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Fall 2011, Issue 13

xTrain: On-Line Management of NIH External Training and Fellowship Grants

xTrain is a new eRA Commons service that allows electronic management of appointment forms and termination notices for trainees and fellows on NIH training and fellowship grants. Use of xTrain is required for all grants supported by this system (see table below).

Activity Codes Supported in xTrain
(as of April 2011)
Institutional Individual
KL2 R25 T32 F30
K12 R90 T35 F31
KM1 RL5 T90 F32
  RL9 TL1 F33
*National Library of Medicine only
**Appointments only
For current list of supported activity codes, see xTrain My Grants screen

All xTrain functions are accessed through eRA Commons; access requires an eRA Commons account for each user. For trainees without eRA Commons accounts, xTrain allows the program director/principal investigator (PD/PI) to send the trainee an email invitation to register with eRA Commons. Tufts’ Office of Research Administration (ORA) strongly recommends that the PD/PI contact the ORA to create accounts for trainees instead of issuing invitations; this reduces the inadvertent creation of duplicate trainee accounts. To further simplify this process, departments may want to routinely establish eRA Commons accounts for all training grant–eligible students and postdoctoral fellows, as recommended by the NIH.


For NIH institutional training grants, managing appointments and terminations via xTrain may require input from the PD/PI (or a delegated assistant (ASST)), the trainee, and the business official (BO), who is a designated sponsored programs accounting officer at Tufts University. The ASST is usually a department manager or staff/administrative assistant. The ASST may perform the same actions as the PD/PI but may not submit to the funding agency. It is highly recommended that the PD/PI appoint a delegate to assist with xTrain as soon as a training grant is awarded. A quick guide to delegating authority for xTrain may be found at http://era.nih.gov/files/PI_delegation_xtrain_authority.pdf.


To initiate the appointment process for trainees on institutional training grants, the PD/PI (or ASST) logs on to xTrain, identifies trainees, and fills out an online appointment form (PHS 2271) for each trainee.

  1. The PD/PI (or ASST) routes the appointment form to the trainee.
  2. The trainee accepts the appointment, updates his/her profile if needed, and routes the form back to the PD/PI (or ASST).
  3. The PD/PI (or ASST) reviews the form and the PD/PI submits it to the granting agency. The ASST may not submit to the agency.

The routing history and current status may be viewed by all parties registered with xTrain for that grant (e.g., PD/PI, ASST, trainees). The same process applies for yearly reappointments and amendments. To facilitate the process, xTrain sends out automated emails at each step to prompt participants to carry out the next step.


To initiate the termination process for trainees on institutional training grants, the PD/PI (or ASST) logs on to xTrain, identifies trainees, and fills out an online termination notice (TN, PHS 416-7) for each trainee. (The BO may also initiate the TN and route it to the PD/PI (or ASST). TNs are not required for T34 awards, which are automatically terminated by the system.)

  1. The PD/PI (or ASST) routes the TN to the trainee.
  2. The trainee fills out the TN and routes it back to the PD/PI (or ASST).
  3. The PD/PI (or ASST) reviews the TN. For K and R awards, the PD/PI submits the TN. For T awards, the PD/PI (or ASST) routes the TN to the BO.
  4. The BO approves the TN for a T award, and submits it to the agency.



NIH-funded fellows with F awards are already in the xTrain system, so no appointment form is needed.


Fellowship TNs (PHS 416-7) may be initiated, updated, routed, and submitted by the fellow, the sponsor (fellow’s mentor), or the BO. (The sponsor delegate may initiate, update, and route TNs but may not submit to the agency. A quick guide to delegating authority for xTrain may be found at http://era.nih.gov/files/PI_delegation_xtrain_authority.pdf.) TNs are initiated by logging on to eRA Commons, selecting the xTrain tab to bring up the My Grants screen, and selecting the View Trainee Roster link for the fellowship award to be terminated. (Although the fellow is the PD/PI of the fellowship, the award is terminated through xTrain’s Trainee Roster screen because it is a research training award.)

  1. The fellow initiates the TN and routes it to the sponsor (or sponsor delegate).
  2. The sponsor reviews and certifies the TN and routes it to the BO.
  3. The BO submits the TN to the agency.

Please note: Check that TNs have been appropriately updated. For help and answers to your questions, contact the eRA Commons Help Desk (http://ithelpdesk.nih.gov/eRA).

Paper forms are still required for the following:

  1. Permanent U.S. residents must submit an original signed and notarized statement certifying that they have either a permanent resident card or other legal verification of their status.

  2. First year trainees on Kirschstein-NRSA awards must submit a signed payback agreement (PHS 6031). In xTrain, trainees can download and print a payback agreement form populated with basic information.

For more information, please go to http://era.nih.gov/training_career/index.cfm.

  • Under “Modules, User Guides and Documentation,” click on “xTrain” for comprehensive information.
  • Under “Training Materials,” “Quick Reference Sheets” can be especially helpful.

If you have problems or questions, please contact Elizabeth Brady, research administrator, at elizabeth.brady@tufts.edu.



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