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Award Types Questions and Answers

Table of Contents

What types of grants do NIH and NIAID support?

NIH supports many award types, and NIAID supports a subset of them, including research project grants, training grants, fellowships, and career development awards. Go to the Grants portal for links to portals covering different award types.

How do I know what grant type to apply for?

Talk to your program officer and experienced investigators in your institution. Unless you are highly knowledgeable about this area, we recommend that you not decide on your own. Go to When to Contact an NIAID Program Officer for program officer contact information.

Read more in Choose the Grant in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

If you are looking for a fellowship, training, or career development award, see our Support by Career Stage—Ph.D. Track or Support by Career Stage—M.D. Track to view awards we make for people at your career stage. For general information on these grants, go to the Training and Career portal.

What forms do I use to apply for different award types?

Check the funding opportunity announcement for the award type. NIH grants require electronic application, but administrative supplements for complex award types such as program projects still use paper forms.

For electronic applications, ask your business office whether you will apply using the ASSIST forms, application package, or a proprietary system.

Does NIAID accept applications with multiple PIs?

Usually, but check the funding opportunity announcement to make sure. NIH allows multiple PIs for most opportunities, but rules may differ in different FOAs.

Before you proceed, go to NIH's Multiple Principal Investigators and read Design a Project in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

When is my application considered investigator-initiated research?

NIH considers your application to be investigator-initiated when you submit an application to NIH on a topic of your choice or respond to a program announcement.

On the other hand, if you respond to a contract solicitation or request for applications, you get to choose your project—but you're limited to topics specified in the funding opportunity announcement. Because you have to stay within predefined areas of science, NIH does not consider your application investigator-initiated.

This topic is somewhat complex. Learn more at Choose Approach and Find FOAs in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

For a new investigator, is it better to start with a small grant, such as an R21 or an R03, rather than an R01?

Not necessarily. Do not choose the award type yourself. Talk to your institution and a program officer for advice.

For more advice and links to program officer contacts, read the following pages:

Should I apply for a small grant under a broad NIH PA or an IC-specific one?

See Is it better to apply under one of the broad NIH PAs or an Institute-specific one? in our Small and Exploratory/Developmental Research Grants questions and answers.

How do I know if I can resubmit an application that responded to a PA?

Check the Guide notice to see if your program announcement is still open. If it is, you will also see it on our NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

You can resubmit until the PA expires; NIAID may decide to extend it, but don't count on it. You may always apply with a new investigator-initiated application using a parent announcement instead.

Learn more at Options if Your Application Isn't Funded and How to Resubmit in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Where can I find out more about multiproject awards?

Read Guidance for Preparing a Multiproject Research Application.

Where can I find information about MERIT awards?

Our MERIT Awards and Extensions SOP has details. Keep in mind that an investigator cannot apply for a MERIT award nor offer names for a nomination. Our program staff recommend outstanding candidates for the award.

If you have questions about MERIT awards, contact your program officer.

What are training grants?

Training grants provide support for institutions to pay stipends and benefits to candidates they select for pre- and postdoctoral research training. PIs on training grants are senior-level investigators. If you wish to be hired as a trainee, contact your institution's grants office. Go to Training Grants (T) for more information.

If you are looking for opportunities at earlier career stages, go to our Training and Career portal.

Are fellowships and career development awards a kind of grant?

Yes. Fellowships and career development awards are grants. Learn more at Fellowships (F) and Career Development Awards (K) on the Training and Career portal.

Are supplements a kind of grant?

No. Supplements add money to existing grants. Learn more at Research Supplements.

Are small business awards always grants?

At NIAID, they are.

Are cooperative agreements similar to grants?

Yes. Learn more about cooperative agreements in our Other Grant Types portal.

When does NIAID award a cooperative agreement?

NIAID awards a cooperative agreement when it expects substantial involvement of NIAID program officers in the research project.

For more information, go to the Conversion of Grants to Cooperative Agreements SOP and our Other Grant Types portal. For staff, go to the Lock icon: This link will not work for public visitors.Cooperative Agreements Staff Portal.

What's the difference between a mechanism and activity code and how are these terms used?

Though these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, our Glossary defines mechanism and activity code correctly. Use the Look It Up panel in the right column of this page to link to the glossary terms.

Where can I find information about other award types?

Here are sites for some other award types:

Find more on our Other Grant Types portal.

Where can I find out about NIAID's investigator-initiated clinical trial awards?

For information on our planning and implementation awards, go to Investigator-Initiated Clinical Trial Resources. The site has information on NIAID's required process for investigator-initiated clinical trials, including SOPs, instructions, Guide notices, and questions and answers.

What if my question wasn't answered here, or I'd like to suggest a question?

Email with the title of this page or its URL and your question or comment. We answer questions by email and post them here. Thanks for helping us clarify and expand our knowledge base.


Last Updated July 31, 2015

Last Reviewed July 19, 2013