Most grant applications submitted to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for research or research training are investigator-initiated proposals. These proposals are considered unsolicited, and follow the NIH standard schedule [grants.nih.gov] for submission, review and award.
NIH Institutes and Centers (IC) also publish special grant solicitations targeted toward specific research interests and priorities. Program announcements (PA) describe new, continuing or expanded program areas, and follow the standard schedule for submission, review and award. Program announcements with special receipt dates (PAR) provide their own submission schedules. Requests for Applications (RFA) solicit proposals for more targeted research interests, and each specifies a single receipt date.
NIH encourages applicants to contact the specific institute or center (IC) from which they seek funding. If an applicant wishes to submit a proposal with a budget of $500,000 or more in direct costs for any one year, preliminary contact with the IC is required. Individual PAs and RFAs include contact information.
To contact the NHGRI Extramural Program:
Phone: (301) 496-7531
Top of page
NIH forms and applications [grants.nih.gov] are available online. NIH encourages applicants to obtain applications and instructions via the Internet in order to stay informed of the latest updates and revisions to these documents.
Most grants require the submission of form number PHS-398 [grants.nih.gov], the Application for a Public Health Service Grant. (See also: Changes Made to PHS 398 [grants.nih.gov], January 2002.)
Specific Instructions for Using PHS 398 for SBIR and STTR [grants.nih.gov]
Individual NRSA Fellowship Application Form PHS 416-1 [grants.nih.gov] is another commonly used form.
Note: NIH is converting from the PHS 398 to the SF424 form AND electronic submission through Grants.gov! To do business with the NIH in the future, grantees MUST register with both Grants.gov AND the NIH eRA Commons.See detailed info at: NIH Announces Initial Plans to Transition to the SF424(R&R) Application and Electronic Submission through Grants.gov [grants.nih.gov].
Top of page
To be considered for funding, applications must be sent or delivered by the established receipt dates to the NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR) [public.csr.nih.gov]. For those applications in response to a specific IC solicitation, the announcement may require that copies be sent to the IC as well.
Center for Scientific Review
National Institutes of Health
6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 1040, MSC 7710
Bethesda, MD 20892-7710
Bethesda, MD 20817 (for express/courier service)
Phone: (301) 435-0715
Top of page
Once submitted, a grant application undergoes a two-step, peer-review process to determine its eligibility for funding. For the typical research grant, it takes about nine months from the time an application is received until the time a grant award can be made. Certain types of grants and fellowships are reviewed and awarded on an expedited schedule.
Initial peer review of an application is an evaluation of the proposal's scientific and technical merit, and is managed by the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) [public.csr.nih.gov] or the review branch of the awarding IC, depending on the type of solicitation, mechanism of support and/or the program. The CSR manages initial review groups that evaluate most investigator-initiated applications. Each IC's review branch manages the initial review of applications in response to specific IC solicitations and programs.
Initial review groups are administered by a Scientific Review Administrator (SRA), and are composed of scientists from the extramural research community. Reviewers are asked to address established criteria concerning the merit of the grant. The top half of reviewed proposals are further discussed at the initial review group meeting and are assigned priority scores: numerical ratings of scientific merit. After the conclusion of the meeting, the SRA prepares a summary statement for each discussed proposal. This report includes the reviewers' written comments, recommendations of the group and the priority score. The summary statement is sent to the program staff of the awarding IC, and to the applicant.
The awarding IC's National Advisory Council conducts the next level of review for recommended applications. This committee is composed of scientists and members of the public. The National Advisory Council considers the initial review group's conclusions, further evaluates the proposal's merit, and also reviews the proposal's relevance to the IC's priorities. An application must receive council approval to be eligible for funding.
For those applications approved for funding, IC staff make the final decisions as to whether an award will be made and at what level of funding.
Top of page
Top of page
Last Updated: February 10, 2014