See the Glossary for more terms.
Table of Contents
Initiatives are requests for applications (RFA), program announcements (PA), and solicitations that NIAID issues to stimulate research in high-priority or high-opportunity areas of science. RFAs and PAs are called funding opportunity announcements in Grants.gov.
For some areas, we publish an initiative because the research is mandated by law. In other cases, the research community may identify a need, or research may be needed to respond to a public health event.
Initiatives encourage investigators to apply because, for some, NIAID uses set-aside funds to award grants or contracts, and for others, NIAID funds some applications beyond the payline.
For an overview of this topic, see Choose Approach and Find FOAs in the Strategy for NIH Funding. Also see the following SOPs:
We post requests for applications (RFA) and program announcements (PA) that NIAID sponsors or co-sponsors at NIAID Funding Opportunities List. You can see other NIH initiatives in the NIH Guide. You can find NIAID Extramural R&D Solicitations at FedBizOpps.gov.
While requests for applications and solicitations generally have money set aside to fund the research, program announcements may not. However, even for PAs that do not have set-aside funds, NIAID may fund applications with percentiles or overall impact/priority scores beyond the payline.
Another key difference is that most RFAs have a single due date, so all applications for an RFA are reviewed at the same time by a single scientific review group convened by NIAID.
Most PAs use regular NIH due dates and are reviewed by NIH's Center for Scientific Review study sections.
One advantage to applying under an RFA is if your application is not funded you can submit the same project again as a new investigator-initiated application.
However, some are program announcement with special receipt, referral and/or review considerations (called a PAR), which are reviewed by special emphasis panels, often in institutes.
For more information and links to advice, go to Choose Approach and Find FOAs in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
No, though it may help. Whatever route you go, be sure to choose a topic that 1) is in your area of expertise and 2) can make a strong impact in its field. Your expertise, achievement of Specific Aims from a previous grant, and career level are the key factors in getting any grant.
Read Choose Approach and Find FOAs in the Strategy for NIH Funding, as well as Five Steps to Finding NIAID's High-Priority Areas.
Concepts are initiatives in their planning stage; they can signal our plans a year or two ahead of time. Whether you apply for an initiative or not, concepts can be useful to you. Read more in the next question and at Concepts May Turn Into Initiatives.
Go to Concepts: Potential Opportunities to see concepts cleared at recent Council meetings.
For tips on using NIAID concepts to your advantage in read Choose Approach and Find FOAs in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
Not really. Consider whether your expertise lends itself to any of the research topics and, if it does, contact the relevant program officer for further discussion.
Investigator-initiated applications in high-priority areas may qualify for above-the-payline funding even if NIAID does not publish an initiative. If we do publish the initiative, your application will be ready.
Read more in Concepts May Turn Into Initiatives and Choose Approach and Find FOAs in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
Yes. For more information on how NIAID approves initiatives, see:
Yes. Many concepts never develop into initiatives because the number of concepts for potential initiatives usually exceed the amount of money NIAID plans to spend on initiatives in a given year.
NIAID determines an initiative's level of funding based on its relative priority and scientific needs. For more information, go to:
We identify promising topics with the extramural research community, develop these concepts and present them to our main advisory Council, and revise them based on Council's input. Council must approve a concept before we can publish it as an initiative. Read more in Planning Research Opportunities.
Program officers find areas of opportunity for initiatives by reading the scientific literature, participating in workshops and conferences, and communicating with investigators, health care professionals, and other experts.
To evaluate and prioritize concepts and initiatives, NIAID holds two annual retreats, the Summer Policy Retreat and Winter Program Review. NIAID also uses other groups, including its Executive Committee, to prioritize initiatives. For more information, see NIAID Funding Opportunity Planning and the Budget Cycle.
Budget and planning is a two- to three-year process. It starts with ideas that may be developed into concepts that NIAID staff present to our advisory Council. After Council approval, we may issue an initiative, depending on budgetary and programmatic factors.
For an overview, see NIAID's Budget and Concept Planning Flowchart.
For more on initiative planning, see NIAID Funding Opportunity Planning and the Budget Cycle and Concept Development SOP.
We spend most of our research dollars on investigator-initiated research, which includes program announcements. Targeted research, funded through RFAs, is a small proportion of the total dollars NIAID spends. Each year, we set aside a certain amount of money for RFAs and program announcements with set-asides as part of our financial management plan. For details, go to our Financial Management Plan on Paylines and Funding and the Financial Management Plan SOP.
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Last Updated December 23, 2014
Last Reviewed October 31, 2011