NIH Grants Process: The Big Picture

NIH Grants Process: The Big Picture

We developed this video to help you understand and navigate the National Institutes of Health’s grants process. The video will address why you should familiarize yourself with the structure of NIH how to find a funding opportunity and
prepare yourself to apply the roles of the various NIH staff with whom you may interact and take you through the grants process from peer review to award and beyond If you are interested in grant funding, you would be well served to take the time to understand the mission of the NIH and that of each of the NIH Institutes and Centers. It can help as you look for funding opportunities, and seek contacts with whom to discuss your ideas. The mission of NIH as a whole is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability. 27 different Institutes and Centers make up the NIH 24 of which offer grant opportunities and fund grant awards. While the vast majority of grants processes and policies apply to all NIH Institutes and Centers, there is some variability in grant policies and funding strategies from one institute to the next. Each IC is separately funded by congress. They have their own mission, scientific priorities, budget and funding strategies. At NIH once size definitely does not fit all! So do your homework, get on the web and learn more about the institutes in your scientific area of interest. Although it’s certainly beneficial, you do not need to know one institute from another in order to start the process and find a funding opportunity. It is important to note that in order to submit a grant application to NIH you must respond to an active funding opportunity advertises funding opportunities centrally in the Federal portal for finding grant opportunities across the Federal government as well as the NIH’s Guide for Grants and Contracts. And each funding opportunity lists the NIH Institute and centers that will accept
applications submitted in response to that opportunity NIH uses various types of funding opportunities for different purposes. Program announcements (Pa’s) highlight an area of focus of the institute or institutes that are issuing the announcement. They are generally open for three years and follow a standard due date schedule with three due dates a year. Requests for applications (also referred to as RFAs) are a bit different. They tend to be more focused with a more narrowly defined scope. They generally have only a single due date instead of the recurring due dates found in program announcements. There is money specifically set aside for requests for applications and the text of the funding opportunity will tell you how much money is set aside and often how many awards NIH expects to make. The vast majority of what NIH funds is unsolicited research. An investigator may have a great idea and they may not find a regular PA or RFA that fits. No worries. We love new ideas. You just need to find what we call a “parent announcement” to apply to. A parent announcement is a type of program announcement that accepts applications for virtually any topic that spans the breadth of the NIH mission. NIH issues parent announcements for our most common types of grant programs. NIH offers a variety of types of grant programs. Take your time to determine which type of program meets your needs whether it be research project, small business programs , training and career development, or large research centers. How do you know what type of program is right for you? Certainly talk to colleagues and talk to your NIH program official. You can also do your homework and learn about types of grant programs on the NIH website at As a novice start in the “About Grants” section of the website. There, you will find a link for “Types of Grants”. This links takes you to a page that allows you to search or browse based on your needs Lets make sure we are ready to get this road trip started. You or someone you work with has an
important research idea that has high impact. You may have already found a funding opportunity specific to your interest, or identified a generic parent announcement to which to apply. Or maybe not. Either way, you should contact NIH staff to talk about your idea and how it aligns with the mission and priorities of the Institute. When writing your proposal, you obviously want to make it as strong as possible. Highlight the impact of the project, and directly address the 5 following scored review criteria: significance investigators innovation approach and environment All NIH funding opportunity announcements include a section that provides information on review. It provides details of exactly what information NIH needs from you and how to assemble the application. It is crucial that you carefully read the funding opportunity announcement as
well as the application instructions in order to develop a responsive application. You can download the application forms and instructions from the funding opportunity announcement. One thing specified in the funding opportunity is the requirement for grant applications to be submitted electronically. To be eligible to apply, each applicant institution must obtain a Dun and Bradstreet number, and have a current registration in multiple Federal systems including the System for Award Management, and NIH’s eRA Commons. Principal investigators on NIH grant applications need to have an eRA Commons account that is affiliated with the applicant organization in order to apply. Investigators should work with their office of sponsored research or equivalent to ensure all required
registrations are complete it could take up to 8 weeks to complete required registrations, so start the process as soon as you think you may be submitting an application to NIH Funding opportunity announcements also include NIH staff contacts. Let’s take a look at the NIH extramural team so you can understand who you should contact and when. Each institute and center at NIH that issues grants has grants management program, and review staff. Let’s look a bit more closely at the roles of these people in the grants process Program officials are responsible for the scientific, programmatic and technical aspects of a grant. Program officials officials identify areas of science in which more research is needed and communicate this information through funding opportunity announcements, workshops, and conferences. Program staff discusses research concepts with applicants, they try to listen to the review of grant applications that fall within their portfolio, they make funding recommendations, and they monitor progress once the grant is awarded. Program officials serve as point of contact for guidance to
investigators pre and post award The scientific review officer is responsible for the scientific and technical review of the grant application. Scientific review officers assures applications conform with application requirements, they convene panels of scientists from all over the world with expertise required for evaluation of scientific and technical merit. An essential part of the job of a scientific review officer is to manage potential conflicts of interest and ensure the fair and unbiased evaluation of the grant application. After the review, they compile the summary of the evaluation. The scientific review officer is the point of contact for applicants post submission, pre-review. The grants management officer is responsible for the business management of the grant award. They ensure the application complies with administrative requirements and they negotiate the actual grant award. The grants management officer is a point of contact for grants administration policies both pre and post-award. Now that we have gone over staff contacts, let’s look at the grants process The investigator initiates the research idea. NIH makes grant awards to institutions. It is the university, or small business, or other type of institution who actually submits the application to NIH Once submitted, the application routes to NIH’s Center for Scientific Review, where the Division of Receipt and Referral assigns the application to the Institute or Center as well as to the scientific review group (also known as the study section). NIH has a dual level of peer review. The study section is the first level. . Peer scientists come together to review the application for scientific merit, score the application, and provide written critique. Once NIH receives the impact score from the peer review, the institute or center to which the application was assigned evaluates that application against its programmatic priorities Institute and Center advisory council , sometimes called advisory boards, review the application and recommend funding action to the NIH. Ultimately, the funding decision rests with the director of each NIH institute and center The institute makes the grant award to the applicant organization, which allocates the funds to the principal investigator who ultimately performs the research. it’s been a long road . Its about 9 months since you submitted the application, and you are ready to receive your award. Before that can happen, all preaward issues must be resolved. Budgets need to be negotiated, certification on education on human subjects need to be completed, animal and human subject protection issues need to be resolved, and other support needs to be documented How can you track your application throughout the submission and review process and later from award through closeout? NIH uses an electronic system called the eRA Commons to provide applicant organizations and principal investigators with information throughout the grants process. Once submitted, your application image will appear here, as will status of your application, which includes institute and review assignments, NIH staff contacts, scores and summary statements (for the PI), the Notice of Award, links to tools for reporting and more. The eRA Commons will quickly become an important part your interactions with NIH So NIH grants the award. Read the notice of award. It is a legally binding document that provides you with essential information including the amount of award, information on grant payment, and the terms and conditions of the grant award. The organization accepts the terms and conditions of award when they first draw down funds. The NIH Grants Policy Statement defines the terms and conditions of all grant awards If you are new to NIH and have received funding, it will be very important that you familiarize yourself with this document as it explicitly defines roles and responsibilities. The NIH Grants Policy Statement also details reporting requirements for the award. Annual progress reports, federal financial reporting, invention reporting, audits, and closeout reporting are all addressed in this document What happens if your not funded? Its time to step back and regroup. Take a few deep breaths. Read the summary statement. Read the summary statement again. Talk to your program official. They try to attend the review meetings and can often tell you more about the sentiments of the reviewers. Discuss with your program official whether you were scored well enough that you should revise your application and resubmit it, or whether you should look at submitting a different research idea. In this video we have only given you a high level overview of the NIH grants process. We have lots of information available to help you through the process. Where can you find it? Bookmark www.grants.nih .Gov And remember, there are lots of people at NIH who can provide you help along the way. Funding opportunities have program review and grants management contacts listed. You can find specific NIH staff by searching institute websites for organizational charts or contact lists. You could even search, NIH’s database for funded research
projects for grants in your scientific area. The tool will provide the name for the program official for that grant. And lastly, if you already have a name of an NIH staff member, you can always use the staff directory at need help during the grants process we
welcome you to call one of the help desk if you need assistance
any point in the process contact information can be found by
going to Grants.NIH.Gov/support support or by clicking on the Contact Us
link at the bottom of the office of Extramural
Research’s website at best of luck to you in your travels with

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  2. Be sure to read honest and real reviews of Write Grant Proposals on my blog before you buy. Go to gohonestreviews. com/write-grant-proposals-review/ Thanks, Miguel.

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