Dissertation Research Award

Request for applications
(RFA-EMOT-ECON-DRA-22-001)

Who we are: The Emotional Well-being and Economic Burden (EMOT-ECON) Research Network is a new initiative that will support EMOT-ECON research, i.e., research that seeks to develop innovative conceptual frameworks and theories to advance the science on emotional well-being and economic burden of disease and test the strategies needed to reduce the impact of this burden.


Economic burden of disease: There are numerous economic consequences of having a disease. These may include the money patients have to spend when getting medical care and managing their illness, and the time they may be out of work and the lost income, even if temporary. These may lead to medical financial hardship, distress, burden or toxicity.

Emotional well-being: Overall positive state of one’s emotions, life satisfaction, sense of meaning and purpose, and ability to pursue self-defined goals.

EMOT-ECON is funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), the Office of Behavior and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) and the Office of Disease Prevention (ODP) (U24AT011310). Principal Investigators are Maria Pisu, PhD, Professor, Division of Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham and Michelle Martin, PhD, Professor, College of Medicine, University of Tennessee Health Science Center.


The EMOT-ECON network invites applications for dissertation awards for doctoral candidates. These dissertation projects must involve primary data collection or secondary data analyses on EMOT-ECON research. EMOT-ECON research component must be accomplished within 1 year of funding.


Applications will be accepted in the following priority areas:

  • Ontology and measurement of emotional well-being (EWB) research to capture components of EWB in people with economic burden of disease. Examples of questions include, but are not limited to, identifying EWB components in people with economic burden of disease or financial hardship, or examining whether these components vary depending on when such burden or hardship occur across the lifespan.

  • Mechanistic research to identify mechanisms linking economic burden of disease to EWB. Examples of questions include, but are not limited to, examining whether emotion- or problem- focused coping in people with economic burden leads to lower stress which then leads to better EWB, or identifying mechanisms by which medical-related financial stress impacts EWB.

  • Prevention research to identify intervention strategies (e.g., stress-management, mind-body interventions, education, financial navigation interventions) that help individuals effectively cope with economic burden of disease and financial hardship and maintain or improve EWB. Examples of questions include but are not limited to, examining whether a stress management intervention (e.g., mindfulness meditation, yoga) in patients facing medical-related financial distress leads to better EWB, or whether providing information about costs of care or financial assistance leads to better EWB.

Applications that focus on economic burden or financial hardship broadly defined and not related to disease or focus on EWB only or economic burden of disease only, will be considered nonresponsive to this call.


RFA Guidelines and Terms of the Award

Funding Amount: $2,500 available* (2-3 grants may be funded)

Letter of Intent Due: February 14, 2022, by 11:59 PM (CT)

Invited Applications Due: March 14, 2022, by 11:59 PM (CT)

Announcement of Recipients: April 14, 2022

Projected Start Date (estimated): May 2, 2022


*The EMOT-ECON pilot award funding mechanism offered through NCCIH grant # U24AT011310 does not fund indirect costs. All funds must go directly towards the research project.


Eligibility. Eligible applicants must be:

  • At a U.S. institution that can receive NIH research grants;

  • Members of the EMOT-ECON network. To join at no cost, please complete a brief questionnaire at www.emot-econ.org/get-involved/join-emot-econ.

  • Applicants must be in good standing in the graduate programs.

  • Applicants must have had their dissertation proposals approved by their dissertation committees prior to application.

  • Applicants who have already defended their dissertations are eligible to apply for these funds, as long as they have not yet received a doctoral degree as of the application deadline.

Amount and Period of Support

1. Funding is available in the amount of up to $2,500 total. No indirect costs are allowed.

2. Funds must be spent within 1 year of award or prior to receiving the doctoral degree, whichever comes first.

3. Funds can be used for:

a. Research costs (e.g., participant incentives)

b. Methodological training (e.g., fees to attend a statistical workshop)

c. Fees for database access

d. Contracts for research-related service (e.g., recruitment services, survey administration)

e. Small equipment costs

f. Publication costs

g. Travel

4. Funds cannot be used for:

a. Indirect/F&A costs

b. Graduate student tuition and stipends

c. Large equipment purchases

d. Secretarial/administrative personnel

e. Honoraria and travel expenses for visiting lecturers

f. Per diem charges for hospital beds

g. Non-medical services to patients

h. Construction or building maintenance

i. Major alterations

j. Purchasing and binding of periodicals and books

k. Office and laboratory furniture

l. Office equipment

m. Rental of office or laboratory space


Willful misrepresentation of the budget or misuse of funds will result in loss of current and/or future eligibility.


Application Submission Process

Letter of Intent

Interested applicants must submit a letter of intent that includes the following information:

  1. 1-page with title and description of the project, alignment with at least one of the priority areas, relevance to EMOT-ECON research, and name of dissertation chair.

  2. Please submit LOI by February 14, 2022 11:59 PM (CT) via email to mail@emot-econ.org. Subject line should read: “RFA-EMOT-ECON-DRA-22-001 LOI – [PI Last Name]”

  3. Approval of LOIs is based on relevance to EMOT-ECON research and is required to submit the main grant application. Applicants will be notified of approval or contacted for clarifications and possible revisions on a rolling basis and no later than February 21, 2022.

Invited main grant application

Invited applicants should submit the documents below in a single PDF file. Applications should be single-spaced, with at least 0.5-inch margins, and should use 11- or 12-point Arial or Times fonts.

  1. PHS 398 Face Page (signed by dissertation chair)

  2. Research topic: Description of dissertation topic and methods, as well as career plans (max 2 pages).

  3. Request for funds: Description of how funds will be used and how they will support research activities, with a timeline of these activities within the dissertation and graduation period (max 1 page).

  4. References (no page limit)

  5. Dissertation committee: Description of the area of expertise and research of committee members (max 1 page)

  6. Abbreviated curriculum vitae. Two-page maximum; including scientific publications, presentations, research and teaching experience (the curriculum vitae may contain only highlights and does not need to be a complete version).

  7. Letter from Dissertation chair: This letter should include a statement of support and approval, address the feasibility of the research study, the student's primary and major contributions to the project, and an explanation of why the research is worthy of the award. The advisor must comment on the student's academic standing as well as the student's current progress on the dissertation. Letters should be in PDF format and emailed to mail@emot-econ.org


Main grant applications must be submitted by March 14, 2022 11:59 PM (CT) via email to mail@emot-econ.org. Subject line should read: “RFA-EMOT-ECON-DRA-22-001 Submission – [Last Name]”

Application Evaluation Process

  1. Each application will be assessed by the EMOT-ECON investigators.

  2. Evaluation Process:

a. Applications that meet eligibility requirements will be reviewed using the following criteria: (1) relevance to EMOT-ECON research and alignment with at least one of the priority areas; 2) Quality and feasibility of the project; 3) Qualifications of the applicant; 4) Extent to which the award will contribute significantly to the applicant's career plans; and 5) Extent to which the proposed work contributes to the field of EMOT-ECON research.

b. Evaluation is expected to be completed within one month of the application submission deadline.


3. If applicable, applications with fundable scores will be required to demonstrate human subjects research compliance to NIH standards prior to receiving funding.

Expectations of EMOT-ECON Dissertation Research Award Recipients during the funding period

  1. A one-page progress report to the EMOT-ECON Pilot Project Core Leader at 6 months past the funding date.

  2. A final progress report at 12 months past the funding date specifying how funds were used, signed by the dissertation chair.

  3. Student agrees to present findings at EMOT-ECON meeting/s.

  4. Student agrees to acknowledge EMOT-ECON funding in dissertation, publications and presentations.

For questions, please email the Pilot Project Core Leader at mail@emot-econ.org.