Big Grants SOP

This standard operating procedure (SOP) includes the following sections: PurposeProcedureContacts, and Links.


To support investigator-initiated research projects or training grants with total direct costs of $500,000 or more in any year of the grant.


Investigators must ask NIAID to agree to accept assignment of any investigator-initiated application that requests $500,000 or more in direct costs for any year (excluding subaward facilities and administrative costs).

NIAID accepts assignment of a limited number of large grant applications and weighs their prospects carefully. The Center for Scientific Review (CSR) will return applications that lack NIAID approval to accept assignment.

Although investigators can ask for up to $499,000 without our approval, they should contact NIAID if they come anywhere close to that level for the following reasons:

  • If they ask for $499,000 in the first year, the grant out years could be more than $500,000, even if they don't request an annual increase.
  • We may not have money to fund applications close to $500,000. NIAID funds few big grants each year because they strain the budget and compromise grant numbers, which Congress monitors.

The NIH big grant policy also applies to multiproject applications even if none of the individual projects request $500,000 or more. It does not apply to applications submitted in response to requests for applications.

Clinical trial applications follow their own process—go to Investigator-Initiated Clinical Trial Resources for more information.


  • Send a written or electronic request to the program officer listed in the funding opportunity announcement under Scientific/Research Contacts, who can advise you on the feasibility of getting an award. To initiate a request electronically, use the Prior Approval Module in the eRA Commons; consult the Prior Approval User Guide for assistance.
    • For P01 program project grants, send your request at least 10 weeks before you plan to apply.
    • For all other grants, send your request at least 6 weeks before you plan to apply.
    • If the request will be significantly greater than $500,000, ask for permission even earlier.
    • Your program officer will send your request through an internal NIAID preapproval process. At least two weeks before your intended receipt date, you will receive a letter signed by the relevant NIAID division director or designee stating whether your request has been accepted or rejected.
  • If your request is rejected, speak to the program officer about your alternatives.
  • If your request is approved, attach a copy of the NIAID acceptance letter to the PHS 398 Cover Letter of the grant application when you submit your application.

Program Officers

  • In deciding whether to agree to process a big grant preapproval request, consider program relevance, feasibility, scientific priority, and budget.
  • For T32 grant applications, email the Office of Research Training and Special Programs (ORTSP) at for approval.
  • For other applications, follow your division's procedures to get approval or rejection of a request.
  • If the request is approved, do the following:
  • If the request is not approved, follow your division's procedures to notify the PI.

Division Coordinators

  • Review ARA and acceptance letters for accuracy and completion. Resolve any questions with appropriate program staff.
  • Ensure that funds are available.
  • Initiate an electronic ARA using the IMPAC ARA module and attach an Agreement to Accept an Application letter.

Division of Extramural Activities

  • For T32 grant applications, the ORTSP director initiates an electronic ARA using the IMPAC ARA module and attaches an Agreement to Accept an Application letter.
  • NIAID Receipt and Referral staff verify the information in the ARA and submit it.


Applicants with questions should read Contacting Program Officers and Grants Management Specialists.

Office of Research Training and Special Programs—Contact for NIAID Staff

NIAID Receipt and Referral—Contact for NIAID Staff

Division Coordinators

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Big Grant Applications

NIAID Funding Policy and Process SOP

Content last reviewed on October 22, 2018