas tree.”

Joyce said, “G-11s are such an important funding instrument because not only are you developing the capacity, the knowledge, the skills, the expertise, but you're developing the ‘why.’ Why is research important to a country? Why is it important to institutions, communities and individuals?” She believes the more you build awareness and support, the more research will happen. While she herself does not have a science background,her profession is critical to research success. “I really believe in science, and I really want to benefit from all the good that researchers do to help society.” She laughed, “It's also just fun.”

Her advice to investigators? “Be good to your research administrators. Trust that they really do have your best interests at heart. They're your collaborators. They want you to succeed.”

More Information

Updated April 16, 2024

To view Adobe PDF files, download current, free accessible plug-ins from Adobe's website.

Related Fogarty Programs