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The Life Cycle of an NIH Grant Application

1.  The Life Cycle of an NIH Grant Application

Alicia Dombroski, Ph.D.
Deputy Director
Division of Extramural Activities

2.  A Grant Application Starts with a Great Idea

  • Who?
    Scientists at Colleges, Universities, Research Institutes, Small Businesses, and Others

  • What?
    Research relevant to human health

    Basic, applied, behavioral, translational, clinical

3.  Types of NIH Applications

  • Research Projects
    • Unsolicited (R01 most common)
    • Responding to specific Funding Opportunity Announcement
    • Individual or consortium

  • Small Business Grants
    • Small business innovation research (SBIR)
    • Small business technology transfer (STTR)

  • Training and Career Development
    • Predoctoral, postdoctoral, dual degree, mentored career development, etc.
    • Individual or institutional

4.  Preparation of an Application

  • Interaction with NIDCR Program Staff
    • Does the proposed research support the mission of the institute?
    • Is the topic a high priority for the institute?
  • Forms and Instructions online
    • Face page
    • Budget and budget justification
    • Personnel
    • Research plan 

5.  Electronic Submission

Applicant organization must register in Grants.Gov and NIH eRA

Application must be signed and submitted by a business official at the applicant organization

6.  Receipt and Referral

Center for Scientific Review (CSR) at NIH receives all NIH applications (about 80,000 per year)

  • Determines locus of peer review (CSR or Institute)
  • Assigns Integrated Review Group (study section)
  • Assigns Institute based on scientific area

7.  NIH Peer Review

  • Panel of experts in appropriate scientific areas
  • Applications assigned for critique and discussion
  • Evaluation of scientific and technical merit
  • Meets in person, teleconference, or internet
  • Specific review criteria:  Significance, Approach, Innovation, Investigator, Environment
  • Applications are scored (1.0 - 5.0, with 1.0 best)
  • Investigators receive score and summary statement

8.  Funding Decisions

  • Factors
    • Scientific Merit -- score, reviewer comments
    • Contribution to the mission of NIDCR
    • Program priorities and portfolio balance
    • Availability of funds
  • Variables
    • Award period
    • Total amount of award
    • Specific budget items

9.  Secondary Review

  • National Advisory Dental and Craniofacial Research Council (NADCRC)
    • Advises, consults, makes recommendations
    • Membership:
      • 2 non-voting ex officio (DOD, VA)
      • 13 scientists/clinicians/public
      • 4-year term 
  • Applications can only be funded after review by NADCRC and concurrence with initial review outcome

10.  Other Post-Review Activities

  • Awards administered by NIDCR Grants Management Officer
  • Annual progress reports and financial status reports
  • End of award/competing renewal
  • If not funded:
    • Discussions between Applicant and NIDCR Scientific Program Staff
      • Review issues
      • Programmatic issues
      • Resubmission of revised application (up to 2 revisions)
      • Three cycles per year for unsolicited applications
        • Receipt date, review date, council date each cycle 

 11.  Diagram of Grant Application Process

  • Principal Investigator submits a grant application to NIH
  • The application undergoes peer review and receives a score
  • The principal investigator finds out his/her score and interacts with NIDCR Scientific Program Staff
  • The application undergoes secondary review 
  • If the application is to be funded, then NIDCR Grants Management staff administer the award

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This page last updated: February 26, 2014