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Create Biosketches

Along with any principal investigators, include a biographical sketch with research support information for everyone you designate as senior/key personnel or other significant contributors (OSCs). This includes consultants and technical staff with senior/key personnel or OSC designations, even if they are not paid a salary from the grant. OSCs who contribute at least one person month or more effort must be designated as senior/key personnel.

Get the NIH Biosketch Format Pages, Instructions and Samples, and learn more in the Frequently Asked Questions on Biosketches. Use SciENcv to help you develop your biosketch and automatically format it according to NIH requirements. 

How Reviewers Use Biographical Sketches

Reviewers check carefully to see whether the PI and others have enough experience with the techniques to execute the Research Plan. The personal statement and contributions to science can be big factors in how you rate on the Investigator review criterion.

Reviewers will check that you have asked for an appropriate number of people, amount of time, and level of expertise to conduct the research.

How To Create a Strong Biographical Sketch

Make Your Personal Statement Shine

Don't skimp on this key section of the biosketch. Your personal statement can be a big factor in how you the PI rate on the Investigator review criterion. 

All key personnel's biosketches have a personal statement too, which must explicitly state how their experience qualifies them for their role on your project, including relevant education, expertise, and accomplishments.

Imminent Promotion?

Are you slated for an important promotion, for example, to assistant professor? Include the date it is scheduled to happen in the personal statement of your biosketch. While NIH does not require any particular title, your status may affect how reviewers view your qualifications.

After submitting and at least 30 days before the review meeting, you can inform the scientific review officer that the promotion took place. Follow the rules for Allowable Post-Submission Materials.

Carefully Choose Publications

Highlight your team's expertise by listing publications or manuscripts in press for each member.

Describe Your Contributions to Science

Reviewers will consider your seniority when they evaluate the scientific contributions in your biosketch. 

NIH offers the following advice for new scientists:

  • If you have one publication, you could summarize the key finding of the paper and its importance in a short contribution.
  • If you have no publications yet, you could provide a contribution that describes your efforts on other peoples’ papers and projects. For example, perhaps you used a certain method, provided the literature review for a paper, or cared for all the research animals.
  • If you have no research or thesis experience yet, you may still be able to describe one contribution about your training to date. 

Note that you do not have to be an author on the publications you reference. It is up to you how you describe your contributions. As one way to do so, you could choose to list a key publication that builds on your work.

For further advice on biosketches, consult with your colleagues who serve as reviewers in your area of science. Learn more about NIH Biosketch Format Pages, Instructions and Samples.

Checklist

  • My personal statement showcases my skills.
  • I convince reviewers that I am the right person to lead the research.
  • The other biosketches will convince reviewers that members of my team can all perform the roles I need them to play on the project.
  • I highlight each person's accomplishments in the research support section.
  • The publications I choose reveal my skills and those of my team.
  • My biosketches are consistent with other parts of the application.
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