Clearing Up Confusion About NOSIs

Funding News Edition: September 01, 2021
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It’s been just over two years since NIH eliminated non-parent program announcements (PAs)—and began using notices of special interest (NOSIs)—as a vehicle for institutes and centers (ICs) to direct grant applications toward priority scientific topics. While investigators have gotten acquainted with NOSIs, it hasn’t been without some areas of confusion. We address and clarify a few of them below.

Listing Multiple NOSIs: Allowed or Not?

Applicants should include a single NOSI number in in the Agency Routing Identifier field (box 4B) of the SF 424 R&R form. You can apply to different NOSIs, but the science in each application must be distinct.

Complex NOSIs

For a complex NOSI, i.e., one that has multiple participating ICs and points to more than one funding opportunity announcement (FOA), applicants will apply to one of the FOAs to which the NOSI points and indicate the NOSI number in box 4B. The Division of Receipt and Referral (DRR) will use standard referral guidelines and processes.

A complex NOSI can include areas that it will not support. If an investigator submits an application that includes an area that the NOSI does not support, the application will not be considered for the NOSI initiative but will not necessarily be withdrawn from consideration since the application could still be appropriate for the target FOA. For example, if the target FOA is the parent R01, the application would then be treated as a regular investigator-initiated application.

Note: Pay close attention to the table in the NOSI that indicates whether participating ICs accept applications to each of the FOAs listed in the NOSI. Not all ICs will accept applications to all FOAs within a NOSI, for example, Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) HIV/AIDS in the Era of COVID-19: When Pandemics Collide. Though NIAID, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) participate in the NOSI, NIMH does not participate in one of the two FOAs to which applications should be submitted.

Review Criteria

A NOSI can include nonresponsive criteria for that NOSI initiative but cannot change review criteria of the FOA to which it points. One exception is the Administrative Supplement FOA since those applications are not peer reviewed.

Funding Decisions

Applications submitted in response to NOSIs that point to parent FOAs with NIAID paylines (e.g., R01 and R21) will be handled as payline applications. In general, the following are also considered in making funding decisions:

  • Scientific and technical merit of the proposed project as determined by scientific peer review
  • Availability of funds
  • Relevance of the proposed project to program priorities

Find Additional Information

If you have questions about a NOSI, direct them to the contacts listed in the associated FOA unless the NOSI lists additions or substitutions.

Whether NOSIs are new to you or you want a refresher, read our November 4, 2020 article “Get To Know Notices of Special Interest.”

Also check Section II. Funding Opportunities of NIH’s Applying Electronically Frequently Asked Questions webpage.

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