When NIAID solicits targeted research, you get to choose your project—but you're limited to the topics specified in the funding opportunity announcement. You are held to the requirements of the announcement and the research areas we have defined.
Because solicited opportunities require you to stay within predefined areas of science, NIH does not consider these applications to be investigator-initiated. (For more on that, see Unsolicited, Investigator-Initiated Research instead.)
The most common type of solicited opportunity is a request for applications (RFA). Another type, program announcement with set-aside funds (PAS), is less common.
Outside the world of grants, NIAID Contract Solicitations are also considered solicited research.
Find an Opportunity That’s a Good Fit
To find NIAID solicited opportunities, go to our Funding Opportunities list. The initials “RFA” and “PAS” show you that the opportunity is solicited.
When you find an interesting RFA or PAS, ask yourself: "does my expertise match the announcement?"
If your expertise doesn't quite fit, collaborate with an expert in the field and ensure that the plans for data exchange are adequately detailed in the application.
To succeed, you'll also need an idea and execution that can make a high impact on the field in the context of the goals of the initiative.
Assess Competition and Set-Aside Funds
Also at play are two interrelated success factors: your competition and the level of funds set aside. All solicited initiatives have set-aside funds. With a set-aside, NIAID funds applications largely by overall impact score, but also taking into account the programmatic importance of the research.
Thus, in addition to the other points noted above, your success will depend on
- The amount of money we have set aside. Find that stated in the NOFO.
- The number of competitors. While more money means more grants, the more people who apply—and competition can be intense—the smaller the fraction that succeeds.
- Your expertise relative to your competitors. You may be competing against world-class experts in the field.
How do you assess your competition and the set-aside?
For the former, the program officer listed in the announcement can help. Call to get a sense of how much interest the initiative has generated as well as feedback on how well your research ideas meet the scope of the initiative.
One advantage to applying under an RFA is if your application is not funded you can submit the same project again as a new investigator-initiated application by applying for one of NIH's Parent Announcements or to another program announcement that supports your activity code.
Another option: change activity code and carry forward some or all of your project's aims. Read more at Create a New Application.
If you apply again, pay close attention to your application deadline. While some PAs have multiple receipt dates, RFAs usually have only one, so you must move quickly when you find an RFA that interests you.
One last point when writing your application: although initiatives are in high-priority scientific areas, you'll still need to describe the significance of the project as you normally would.
In making funding decisions later, program staff examine a list of applications in overall impact score order, from best (numerically lowest) to worst (numerically highest). These scores are usually not converted to a percentile since they are primarily reviewed in just one special emphasis panel for a single receipt date.
We fund solicited research mostly in overall impact score order until we deplete the money set aside (we do not set a payline). We say "mostly" because we may, with justification, skip over some applications to fund others that better meet a priority or programmatic need.