Learn how NIAID decides which applications to fund and what you should do at this stage.
Know Your Contacts
After you Understand the Review Process, your application moves to a program in an NIH institute for a funding decision.
At that point, your main contact person becomes the institute program officer assigned to your application. His or her name is listed on your summary statement and in the eRA Commons together with that of your grants management specialist.
As we described at Scoring and Summary Statements, your program officer can help you assess whether your application is likely to be funded. Read the information below as background for that discussion.
How NIAID Makes Funding Decisions
Institutes use different policies and paylines to fund grant applications. At NIAID, we mostly fund by scientific merit as judged by your peer reviewers and reflected in your overall impact score, or percentile for investigator-initiated R01s.
If your application is assigned to a different institute, talk to your program officer there to learn what to expect. Here we describe NIAID's approach to funding R01 applications.
We have two ways of making funding decisions based on opportunity type:
- We fund applications for Unsolicited, Investigator-Initiated Research using a percentile or score-based cutoff point, called a payline.
- We fund applications for Solicited, NIAID-Requested Research mostly in overall impact score order until we use up money we set aside for a program.
Here’s more detail on each approach.
Approach 1—Investigator-initiated applications are funded by payline. We award most investigator-initiated applications in order of their percentile (for R01s) or overall impact score (for the rest) until we reach the payline for each grant type. (We state "most" because of the PAS described below.)
Each major activity code, e.g., R01, has its own payline that we post online at NIAID Paylines. We also fund some applications beyond the payline at the end of the fiscal year and through special funding programs.
In the investigator-initiated world, paylines loom large in deciding an application's fate. Think of a payline as a limbo bar you must clear—the lower you go, the better you do—so an 8 percentile ranking is better than a 9.
At NIAID, we fund all applications that rank under the payline bar. For example, if the R01 payline is at the 8 percentile you would get a grant if your application ranks at the 8 percentile or lower assuming it is not held up by administrative concerns.
If your application scores 8.1 or higher, the situation is more complex. Read the section below, Factors Affecting Grant Award Timing.
Approach 2—RFAs and PAs with set-asides are funded in score order. For RFAs and some program announcements (called PAS—"S" is for set-aside), we fund mostly by overall impact score until we use up the funds. The amount set aside is stated in the initiative's NIH Guide announcement. (We say "mostly" because we may skip over some applications to fund others that better meet a priority or need.)
Factors Affecting Grant Award Timing
Time from application to award can vary by as much as a year. Here is a list of the major factors influencing grant award timing.
Whether we have a congressional appropriation. If your application goes to September or October Council, it will be funded in the next fiscal year, which may delay funding. You can check the budget status at Paylines and Funding.
Whether you are in the funding "gray zone." Many high-quality applications that scored somewhat above the payline are deferred for a funding decision until later in the fiscal year.
Whether your application undergoes expedited Council review. About eight weeks before each Council meeting, a subset of members performs an electronic expedited review for qualifying applications. Read more at Second-Level Review: Advisory Council.
Whether we need foreign clearance for your application. Contact your program officer for help.
Whether the grant type is complex. Contact your grants management specialist for help.
For more timing, see the Timeline for Funding Decisions section of the Timeline for Assignment, Review, and Council.
Not Funded Right Away? Take Action
If you did not get an award right after Council, we will put your application on hold for possible funding at the end of the fiscal year, if it ranks not too far from the payline. We call this the “gray zone.”
If your application is deferred for a funding decision, we strongly advise that you start revising right away. Determine if problems are fixable and see your next steps at Options if Your Application Isn't Funded.
NIAID typically defers decisions for such applications until June or July, after we know the results of the third review cycle. For more detail on this, see Timeline for Assignment, Review, and Council.
Starting in mid to late summer, we fund as many remaining applications as our budget for research project grants allows.
If Funding Is Likely
While you wait for likely funding, be sure you prepare the information we describe at Respond to Pre-Award Requests ("Just-in-Time").
If your application has a very low percentile and you’re confident it will be funded, consider asking your institution about spending funds ahead of the award in case of a delay at the start of the fiscal year. Read more in the Accepting the Award section of Negotiation and Your Initial Award.
If your application is chosen for funding, continue to Manage Your Award.