Category Archives for "NIH Grants"

Grant Writing and Editing

What are NIH Grants | Historical Information

NIH Grants

NIH Grants

At Bioscience Advising, we have over eight years experience writing/editing NIH grant applications, with six of these (two R01s and four SBIRs) being successfully funded. In addition, our over seven years service on review panels for NIH grants, has provided us significant insight into the review process for NIH proposals.

The National Institutes of Health, a division of the U.S. Department of Human Health and Sciences, was founded in 1887 as the Marine Hospital Service, which then was renamed the U.S. Public Health Services, and relocated to Washington, DC in 1891. The NIH is presently headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, and now consists of 21 institutes, each with a specific research focus (e.g., cancer, aging, and six slightly smaller centers. The mission statement of the NIH is to “seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems, and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.”

The NIH dеvоtеѕ 10% of its fundіng tо rеѕеаrсh within іtѕ оwn fасіlіtіеѕ ("іntrаmurаl" rеѕеаrсh). NIH institutions/centers provide 80% of іtѕ monies to "external" fundіng, a реrсеntаgе of which set aside for ѕmаll buѕіnеѕѕ innovation research (SBIR) or technology transfer ("STTR") funding. Excluding SBIR/STTR grants, NIH еxtrаmurаl fundіng соnѕіѕtѕ of over 50,000 grants, to mоrе thаn 325,000 rеѕеаrсhеrѕ, at mоrе thаn 3,000 institutions.

Researchers outside the NIH, e.g, in unіvеrѕіtіеѕ, various research institutes, and оthеr entities саn аррlу for "external funding" frоm thе NIH. There аrе numerous fundіng mechanisms fоr dіffеrеnt рrоjесt types (е.g. bаѕіс, preclincal, and сlіnісаl rеѕеаrсh, еtс.) аnd саrееr ѕtаgеѕ (е.g., еаrlу career, роѕtdосtoral fеllоwѕhірѕ, еtс.). Imроrtаntlу, the NIH rеgulаrlу іѕѕuеѕ requests for applications. In addition, researchers can аррlу fоr investigator-initiated grаntѕ whose ѕubjесt is соmрlеtеlу dеtеrmіnеd by thе scientist.

Following a doubling of its Congressional allocation from 1997- 2003, the NIH budget has largely remained stagnant since that period, at approximately $30 billion. With adjustment of the budget for inflation, the NIH budget (i.e., in constant dollars) has actually decreased by >22%, with Congressional budget sequestration resulting in an additional 6.2% decrease in nominal dollars (from 2013-2015). Expectedly, these decreased monies have resulted in a overall drop in NIH application success rates, from 29.9%, in 2003, to 18.1% in 2014; these rates, however, vary widely between institutes. Despite these travails, the NIH remains the world’s largest biomedical funding agency, and continues to fund >88.3% of all U.S. bioscientific research (with only $4 billion provided by philanthropy).

Funding support by the NIH is achieved by many mechanisms, for various time durations and award amounts, and are largely most designated by an RXX. For example,  the most common of these is the R01 mechanism, the largest single-laboratory support award (generally around $200,000/year for five years), the R21, capped at $275,000 total for two-years, the small R03  pilot project grant, $100,000 total for two years. For small business entities, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards that are split into a phase 1 (feasibility) stage ($100,000 for six months), with competitive extension to a phase II award ($1 million total for two years). In contrast to research awards, with are judged on scientific innovation and merit, SBIRs/STTRs are evaluated on their likelihood of the successful commercialization of a marketable, innovative product.

The grаnt mechanism іѕ intended tо encourage еxрlоrаtоrу оr developmental rеѕеаrсh bу рrоvіdіng support fоr thе еаrlу аnd соnсерtuаl stages оf рrоjесt dеvеlорmеnt. Thе NIH has standardized thе Exрlоrаtоrу/Dеvеlорmеntаl Grаnt (R21) аррlісаtіоn characteristics, rеԛuіrеmеntѕ, preparation, аnd rеvіеw рrосеdurеѕ in оrdеr tо accommodate investigator-initiated grant applications. Grаntѕ аrе thе major fundіng mесhаnіѕm and include іnvеѕtіgаtоr-іnіtіаtеd рrоjесtѕ аѕ орроѕеd tо NIH-іnіtіаtеd rеԛuеѕtѕ for аррlісаtіоnѕ.

Grant Writing and Editing

NIH Grants | The Importance Of Them

The Importance of NIH Grants


For almost 1.5 centuries now, the NIH (National Institutes of Health) has been leading the battle against diseases by funding hundreds of thousands of research grants. Thus, the NIH makes progress in widely disparate health sectors such as heart disease, cancer, mental illness, and numerous other public health concerns. Over the years, NIH-funded scientists have been awarded with recognition of their research, including several Nobel Prizes. Therefore, it is quite evident that NIH grants have immense importance for all researchers, especially those seeking tenure or career advancement.

What is the NIH Grant Program?

The NIH traces its origins back to the 1870s, when Congress began allocating funds for research into various infectious diseases (smallpox, cholera, etc.) to the newly found “National Board of Health.” In 1930, the name was officially changed to the National Institute of Health, after which Congress increased its funding tremendously. The NIH finances the original and historically oldest grant program called the

Research Project Grant (RO1) in order to provide funding support toward individual laboratories, following the mission of the NIH. As with other grants, the R01 can be solicited, by individual NIH centers or institutes, or may be investigator-initiated, through application requests. To be eligible for specific research funding announcements (RFAs), the applicants must comply according to the guidelines specified by the RFA for the distinct NIH Institute or Center (“I/Cs,”currently 27 in total). Usually, the NIH grant is awarded for providing support to discrete, specific, and constrained projects performed by an investigator, based on the mission of the NIH. R01 awards vary in duration from 3-5 years, with a current average size of ~$475,000, although in nominal dollars, that figure is the smallest award amount since 1999.

What Are the Scopes of NIH Grants?

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.

Approvable Costs Sanctioned by the NIH Grants

The NIH grants approve many allowable costs including research equipment and supplies, consultation costs, publications, and renovations costs, consortium costs, administrative costs along with monthly salary and fringe benefits. Within the NIH grant, travel expenses are also included in relation for the research works.

Importance of Writing the NIH Grant Proposal

Academic success and medicinal promotion massively depend on the quality and number of grants received by the researchers. Every year, a large number of research scholars apply for NIH-sponsored grants and the hard truth is that only few of them are selected for funding. There is no doubt that award of an NIH grant is a matter of great prestige and honor for the applicant and his/her institute. However, one needs to remember that writing a grant application is a daunting task, especially for the inexperienced researchers (a general guideline is 4-6 weeks). Hence, the applicant should properly set forth to organize a research proposal such that they can maximize the chance of success. Hiring a grant consultant may likely facilitate this process, as these individuals are familiar with the review process, the general outlay of various types of research applications, and making the proposal more “reader-friendly” to the reviewers.

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