How to work the NIH (part 1)

The NIH website is a veritable treasure trove of information. I don’t even pretend to be aware of everything. Every other year or so, I do a seminar for our T32 trainees on the website as an intro to understanding the NIH (its plural) and how to organize oneself for a grant. I always try to go back in and rediscover what the heck is going on, and find any footprints my close, personal friend (ho ho ho, that’s a joke) Sally Rockey has recently left (following her blog is not burdensome and rather useful).

So without much further ado:

The web site is  but you can find the mission, goals, general information:  at (if one is new to the game, this maybe useful).

It is important to remember that the NIH consists of 27 Institutes and Centers: This is critical, because when one is funded, it comes from a particular institute. There are likely several that might fund you, but others that are irrelevant. Each institute has a mission statement, and if you want to be funded, you need to know what each Institute is interested in funding. For example the page for the the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has a brief mission statement, a boring list of Important Events, a list of directors, etc. But…. Keep scrolling down, it has a section on Extramural Research Program (this is what you want) that lists the various areas of interest to this Institute.  All the IC’s (institutes & centers) follow a similar format.

Our pal Dr. Rockey (and she will be your pal, too), has a lovely (relatively short) video on the Grants Process Overview page that starts with these timeless words (only partly sarcastic here):

 Any successful project requires planning, development, implementation, and follow-through. Obtaining NIH funding for your research idea is no exception. 

And this is true. This page is useful as a summary for what needs to be done to get funded, including a rough timeline. There are also links to more info, for example for planning, writing and submitting.

This page then goes through what happens to your grant at NIH: receipt and referral and the various review processes.

Some of the institutes duplicate this information, especially NIAID (allergy & infectious diseases). NIDCR (dental and craniofacial research): has a really useful Q&A section:

Here is the view from NIAID:



Part 2 tomorrow.


One thought on “How to work the NIH (part 1)

  1. Pingback: Working the NIH part 4 – the Office of Extramural Research | Mistress of the Animals

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