How to get an NIH grant – Overview
The National Institute of Health (NIH) is the biggest public fund-giving agency for biomedical research worldwide.
The NIH has invested over US$ 32 billion every year. These funds have helped achieve breakthroughs and innovative treatment methods.
These studies have helped people live a longer and healthier life. The NIH fund is crucial to building strong research foundations that boost discovery.
Many applicants who are new to this, wonder how to get an NIH grant. This article provides detailed information on the steps you need to take to apply for an NIH grant.
How to plan an NIH Grant Application?
Preparing and submitting an NIH grant application is a major undertaking. This is an efficient way for biomedical researchers to provide research training and pursue scientific research efforts.
Proper planning, preparation and organization are the key to an effective NIH grant application.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the steps you need to follow while planning an NIH grant application:
Step 1 – Understand NIH
The first step before applying for an NIH grant is to understand how NIH works. You need to make sure that your application fits the NIH research priorities.
To learn more about the NIH, you can visit this link https://grants.nih.gov/grants/understanding-nih.htm.
Step 2 – Use RePORTER to Identify Your Research Category
Once you have understood the mission of NIH, you can use its RePORTER tool. This allows you to search their database for NIH-funded research projects. It also gives you access to publications that are valuable for researchers while planning an NIH grant application.
By using the RePORTER tool, you can:
- Explore the different types of projects funded by the NIH in your field of science
- Identify the correct IC by searching for the IC which funds projects similar to yours
- Discover the Program Officials contact which is associated with similarly funded research projects
- Search for collaborators who have received NIH funding to improve your application proposal
To learn further details and how you can use RePORTER, feel free to click this link https://reporter.nih.gov/.
Step 3 – Contact NIH
It is highly advised to contact NIH officials before submitting a grant application. They will advise you on identifying relevant support according to your research project type. Contacting program officials can help clarify questions and doubts that you may have.
You can find the list of NIH contacts in this link https://grants.nih.gov/help/ic-staff-roles.
How to apply for an NIH grant?
Let’s take a look at the major steps you need to follow to make a successful application for an NIH grant:
Submitting a grant application
Research institutes and organizations can submit grant applications to the Center for Scientific Review (CSR), the NIH or agencies with NIH mandate. The CSR allows the initial review task to the NIH or one of its review groups.
The type of grant application mainly decides if it should be allotted to the NIH or CSR. The NIH is responsible for reviewing the following applications:
- Program Project
- Scientific Meeting
- Research Career
- Institutional Training Grant
- Clinical Loan Repayment
Additionally, applications meant for Requests for Applications (RoA) are usually reviewed by the NIH. The organizations follow a similar review process, irrespective of the fact that the review is conducted by NIH or CSR.
Let’s look at the stages that an NIH grant application goes through before approval:
1 – Initial level of review
A committee of experts conducts the initial review at NIH or CSR. These experts are recruited from universities and research facilities. A Special Emphasis Panel or a simple standing review committee reviews an NIH grant application.
Either way, there are certain aspects and elements that the review committee looks for in an application. These include:
- Originality and quality of the proposed science
- Quality and experience of investigators
- Quality of research facilities
- Rigor and reproducibility
- Human and animal welfare guidelines for a proposed research project
- Plans to recruit women and minorities (for a project involving human experimenting)
The review helps to rate the overall scientific feasibility and quality standards of the proposed research project.
2 – Next level of review
The CSR performs a second round of review for all NIH grant applications. The reviewing committee is made of eminent scientists and members of the public.
These experts advise the NIH on the appropriateness of the initial level of review. This committee also identifies the public and scientific importance of the proposed research project.
3 – Awards
Once an application is reviewed and approved by the reviewing committee, the proposal is sent to the program administrator.
They decide the amount of funding to be approved for the selected applicants. Priority is given to the scientific quality of the application, as determined by the initial peer review.
The proposed research project’s relevance to NIH priorities and adherence to the research timeline is also considered at this stage.
Normally, only a fraction of the total applicants become successful in acquiring an NIH grant.
The program administrator manages awards and interacts with principal investigators. This helps to achieve the proposed project goals and ensure compliance with the mandatory procedures and policies.
A grants management specialist is also assigned to each award. They are responsible for the award’s financial management and assure the recipient’s compliance with government policies regulating research projects.
These are specialists with immense knowledge of allowable costs, fiscal accountability, and various budgetary authorities.
Applying for an NIH grant is a complex process. Make sure to check all available information sources on the NIH grant process before applying for one.
This way, you can prevent errors and decrease the risk of your grant application being rejected.
For more information on the NIH grant application process, we urge you to visit the official NIH website. There, you will find a plethora of information, details and instructions on how to create a favorable application.
NIH grants have been extremely vital in discovering numerous biomedical solutions by funding research projects. Make sure to follow the guidelines and instructions carefully to avoid making mistakes in your NIH grant application.