NIAID Funding News March 9, 2016

Feature Articles

Opportunities and Resources

In The News

Advice Corner

New Funding Opportunities

Feature Articles

Postdocs' Guide to Gaining Independence: Writing a Strong Grant Application

In part one of our series Postdocs' Guide to Gaining Independence, we focused on " Laying the Groundwork" to become an independent investigator. We pointed out there that writing a successful grant application during your postdoctoral years is important since receiving a grant benefits your research and is a sign of independence.

We now pick up where we left off with advice on developing a strong application for a fellowship (F) or career development (K) award, the grant types we mentioned previously as being suitable for postdoctoral fellows.

Before Writing, Do Some Prep Work

Like a chef who readies ingredients before actually cooking, you should do some prep work before writing your application.

Read and Follow Directions

Be sure to carefully read your chosen funding opportunity announcement (FOA) and the SF 424 Application Guide.

The FOA has must-know information, such as eligibility, budget, and level of effort as well as a link to any institute-specific guidelines or restrictions. For instance, NIAID supports only epidemiology, modeling techniques, and outcomes research for the Mentored Research Scientist Career Development Award (K01).

The SF 424 Application Guide contains instructions for completing application forms. NIH may return your application if it doesn't meet all requirements, so abide by the guidelines, including those for font and page limits.

To find an Application Guide, go to NIH's SF 424 (R&R) Application and Electronic Submission Information for the generic version or use the link in your FOA.

Assess How Much Time You'll Need

Once you know your application's due date (listed in the FOA) and any internal deadlines your institution has, set a target date of when you want to submit your application. You should allow plenty of time before the official NIH deadline for steps like having others read your application and giving it a final edit as well as dealing with problems that may arise, such as technical difficulties with the electronic submission process.

To learn more about what else you should do before submitting, go to "Put the Finishing Touches on Your Application," linked below.

If you run into glitches with a federal electronic system, follow the Guidelines for Applicants Experiencing System Issues.

Talk to Those Who Have "Been There, Done That"

In addition to your mentor or sponsor,* talk to other researchers who have gone through the process of applying for grants. They can give you advice and insights that may help you strengthen your application.

Investigators who have a grant award may also be generous enough to share their application with you so you can get a better idea of how to structure yours. Keep in mind that FOA requirements and NIH forms do change over time, so don’t rely solely on the content of their application.

*Except for the NIAID Career Transition Award (K22), the grants covered in “Laying the Groundwork” require either a formal or designated mentor (for Ks) or sponsor [for the Postdoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F32)]. Also, though we use mentor and sponsor in the singular, you may have more than one.

Request Letters of Reference

All the grants we listed in part one require letters of reference (at least three, no more than five), so think carefully about whom you want writing them, i.e., your "referees."

Since these letters are critically important and should address your competence and potential to develop into an independent investigator, you should ask only those people who can make the most meaningful comments about your professional training and qualifications.

Note that your referees should not be directly involved in the application and that the mentor named in the application cannot be a referee.

Have a short discussion with a potential referee before asking that person to provide a letter of recommendation. You might also ask others who have used that person as a referee whether he or she will provide a quality recommendation.

Give your referees plenty of time (several weeks) to write your letters, which they must submit by your application's due date, and provide materials that will help them write effective letters, e.g., a copy of your CV or resume and details about the program to which you are applying. Most importantly, give them the Instructions for Referees, which describe what they should address in the letters and how to submit them.

Find Instructions for Referees and information for applicants in the Letters of Reference section of the Supplemental Instructions for Career Development Applications and Supplemental Instructions for Fellowship Applications in the SF 424 Application Guide. For K awards, you can also go to Instructions for Referees.

As You Write, Keep In Mind Some Tips

When you get ready to put pen to paper, so to speak, remember the following tips.

Look to Our Advice Pages

You can find guidance on writing F and K applications in our Advice on Research Training and Career Awards, particularly on the following two pages.

  • Fellowship Grants (F) —covers promoting your Research Plan and yourself in the Personal Statement section of the biosketch as well as additional application tips
  • Career Development Awards (K)—includes information on writing the career development plan and Research Plan

Write for Your Audience

Your study section will have broad expertise that covers your scientific area, but each reviewer may not have in-depth knowledge of your specific research interest, as we explain at "Know Your Audience," linked below. Therefore, examine the roster and write your application so both an expert in your field and others on the panel will understand your research.

Here are links to the study sections that could review your application:

Know the Review Criteria

The advice pages above touch on the review criteria your reviewers will use to evaluate your application and give it an overall impact/priority score. We expand on the criteria here since it's essential you know what they are so you can address them appropriately while writing your application.

Though there are standard review criteria for fellowship and career development awards, there may be FOA-specific criteria, which you can find in Section V. Application Review Information of your chosen FOA.

Standard review criteria differ for fellowships and career development awards, so we'll go over each group along with what reviewers look for and how you may meet the criteria.

For fellowships, the standard review criteria are:

  • Fellowship Applicant—Reviewers evaluate your potential based on your academic achievements, research productivity, and letters of reference. Grades and awards are the usual metrics for scholastic evaluation. The expectation for research experience varies with the award mechanism with a higher expectation placed on postdoctoral awards, e.g., the F32, where doctoral studies, especially in Ph.D. programs, are expected to produce publications and presentations.
  • As a way of predicting potential, reviewers consider upward trajectory; that is, an applicant’s showing marked recent improvement of earlier problems, such as mediocre grades or productivity. If you have any weaknesses, you may want to explain (or have your references explain) the reasons for them.
  • Reviewers also expect clearly stated career goals and look for efforts in the fellowship that will facilitate reaching those goals.
  • Note: While the goals are considered under the Fellowship Applicant criterion, the efforts to reach them are usually evaluated under Training Potential.
  • Sponsors, Collaborators, and Consultants—The scientists responsible for your training are important for generating reviewer confidence that the fellowship period will be successful. Reviewers look for experience in the scientific topic of the proposed research project as well as experience and success in training scientists.
  • Sponsors with a limited background in training should point out why they are likely to be successful mentors. If your sponsor has a relatively limited track record in training scientists, consider recruiting a cosponsor who has training experience. He or she should contribute to the application and show commitment to you by describing how the training will be conducted. Describe how the training efforts with your sponsor and cosponsor are coordinated. If you have collaborators, include collaboration letters clarifying their roles in the training.
  • Since fellowship awards are limited to stipends and do not provide support for research materials or equipment, reviewers need to be confident that the funding for the laboratory and the project will be provided. Financial support can be from your sponsor’s lab, the department, or a collaborator but should be clearly described in the application.
  • Research Training Plan—Reviewers recognize that your time and effort will be devoted to your research project, but they want to see a clear description of efforts that will likely result in publications. The project itself should provide you with new skills and approaches that will facilitate reaching your career goals. Be sure to generate reviewer confidence that the proposed efforts will advance the scientific field and “launch” your career.
  • Avoid the common mistakes of 1) failing to recognize and address potential problems and 2) proposing risky research or Specific Aims that would require success of another aim to be successful.
  • Make clear to the reviewers how much of the Research Plan you developed and how much help your sponsor provided. Since each situation is different, there is no single formula for success. Reviewers want to see sponsor involvement but also expect you to contribute to the ideas and goals. The Research Plan should generally be related to, but somehow distinct from, ongoing research in your sponsor’s lab.
  • Reviewers are also impressed by applicant-generated preliminary data, when possible. However, in the absence of preliminary data, a strong justification based on the literature can be sufficient.
  • Training Potential—This criterion refers to what you will learn during the fellowship period, appropriate for your career goals. Reviewers look for new skills and training that will expand upon any previous scientific training.
  • Reviewers are often disappointed when they see applicants proposing to conduct research in an area that is highly similar to their previous interests, even when the research proposal is of high quality. You’ll generate the most enthusiasm by seeking training in which you can use your previous experience but move into new areas, be exposed to new ideas, and achieve your career goals. This doesn’t mean you have to work in a new field, but you should emphasize the new skills, techniques, or knowledge that you’ll gain.
  • Reviewers also look to see that your planned activities are consistent with the sponsor’s training plan, which is an important component. They are most impressed by customized training plans that home in on what an applicant needs to succeed and reach his or her career goals. Reviewers are often disappointed with a “generic” training plan that is limited to activities that would be appropriate for any fellow.
  • In addition to research activities, reviewers also want to see career development training, such as teaching, grant writing, or presentations that are appropriate to your career goals.
  • Institutional Environment and Commitment to Training—Reviewers look for appropriate facilities and resources for the proposed fellowship activities. They are impressed with strong faculty in related fields and other intellectual resources that will motivate and support applicants as well as institutional programs, e.g., seminars, workshops, and professional development activities, that facilitate success.

For career development awards, the standard review criteria are:

  • Candidate—Reviewers look closely at research productivity, which includes publications, presentations at national or international conferences, patents, awards (e.g., travel awards), and fellowships, such as those from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Strong research productivity indicates that you, the applicant, will be able to successfully establish an independent research program.
  • Consider your productivity when deciding whether to apply. For example, if you have several manuscripts in preparation, you may want to wait until the manuscripts are accepted to submit your application. Once you do submit, you have until 30 days before the review to send additional material, such as news of an accepted manuscript. Learn more at "If You Need to Send Late Materials After Submitting," linked below.
  • Career Development Plan/Career Goals and Objectives—Competitive K applications have a career development plan specifically tailored to the candidate. Avoid the common weakness of writing a generic or formulaic plan.
  • Clearly describe the career goals or objectives and justify the proposed areas of training, which should be aligned with the proposed Research Plan and career objectives. For most candidates, this section should include plans for formal training in grant writing and laboratory management.
  • For mentored awards, include meetings with your mentor and advisory committee as well as clear metrics for evaluating your progress. Lastly, provide a timeline for your training and research goals. This will help to emphasize how the proposed training and Research Plan align with each other.
  • Research Plan—Clearly state the hypotheses and support them with solid preliminary data. This information will help convince reviewers that the proposed approach is feasible and will result in interpretable results. Additionally, clearly explain how the proposed studies are novel and will impact or advance your area of research.
  • As for the Specific Aims, they should be interrelated and cohesive but independent of each other. That is, the results from one aim should not be necessary to conduct the studies proposed in another aim.
  • Always include a section describing potential problems and alternative approaches. This demonstrates that you are thinking deeply about your research and will increase reviewer confidence that you will be able to handle problems that may arise.
  • Finally, include a description of the long-term scope of your proposed project, including a discussion about how it is distinct from your mentor’s research interests and how the Research Plan will lay the foundation for developing a future independent R01-equivalent grant application.
  • Mentor(s), Co-Mentor(s), Consultant(s), Collaborator(s)—The mentor’s letter of support is critically important in all K applications. Remember this letter does not count towards the required three to five letters of reference.
  • The letter should:
    • Describe your mentor’s research expertise, support and training record, and the accomplishments of previous mentees.
    • Include a clear statement that your mentor is committed to helping you develop an independent research program distinct from his or her research interests and a description of how he or she will help you achieve independence.
    • For mentored award applications, it should also include a detailed mentoring plan that's tailored specifically to you and includes clearly defined metrics for evaluating your progress and plans for helping you if specific milestones are not met.
  • For a mentored award, think carefully about how you build your mentoring team. Each mentor should have a clearly defined role and a clear commitment to meet regularly with you. If your primary mentor does not have significant experience training junior investigators, you should consider including a co-mentor with a strong training record.
  • If support letters from collaborators are included in the application, make sure that each collaborator states his or her specific role in the proposed project. The letters should clearly describe how the collaborator will contribute to the proposed studies and/or the specific resources he or she will provide you.
  • Environment and Institutional Commitment to the Candidate—This criterion is most relevant for mentored K applications and should include a description of the research and the training resources available to you.
  • Additionally, an institutional representative, such as the dean or departmental chair, must provide a one-page letter affirming the institution’s commitment to providing you with a minimum of 75 percent protected time as well as the necessary resources to complete the proposed research and training needed so that you can advance to research independence.

After You're Done Writing

After you finish writing and before you submit your application, review "Put the Finishing Touches on Your Application," linked below. As stated there and earlier in Assess How Much Time You'll Need, you should allow time for others—including your mentor or sponsor—to read the application and provide feedback.

Related Links



Opportunities and Resources

A Quicker Path to Zika Virus Funding

Through a recently issued funding opportunity announcement (FOA) titled Rapid Assessment of Zika Virus (ZIKV) Complications (R21), NIAID and its partner institutes seek exploratory and developmental research projects on Zika virus and its complications. Topics of concern include a possible association with severe microcephaly in the babies of infected pregnant women and the potential clinical impact of transfusion-transmission of ZIKV.

The FOA lists 40 high-priority research areas, and the list is not exhaustive. Example topics include:

  • Strategies to prevent transmission of ZIKV to the fetus after infection in the mother
  • Responses and immunological interactions with other flaviviruses
  • Novel diagnostic, vaccine, and therapeutic strategies against ZIKV

Note that clinical trials are outside the scope of this FOA.

You should discuss your research idea with one of the scientific/research contacts listed in the FOA—Dr. Mark Challberg for NIAID—to verify your planned research is within the scope of this program.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and undergo expedited peer review. Second level review, also known as Advisory Council review, will take place according to the NIAID advisory Council's fixed schedule. We will begin accepting applications as early as March 20, 2016.

Direct costs are limited to $275,000 over two years, and direct costs cannot exceed $200,000 in any one year.

For complete details, read the February 19, 2016 Guide announcement.

Also, keep in mind that you can propose Zika virus research using the parent R01, R21, R03, and R43/R44 FOAs—see our February 10, 2016 Funding News article “Zika Virus Research Is a High Priority.” That approach may be a better fit should you decide that an R01, R03, or R43/R44 grant is the best option to support your proposed research project.

The Consortium for Food Allergy Research: One Goal, Two Opportunities

If food allergy research is your niche, then here’s your chance to shine!

The Consortium for Food Allergy Research (CoFAR) consists of two distinct entities, the CoFAR Clinical Research Units (CRUs) and the CoFAR Leadership Center (LC). The CoFAR CRUs are responsible for implementing clinical trials and studies for the Consortium. The CoFAR LC is tasked with providing scientific strategy and organizational structure for conducting research in the areas of preventing, managing, and understanding the mechanisms of IgE-mediated food allergy. To achieve their objectives, the CoFAR CRUs and CoFAR LC will work closely together to select and implement all CoFAR clinical projects.

Thus, NIAID invites applications for two companion funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) that will study issues relevant to IgE-mediated food allergies through the CoFAR program. These FOAs will be funded using the UM1 (CRUs) and UM2 (LC) cooperative agreement mechanisms, which entail substantial federal scientific or programmatic involvement. This means that after award, NIH scientific or program staff will assist, guide, coordinate, or participate in project activities.

Research, clinical trials, and clinical studies that the CoFAR CRUs and CoFAR LC may implement include:

  • Phase I or Phase II clinical trial(s) for treating or preventing food allergy focused on immune-based approaches such as preventative early allergen exposure, new forms of allergen immunotherapy including immunotherapy in combination with adjuvants, anti-cytokine treatment, or other immunomodulatory agents and approaches
  • Birth cohort studies of individuals at high risk versus low risk of food allergy
  • Mechanisms underlying the severity of allergic reactions and anaphylaxis in food allergy
  • Identifying the route of allergen sensitization in food allergy

Applications proposing the following topics will be considered nonresponsive and ineligible for review:

  • Research conducted on animals or animal cells
  • Research on:
    • Eosinophilic esophagitis
    • Non-IgE-mediated diseases such as celiac disease
    • HIV/AIDS

Before applying, check out  Questions and Answers for RFA-AI-051 and Questions and Answers for RFA-AI-050, which further clarify the expectations for the CoFAR CRUs and CoFAR LC.

Application Submission

NIAID intends to commit $6.1 million in FY 2017 to support the activities of the CoFAR program. Application budgets are not limited but must reflect the actual needs of the proposed project. The maximum project period is seven years.

Submit optional letters of intent by May 30, 2016. Applications are due June 30, 2016. You must use FORMS-D application forms and instructions, which will be posted by March 25, 2016. We encourage you to apply early to allow time to correct any errors found in the application before the due date.

For complete details, read the February 3, 2016 UM1 and UM2 Guide announcements.

Questions? Contact the scientific/research contact for both FOAs, Dr. Michael Minnicozzi.

SBIR-TT Creates Opportunity for Small Businesses to Develop NIAID Technologies

NIAID is seeking applications from small businesses in support of an R44 funding opportunity announcement (FOA) focusing on moving vaccines and products developed by NIAID intramural scientists into the marketplace.

Using the Direct-to-Phase II mechanism, this FOA will fund Small Business Innovation Research-Technology Transfer (SBIR-TT) grants to further develop products for treating and preventing diseases that fit within NIAID’s mission. Direct-to-Phase II intends to facilitate SBIR-type research and development (R&D), expand R&D opportunities for applicants, and enhance the pace of technology development and commercialization.  

Vaccine and treatment inventions eligible for this award include, but are not limited to:

  • HIV anti-gp120 env vaccine as a therapeutic or HIV prevention vaccine
  • HPV virus-like particles as a vaccine delivery system and adjuvant
  • Norovirus (Norwalk) antibodies for treating and preventing virus disease
  • Use of the 10E8 broadly neutralizing antibody for HIV treatment and prevention

For the complete list of eligible inventions, see Section I. Funding Opportunity Description in the FOA.

Applications that propose human clinical trials or do not relate to the eligible inventions specified in the FOA will be considered nonresponsive and will not be reviewed.

Application Information

In all cases, applicants should propose a budget and project duration that is both reasonable and appropriate for completing the research project. Read the FOA's full text (linked below) for additional budget requirements and guidelines.

Optional letters of intent are due May 23, 2016. The deadline to apply is June 23, 2016. You must use FORMS-D application forms and instructions, which will be posted by March 25, 2016. We strongly recommend that you apply early to allow adequate time to correct any errors found in the application during the submission process.  

Complete details are available in the February 17, 2016 Guide announcement. Direct questions to Dr. Natalia Kruchinin, the scientific/research contact for the FOA.

NIAID Participating in FOAs to Improve Animal Stem Cell Models

Several NIH institutes and centers, including NIAID, are participating in two companion funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) to characterize, improve, or create animal stem cell models for human disease conditions to use in regenerative medicine therapies.

NIAID will receive only those applications that fit within our mission.

The Division of AIDS (DAIDS) seeks models that support research on HIV vaccines, other prophylactic measures, therapeutics, and strategies to achieve a cure, with a preference for approaches using reprogrammed somatic stem cells, such as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Example research topics include:

  • Improving humanized mouse models using adult stem cell engraftment procedures and primate models with modified stem cells to test HIV therapy or cure strategies
  • Improving animal models for stem cell-based regenerative medicine approaches to reprogram or restore immune functions in HIV-infected patients
  • Developing stem cell-based humanized animal models for HIV vaccine research that reflect human immune responses and are predictive of HIV vaccine efficacy in humans

The Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation (DAIT) will support research to understand normal immune system function, determine the causes of immunologic diseases, and develop better diagnostic, treatment, and prevention strategies for those diseases. DAIT is interested in supporting:

  • New approaches to improve engraftment, tissue homing, and function of stem cells to promote successful immune system reconstitution and thymic regeneration in animal models, including methods to induce development of non-lymphoid and lymphoid cells from reprogrammed stem cells
  • Improved humanized animal models of immune reconstitution
  • Models to elucidate the role of hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) or MSC transplantation as a tolerogenic adjunct to organ or pancreatic islet transplantation
  • Approaches to prevent an alloimmune response to transplanted cells or tissues derived from embryonic stem cells (ESCs) or iPSCs
  • Stem cell use for mitigating or treating radiation injuries following a radiological/nuclear incident

Administrative Matters

You can apply for an R01 grant or an R21 grant, using the February 9, 2016 R01 and R21 Guide announcements.

The R01 grant has a maximum project period of five years and your budget, while uncapped, must reflect the actual needs of the project. Follow our Big Grants SOP to get prior approval if any one year’s budget request will exceed $500,000 in direct costs.

Conversely, the R21 grant’s project period cannot exceed two years and your budget cannot exceed $275,000 in direct costs over the entire project period, with no more than $200,000 allotted to any single year.

With one exception, follow NIH’s Standard Due Dates if you are applying within DAIT’s areas of interest; use the Standard AIDS Dates for applications submitted in DAIDS’ areas of interest. That exception: the R21 FOA will open and receive applications on April 4, 2016, for both DAIT and DAIDS topic areas, to be reviewed at the October 2016 advisory Council meeting—see the March 3, 2016 Guide notice.

Remember to use the new FORMS-D application package for due dates on or after May 25, 2016, which will be posted by March 25.

We recommend you reach out to a scientific/research contact well before applying. For DAIDS, contact Dr. Brigitte Sanders. For DAIT, contact Dr. Alison Deckhut Augustine.

Finally, be sure to read the FOAs (linked above) for full details.

In the News

Jonas Jolts—But Doesn’t Halt—January Council

In addition to flights in the Mid-Atlantic and performances on Broadway, Winter Storm Jonas caused the cancellation of NIAID’s Council meeting at the Natcher Conference Center on January 25.

That didn’t stop the job at hand, however. Though Council members and staff didn't gather in person at the designated locale, they conducted business nonetheless, using phone and video.

Go to NIAID Advisory Council-January 2016 to see videotaped presentations by NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci and guest speaker Dr. Eliseo Perez-Stable of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD).

We provide brief overviews of their remarks here.

Guest Remarks

Though Dr. Fauci appears first in the video, we’ll start with the guest speaker.

Dr. Perez-Stable, who became NIMHD director in 2015, provided a history of the six-year-old institute and a look at its mission.

He pointed out that one of his priorities this year is to lead efforts for a trans-NIH Health Disparities Strategic Plan for 2016. He also spoke about NIMHD’s strategy to advance the science of health disparities, strategies for minority health and health disparities research activities, and disparities issues in immunological and infectious diseases.

Director’s Remarks

Dr. Fauci began by welcoming the following Council members:

  • DAIDS Subcommittee
    • Aftab A. Ansari, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine
    • Sally L. Hodder, M.D., professor of medicine at West Virginia University School of Medicine
    • Cara Wilson, M.D., professor of medicine (infectious diseases subspecialty) and immunology at the University of Colorado, Denver (UCD)
  • DAIT Subcommittee
    • Wendy M. Book, M.D.professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology
  • DMID Subcommittee
    • Raul Andino, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of California, San Francisco
    • Karen E. Nelson, Ph.D., president of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI)

Learn more about the newcomers at Council Members, Biographical Sketches.


In budget news, Dr. Fauci focused on NIAID’s current budget since he could not discuss The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2017 before it was released (on February 9, 2016). See Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2017 on the Office of Management and Budget website.

To find NIAID’s FY 2016 budget information, paylines, financial management plan, and salary caps, go to Paylines and Funding.

Other Items of Note

Dr. Fauci also covered topics such as:

  • Staff news
    • The retirement of Dr. Carole Heilman, director of the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID), and Dr. Ernie Takafuji, director of the Office of Biodefense Research
    • Current NIAID employees who garnered prestigious honors and awards
  • Staff legislative activities, for example, a briefing on “Fast-Tracking the End of AIDS,” cosponsored by Senator Ed Markey
  • Congressional efforts to develop legislation aimed at advancing medical research and innovation
  • HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and mosquito-borne diseases, including Zika virus

Approved Concepts

You may know that Council must approve a concept before we can announce it as a possible initiative: request for applications, program announcement, or request for proposals.

During the subcommittee meetings—conducted by phone—members discussed and approved the concepts listed on the following pages:

For previously approved concepts, go to Concepts: Potential Opportunities.

It's important to check concepts since you can use them as clues to NIAID's research interests and potential topics for investigator-initiated applications in the future (typically two fiscal years ahead). Find out more at Unsolicited, Investigator-Initiated Research.

Keep in mind that there's no guarantee that a concept will become a published initiative.

Learn More About Council

To find out more about the activities of our advisory Council, go to:

Global Institutions—Let Us Train Your Grant Administrators

Last year, NIAID issued a new funding opportunity announcement (FOA) called Global Infectious Disease Research Administration Development Award for Low- and Middle-Income Country Institutions (G11), which we described in our article "Train the Trainers on Global Research Administration."

For this year's application cycle, we've broadened the eligibility criteria (see the January 29, 2016 Guide notice), posted  Questions and Answers for PAR-15-131, and announced an upcoming Webinar for prospective applicants.

To register for the Webinar, go to The Webinar will take place on April 7, 2016, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. U.S. Eastern Daylight Time. Register by April 1, 2016. Send any questions you'd like to hear to Dr. James Alaro.

Tap Into Clinical Specimens for New Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Grants

If you’re planning new myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) research, you may be interested to learn that clinical specimens from 138 validated ME/CFS cases and 139 well-matched controls are still available to the ME/CFS research community. De-identified specimens for each study participant do not meet the definition of human subjects research.

As outlined in a February 19, 2016 Guide notice, interested investigators are encouraged to contact Dr. Ian Lipkin at Columbia University, who maintains the samples, to ensure that any proposed experimental plan meets the terms specified in obtaining informed consent from study subjects and/or other regulations.

You must submit a new NIH grant application for ME/CFS research involving use of the specimens, which will be evaluated as part of the standard NIH peer review process. No set-aside funds are associated with these samples.

Possible funding opportunities to explore include the following:

Funded investigators will receive samples on a first-come, first-served basis until supplies are exhausted. Consult the Guide notice for complete details. For grant-related queries, contact Dr. Eun-Chung Park.

News Briefs

Help Us Help You: Website Construction. 

We are improving the NIAID website and we need help from readers like you! Contribute to our research efforts by taking part in a simple Card Sort—a fun exercise that will help us make it easier for you to find the information you need in the funding section of the website.

Completing the card sort is quick and easy. It’s anonymous and may be done on any computer at any time, day or night. If you are interested in participating in this exercise, email and we’ll send you the link when it becomes available. Be on the lookout for it next week.

Informed Consent Required for Fetal Tissue Research. 

Grantees must ensure informed consent for research involving the transplantation of human fetal tissue and for research with human fetal material associated with information that can identify a living individual. Additionally, most states require informed consent for the use of fetal tissue in research. You must maintain appropriate documentation. See the February 11, 2016 Guide notice for more details.

Check Out Grand Challenges From the Gates Foundation. 

The seventeenth round of the Gates Foundation Grand Challenges features several opportunities that should be of interest to our research community. They include Grand Challenges China: New Interventions for Global HealthNovel Approaches to Characterizing and Tracking the Global Burden of Antimicrobial Resistance; and Accelerate Development of New Therapies for Childhood Cryptosporidium Infection. Deadlines to apply range from mid-March to early-May.

iEdison Reporting Must Follow the HHS 568 Form. 

As a grantee or contractor, you must file the HHS 568 at the conclusion of your grant or contract to report subject inventions made under the funding agreement. Additionally, you must report any inventions in iEdison. Fail to do so and you jeopardize your rights to the invention. Learn more in the February 17, 2016 Guide notice.

Advice Corner

Learn Our Lingo: The Nine Application Types

Without proper context, you may be confused when our articles or staff refer to specific application types. Let’s clear up that confusion.

The first digit on any application identification number corresponds to its application type. Take a moment to review the nine types:

  • Type 1—New. Provides NIH funding support for a new grant.
  • Type 2—Renewal. Requests another project period. These applications are peer reviewed and must compete with other applications of the same type and timing for funding.
  • Type 3—Supplement. Provides additional funds to a grant as an administrative supplement or revision. A revision is sometimes referred to as a “competing supplement.” The revision provides additional funds to expand the scope of a grant and requires peer review, whereas an administrative supplement can’t be used to expand a grant's scope and does not require peer review.
  • Type 4—Extension. Provides time and funds beyond the recommended level for a project segment without external peer review. Can also be used administratively to separate funding segments. Note that this year NIH is using Type 4s administratively to assist the transition to Payment Management System subaccounts for those that were in pooled accounts in FY 2016.
  • Type 5—Noncompeting continuation. Continues support in the out years of a grant; does not compete for funds. The Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) is the progress reporting application type for all Type 5s.
  • Type 6—Change of grantee. Transfers a grant only when one organization acquires or merges with another, also called successor-in-interest.
  • Type 7—Change of grantee. Transfers a grant from one institution to another (other than Type 6).
  • Type 8—Change of NIH institute. Transfers a Type 5 grant before award from one NIH institute to another (an intra-NIH transfer of the awarding responsibility). The Type 5 grant’s application identification number will likely change, especially when the numeric portion of the grant number at the losing NIH institute has already been used by a funded or unfunded grant at the gaining NIH institute.
  • Type 9—Change of NIH institute. Transfers a Type 1 or Type 2 grant before award from one NIH institute to another (an intra-NIH transfer of the awarding responsibility). The Type 1/Type 2 grant’s application identification number will likely change, especially when the numeric portion of the grant number at the losing NIH institute has already been used by a funded or unfunded grant at the gaining NIH institute.

You may have noticed that “Resubmission” is missing from the list. That’s because it is not an application type; it’s a type ofapplication submission. We use A0 and A1 to refer to new and resubmitted applications, respectively. You can resubmit a Type 1 application, but it is still an application for funding support to a new grant. Since the word “new” can mean “Type 1” or “not a resubmission,” always check the context.

To learn about the different types of award mechanisms and activity codes NIAID uses—for example, a cooperative agreement versus a research project grant—explore Types of Funding Opportunities.

Reader Questions

Feel free to send us a question at After responding to you, we may ask your permission to include your question in the newsletter, incorporate it into the  Find a Funding Opportunity site, or both.

“I've never been awarded an NIH research grant; however, I was assigned to lead a research project as the principal investigator during the noncompeting phase of an R01 grant. Can I still be considered a new investigator?”—anonymous reader

Yes. Only those who have previously competed successfully as principal investigator on a significant independent NIH research grant are excluded from consideration as a new investigator. If you are in this situation and a subsequent R01 you submit does not have new investigator status, you should contact the eRA Service Desk.

“How long do I have to spend an administrative supplement? The remainder of the budget period, the remainder of the project period, or some other amount?”—Michael F. Dell, Indiana University School of Medicine

Grantees can request an administrative supplement to begin at a point after they make a request and should identify a specific timeline to use the funds within the grant project period. Only request administrative supplements for immediate needs above what your current grant funds can support. If that immediate need would take multiple years to complete within the remaining grant project period, request funds in one-year budget period increments for those out years in the same request.

Keep in mind, NIAID does not allow administrative supplement applications in the first or last year of a grant.

To learn more about administrative supplements, see our  Administrative Supplements to Grants and Cooperative Agreements SOP.

New Funding Opportunities

See other announcements at NIAID Funding Opportunities List.​​

Content last reviewed on March 9, 2016