Inter IC variation at the NIH – grant mechanisms

Eli Roberson@thatdnaguy  made a good point yesterday:

@mrhunsaker @bakermind @iGrrrl @pottytheron @DrFireMyo @drugmonkeyblog Don’t forget that lots of this is *highly* field / institute specific

“This” being the lengthy discussion on granting, funding, PDs & R-awards, who owns the grants and administrative evilness (though they seldom perceive it that way).

There are many things that vary among the institutes, as well as within subprograms within each institute. As always, it is critical to talk to NIH staff about your particular situation. And, again, they are almost always happy to help explain things to any investigator. This may not be exactly what t Eli Roberson@thatdnaguy  had in mind, but its a good place to start.

What are things that vary among institutes? Well, what mechanisms they support, for starters. Some institutes just don’t do R03’s any more. Some institutes do them only for ESI/NI status. Some are $50K/yr and others are $100K/yr. Some limit R21’s and others don’t. Whether your target institute supports something can always be found at the RFA for that program. Here are some of the general links for those.
This is the “parent” RFA for R01’s. The parent means that this is what you submit if you are not answering a particular targeted,requested project. In Part 1. Overview information, even above the title Research Project Grant (Parent R01), is the Participating Organization(s), which is NIH, and the Components of Participating Organizations, which lists the IC’s that support this mechanism. Its almost everyone.


This is the parent RFA for R03’s. The list of IC’s is much smaller:
  • National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)
    National Institute on Aging (NIA)
    National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
    National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
    National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
    Eunice Kennedy Shriver National of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
    National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
    National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
    National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
But you have to check the specifics at the IC website to learn which ones give more than $50K/yr.
Sometimes there are special RFA’s that are <4 IC’s. Sometimes there is an RFA for a particular institute. A good Sponsored Projects Office will keep track of these and send out messages to all potential PI’s. But sometimes you have to do the tracking down yourself. Here is the link to the list of all RFA’s (in beta). It is 12 pages, 12 long pages in small print, long. On that page is a link to the old RFA page, which lets you do fairly complex searching.
There are more subtle differences – what IC’s want to fund, their philosophies on funding junior vs. senior, philosophies on training (several do not support people holding non-clinical PhD’s for training).  Your best bet, as always, is to talk to people at NIH who can at least clarify status/legal types of issues. Next best, talk to senior folks who have some experience with the Study Section & IC you’re thinking of targeting. But, as always, take it with a grain of salt. You know your work better than they do.

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