NIAID Sometimes Funds Applications as the Secondary Institute

Funding News Edition: December 15, 2021
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You can check whether NIAID was given secondary assignment of your application by checking the Institute/Center Assignment section of the Status Information Screen in eRA Commons.

Credit: NIAID

Suppose you submitted an investigator-initiated R01 application to study the pathogenesis of Type 1 diabetes and, although your application scored well in peer review, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) does not select it for funding. Might NIAID make the award instead? What can you do as the principal investigator (PI) to bring your proposed research project to our attention?

IC Assignments Happen Before Peer Review

When you submit an NIH application, the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) matches your application to an institute or center (IC) and a peer review group, as explained at Application Assigned to a Review Group. These assignments are important to facilitate the fairest possible scientific review of grant applications.

Certain applications, multidisciplinary projects especially, can include multiple ICs’ research priorities. In such circumstances, CSR designates one IC as the primary IC and the other(s) as secondary.

Your application is most likely to have NIAID listed as a secondary IC when NIAID participates but is not the lead sponsor on the funding opportunity announcement through which you apply, e.g., Chemical Threat Agent-Induced Pulmonary and Ocular Pathophysiological Mechanisms (R01, Clinical Trial Not Allowed), or when you Use the PHS Assignment Request Form to specify that while NIAID is not your first preference for IC assignment, your investigator-initiated application is relevant to the NIAID Mission.

You can check whether NIAID was given secondary assignment of your application by checking the Institute/Center Assignment section of the Status Information Screen in eRA Commons. A secondary assignment is also indicated as a “Dual IC” on the first page of your summary statement.

If your application was not given a secondary IC assignment, you cannot request or solicit another IC to consider awarding the grant. The secondary assignment must have been established before peer review, except in extremely rare circumstances.

After Peer Review, Compare Your Score

Following peer review, you will receive a summary statement that includes your application’s overall impact score. As we advise at Scoring & Summary Statements, you should contact the program officer listed at the top of the summary statement to ask about the probability of funding.

If the program officer assigned to your application says the primary IC is unlikely to fund the application, but your research is also relevant to NIAID’s scientific interests, check NIAID Paylines. If your application score meets or exceeds NIAID’s payline, ask the program officer whether NIAID is assigned as a secondary IC and, if so, request the contact information for the NIAID program officer assigned to your grant application.

Contact the NIAID Program Officer

When you contact the NIAID program officer following your conversation with the primary IC’s program officer, provide the following information:

  • Application number
  • Overall impact score
  • Primary IC and program officer
  • Programmatic justification

Although NIAID will already be assigned as a secondary IC for your application, you’ll help your cause by providing a justification as to why your research fits within NIAID’s programmatic priorities.

The NIAID program officer will check your application’s research areas to verify the science is of interest to NIAID. Subject to internal deliberation, our scientific priorities, and budget circumstances, NIAID may elect to fund your application.

The Odds Are Long

NIAID typically selects and awards very few grant applications for which we are assigned as the secondary IC, even among applications with meritorious scores.

So as you reach out to inform us of a competitive score, you’d do well to also consider how you might improve your original application for resubmission, as described at Revise and Resubmit an Application.

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