As mentioned, thew NIH covers I/Cs that support specific healthrelated research missions. Nearly all those I/Cs offer numerous mechanisms of funding, including the R01 grant and the R21, designed for more “high-risk/high reward” proposed projects. Multi-institution, cross-disciplinary grants (“U01” or “P series” awards) are also offered, often to study different aspects of a single disease/organ system. Once a research grant application has been submitted, it passes through the Center for Scientific Review (CSR), as a gateway for distribution to the most appropriate I/Cs, for eventual review by “study sections,” i.e., specific panels of nationwide experts in the topics of the applications to be considered.
More recently, the NIH has developed a focus on research directly relevant to specific disease patients, i.e., “translational” medical research. For grants focusing on basic science (not disease-related), the National Science Foundation (NSF) might be a more appropriate agency for seeking funding. Despite the funding agency or mechanism, NIH grant awards will likely continue to be a “measuring stick” for departmental decisions regarding tenure or other types of career advancement. Due to actual loss of funding over the last 15 years, in nominal dollars, fewer grants are awarded and competition has burgeoned. Success rates vary widely by I/C, from 11.6% from the National Institute of Nursing Research, to 26.7% at the National Eye Institute. The overall success rate has fallen, from 27.1% in 2001, to 16.3%, in 2015.