NOFO OE22-2202: Enhancing U.S. Clinical Laboratory Workforce Capacity – Q&A Session Transcript

Session Details

Date and Time: March 16, 2022 @ 2-3 pm EST  
Meeting Hosts: Candice Floyd, Kelly Winter, Renee Ned-Sykes 

Welcome and Introductions

Candice Floyd: Good morning, and welcome to the information call for the Notice of Funding Opportunity OE22-2202 Enhancing U.S. Clinical Laboratory Workforce Capacity. My name is Candice Floyd, and I am one of the project officers who will handle the administrative aspect of this cooperative agreement. The funding opportunity we are discussing today posted to on February 24th and will close on April 25, 2022. During this call, attendees will have the opportunity to speak directly with the programmatic subject matter experts associated with this funding opportunity. Please note that this meeting is being recorded for the sole purpose of developing a transcript post-call. Our team will share the written transcript including any questions we receive via email with all potential applicants via an external website that is currently being developed. Once the website is developed, the NOFO will be updated on to include information on how to access the web page. Before I introduce the subject matter experts, I would like to take the time to acknowledge the external organizations we have on the phone. If you wish, please state your name and the organization you represent, for example, Candice Floyd, CDC, Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services.  

*Attendees: One attendee outside of CDC introduced themselves. 

Candice Floyd: Well, thank you. I will now hand it over to our subject matter experts Kelly Winter and Renee Ned to speak about the purpose of this NOFO and address any questions you all may have. In the event you have additional questions prior to the closing date of the NOFO, you may email your questions to That email is also listed in the Notice of Funding Opportunity on Thank you, Kelly, and Renee.  

Kelly Winter: Hi everyone, my name is Kelly Winter. I’m Acting Branch Chief for the Training and Workforce Development Branch within the Division of Laboratory Systems at CDC and I’m joined today by the co-lead for this cooperative agreement, Renee Ned Sykes. Renee, if you’d like to introduce yourself quickly.  

Renee Ned-Sykes: Good morning, everyone. I am a Team Lead within the Training and Workforce Development Branch within the Division of Laboratory Systems. Thank you.  


We are announcing the availability of funding for a three-year cooperative agreement – to help CDC reach a larger proportion of clinical laboratory professionals and bridge, train, and sustain the laboratory community to support rapid large-scale responses to the COVID- 19 pandemic and other public health emergencies.  

This is not a grant. {A grant is used whenever the awarding office anticipates no substantial programmatic involvement with the recipient during performance of the financially assisted activities. A cooperative agreement is used when there will be substantial Federal programmatic involvement. Substantial involvement means that the awarding office program staff will collaborate or participate in project or program activities as specified in the NoA.} This application is for a cooperative agreement. 

This is intended to be a three-year cooperative agreement (2022-2025) with up to three partners. One to three partners will be chosen by the review panel after the applications are submitted. 

Applicants are encouraged to review for a brief background on the OneLab initiative. The OneLab initiative started out as a COVID-19 response task that was very specific, which was to establish a network of laboratory professionals across the U.S. with responsibility for training and education within their respective organizations. CDC stood up a OneLab Network that now has about 2,100 members in it from clinical laboratories, public health laboratories, and academic institutions. If anyone is interested in joining the Network, go to and navigate to the page where individuals can submit registration to join the network. 

That was the first piece of what later became an initiative. Now, CDC has a five-year initiative to bridge, train, and sustain the laboratory communities of both the public health and the clinical laboratory communities to bring the entire workforce together – to help ensure that over time we are more able to respond to public health emergencies quickly and effectively. By providing training, sharing materials, and hearing directly from the laboratory community on an ongoing basis, we can work together with the laboratory community to produce more training materials and create an ongoing learning community.  

There are some specific activities which are described on CDC is currently developing a new learning management system that will be tailored to the needs of laboratory professionals. We are creating educational and training resources on an ongoing basis, based on a rapid training needs assessment that we conducted last year, but there’s a need to speed up this entire process, expand it, and ensure that those who are in the US laboratory community are familiar with what resources are available and are connected to us to share new needs. 

We also produce training content, and so it’s essential that we have partners going with us in this activity, particularly around bridging the community through recruiting additional clinical laboratory professionals to join the network – helping us spread the word that this is available, providing technical and logistical assistance. When we say technical assistance, we mean logistical support for the training and workforce needs assessments. We need help distributing the materials or disseminating the materials that are created for things like workforce needs assessments and training needs assessments – to ensure that we get more feedback on that, from a larger pool of the laboratory community, while also helping us with the training aspect in terms of providing content, to providing clinical laboratory-related content, or subject matter review of the content. 

CDC develops courses that are available on-demand. We also develop job aids, and what we call just-in-time training, so anything from a live webinar to a checklist, to a fact sheet, whatever is appropriate based on the re-training goal and the need. To do this rapidly, there’s a need to have more subject matter experts available to help establish the content that we’re going to use to create those materials. We have subject-matter experts here at CDC who ultimately will be responsible for the final review and clearance of the materials and will also weigh in on the materials as they’re being developed. But that rapid content development is somewhere where it would be incredibly helpful to have expertise from our partners contribute to that so that we can make these materials produced more swiftly and efficiently. 

Finally, as far as sustaining laboratory community, it’s around educating and informing the laboratory audiences. When we say dissemination platforms, we mean our new learning management system that’s about to come out, which is called OneLab REACH and any other dissemination platforms, such as our OneLab webpage. It’s about marketing, promotion, communication, and broadening the span of our audience there. We can make all the materials in the world, but if people are not aware that they’re available to them, then they don’t get used as often or broadly in the way we would like.  

Applicants are encouraged to pay attention to the logic model and the intended activities that will be covered under this cooperative agreement, and when developing applications, speak to each of the areas above and be specific about the activities proposed. If you are intending on collaborating with other groups or entities, make it clear how the activities that you are proposing align with the goals and the intent of the cooperative agreement.  

We’d like to emphasize that the review panel that will look at these applications can only go by what material is included. Now there is a page limit that you need to remain within, and a lot of it is about making sure that you hit all the required pieces that are described in the NOFO. It can be helpful to have someone who is less familiar – someone who is within your organization but less familiar with your specific plan or what your application is going to entail – look at your application and just share whether they see any gaps. When we’re very close to a plan or activities, there are things that we inherently know that might not come across in what we’ve written down. We’d like to stress this because we’re not going to consider any past knowledge of an organization to try to fill in the gaps. 

Within the review panel, we must go by what is there on the application. So just take that one last look to make sure that it’s clear that what you’ve written ties back to the logic model that’s provided. That you are clearly stating your organization’s capacity and the rationale is just essential. 

We’re excited to look at these applications. We’re hoping to have as many as possible. And it’s going to be a lot of work to review them, but the more that we have, the more we see a wide selection of what’s available. If you’re on the fence about whether you should apply, please do so if you have the time and the interest and think that this is a good fit for your organization. We do want to see a lot of applications come from this. 

I’ll just note again that the deadline is April 25 and that any questions answered today will be transcribed and that there will be a webpage that will include that information and the URL for that will be available on the original NOFO once it’s available.  

The NOFO in is in the process of being updated so that the language in the NOFO itself, as well as the language on the landing page, is consistent in noting that the deadline is April 25. I just wanted to make sure everyone was aware of that. There will be an update to the NOFO to list the website where the transcript of this meeting will be posted and the answers to the questions that have come through this meeting, and later through our functional mailbox, which we will give you once again at the end of the call.  

Question and Answer

Are public health laboratories eligible to apply?

Given this is an open competition Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), public health laboratories are eligible to apply. In the grant application, it will be essential for public health laboratories to clearly establish the connection between the organization and a clinical laboratory partner or various clinical laboratories.

When is the application due date?

The application due date is April 25, 2022. All applicants are recommended to submit their applications as early as possible in case there is a need to go back and correct information.

Does CDC have a goal in mind for end-results, including program reach (e.g., percentage of the community or number of laboratory professionals the program can access)?

One of the challenges right now is that, to the best of our awareness, there is no concrete reliable estimate of how large the laboratory community is. That is something that, as part of this overall OneLab initiative – not specifically with this cooperative agreement but as another component of the overall initiative – we’re looking into ways to get a more concrete estimate of just how many laboratory professionals there are in the US. There have been estimates in the past, but that is something that needs to be updated. Since that’s separate from this cooperative agreement as far as setting a target, it’s going to be about progressive growth for now.

We have strong data on how many course registrations we currently have. We have strong numbers on how many members in the OneLab Network we have currently. It’s going to be about working with cooperative agreement partners to set some progressive targets over those three years. Ultimately, in our perfect world we would reach everyone. We need to do some “beta testing” to see what is feasible – how much growth we can have in a year – and then go back and refine our targets from there. We don’t have a concrete number or percentage in mind. Just the intent of reaching a much larger subset of the clinical laboratory communities across the country. We will take this in a progressive fashion and hope to be in a much, much better place in three years than we are now.

Does this cooperative agreement include funding for equipment (e.g., point-of-care testing kits)?

Part 12 of the NOFO, under the budget narrative, states that the applicants must include: salaries and wages, fringe, consultant costs, equipment, supplies, travel, other categories, etc. {if that is being proposed to carry out proposed activities}. There is a bulleted list in Part 12 under the budget narrative that says what needs to be included. You do not have to propose equipment as part of your application; but if you do, that is something that must be clearly delineated in the budget, along with supplies or travel, contractual or consultant costs. Equipment would certainly not be the bulk of the funding provided, but if there is a need for some specific equipment to achieve the overall outcomes, then equipment may be included. For example, point-of-care testing kits would fall in this description of equipment needs, given their ability to increase reach to nontraditional testers and point-of-care-testers.

How many applicants is CDC planning to partner with through this cooperative agreement?

The goal of this cooperative agreement is to have between one and three partners to reach the broader laboratory community. There is no requirement that an organization applying for this NOFO have any kind of collaboration with other organizations. If an organization does apply with a specific collaboration in mind, they will want to include some description of how that would work and that the other organization they’re referring to is aware – for example, a copy of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in the application.

We expect that a given organization is going to apply and describe what makes sense to them, given the mission of their organization, their capacity regarding the size of their own staff, what they can handle as far as workload, etc. and the parts of what’s described there in the NOFO to which their organization could contribute. For example: I’m Organization A and I know that I have a strong cohort of laboratory subject-matter experts who are familiar with developing training content and providing that to instructional designers and health educators – which we have here at CDC – so that those educators can then turn that content into a high-quality training with learning objectives and knowledge checks. If that were something that my organization is already familiar with and has that capacity on hand, I might choose in my application to really emphasize how my organization would speak to the strategy which is the training aspect of the NOFO. Then I would include anything else that is also relevant.

CDC recognizes that we may not find one organization that has the capacity, the expertise, and the track record to cover all three of these strategies completely on their own. That’s why we want to make sure that we open it to between one and three organizations. If we find that, together, there are between one and three organizations that together have the capacity to help us hit the milestones and outcomes that we’ve outlined in our logic model, that would be how we’d move forward. If there is one organization that demonstrates in its application that it has the capacity, experience, and a great strategy in mind for how to address all three of the areas, that is also possible as well. We must wait until we see the applications to see what makes sense, based on how those applications fit with what’s described in the NOFO.


Kelly Winter: I’ll just note again the deadline is April 25.  If you find that questions arise, you are welcome to email the functional mailbox for the cooperative agreement. The email to the functional mailbox for this NOFO is, and that email is also listed in the Notice of Funding Opportunity posted on We will respond directly to the individual who submitted a question, but to ensure that no applicant has an advantage over the other applicants, we will update the frequently asked questions (FAQ) and post it to the external website. Thank you.  

I will also put in a plug for the OneLab Network. I encourage everyone on this call to join and to let their colleagues know that that’s available. We aim to have a live meeting once a month. The next one that’s coming up is on March 31 and will be a webinar focused on point-of-care testing. If you go to and sign up to join the Network you’ll get more information on how to join that. 

We are also holding a OneLab Summit, which will be a virtual three-day meeting featuring speakers from across the external laboratory community. We are also going to have some live collaboration sessions. The summit is April 19-April 21 and is free and open to the public. We intend to have a virtual conference – a OneLab Summit – every year.  

On behalf of CDC and particularly the Division of Laboratory Systems within the Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services, we thank you so much for joining us again. Please email the functional box if you come up with questions after this call. 

Candice Floyd: Thank you all again, and feel free to contact our functional mailbox at Thank you and have a wonderful day. We look forward to seeing your applications. 

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